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trparky
Apple... YUM
Premium,MVM
join:2000-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:2

[WIN7] Recommended SSD System Tweaks?

What are some suggestions on some tweaks for a system running an SSD as the system drive?



DKS
Damn Kidney Stones
Premium,ExMod 2002
join:2001-03-22
Owen Sound, ON
kudos:2

1 recommendation

said by trparky:

What are some suggestions on some tweaks for a system running an SSD as the system drive?

Nothing. Do absolutely nothing. Just don't run defrag and don't even "align" the drive. Just let it run.
--
Need-based health care not greed-based health care.


BronsCon

join:2003-10-24
Walnut Creek, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
reply to trparky

Copy everything of any importance to a new drive, obtain installers for any of the factory-installed apps you wish to keep, get a hold of drivers for all of your hardware, put it all on a second drive (not just another partition on the SSD.

Boot off a Windows 7 install DVD (get one if you don't have one; google around, you can find legit sources for an ISO and burn your own, you should have a license key already), wipe that SSD clean. Repartition it and format it as NTFS with 512 byte clusters. Then reinstall everything and enjoy your drive. Optionally, enable compression on the drive (you'll gain a bit of storage from this and possibly speed up access times even further -- I'll explain below).

Larger clusters reduce fragmentation, which means less seeking, speeding up read times on spinning disks. They also waste space, since you can only store one file per cluster. Since SSDs don't suffer from seek times like spinning disks do, there's no reason to make that trade-off and give up some space to gain performance; there's no gain in it for an SSD.

In case the above doesn't make sense to you, I'll explain in more detail. Disks are split into tiny sections (typically 512 bytes) called sectors, then the filesystem groups those sectors into clusters (8 512 byte sectors, for a 4KB cluster by default for NTFS). A file can take up multiple clusters, but a single cluster can only hold (part of) one file. This is how larger clusters reduce fragmentation, but it's also how they waste space. Since fragmentation doesn't matter on an SSD, smaller clusters are better because they don't waste as much space. Let's suppose you have a lot of small configuration files (you do; all the little desktop settings files Windows hides from you, one for every folder; config files foe all of your apps, including many for Windows itself; user profile settings; emails, depending on how your mail client stores them; image thumbnails Windows generates automatically; browser caches; the list goes on, there are tens-if-not-hundreds of thousands of them), ranging in size from 256 bytes to 1KB. If you have 4KB cllusters on your drive, each of those files is using 4KB of disk space, wasting at least 3KB for each file. With 512 byte sectors, the smallest of those files only take up 512 bytes, while the 513B-1KB files only take up 1KB. Even assuming all of them are in the latter group, that's 3KB for each file that you're now not wasting. It might not seem like much, but 10,000 such files would waste 30MB, 100,00 would waste 300MB! And it's not just small files that waste; any file that's not an exact multiple if your cluster size is wasteful, since the last cluster will have some empty space at the end. if you have a 4097KB file, it's taking up 1001 entire 4KB clusters, but wasting 3KB of the last one. Extrapolate that across all of your files (there are currently over 500,000 files on my system and I only installed the system less than 2 weeks ago), assume that on average you're wasting half of a cluster (that's pretty accurate on most systems)... 500,000 times 2KB is just shy of 1GB; for 512 byte clusters, you're wasting 1/8 less space, less than 128MB, freeing up over 850MB for every 500,000 files on your system.

Earlier, I also mentioned compression, which by its name obviously indicates that it will allow you to fit more onto your drive. There are a few risks involved with enabling Windows disk compression; most notably that it makes recovery of files from a damaged disk more difficult; however, it's already practically impossible to recover a damaged SSD, since SSDs use striping internally, so once one of the flash chips dies, it's taken part of every sector with it, so this isn't likely a concern. The other risk is that if you compress certain system files, you might not be able to boot; Windows 7 boots off that small (usually 100MB) partition it won't let you delete from the beginning of your drive, so this is also not a concern, since such files reside on that partition and you can't compress it anyway. The 3rd possible downside is increased CPU usage during disk access, since the CPU has to be able to keep up to compress data for writes and decompress for reads; on a modern CPU with 4 or more cores, this is not a concern, but it may slow your system down if you only have 1 or 2 cores.

