You’ve done everything you can to get your computer back up to speed. You’ve used all the tools there are to save space, defrag, and get rid of junk. You’ve done all you can but your computer still…..runs…dead……s-l-o-w.
The first thing I check on a slow computer is if it is running in PIO or DMA mode.
I hear you panic, “What the doodle is DMA mode? How do I check that? Oh Guy, don’t get too techy on us!!!”
Don’t sweat it. This procedure only takes about 3 minutes and is quick and painless. That’s why I check this first instead of running all the diagnostic and hard drive utilities. Plus, if this IS the problem, those utilities will take FOREVER to run and won’t solve the problem.
How does a Windows-based machine drop from the Direct Memory Access (DMA) modes (fast modes) to the Programmed Input/Output (PIO) mode (death warmed over)? Apparently, if Windows encounters six or more CRC or timeout errors, it will have a “hard drive attack” and slow the Secondary IDE settings to PIO mode.
Simply shutting down your computer by the power button can lead to this problem too. So, don’t do that anymore.
(NOTE: Hardware Engineer Types, I know this isn’t the most accurate explanation, but it’s the very basic overview that my Aunt Tessie can handle, OK?)
How Can I Fix It?
Now for the juicy part – how to fix it. You might have gathered that from the heading above. Good eye.
Go to the Device Manager (accessible via the Windows Control Panel, double-click the Systems Icon, click the Hardware tab, then the Device Manager button)
Expand the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers entry.
Double-click on the first IDE Channel entry. This is where the problem seems to occur the most. If you don’t find it here, then check the other entries with the same method.
Click on the Advanced Settings tab and see if the Current Transfer Mode reads PIO Mode and the Transfer Mode reads DMA if available.
If it does, then set the Transfer Mode to PIO only. Click ‘OK’.
Double-click on the first IDE Channel entry again, click on the Advanced Settings tab, and change the Transfer Mode from PIO only to DMA if available. Click ‘OK’.
Once more, double-click on the first IDE Channel entry and click on the Advanced Settings tab. Now the Current Transfer Mode should read something like Ultra DMA Mode 5. Click ‘OK’, restart your computer and see how it runs so much faster. Quick and painless, n’est pas?
Wait, you’re still here? It happened again? You’ve been shutting down properly right? I see.
Well, there are some other possible contributing factors that can cause the hard drive to drop to PIO mode. At this point though, you may be best to take it to a qualified repair shop. Most of these problems will be hardware related. At least you didn’t waste 17.25 hours waiting for a defrag that wasn’t going to fix anything.
Have you had this problem before? Know of any other simple changes that can be made in the Device Manager that can help your computer? Let us know in the comments.