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Regarding your concern about read speed, remember how multitrack recordings are written to the disk. Each file is subdivided into fixed size units called clusters. When multiple files are written in parallel, consecutive clusters of each file will be interleaved with the clusters of all other streams. This reduces the requirement of head movements during recording (and playback) dramatically.
When these (fragmented) files are copied back to the PC, many read requests need to be processed by the device, since the files are not consecutive. For each read request the head must wait for the data coming from the rotating surface, this time is shorter for faster rotating drives.
When you defragment the drive or re-check with a file copied from PC, clusters are properly ordered and data can be retrieved with less read requests, raising copy speed dramatically (as observed).
On the other hand, playback from a defragmented QuDrive (or project copied back to the disk from PC) will probably not work for the same reason, since heads need to be repositioned for each cluster.

Anyway, regarding observed errors during recording you should remember that HDDs are mechanical drives with a head flying in fractions of a mm above the magnetic surface. Many drives contain some kind of shock sensors and quickly park the head in a save position if some mechanical movement is detected. Drives without such sensors may simply destroy head and/or surface.
So: If you record live, its probably better to record on flash sticks or SSD.