Now that I've explained (and debunked, as far as SSDs are concerned) the possible dangers of enabling disk compression, let's talk about the good stuff. Firstly, you should see an increase in free space (not available space, a 256GB drive is a 256GB drive, but if you make the files smaller, you end up using less of it!!) Second, since you're reading or writing less data to disk, disk access will appear even faster. If your 1GB file compresses to 800MB on disk, you not only saved 20% on storage, you save the same 20% on disk access, every time you access that file. Again, as I mentioned previously, this assumes that your CPU can keep up with the compression. My current CPU (an i7 with 4 real cores - 8 virtual) has no issues doing so, and the i3 (2 real cores, 4 virtual) only had issues when it was already under heavy load and would have likely had issues anyway, so I'm not sure that can be attributed to the compression.

To give you some idea what disk compression can do in real wold usage, let's take a look at my SSD. The files on my disk currently ad up to 43.4GB, but only take up 33.8GB compressed on disk, a savings of just over 22%. That also means, on average, 22% faster reads and 22% faster writes, since it is this compressed data that's being read and written. With sustained read speeds of 520MB/sec, an extra 22% is an extra 115MB/sec; an extra 88.5MB/sec added to my 400MB/sec write speeds. That's not a small boost.

Anyway, sorry for the wall of text, I just wanted to provide detailed explanations and real world data to back up my suggestions.


dave
Premium,MVM
join:2000-05-04
not in ohio
kudos:8
reply to DKS

Seconded.



mmainprize

join:2001-12-06
Houghton Lake, MI
Reviews:
·Charter
reply to trparky

The SSD drive should not store data that changes a lot. So i would think it would be a good idea to more your TEMP directorys to a fixed drive, and the swap file also.

Any other directory that will change a lot because the SSD has a limited number of writes before it will start failing. This should take years before that happens but in the case of the temp internet files, every page you go to creates files, and at some point it has to delete files to be able to add files and this just repeats at some point for every page you go to unless you use something like cccleaner to delete then and start over but that should not be done either on the SSD.



Freddy
Premium
join:2005-05-17
Arlington, VA
kudos:2
reply to trparky

trparky,

Here is the link to information posted over at the Crucial website concerning SSD tweaks and tips:

»forum.crucial.com/t5/Solid-State···d-p/4900

Freddy



DKS
Damn Kidney Stones
Premium,ExMod 2002
join:2001-03-22
Owen Sound, ON
kudos:2

said by Freddy:

trparky,

Here is the link to information posted over at the Crucial website concerning SSD tweaks and tips:

»forum.crucial.com/t5/Solid-State···d-p/4900

Freddy

Drive alignment is irrelevant for SSD's.
--
Need-based health care not greed-based health care.


DKS
Damn Kidney Stones
Premium,ExMod 2002
join:2001-03-22
Owen Sound, ON
kudos:2
reply to mmainprize

said by mmainprize:

The SSD drive should not store data that changes a lot. So i would think it would be a good idea to more your TEMP directorys to a fixed drive, and the swap file also.

Any other directory that will change a lot because the SSD has a limited number of writes before it will start failing. This should take years before that happens but in the case of the temp internet files, every page you go to creates files, and at some point it has to delete files to be able to add files and this just repeats at some point for every page you go to unless you use something like cccleaner to delete then and start over but that should not be done either on the SSD.

Then what point is an SSD? I suggest that consumers buy the largest they can afford (prices are approaching $1/Gb) and go from there. I have temp files and a large swap file on my SSD without any problem (mind you, it's an Intel). My own preference is for Intel drives.
--
Need-based health care not greed-based health care.

praetoralpha

join:2005-08-06
Pittsburgh, PA
reply to trparky

I reinstalled Windows, and moved my users directory to a hard drive, takes care of most stuff that changes a lot:

»answers.microsoft.com/en-us/wind···aebb296e

And make sure your swap/page file is not on the SSD, and never defrag it. Also back stuff up! I've heard SSDs fail like there's no tomorrow, and you generally don't have any forewarning about it. You will just wake up and have nothing.



