It is common belief among computer users that testing hard disks is a task reserved for the experts. Well, sure they can get more accurate result sheet, but as long as you do not require complicated evaluation you can assess the performance of the storage device yourself, without too much fuss. Parkdale is an easy to use tool designed to help the average user check the features of the hard disk. With Parkdale you get to achieve this free of charge and without even installing anything on your computer since the app is completely portable. There are no settings to waste time with, just three tests that’ll give you a hint on the current performance of the selected drive. The benchmarks included in the application test let you check quick access speed of the selected drive, verify the file access rapidity and how fast are disk blocks accessed. For the quick access assessment Parkdale presents you with a list of all drives available to the system (removable storage devices are supported) and a brief set of settings to tinker with. You can specify the size of the test file, set the block size between the 64KB Windows default and 1MB. As soon as you picked your choice you can start the benchmark which calculates write speed first and then checks the read speed. The application will test one drive at a time and supports removal storage devices such as memory sticks, as we’ve seen during our evaluation. The second benchmark available in the program allows testing file access speeds. You provide the test file which is recommended to be a hefty one for accuracy of the result. A file browser in the upper part of the screen ensures that picking a specific item is an easy job. The settings in this screen allow you to configure various parameters to for the best results possible. Thus, the application can be instructed to use the fastest or the biggest file. Furthermore, if you expand the expert mode, Parkdale can be set up to use buffering or enable write through. The next step is starting the benchmarking process to put the drive’s read/write abilities to the test. The duration of operation depends entirely on the performance of the hard disk as well as the size of the test file. For write test the application asks you to rename the selected file; this is done automatically by the program, so that it does not overwrite valid data. Moving on to the third and final test you can do with Parkdale, the app checks the top speed to access disk blocks. This is a tad more complicated, but the contextual help file available in the screen could shade some light on what the test does. Configuration options available include defining the type of access (linear or random) as well as seeking between specific blocks. You also get to set the amount of blocks per access. The transfer speed is expressed in kilo-bytes per second and you can enable live graphical representation to see how the benchmarking goes for this test. The entire progress is captured in this screen. One piece of advice: if you want to test a large drive or hard disk you’d better be prepared for a long wait. The application goes pretty fast, but it cannot go faster than the performance limits of the tested component. For block access test the application put at our disposal a weird set of details regarding the drives available on the system. Besides information regarding the total size of the volumes and their label, there would also be snippets an average user would understand. Still on the downside, the application listed twice both the individual drives as well as the entire hard disk they formed up. Parkdale is designed for the average user, but without proper documentation few users will be able to interpret the results or make the necessary settings for an accurate result. However, the good part is that for file access and quick access tests no specific knowledge is required. The Good The application is portable, so no installation is required. It runs smoothly and the benchmarks it brings to the table are quite easy to handle even by a beginner user. The results are extremely easy to interpret, as the higher the transfer speed, the better the performance of the hard disk or target volume. Write tests do not affect the files already on the system because the app creates copies of real data to use for the tests. The Bad In lack of proper documentation to offer a thorough explanation of each option in the app and its effect on the final result, plenty of users will head towards a different solution. The TruthParkdale can carry out simple hard disk performance benchmarks, so you can rely on the results it returns. It can be handled easily by both beginners and average users, although the former category might feel the need for documentation to explain options and their influence on the result. The fact that it is portable and requires no installation is a plus as you can carry it on a stick and run performance tests on drives on various systems.