14 Replies Latest reply on Mar 19, 2018 8:06 AM by Intel Corporation

    SSD Toolbox very slow drive scanning

    WillyK

      I've been using SSD Toolbox for years. Normally it would start with all the SSD information in a flash of a second. Recently the startup slowed down dramatically and it takes 20-30 seconds to scan the system and show the GUI with the SSD information. I've updated the tool to the latest version 3.5.1 but it didn't help. It's just the same. I suppose it can be something with my system that has changed, but I can't figure out what this could be. Please advise.

        • 1. Re: SSD Toolbox very slow drive scanning
          Intel Corporation
          This message was posted on behalf of Intel Corporation

          Hello WillyK,

          Thanks for posting.

          We haven't received any reports regarding longer load times with Intel® SSD Toolbox. How long a tool takes to load usually depends on the system available resources (Memory, CPU, etc). Have you noticed any other issue with Intel® SSD Toolbox or your SSD?

          Just for testing, we tried to reproduce the issue on Windows 10* (Fall Creators Update) with an Intel® Optane™ SSD 900P Series and Intel® SSD Toolbox v3.5.1. The tool instantly loaded the drive's information.

          In order to better assist you, we would like to gather some more information. Please download and run the Intel® System Support Utility and share the resulting report with us.

          As for troubleshooting, please try booting into safe mode with minimal settings and run Intel® SSD Toolbox to compare load times. Here's how to start safe mode in Windows 10*:

          - Hold Windows + R.
          - Type msconfig on the Run windows and press Enter.
          - On System Configuration, move to the Boot tab.
          - Check the Safe boot box and mark Minimal.
          - Click OK and restart your system.

          In order to boot normally again, simply reverse the process. Please let us know the results.

          Best regards,
          Eugenio F.

          • 2. Re: SSD Toolbox very slow drive scanning
            WillyK

            Thanks Eugenio! Please find the requested information attached. SAFE Mode and Clean Boot produce the exact same issue, so it's not an antivirus or 3rd party (drivers) problem. The common checks (sfc /scannow and chkdsk etc.) report everything OK.

             

            I need to explain a few details about this case though. My machine is (used to be?) a top tuned Win7 x64 workstation build for AV multimedia editing and production (rated among the top 2% high-performing systems on several billboards).

             

            Obviously, I keep my Intel SSD drives constantly trimmed and optimized, and I frequently maintain the OS and my system drivers etc., also by using the IOBIT's Driver Booster.

            Naturally, I use SATA AHCI mode (since the beginning) and all BIOS and Registry settings are correct in this respect, also when I run for instance AS SSD it reports that the drives are running in AHCI mode. The SSD Toolbox also reports 100% health and no problems whatsoever. I even ran a full diagnostic scan on the drives and everything is just fine. But as I said it struggles with scanning the drives on startup.

             

            The problem could be driver related but I have not been able to identify the root cause since all drivers are reported up-to-date, also by the Intel's own update utilities.

            However, I found out that I'm not having the latest IRST driver v.15.9.0.1015 which is supposed to support Win7 x64 on my system, but it says that my platform is not supported when I try to run this update. Maybe my chipset is too old for this driver (C600).

             

            After posting my issue here, I discovered (by accident) that my Windows Experience Index has suddenly dropped down to 7.7 (from 7.9) by itself due to lower HDD performance! So it's clear now that the SSD Toolbox is suffering from some related problem!

            So I went in greater depth thru my Device Manager (which shows everything OK), and I noticed that my Intel SSDs in the "Disk drives" section, previously shown as "Intel SSD... SCSI Disk Device", now show as "ATA Intel SSD... SCSI Disk Device". Also the section "IDE/ATAPI controllers" shows only ATA channels and standard PCI IDE controller, but there's no SATA AHCI Controller in this section. However, the AHCI controller is to be found in the "Storage controllers" section! (i.e. Intel(R) C600 series chipset SATA AHCI Controller.)

             

            Now, I'm not sure that the above is abnormal or related to the problem I'm experiencing, but now I think that it must be something wrong with accessing the Intel SSDs. I must emphasize that I haven't changed anything on my system except for the usual Windows Updates and general drivers updates.

             

            Any ideas for where to look and what to investigate? Do you see any problems in the attached SystemInfo? Please let me know what you think. Thank you!

            • 3. Re: SSD Toolbox very slow drive scanning
              Intel Corporation
              This message was posted on behalf of Intel Corporation

              Hello WillyK,

               

              Thanks for your detailed reply and for providing the file. The system report seems just fine. As these are SATA based SSD, there are no drivers we can install (other than the ones the OS installs by itself).

               

              The only thing that call our attention is the quantity of drivers. That plus the fact that the Intel® SSD have more than half their capacity occupied could explain why the tool is taking longer to load. We recommend checking the SMART details for your drives to confirm if there's anything off.

               

              Another idea is to disconnect all secondary drivers and test the Intel® SSD Toolbox load times with the boot drive only. Then, you can connect one drive at a time to confirm if any of them is causing this behavior. However, we understand this is along process and requires some effort.

               

              Please let us know if there's anything else we can do for you.