Vchat20
Landing is the REAL challenge
Premium
join:2003-09-16
Columbus, OH
reply to mmainprize

Generally speaking, even remotely modern SSD's have lifespans that will outlast your need and system.

I installed a 60GB OCZ Solid 3 last October in my laptop as the main drive and so far SSDLife has been reporting estimated EOL at around October 2021. And this is with just a stock Win7 configuration. Page and hibernate files on the SSD, temp files, etc..

Larger drives should have an even lesser impact and greater lifespan given how TRIM and Win7 manage the drive
--
I swear, some people should have pace-makers installed to free up the resources. Breathing and heart beat taxes their whole system, all of their brain cells wasted on life support.-two bit brains, and the second bit is wasted on parity! ~head_spaz


dave
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join:2000-05-04
not in ohio
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Reviews:
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reply to DKS

said by DKS:

Drive alignment is irrelevant for SSD's.

Not so. SSDs read/write data based on their notion of an internal block size, and the OS read/writes data based on its notion of a cluster size. You don't want OS clusters misaligned with respect to SSD blocks, since otherwise one OS write can require modifications to two SSD blocks: performance goes way down.

But Windows 7 handles that correctly. Previous versions got it consistently wrong (because they started the first partition something like 63 sectors in from the beginning of the disk).


trparky
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Cleveland, OH
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So do I even need a page file for a system that has 8 or 12 GBs of RAM?



Kilroy
Premium,MVM
join:2002-11-21
Saint Paul, MN

said by trparky:

So do I even need a page file for a system that has 8 or 12 GBs of RAM?

Yes, but move it to a mechanical drive, not the SSD. You most likely will not use the page file, but running without a page file can also cause issues. An alternative would be to have a small 1024 MB page file on the SSD. I recommend against using hibernation also as it will use the same size on the SSD as you have in RAM.
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Vchat20
Landing is the REAL challenge
Premium
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Columbus, OH

said by Kilroy:

said by trparky:

So do I even need a page file for a system that has 8 or 12 GBs of RAM?

An alternative would be to have a small 1024 MB page file on the SSD. I recommend against using hibernation also as it will use the same size on the SSD as you have in RAM.

These are the only changes I would really recommend due to space concerns and what size SSD you have/plan to get. Reduce PF size to something reasonable. More than likely you will never need to use it or if you do, it will be minimal. Hibernate, as noted, will use close to or the same amount of RAM you have in the system (I have always assumed and read it was equal to the total RAM but have noticed on a few 7 systems that it is a bit less for some unknown reason. One in particular has 2GB but the hiberfile size is aroun ~1.7GB). -IF- you use hibernate, move it. If not, just disable hibernate altogether and the file will go away with it. In fact it would be my personal opinion to avoid hibernation on this machine anyways given how much RAM you have. It would likely take much longer to hibernate/resume even if the hiberfile is on the SSD, than to simply do a cold boot to begin with.
--
I swear, some people should have pace-makers installed to free up the resources. Breathing and heart beat taxes their whole system, all of their brain cells wasted on life support.-two bit brains, and the second bit is wasted on parity! ~head_spaz


trparky
Apple... YUM
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join:2000-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:2

Should SuperFetch be enabled or disabled?



Octavean
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-31
New York, NY
kudos:1
reply to trparky

Here you go,...

TweakTown's Solid State Drive Optimization Guide

I personally wouldn’t do much “tweaking“.



shearer
Northern Lights
Premium
join:2002-06-18
Asia
reply to trparky

said by the crucial forum link :

Correct alignment is critical. Microsoft say an incorrectly aligned SSD can suffer performance loses of up to 50%. If you installed Vista or Windows 7 straight to the SSD and let it make the partition on the SSD for you then your alignment is fine. it's only of concern if you're installing XP or you're restoring a partition image backup as Daz did.

Any comments on the part in bold. How true is it?

dave
Premium,MVM
join:2000-05-04
not in ohio
kudos:8

Totally true.



DKS
Damn Kidney Stones
Premium,ExMod 2002
join:2001-03-22
Owen Sound, ON
kudos:2
reply to dave

said by dave:

said by DKS:

Drive alignment is irrelevant for SSD's.

