External drive backup performance

This post is mostly a reminder to myself for the next time I need to do this …

For backing up files on my laptop running Window 10, I have an external USB hard drive permanently plugged in to my docking station at work. I then have backup software that runs backup jobs at scheduled times during the week. Recently I needed to upgrade to a larger capacity hard drive. With the purchase of a new hard drive, I also decided it was an opportune time to start using Microsoft’s BitLocker to encrypt the backed up files.

After plugging in the new drive and setting up BitLocker, I found that the backup performance was woeful. Backup jobs that used to take a few minutes were now taking hours. After a bit of experimentation and research, I found that the performance issue was nothing to do with BitLocker, but simply that I needed to disable write caching on the external drive.

The steps to achieve this were:

  • Open Windows Device Manager.
  • Locate the external drive in the list, right click and choose Properties.
  • Click on the Policies tab.
  • Change from the “Quick removal (default)” setting to the “Better performance” setting.

After doing this, backup jobs now ran in the same small amount of time as when I used the previous drive.

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