               

              Best regards,
              Eugenio F.

              • 4. Re: SSD Toolbox very slow drive scanning
                WillyK

                Hi Eugenio and many thanks for your quick response! It's reassuring that you don't see any issues in the system information. (BTW I saw a reading there about the CPU voltage being 1.6V which is wrong. I use offset-based CPU powering and Vcore is never higher than 1.4V, and then only on top turbo load.)

                 

                Your comments make a lot of sense. I'd like to point out, however, that the number of drivers, and the occupied SSD capacity was just like that before the problem occurred and when the system was working just fine. So that couldn't possibly be the cause of the problem. Furthermore, I've already checked in the SSD Toolbox the detailed drive information and the SMART details for each of the Intel SSDs and everything looks just fine. I believe the SSD drives themselves are OK (apparently they can't go bad all of them at the same time).

                 

                I like your suggestion to try running the system with only the system drive connected and see if it makes a difference. I can't do this right now, but I'll definitely try it and I'll get back to you with the results from this test when it's been done.

                 

                Meanwhile, I've done some more testing, and running the AS SSD tool confirms that all SSD operations, including access time, are under-performing except for the sequential read/write which is not great but OK. This is quite noticeable when I use various tools (another test), for instance when playing video files - on loading any video the video player "freezes" for a second during the opening of the video file but after that the video plays OK. I observe similar behavior when using other tools. Opening files residing on any SSD is a bottleneck. Why do you think is that? This would certainly explain the slow SSD Toolbox startup too. I'm also puzzled by the sudden drop in HDD performance detected by Windows causing the HDD performance measure in the Windows Experience Index to drop from 7.9 to 7.7! How come? It's clear that something is wrong. Maybe I should try to install some older IRST drivers and see if it changes anything? Do you know why I couldn't use your latest IRST driver? I've never experienced such an issue with Intel's RST drivers before. Can you explain this?

                 

                Thanks for helping out!

                • 5. Re: SSD Toolbox very slow drive scanning
                  Intel Corporation
                  This message was posted on behalf of Intel Corporation

                  Hello WillyK,

                  Thanks for your reply.

                  It is expected for overall system performance to decrease if various tasks are being performed. What are the full results you got from AS SSD*?  However, please notice we usually use CrystalDiskMark* or Iometer for performance tests. Is this limited to your Intel drives?

                  This read about Windows Experience Index* says these are the areas that are scored:

                  • Processor
                  • Memory (RAM)
                  • Graphics (general desktop work)
                  • Gaming graphics (typically 3D)
                  • Primary hard disk

                  According to this, only the main drive will affect the score. However, please take in consideration that is not the only component involved.

                   

                  Regarding Intel® Rapid Storage Technologies (IRST), these drivers and software are not required out of RAID configurations. However, for troubleshooting this software please refer to our Rapid Storage Technology communities.

                   

                  NOTE: Links to third party sites are being offered for your convenience and should not be viewed as an endorsement by Intel of the content, products, or services offered there.

                   

                  Best regards,
                  Eugenio F.

                  • 6. Re: SSD Toolbox very slow drive scanning
                    WillyK

                    Hi. Hopefully the attached document provides more detailed information and answers to your questions.

                     

                    I know how to read WEI, and I explained before that Windows has detected degraded HDD performance on its own. But I don't know why, hence the thread here (originally triggered off by the abnormal SSD Toolbox behavior).

                    AS SSD is a more precise and generally better tool than e.g. CrystalDiskMark (CDM), but I've included in the attached document also the results from CDM for your convenience. I also tried to use the IOmeter as well, but it just hangs on "preparing the drives"...

                     

                    Anyway, I believe that the attached document comprises sufficient information about the issue and how it manifests itself. I look forward to reading your comments on that.

                     

                    I'm fully aware that IRST is particularly relevant for Intel RAID users, but I'm only interested in the SATA/AHCI drivers included in the IRST package. I haven't been able to find these Intel drivers offered standalone separately (i.e. outside IRST), but if you know where Intel provides them, I'd be happy to hear from you about the specific Intel location where I can download them (just drop me the link).

                     

                    So the main problem still remains unsolved. Why is SSD Toolbox 3.5.1 using 20+ seconds to come up with the SSD information on startup, and what's causing this abnormal behavior?

                    • 7. Re: SSD Toolbox very slow drive scanning
                      Intel Corporation
                      This message was posted on behalf of Intel Corporation

                      Hello WillyK,

                       

                      Thanks for your reply.

                       

                      Form all the data provided, we've only concluded your drives are healthy. Lab tests proved that Intel® Solid State Drive Toolbox is working as expected.

                       

                      Your system specs are great too. We can't point what exactly is making your system load the tool so slowly. At this point, you may consider backing up your data, secure erase your drives and reinstall the operating system.

                       

                      Let us know if there's anything else we can do for you.

                       

                      Best regards,
                      Eugenio F.

                      • 8. Re: SSD Toolbox very slow drive scanning
                        WillyK

                        Eugenio, the SSD Toolbox is working fine on my other systems, and probably in many other systems too.

                        Apparently, the reported issue is between the Intel SSDs and the SSD Toolbox on the particular system.

