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Solid State Drive Optimization & Longevity

With the expense of Solid State Drives come longevity concerns, you want to get the best performance, this article details some of the tricks for longevity and optimization.

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SSD OPTIMIZATION & LONGEVITY

With the inherent expense of SSD’s recent concerns about longevity and optimization have surfaced. With 1 Million hours MTBF the drives have a pretty good lifespan but if you are interested in longevity and optimizing the drive for maximum performance here’s a few tips and tricks you may want to experiment with.

As usual Bjorn3D offers this information on an as is basis and is not responsible for the use, misuse, or accidents that may occur from attempting any of the tips and tricks contained herein. Rest assured we have tried all these tips and tricks and had no negative effects so if used carefully following all the instructions to the letter you shouldn’t have any problems.

SOME OF THESE CHANGES MAY REQUIRE YOU TO LOG IN AS ADMINISTRATOR

Vista Defrags automatically on a daily basis and most manufacturers recommend turning off defrag for SSD’s. Defragging isn’t needed on SSD’s so we recommend disabling it.

Disabling Vista Daily Defrag

Go to my computer, right click on the drive, properties, tools, defragment now un-check schedule defragment this drive.

This can be done for drives individually so you can leave defrag enabled for any platter drives in the system if you wish.

Disabling Superfetch

Click Start, Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Services, scroll down to Superfetch and right click Superfetch, Click Properties, drop the Startup Type drop down and click Disabled then click apply.

Next time you reboot Superfetch will be disabled and you’ll notice that you have more ram available. Superfetch tries to predict what you will use and load it into active ram. To do that it has to pull the information from the hard drive and store it in ram, with the speed of SSD’s it’s arguably not needed. Leaving it enabled with a SSD might decrease the longevity of the SSD because of the continual HD transfer into memory trying to predict what you are going to use.

Disabling Drive Indexing

Click on my computer, right click on the SSD drive, properties, un-check Drive indexing, a wizard will appear, follow through with the Wizard and let it finish.

Once you’ve disabled Drive Indexing you’ll see just how many files Vista tries to keep track of on an ongoing basis and quickly realize how drive intensive combing through each and every file and keeping track of it to speed up searching. That drive intensive indexing may decrease the life of your SSD and frankly we didn’t notice any performance decrease by disabling Drive Indexing. Searches on the HD may be a little slower but how many searches do we do on the hard drive on a daily basis.

Disabling Search Indexing

Click Start, control panel, classic view, administrative tools, services, scroll down to windows search and right click, properties, change startup type to disabled then click apply.

The next time you reboot Search Indexing will be disabled. Search Indexing lets you search faster. However even when the computer is idle you will see the Hard Drive activity light blinking on and off continually. This is probably due to Search Indexing continually crawling through your drive and indexing files. Turning off search indexing you will be disabling SearchProtocolHost, SearchFilterHost and SearchIndexer which run and index the hard drive even during more critical tasks. It will however slow down searches so it might not be desirable to disable it for some users. We tend to know where our files are so disabling it isn’t much of a disadvantage for us. If you search your email a lot with Outlook those searches might slow down. Having Search Indexing turned on might decrease the life of your SSD.

Disabling System Restore

Right click my computer, properties, advanced system settings, system protection tab, un-check C drive and follow the dialog box instructions.

We are on the fence about disabling System Restore. Most of the review community tends to back up their hard drives and it’s not much of a disadvantage to restore from a hard drive backup. However System Restore when it works can save your proverbial butt so think long and hard before disabling System Restore. Some Vista functions it’s probably worth taking a longevity and performance hit to protect your programs and data, this may be one of those. We prefer to take the hit and leave System Restore enabled, the more adventurous among you may want to disable it. If that’s the case we’ve provided the instructions to disable it but if disaster strikes you are on your own and we bear no responsibility for you disabling System Restore.

Disabling PreFetch

Disabling PreFetch involves editing the registry and if your not comfortable editing the registry then don’t do it. Improperly editing the registry can crash your system.

Click Start, all programs, accessories, run, then type Rededit and click OK, then Goto…Hkey_local_machineSYSTEMCurrentControlSet ControlSession ManagerMemory ManagementPrefetchParameters, right click Enableprefetcher, hit modify and change 3 to 0 and hit OK. Once you click OK you can exit Regedit.

