System Configuration: Dell Inspiron N5010 - Intel Core i3 380M 2.53 GHz, 4 GB DDR3 RAM, 1 GB AMD RADEON Graphics, 500 GB SATA 5400rpm HDD, Ubuntu MATE 15.10 (this is supposedly lighter than the Ubuntu Unity)

I dual boot with Windows 7 64-bit.

My system is extremely slow while running, more so while running Ubuntu than Windows. Videos get stuck the moment they start playing. Clicks take a second or two to respond. Even CTRL+ALT+T loads the GUI but the prompt takes a some 3-5 seconds to show up for me to start typing. What's worse is that most of the times (8 times out of 10), it does not boot. It just says - No such partition found (or something like that) and then goes on a BIOS display loop. I have had to run fsck manually on /dev/sda6 more times than I can count.

What seems to be the bottleneck in this case? Is it the RAM or the HDD?

Please reply. Thanks.

smartctl OUTPUT

ka@KA-Inspiron-N5010:~$ sudo smartctl --all /dev/sda
[sudo] password for ka: 
smartctl 6.4 2014-10-07 r4002 [x86_64-linux-4.2.0-16-generic] (local build)
Copyright (C) 2002-14, Bruce Allen, Christian Franke, www.smartmontools.org

Model Family:     Toshiba 2.5" HDD MK..76GSX
Device Model:     TOSHIBA MK5076GSX
Serial Number:    X1MLC0FMT
LU WWN Device Id: 5 000039 393d02240
Firmware Version: GS002D
User Capacity:    500,107,862,016 bytes [500 GB]
Sector Size:      512 bytes logical/physical
Rotation Rate:    5400 rpm
Form Factor:      2.5 inches
Device is:        In smartctl database [for details use: -P show]
ATA Version is:   ATA8-ACS (minor revision not indicated)
SATA Version is:  SATA 2.6, 3.0 Gb/s (current: 3.0 Gb/s)
Local Time is:    Wed Dec  2 16:25:07 2015 IST
SMART support is: Available - device has SMART capability.
SMART support is: Enabled

SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED

General SMART Values:
Offline data collection status:  (0x00) Offline data collection activity
                    was never started.
                    Auto Offline Data Collection: Disabled.
Self-test execution status:      (  25) The self-test routine was aborted by
                    the host.
Total time to complete Offline 
data collection:        (  120) seconds.
Offline data collection
capabilities:            (0x5b) SMART execute Offline immediate.
                    Auto Offline data collection on/off support.
                    Suspend Offline collection upon new
                    Offline surface scan supported.
                    Self-test supported.
                    No Conveyance Self-test supported.
                    Selective Self-test supported.
SMART capabilities:            (0x0003) Saves SMART data before entering
                    power-saving mode.
                    Supports SMART auto save timer.
Error logging capability:        (0x01) Error logging supported.
                    General Purpose Logging supported.
Short self-test routine 
recommended polling time:    (   2) minutes.
Extended self-test routine
recommended polling time:    ( 168) minutes.
SCT capabilities:          (0x003d) SCT Status supported.
                    SCT Error Recovery Control supported.
                    SCT Feature Control supported.
                    SCT Data Table supported.

SMART Attributes Data Structure revision number: 128
Vendor Specific SMART Attributes with Thresholds:
  1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate     0x000b   100   100   050    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  3 Spin_Up_Time            0x0027   100   100   001    Pre-fail  Always       -       2012
  5 Reallocated_Sector_Ct   0x0033   100   100   050    Pre-fail  Always       -       136
  9 Power_On_Minutes        0x0032   058   058   000    Old_age   Always       -       17088h+03m
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       3396
191 G-Sense_Error_Rate      0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       4580
192 Power-Off_Retract_Count 0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       166
193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032   092   092   000    Old_age   Always       -       81673
194 Temperature_Celsius     0x0022   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       48 (Min/Max 15/61)
199 UDMA_CRC_Error_Count    0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       195210357
200 Multi_Zone_Error_Rate   0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       587019845
240 Head_Flying_Hours       0x0032   070   070   000    Old_age   Always       -       724753
241 Total_LBAs_Written      0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       39961001311
242 Total_LBAs_Read         0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       44507460961
254 Free_Fall_Sensor        0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0

