Some of the ways to test the speed of your disks are to run benchmark tools, perform I/O operation on the disk using standard tools, and infer the overall disk speed based on the time it takes the tool to read or write files onto the disk.

Common tools used for these particular purposes on Linux are hdparm and dd. hdparm might need to be installed first as it's not installed by default in most Linux distributions, while dd is installed by default and can readily be used. hdparm usually is available in the distribution's default package manager repository and can easily be installed.

Both are command-line tools and work for any storage device such as magnetic or solid-state drive.

Steps to benchmark disk speed in Linux:

  1. Launch terminal.
  2. Install hdparm package using distribution's package manager.

    $ sudo apt update && sudo apt install --assume-yes hdparm #Ubuntu and Debian derivatives

  3. List available hard drives in the system.

    $ lsblk NAME   MAJ:MIN RM   SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT loop0    7:0    0  55.4M  1 loop /snap/core18/1932 loop1    7:1    0  55.4M  1 loop /snap/core18/1944 loop2    7:2    0 217.9M  1 loop /snap/gnome-3-34-1804/60 loop3    7:3    0   219M  1 loop /snap/gnome-3-34-1804/66 loop4    7:4    0    51M  1 loop /snap/snap-store/498 loop5    7:5    0  64.8M  1 loop /snap/gtk-common-themes/1514 loop6    7:6    0  62.1M  1 loop /snap/gtk-common-themes/1506 loop7    7:7    0  31.1M  1 loop /snap/snapd/10492 loop8    7:8    0    51M  1 loop /snap/snap-store/518 loop9    7:9    0  31.1M  1 loop /snap/snapd/10707 sda      8:0    0    20G  0 disk  ├─sda1   8:1    0     1M  0 part  ├─sda2   8:2    0   513M  0 part /boot/efi └─sda3   8:3    0  19.5G  0 part / sr0     11:0    1  1024M  0 rom

  4. Run benchmark on selected disk using hdparm.

    $ sudo hdparm -tT /dev/sda  /dev/sda:  Timing cached reads:   27522 MB in  2.00 seconds = 13783.98 MB/sec  Timing buffered disk reads: 1976 MB in  3.00 seconds = 658.03 MB/sec

  5. Re-run hdparm with direct option to bypass disk cache to benchmark raw disk performance.

    $ sudo hdparm -tT --direct /dev/sda  /dev/sda:  Timing O_DIRECT cached reads:   14996 MB in  2.00 seconds = 7507.46 MB/sec  Timing O_DIRECT disk reads: 5724 MB in  3.00 seconds = 1907.99 MB/sec

    More options for hdparm:

    $ hdparm -h  hdparm - get/set hard disk parameters - version v9.58, by Mark Lord.  Usage:  hdparm  [options] [device ...]  Options:  -a   Get/set fs readahead  -A   Get/set the drive look-ahead flag (0/1)  -b   Get/set bus state (0 == off, 1 == on, 2 == tristate)  -B   Set Advanced Power Management setting (1-255)  -c   Get/set IDE 32-bit IO setting  -C   Check drive power mode status  -d   Get/set using_dma flag  -D   Enable/disable drive defect management  -E   Set cd/dvd drive speed  -f   Flush buffer cache for device on exit  -F   Flush drive write cache  -g   Display drive geometry  -h   Display terse usage information  -H   Read temperature from drive (Hitachi only)  -i   Display drive identification  -I   Detailed/current information directly from drive  -J   Get/set Western DIgital "Idle3" timeout for a WDC "Green" drive (DANGEROUS)  -k   Get/set keep_settings_over_reset flag (0/1)  -K   Set drive keep_features_over_reset flag (0/1)  -L   Set drive doorlock (0/1) (removable harddisks only)  -m   Get/set multiple sector count  -M   Get/set acoustic management (0-254, 128: quiet, 254: fast)  -n   Get/set ignore-write-errors flag (0/1)  -N   Get/set max visible number of sectors (HPA) (VERY DANGEROUS)  -p   Set PIO mode on IDE interface chipset (0,1,2,3,4,...)  -P   Set drive prefetch count  -q   Change next setting quietly  -Q   Get/set DMA queue_depth (if supported)  -r   Get/set device readonly flag (DANGEROUS to set)  -R   Get/set device write-read-verify flag  -s   Set power-up in standby flag (0/1) (DANGEROUS)  -S   Set standby (spindown) timeout  -t   Perform device read timings  -T   Perform cache read timings  -u   Get/set unmaskirq flag (0/1)  -U   Obsolete  -v   Use defaults; same as -acdgkmur for IDE drives  -V   Display program version and exit immediately  -w   Perform device reset (DANGEROUS)  -W   Get/set drive write-caching flag (0/1)  -x   Obsolete  -X   Set IDE xfer mode (DANGEROUS)  -y   Put drive in standby mode  -Y   Put drive to sleep  -z   Re-read partition table  -Z   Disable Seagate auto-powersaving mode  --dco-freeze      Freeze/lock current device configuration until next power cycle  --dco-identify    Read/dump device configuration identify data  --dco-restore     Reset device configuration back to factory defaults  --dco-setmax      Use DCO to set maximum addressable sectors  --direct          Use O_DIRECT to bypass page cache for timings  --drq-hsm-error   Crash system with a "stuck DRQ" error (VERY DANGEROUS)  --fallocate       Create a file without writing data to disk  --fibmap          Show device extents (and fragmentation) for a file  --fwdownload            Download firmware file to drive (EXTREMELY DANGEROUS)  --fwdownload-mode3      Download firmware using min-size segments (EXTREMELY DANGEROUS)  --fwdownload-mode3-max  Download firmware using max-size segments (EXTREMELY DANGEROUS)  --fwdownload-mode7      Download firmware using a single segment (EXTREMELY DANGEROUS)  --fwdownload-modee      Download firmware using mode E (min-size segments) (EXTREMELY DANGEROUS)  --fwdownload-modee-max  Download firmware using mode E (max-size segments) (EXTREMELY DANGEROUS)  --idle-immediate  Idle drive immediately  --idle-unload     Idle immediately and unload heads  --Iraw filename   Write raw binary identify data to the specfied file  --Istdin          Read identify data from stdin as ASCII hex  --Istdout         Write identify data to stdout as ASCII hex  --make-bad-sector Deliberately corrupt a sector directly on the media (VERY DANGEROUS)  --offset          use with -t, to begin timings at given offset (in GiB) from start of drive  --prefer-ata12    Use 12-byte (instead of 16-byte) SAT commands when possible  --read-sector     Read and dump (in hex) a sector directly from the media  --repair-sector   Alias for the --write-sector option (VERY DANGEROUS)  --sanitize-antifreeze-lock  Block sanitize-freeze-lock command until next power cycle  --sanitize-block-erase      Start block erase operation  --sanitize-crypto-scramble  Change the internal encryption keys that used for used data  --sanitize-freeze-lock      Lock drive's sanitize features until next power cycle  --sanitize-overwrite  PATTERN  Overwrite the internal media with constant PATTERN  --sanitize-status           Show sanitize status information  --security-help             Display help for ATA security commands  --set-sector-size           Change logical sector size of drive  --trim-sector-ranges        Tell SSD firmware to discard unneeded data sectors: lba:count ..  --trim-sector-ranges-stdin  Same as above, but reads lba:count pairs from stdin  --verbose                   Display extra diagnostics from some commands  --write-sector              Repair/overwrite a (possibly bad) sector directly on the media (VERY DANGEROUS)