Windows Vista’s Superfetch builds on a technology introduced in Windows XP called Prefetch. Prefetching is a process in which the operating system loads key pieces of data and code from disk into memory before it’s actually needed.

In order for this Prefetching operation to actually improve performance, the Windows Cache Manager monitors the data being moved between the disk and RAM and between RAM and virtual memory when the system is booting up as well as when various applications are loaded.

During the prefetch operation Windows caches and indexes files and stores them in one continuous block on your hard drive. It does this by defragging that area on a regular basis. That happens in the Prefetch folder and vendors have told us defragging on a regular basis can decrease the longevity of your drive. This is another of those tips and tricks that you will have to decide on your own. Once again Windows is trying to predict what you will do the next time you boot, and if it slows down your system or annoys you just reverse the procedure and change the registry entry back to “3” and your back where you started.

Enabling Write Caching

Click Start, Control panel, (we like classic view so we give instructions for classic view), system, device manager, click the “Plus Sign” beside disk drives, right click the drive, click properties, click the policies tab, then enable both the write cache boxes Enable Write Caching and Enable Advanced Performance then click OK and you can exit all the Control Panel trappings.

You should note that enabling Enhanced Performance can result in data loss if you lose power to the hard drive. Enhanced performance allows the drive to delay writes until the cache has filled to a certain point, then it writes the batch of data to the Hard drive all at once decreasing the number of times the hard drive is accessed. With most modern SSD’s massive 64MB cache this can increase performance and longevity at the cost of potential data loss. We tend to use UPS (Uninterpretable Power Supplies) and laptops that provide battery backup for the system so enabling write caching is no disadvantage for us, but in areas with bad power grids or a lot of power outages you may want to leave Enhanced Performance disabled.

Disabling Pagefile

Right click my computer, properties, advanced system settings, advanced tab, performance, settings, advanced tab, Virtual memory, hit change, uncheck “Automatically manage paging file for all drives” and then check “no paging file” and hit set.

The pagefile is basically used as virtual memory on the system, if information and programs in Windows isn’t being actively used it’s moved to the pagefile which is a section of your hard drive that is used like Ram Memory. Disabling Pagefile is most useful on systems with a large amount of ram and systems with smaller amounts of ram or a 32 bit operating system it might be better to leave pagefile enabled. In the end it’s one of those try it and see what happens things and if performance decreases reverse the procedure and your back to pagefiling. Generally during a normal workload you can:

Right Click the Task Bar, Click Task Manager, click the performance tab, and you will see on the right hand corner above the resource meter the entry “Page File” and something that looks like 1630M/8105M. the first part the 1630M is the amount of data stored in the page file, in this case 1.63GB, the second part is the size of the page file, in this case 8.105GB. If after applying the tweaks we provided the page file usage drops to well below your free ram then disabling pagefile will probably provide a performance increase. If the Paged files (the 1.63GB in this example) is larger than your free ram then performance will decrease. In a lot of cases ram is cheap enough that using a 64 bit operating system and moving to 8GB of ram, then turning off pagefile can increase the systems overall performance and increase the longevity of your SSD.

A Few Thoughts

Tweaking system performance can be a two edged sword and just applying a tweak and not checking pre-tweak performance against post-tweak performance can be a big mistake. We review hardware on an ongoing basis and fully understand that. You should endeavor to look at the benchmarks we use to determine system performance then run then before applying a tweak, apply the tweak, then run them after the tweak and see if it helped performance. If it didn’t then reverse the process and you have the performance back.

Use common sense! If you run Vista on 2GB of ram disabling the pagefile is probably a bad idea. If you tend to get a lot of Viruses or Trojans or Windows fails to boot on a regular basis turning off System Restore is probably a bad idea.

Using some or all of these tweaks will increase the longevity of your SSD and increase system performance but as with all things a balance needs to be struck and we are not saying that applying all these tweaks at once and assuming you’ve increased system performance is a good idea. You have to decide what’s right for you and if your not willing to spend a few hours tweaking and testing then it’s probably better to click off this page and forget you ever saw it.

If your willing to spend that time and carefully select which tweaks work for you then you can increase performance and extend the longevity of your drive. Above all know what you are doing and do it carefully. Backing up your hard drive before any intensive tweaking session is a good idea.

If you have any feedback feel free to suggest further tweaks and tips in the forum thread about this article.

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