Not so. SSDs read/write data based on their notion of an internal block size, and the OS read/writes data based on its notion of a cluster size. You don't want OS clusters misaligned with respect to SSD blocks, since otherwise one OS write can require modifications to two SSD blocks: performance goes way down.

But Windows 7 handles that correctly. Previous versions got it consistently wrong (because they started the first partition something like 63 sectors in from the beginning of the disk).

Fred Langa at Windows Secrets did comprehensive testing this week (unfortunately it's behind a paywall or I would link it) and showed that drive alignment makes zero difference in an SSD.

quote:
The throughput times of the misaligned-versus-aligned SSD produced the following results:
Random-access read
Before alignment: 149.2 megabytes per second (MBs)
After alignment: 150.0 MBs
Sequential read
Before: 278 MBs
After: 277 MBs
Windows Experience Index
Before and after: 7.9 (The scale goes only to 8.) Bootup and shut down
No perceptible change.
And so on

In every area I looked at, I could detect no meaningful difference in the SSD's aligned and misaligned performance.
These results make sense if alignment-performance issues are mostly related to drive mechanics. When a traditional platter drive is misaligned, its heads might have to make additional movements to completely read or write data to each sector. With a single file using hundreds or even thousands of sectors, those extra movements could add up to a significant amount of time.

SSDs, on the other hand, have no platters or heads. Whether the sectors are aligned or not, accessing different memory addresses in an SSD's RAM takes almost no time at all. So it's not surprising that aligning the sectors on my SSD showed no significant performance improvement.

Drive alignment might have better results with other configurations heavy, constant database lookups; conventional, mechanical drives; or RAID systems. Your results might also be different if your drive is formatted with tools that handle alignment differently or not at all.

--
Need-based health care not greed-based health care.


JohnInSJ
Premium
join:2003-09-22
Aptos, CA

Is it just me or did Fred test the wrong thing.

If not aligned, WRITEs are a problem
- a write can cause two SSD blocks to need to be updated, which is an unnecessary update to a flash memory block. Life-1 for no reason
- a write update to two blocks is going to take more time than a write to one block

So, testing read speeds is going to show either of these things how, exactly?
--
My place : »www.schettino.us



DKS
Damn Kidney Stones
Premium,ExMod 2002
join:2001-03-22
Owen Sound, ON
kudos:2

said by JohnInSJ:

Is it just me or did Fred test the wrong thing.

If not aligned, WRITEs are a problem
- a write can cause two SSD blocks to need to be updated, which is an unnecessary update to a flash memory block. Life-1 for no reason
- a write update to two blocks is going to take more time than a write to one block

So, testing read speeds is going to show either of these things how, exactly?

You might find this thread helpful in response to Fred's comments:

»windowssecrets.com/forums/showth···e-drives

Frankly, it seems to be, for most people, searching after the Holy Grail. And except for the very technical or extremely anal, not to amount to a hill of beans.
--
Need-based health care not greed-based health care.


JohnInSJ
Premium
join:2003-09-22
Aptos, CA

The linked comments say exactly what I said, with more words

Write is the issue, not read. Slight but possibly insignificant in modern SSD increase in wear. Two read/writes vs 1... two REALLY FAST R/Ws, but still, double the time. For Writes. Sometimes. So Fred tested the wrong thing (read speed)
--
My place : »www.schettino.us



Vchat20
Landing is the REAL challenge
Premium
join:2003-09-16
Columbus, OH

1 recommendation

reply to trparky

said by trparky:

So do I even need a page file for a system that has 8 or 12 GBs of RAM?

7 will pretty much handle this stuff automatically such as disabling automatic defrag on the disk, disabling superfetch, and other system services unnecessary on an ssd.

Just do a fresh install on the drive without going outside of 7's guided install process and do the prior mentioned pagefile and hibernation tweaks and you'll be fine. No need to overthink it.
--
I swear, some people should have pace-makers installed to free up the resources. Breathing and heart beat taxes their whole system, all of their brain cells wasted on life support.-two bit brains, and the second bit is wasted on parity! ~head_spaz

dave
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join:2000-05-04
not in ohio
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Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

1 edit
reply to DKS

It so happens that I often chat to a senior guy where I work whose job in part involves figuring out the impact of various disk technologies on our product line. And he tells me it does make a difference. Unfortunately his reports aren't public.

