Troubleshoot Surface Pro 3 SSD Speed Problems

surface laptop

If you suspect you’re having speed problems with your Surface Pro 3’s hard drive (Solid State Drive or SSD), you can confirm it by running a simple test. Normally, I’d recommend utilities from the drive manufacturer for these types of tests but, unfortunately, Surface Tablets come with drives from at least two different manufacturers (Hynix and Samsung).

To make things extra complicated, Samsung makes a utility for SSDs called Samsung Magician but, Hynix doesn’t provide anything.

So, instead of a manufacturer specific piece of software, I’m recommending a free software called HD Tune for the speed testing. Using a manufacturer-independent piece of software (like HD Tune) also makes it easier to follow these steps in the event Microsoft has started using yet another manufacturer.

Do you want to try out this software? Get HD Tune Here.

HD Tune can analyze the health (through S.M.A.R.T) performance of your SSD regardless of manufacturer. It can also be used to test the individual NAND memory blocks of the SSD.

To use HD Tune to test your drive speed, follow these steps:

  • Install HD Tune
  • Run HD Tune from the desktop
  • Under the Benchmark tab, tap the Start button
  • Wait for the test to complete

If your drive is performing well, your test results will look a lot like the example below. But if you’re still having slowdowns, you’ll need to start looking for other causes to the problem you are experiencing because it’s likely not a drive issue.

Surface pro 3 ssd speed issues - HD Tune Good

However, if the results look like the ones below, you clearly have a problem with your SSD speed.

Surface pro 3 ssd speed issues - HD Tune Bad

If this is the case then I would recommend that you use the Health tab to check the S.M.A.R.T. status of your drive and do a scan for bad blocks from the Error Scan tab.

If you happen to see a few bad blocks on the Error Scan tab, don’t worry about it too much unless it’s more than 2% or 3% of the total drive. Over time, the memory in a SSD “wears out” and it is common for some blocks to go bad (and the older the drive, the more likely it will happen).

If you have more than 3% total bad blocks, you’re going to want to make sure you have good backups of your data because once the drive really starts dying, there’s nothing that can be done besides replacing the whole tablet.

Surface Pro 3 SSD Speed Issues: What Can I Do?

Since you are still reading this and didn’t stop to immediately start making a backup of your data, I’m going to assume your benchmark test came back poor but there were no bad blocks or S.M.A.R.T. errors.

Well, the good news is that there are a couple of things you can do to correct your drive’s performance…

SURFACE PRO 3 SSD SPEED ISSUES: Install Updates

Recently, Samsung had to fix a firmware problem with some of their SSD drives and Surface Pro 3 tablets with Samsung drives installed were among the affected.

Fortunately, Samsung released a firmware update that should fix the performance issue.

Get the Updated Firmware Here

Regardless of whether or not your Surface has a Samsung drive, you should make sure you have all of Windows Updates installed on your SP3 just to make sure it’s not an outdated driver that’s causing your problem.

SURFACE PRO 3 SSD SPEED ISSUES: BitLocker

It’s possible that the performance hit you’re seeing is because you’ve activated Bitlocker on your Surface, at some point. While my testing (when I wrote the Bitlocker post) didn’t result in a significant slowdown, some folks have experienced significant performance hit from it.

So, if you don’t need Bitlocker, deactivate it and see if that clears up your speed problems.

SURFACE PRO 3 SSD SPEED ISSUES: Check for Processes Hammering the Disk

It’s possible that you have an installed application or runaway process that’s hammering your drive. You can use the built in Task Manager tool to find what might be over-tasking your disk and update it  or get rid of it.

SURFACE PRO 3 SSD SPEED ISSUES: Samsung Magician

Lastly, for most of this post, I’ve been trying to be drive-manufacturer neutral.

However, if you happen to have a Samsung-manufactured drive in your Surface, you can take the additional step of installing the Samsung Magician software I mentioned above…

Get Samsung Magician Here (Scroll down a bit)

The Magician software will allow you to update the firmware on your SSD and it also includes some performance optimization tools that might help you.

Surface pro 3 ssd speed issues - Magician

NOTE: Technically, you can run Magician against the Hynix drives (like I did in the screenshot above) but you won’t get the full functionality. All you’ll get is some performance testing and S.M.A.R.T. information.

SURFACE PRO 3 SSD Speed issues: Refresh your Surface

It’s drastic but you can always refresh or reset your Surface using these instructions from Microsoft below:

Refresh or Reset your Surface.

I highly recommend that you make sure your data is backed up and perform a Refresh first. It should leave your data intact and just reset all of the system files.

If that doesn’t solve your speed issues, move on to the Reset operation. The reset will definitely blow away your data and reset everything on your Surface to factory defaults. You will need to re-install everything (including all of the updates) so make sure you want to do it before you begin.

SURFACE PRO 3 SSD Speed Issues: Contact Microsoft

If none of the steps above help, you can always try to contact Microsoft

As I’ve said before, your best bet is to go to a Microsoft Store and get help. I’ve always found them polite and responsive.

If going to a Microsoft Store is not be an option for you, you’ll want to contact Microsoft Tech Support for help. Fortunately, I wrote an article a while back that can help you get the help you need: Get Microsoft support for Surface tablet hardware.

I hope you found this post helpful. As always, if you have any ideas or if I missed something, please let me (and your fellow readers) know in the comments.

Tim

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