We all love fast computers and installing an SSD (Solid State Drive) can speed up your PC more than you ever thought possible. In the SSD vs hard drive comparison SSDs are always the winner – they are significantly faster than conventional hard drives, are more reliable because they have no moving parts, are less susceptible to shock, use less power, and are really quiet. Sure, SSDs are still expensive compared to ordinary hard drives, but prices are starting to drop as SSDs are becoming more common.
Even though SSDs serve the same purpose as HDDs, they work differently. And because they are not really mainstream yet, a lot of users are confused whether SSDs need to be maintained in the same way as HDDs or not. On top of that, there are people who are looking for ways to speed up SSD even more. In this article we are going to show you some SSD optimization tweaks and help you ensure that your SSD runs at its peak performance.
Disable scheduled disk defragmentation
We had a lot of users ask us whether they should defragment their SSDs. The answer is “No”. Conventional defragmentation is only useful for spinning hard drives that have moving parts because it puts all file fragments together and thus lets the hard disk open files in one smooth move. This is a lot faster than having the read arm dash all over the hard drive when reading a file. SSDs don’t have any mechanical arms and they don’t care whether the file is contiguous or fragmented. For SSDs, free space defragmentation is not even available if you use the Windows built-in defrag. Moreover, defragging your SSD can theoretically shorten its lifespan because SSD cells can support only a certain number of write operations (usually around 10,000 writes per cell).
Being the latest operating system, Windows 7 deals with SSDs better than any other Windows version. That’s why scheduled defragmentation that is enabled by default for HDDs is actually disabled for SSDs (in case of a fresh install of Windows to an SSD). However, it’s still best to make sure defragmentation is disabled. To do that:
- Click on Start and type dfrgui in the Search bar
- Highlight your SSD and click on Configure Schedule
- Make sure Run on a schedule is unchecked. If it’s checked, uncheck it.
Another SSD optimization tweak - Disable indexing
Indexing is a Windows service that is designed to speed up Windows search. The indexing service automatically keeps track of the files on your computer, which makes searching for files faster. However, indexing performs numerous small write operations to maintain the database of file indexes when you create, modify or delete files. And, as you already know, the fewer writes there are to an SSD, the longer it will perform well. As for Windows search, it will perform just as well with indexing switched off. To disable indexing, do the following:
- Go to Start and click on Computer
- Right-click on the SSD drive and select Properties
- Uncheck Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties
Make sure TRIM support is enabled
You probably know that when you delete files, they don’t get deleted immediately. The files stay where they are, but their index is changed so that the space they occupy is marked as free. When you write new files to the disk, the whole block of data gets scrubbed for the new files to be saved. This technology works well for HDDs. But SSDs store and overwrite data in a different way. Therefore, it’s best for the SSD to use TRIM command and scrub deleted files rather than perform an entire block erase when new data is written to the disk. TRIM command allows your operating system to inform your SSD drive which blocks of data are not in use anymore and can be wiped. Basically, TRIM helps to avoid write performance degradation thanks to the way it handles deletes and writes.
Windows 7 supports TRIM out of the box, but it’s still good to make sure TRIM support is enabled. Here is how you can do it:
- Launch the elevated command prompt by clicking on Start, typing cmd.exe in the Search box and pressing Ctrl+Shift+Enter
- In the command prompt window, type fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify
- DisableDeleteNotify = 0 means that TRIM is enabled and DisableDeleteNotify = 1 means that it’s disabled.
Disable, move or reduce the page file
Your system starts using the page file (virtual memory) when it runs out of memory while working with applications. When the system is using the page file, there are writes to your drive. Because it’s best to reduce writes to SSD, it’s best to either reduce the size of the page file, move it to another drive or disable it altogether. Here is how:
- Click on Start, right-click on Computer and go to Properties
- Choose Advanced System Settings link on the left-hand side and go to Settings under Performance
- Go to the Advanced tab, find Virtual memory and click Change
- Uncheck the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives checkbox
- Under Drive [Volume Label], click on the drive where you want to change the size of virtual memory. If your system uses an HDD in addition to an SSD, it’s best to move the page file there.
- Click Custom size and type the new size in MB in the Initial size (MB) and Maximum size (MB) boxes. Make sure it’s the same amount to prevent your CPU from constantly adjusting virtual memory
- Click Set and then click OK
- If you want to disable the page file, simply select No paging file and click OK
Keep in mind that if you disable the page file altogether and run out of RAM when using some applications, they will crash.
You can free up a lot of space on your SSD (roughly the amount of your RAM) by disabling hibernation. Disabling hibernation will prevent you from using this power-saving mode, but the free space benefit is worth it. Here is how you can disable hibernation:
- Click on Start, type cmd, right-click on the cmd icon and select Run as Administrator
- In the command prompt window type powercfg -h off and press Enter
And our last SSD optimization tweak - Enable write caching
Write caching is a feature that improves the performance of both SSDs and HDDs. Even though the advantage of SSD vs hard drive is increased speed, write caching can still improve its performance. When write caching is enabled, high speed volatile memory is used to collect and cache write commands sent to the disk drive. This helps to improve the performance of the drive. Another useful feature of write caching is NCQ (Native Command Queuing) – a feature that introduces write combining and enables the drive to make intelligent choices when writing and reading data.
To enable write caching, do the following:
- Click on Start, right-click on Computer and go to Properties
- Click on the Device Manager on the left-hand side
- Open the Disk drives section, right-click on your drive, select Properties and go to the Policies tab
- Check Enable write caching on the disk and click OK
These SSD optimization tweaks will help you make your solid state drive even faster, prolong its lifetime, and make your computer a real pleasure to use.