                        The data enclosed in my previous reply clearly show degraded Intel SSD performance on this machine.

                        Why do you think is that?

                         

                        Frankly, I was expecting a little more useful help from the Intel SSD experts at Intel about how to troubleshoot this issue.

                        Yes, I've read somewhere about the ultimate "solution", i.e. to perform a secure erase of the drives and reinstall everything...

                        Will this solve the problem? Is it really necessary or would it be just useless overkill? You are saying that you don't know what's causing the problem...

                         

                        An exact answer would have been great, but I was hoping to hear about possible root cause candidates from the Intel experts. Is that the only one single case of the kind in the world? No previous experience with similar issues? Even so, how would you have approached the troubleshooting of such an issue if it was affecting your own computer? Secure Erase and full reinstall? Is that it? Sure, I know a little about computers and I've tried everything that I can, but ... I'm not an Intel SSD expert! I need help and that's why I'm here. Please?

                        • 9. Re: SSD Toolbox very slow drive scanning
                          Intel Corporation
                          This message was posted on behalf of Intel Corporation

                          Hello WillyK,

                          We apologize if our previous message was confusing. We should have explained why a secure erase may be useful in this case.

                          SSDs will show degraded performance as you fill them up with data, which is why I brought this up before. The way data is written on the drives requires for it to constantly erase data blocks as they became full in order to make space for new data, affecting performance. A secure erase will empty all the spaces, taking the drive close to a factory new state and showing improve performance. Even thought the following paper doesn't address your SSD model specifically, it does a good job explaining how data is written on SSDs:

                          Intel® Solid-State Drives in Server Storage Applications

                          Please take in consideration that Intel® SSD 520 Series is a legacy drive launched back in 2012 and is now discontinued. You may expect some performance drop after writing data to a drive for so long.

                          To analyze a drive's state, we use SMART details,  which you mentioned have not showed any warnings. However, you may share the SMART report generated by Intel®  SSD Toolbox export feature (for at least the boot drive) to check if there's anything else we can deduce.

                          Just to discard issues with Intel® Solid State Drive Toolbox, you may test using previous versions of the same, such as v. 3.4.6 and confirm if you get similar results.

                          Best regards,
                          Eugenio F.

                          • 10. Re: SSD Toolbox very slow drive scanning
                            WillyK

                            Dear Eugenio, I know all that and that "secure erase" can ultimately help out a bad drive. However, this is hardly the problem here.

                             

                            Nothing indicates that the drive itself has gone bad. As I said before the problem is the same when using different SSD drives on this system. The data I sent you indicate that something is wrong with how the drive is accessed and used! It could be a chipset driver or SATA/AHCI driver or even some other driver or some changed setting on my system making the SSD Toolbox to struggle with retrieving first information about the drives. Using such a long time to startup doesn't seem to be a bad drive problem. Moreover, the SSD Toolbox is reporting 100% healthy drives with 100% healthy SMART status. I suppose that SSD Toolbox knows what it is talking about. I also told you before that I regularly trim all my SSD drives.

                             

                            I've provided you with specific test data comparing two drives of the same Intel 520 series, of the same age and same use/function, whereas the reference drive is 90% full and it still outperforms the problem system - not the drive itself but the usage of it. So I was hoping that you with your deep Intel SSD expertise and long-lasting professional experience would be able to point me to useful troubleshooting spots, rather than lecturing me about how the SSD works. Obviously, we're not getting anywhere so I'll have to try finding help somewhere else. Thank you for your time and effort, anyway.

                            • 11. Re: SSD Toolbox very slow drive scanning
                              WillyK

                              I finally managed to install an older Intel SATA AHCI Controller Driver and ... the problem disappeared!

                              SOLVED: IT WAS AN INTEL DRIVER PROBLEM!

                              Intel-SSD-problem-20180315.jpg

                              SSD Toolbox now starts and displays drive information for less than a second!

                              • 12. Re: SSD Toolbox very slow drive scanning
                                Intel Corporation
                                This message was posted on behalf of Intel Corporation

                                Hello WillyK,

                                Thanks for sharing the solution to the issue. Just to confirm, how did manage to install a different/older SATA AHCI Controller driver version?

                                Did you remove the drivers installed by Intel® RST, rolled back the driver or were they provided by your (OEM) Original Equipment Manufacturer? This could be useful for other users.

                                Best regards,
                                Eugenio F.

                                • 13. Re: SSD Toolbox very slow drive scanning
                                  WillyK

                                  Follow these steps:

                                  1. Locate manually 
                                  2. Let Me pick from the list 
                                  3. Have disk 
                                  4. Browse, find the INF file for the driver you want to install.

                                   

                                  Here's a link to where I found this: How can I forcibly install an older driver on Windows 7? - Super User (lookup the "1 Answer" at the bottom)

                                  • 14. Re: SSD Toolbox very slow drive scanning
                                    Intel Corporation
                                    This message was posted on behalf of Intel Corporation

                                    Hello WillyK,

                                    Thanks again for sharing the steps you followed to solve the issue.

                                    Best regards,
                                    Eugenio F.