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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Hard Disk Drives | Hard Disk Performance | Hard Disk Internal Performance Factors ]

Track Switch Time

The track switch time, also called cylinder switch time, measures in milliseconds the amount of time required to move the read/write heads from one cylinder to an adjacent one. This is a mechanical process that involves using the actuator to physically move the read/write heads. Track switch time is really a special case of seek time, where the seek is being done to an adjacent track. See in that description for some more information, some of which is relevant to track switch time as well.

Track switch time is reasonably important because switches to adjacent tracks occur much more frequently than random seeks, when processing larger files. Even during a continuous transfer of large size, the heads must be moved from track to track. An average cylinder on even a modern high-density disk contains less than 1 megabyte of data, which means that a multi-megabyte read or write will involve many cylinder switches.

Next: Internal Data Transfer Rate

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