SMART Error Log Version: 1
No Errors Logged

SMART Self-test log structure revision number 1
Num  Test_Description    Status                  Remaining  LifeTime(hours)  LBA_of_first_error
# 1  Short offline       Aborted by host               90%     17088         -
# 2  Extended offline    Aborted by host               90%     17088         -
# 3  Short offline       Completed without error       00%      1330         -
# 4  Short offline       Completed without error       00%      1274         -
# 5  Short offline       Completed without error       00%      1264         -
# 6  Short offline       Completed without error       00%       946         -
# 7  Short offline       Completed without error       00%       899         -
# 8  Short offline       Completed without error       00%       252         -

SMART Selective self-test log data structure revision number 1
    1        0        0  Not_testing
    2        0        0  Not_testing
    3        0        0  Not_testing
    4        0        0  Not_testing
    5        0        0  Not_testing
Selective self-test flags (0x0):
  After scanning selected spans, do NOT read-scan remainder of disk.
If Selective self-test is pending on power-up, resume after 0 minute delay.

hdparm OUTPUT

ka@KA-Inspiron-N5010:~$ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sda6

 Timing cached reads:   1140 MB in  2.00 seconds = 569.92 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads:   2 MB in  5.80 seconds = 353.24 kB/sec
  • That HDD seems pretty slow to me. I get about 1000 MB/s cached and 100 MB/s buffered disk reads on my 250GB 7200 rpm disk for the disk itself (/dev/sda). It's much slower if I test a partition near the end of the disk (around 20MB/s buffered disk read) though, but still magnitudes faster than yours... I am no expert, but I would guess its the cause of your performance problem. – Byte Commander Dec 2 '15 at 11:27
  • Thanks for your reply. There are multiple Pre-Fail and Old_age flags as well. So would you suggest going for a new HDD? Should I go for a 7200rpm? – theironhide Dec 2 '15 at 11:31
  • I am not good in interpreting SMART status outputs, so I am not sure if you're reading it correctly. However, as it seems to be slow as a snail, you might want to replace it anyway. You don't necessarily need a 7200rpm disk, other 5600rpm ones can be fast enough as well. It's also a budget question, I think, but I don't really know how much they would differ. If you want something really fast (but expensive), buy an SSD. – Byte Commander Dec 2 '15 at 11:44
  • Oh, one more thing. Apart from the slow HDD, is it possible that there could be something wrong with the RAM which might be causing the multiple instances of boot failure. Do you think that I should run a memtest as well, just in case there are issues with my RAM? Thanks again! – theironhide Dec 2 '15 at 11:53
  • 1
    @ByteCommander: as per your request, I had a look at this issue. Answer below! ;-) – Fabby Dec 4 '15 at 13:36

Please stop using that disk right now and:

  1. Buy a new disk larger and faster then the one you now have
  2. Make a full disk-to disk image from the old disk to the new disk using dd or CloneZilla
  3. Remove the nearly-broken-disk from your machine
  4. Add the clone you just made
  5. If you bought a larger disk:
    1. Boot the Ubuntu LiveDVD
    2. Use gparted to extend the old partitions to the size you now want them to be
    3. Go to sleep and let it run overnight
    4. Pray to the angel of HDDs and the angel of power nothing goes wrong during the extend.
  6. Make a new full back-up of your working system.


All of the following parameters:

1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate     0x000b   100   100   050    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
3 Spin_Up_Time            0x0027   100   100   001    Pre-fail  Always       -       2012
5 Reallocated_Sector_Ct   0x0033   100   100   050    Pre-fail  Always       -       136

are in pre-fail, which means that in the near future, you're going to be in real trouble like a full hard disk crash.

For more information read: HDDs die a slow, painful death like cancer and What's a good back-up strategy for 1 PC.

  • You and your angels... :D Nice answer. – Byte Commander Dec 4 '15 at 12:38
  • 2
    As you're a reputation 6 user: If this answer helped you, don't forget to click the grey at the left of this text, which means Yes, this answer is valid! ;-) – Fabby Dec 4 '15 at 13:35

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