  6. Use dd to create a file to measure disk write speed.

    $ sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=benchmark.img bs=1G count=5 status=progress 5368709120 bytes (5.4 GB, 5.0 GiB) copied, 4 s, 1.2 GB/s 5+0 records in 5+0 records out 5368709120 bytes (5.4 GB, 5.0 GiB) copied, 4.36816 s, 1.2 GB/s

  7. Delete temporary file created by dd.

    $ rm benchmark.img

    More options for dd:

    $ dd --help Usage: dd [OPERAND]...   or:  dd OPTION Copy a file, converting and formatting according to the operands.    bs=BYTES        read and write up to BYTES bytes at a time (default: 512);                   overrides ibs and obs   cbs=BYTES       convert BYTES bytes at a time   conv=CONVS      convert the file as per the comma separated symbol list   count=N         copy only N input blocks   ibs=BYTES       read up to BYTES bytes at a time (default: 512)   if=FILE         read from FILE instead of stdin   iflag=FLAGS     read as per the comma separated symbol list   obs=BYTES       write BYTES bytes at a time (default: 512)   of=FILE         write to FILE instead of stdout   oflag=FLAGS     write as per the comma separated symbol list   seek=N          skip N obs-sized blocks at start of output   skip=N          skip N ibs-sized blocks at start of input   status=LEVEL    The LEVEL of information to print to stderr;                   'none' suppresses everything but error messages,                   'noxfer' suppresses the final transfer statistics,                   'progress' shows periodic transfer statistics  N and BYTES may be followed by the following multiplicative suffixes: c=1, w=2, b=512, kB=1000, K=1024, MB=1000*1000, M=1024*1024, xM=M, GB=1000*1000*1000, G=1024*1024*1024, and so on for T, P, E, Z, Y. Binary prefixes can be used, too: KiB=K, MiB=M, and so on.  Each CONV symbol may be:    ascii     from EBCDIC to ASCII   ebcdic    from ASCII to EBCDIC   ibm       from ASCII to alternate EBCDIC   block     pad newline-terminated records with spaces to cbs-size   unblock   replace trailing spaces in cbs-size records with newline   lcase     change upper case to lower case   ucase     change lower case to upper case   sparse    try to seek rather than write all-NUL output blocks   swab      swap every pair of input bytes   sync      pad every input block with NULs to ibs-size; when used             with block or unblock, pad with spaces rather than NULs   excl      fail if the output file already exists   nocreat   do not create the output file   notrunc   do not truncate the output file   noerror   continue after read errors   fdatasync  physically write output file data before finishing   fsync     likewise, but also write metadata  Each FLAG symbol may be:    append    append mode (makes sense only for output; conv=notrunc suggested)   direct    use direct I/O for data   directory  fail unless a directory   dsync     use synchronized I/O for data   sync      likewise, but also for metadata   fullblock  accumulate full blocks of input (iflag only)   nonblock  use non-blocking I/O   noatime   do not update access time   nocache   Request to drop cache.  See also oflag=sync   noctty    do not assign controlling terminal from file   nofollow  do not follow symlinks   count_bytes  treat 'count=N' as a byte count (iflag only)   skip_bytes  treat 'skip=N' as a byte count (iflag only)   seek_bytes  treat 'seek=N' as a byte count (oflag only)  Sending a USR1 signal to a running 'dd' process makes it print I/O statistics to standard error and then resume copying.  Options are:        --help     display this help and exit       --version  output version information and exit  GNU coreutils online help: <> Full documentation <> or available locally via: info '(coreutils) dd invocation'