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TR FileBench — Real-world copy speeds
Our resident developer, Bruno "morphine" Ferreira, has been hard at work on a new file copy benchmark for our storage reviews. FileBench is the result of his efforts. This shining example of scripting awesomeness runs through a series of file copy operations using Windows 7's xcopy command. Using xcopy produces nearly identical copy speeds to dragging and dropping files using the Windows GUI, so our results should be representative of real-world performance.

To reduce the number of external variables, FileBench runs entirely on the drive that's being tested. Files are copied from source folders to temporary targets that aren't deleted until all testing is complete. Copy speeds were tested with the SSDs fresh from a secure erase and in a tortured used state after more than half a day's worth of IOMeter thrashing.

To gauge performance with different kinds of files, we tested with four sets. The movie set includes six video files of the sort one might download off BitTorrent. Total payload: 4.1GB. Our MP3 file set uses a chunk of my music archive, which is made up of high-bitrate MP3s and associated album art. This one has 549 files that add up to 3.47GB. The Mozilla file set includes the huge selection of files necessary to compile Firefox. All told, there are 22,696 files spread across only 923MB. Finally, we have the TR file set, which contains several years worth of the images, HTML files, and spreadsheets behind my reviews. This set has the largest number of files at 26,767, but it's heftier than the Mozilla set with 1.7GB worth of data.

The nature of each file set has a palpable impact on the Intel 320 Series' copy performance. Take the movie and MP3 file sets, for example. They're made up of relatively small numbers of large- and medium-sized files, respectively. With both, the Intel 320 Series proves to be measurably faster than the X25-M. However, the two drives are evenly matched in the Mozilla and TR file sets, which are made up of extremely high numbers of small files. The additional overhead associated with transferring a high volume of small files is enough to lower copy speeds dramatically for all the SSDs.

Versus the 6Gbps crowd, the Intel 320 Series' copy speeds simply can't keep up. The new Intel SSD looks better when framed against its 3Gbps competitors, which are all slower with the movie and MP3 file sets. That said, the Agility 2 copies the Mozilla and TR files faster.

Despite being handily outclassed in HD Tune's sequential read and write speed tests, the Spinpoint doesn't look too bad when copying files in the real world. Our lone mechanical drive is more competitive with small files than it is with larger ones, but it still loses to the Intel 320 Series across the board.