Misalignment is mostly a write problem, and more so on a not-new drive. (You can't overwrite an SSD block; the controller needs to allocate an erased block, and schedule the old one for erasure.)

FWIW, not all SSDs are equal. Different controllers choose to optimize for (note rare example of correct usage of the word) different scenarios.



DKS
Damn Kidney Stones
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Owen Sound, ON
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reply to Vchat20

said by Vchat20:

said by trparky:

So do I even need a page file for a system that has 8 or 12 GBs of RAM?

7 will pretty much handle this stuff automatically such as disabling automatic defrag on the disk, disabling superfetch, and other system services unnecessary on an ssd.

Just do a fresh install on the drive without going outside of 7's guided install process and do the prior mentioned pagefile and hibernation tweaks and you'll be fine. No need to overthink it.

+1
--
Need-based health care not greed-based health care.


DKS
Damn Kidney Stones
Premium,ExMod 2002
join:2001-03-22
Owen Sound, ON
kudos:2
reply to dave

said by dave:

It so happens that I often chat to a senior guy where I work whose job in part involves figuring out the impact of various disk technologies on our product line. And he tells me it does make a difference. Unfortunately his reports aren't public.

Misalignment is mostly a write problem, and more so on a not-new drive. (You can't overwrite an SSD block; the controller needs to allocate an erased block, and schedule the old one for erasure.)

FWIW, not all SSDs are equal. Different controllers choose to optimize for (note rare example of correct usage of the word) different scenarios.

In that situation, I can understand the requirement. But for the 99% of consumers, not so much. Let Windows 7 do its thing and the rest of us should be fine. After several drive failures (OCZ) I have been using Intel SSDs with no problems.
--
Need-based health care not greed-based health care.


shearer
Northern Lights
Premium
join:2002-06-18
Asia
reply to Vchat20

said by Vchat20:

7 will pretty much handle this stuff automatically such as disabling automatic defrag on the disk, disabling superfetch, and other system services unnecessary on an ssd.

OK, but what if I'm restoring an image of Win7 (originating from mechanical HDD) to SSD? What other tweaks I need to make beside the following:

- drive alignment (if I want that extra non-perceptible boost in performance)
- disable superfetch, defrag, indexing
- move page file away
- TRIM (does win7 automatically enable it if it detects itself sitting on a SSD?)


BronsCon

join:2003-10-24
Walnut Creek, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
reply to trparky

said by trparky:

So do I even need a page file for a system that has 8 or 12 GBs of RAM?

Depends what you're doing with it. I run 16GB with no pagefile, but I'm gonna have to turn that puppy back on when I start running my VMs again. If you're just surfing the web and checking your email, you're probably good without a pagefile even at 4GB.

Turn off hibernation, set the pagefile initial size to 0, max size to whatever (usually equal to the amount of RAM you have is a good policy, double your RAM if you have 4GB or less) and Windows won't page out unless it absolutely needs to. Disabling the pagefile altogether means a crash if you fill your RAM, setting it to a 0 initial size means it won't be used unless your RAM is literally full; giving it a nonzero initial size means Windows will page out enough data to fill that initial size as soon as there's enough disk idle time for it to do so without impacting performance. It does this and marks the paged out portion of RAM as disposable, so it knows it can just free that RAM without having to page it our first (since it's already written to disk), but if you never actually fill your RAM, you're using erase-write cycles on your SSD needlessly.

dave
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not in ohio
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reply to DKS

said by DKS:

Let Windows 7 do its thing and the rest of us should be fine.

There's no alignment issue with Windows 7 - it knows how to do the alignment.

Previous versions of Windows did not; so those are the systems on which you need to fix the alignment (if you care). That includes the update from not-Win7 to Win7 case, of course.


trparky
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Cleveland, OH
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reply to trparky

Why I ask all of these questions is because my system is acting really weird as of late.

As you might know, a system with an SSD should simply fly. Right? Click on an icon to launch a program and it should have it loaded... like yesterday. But I'm seeing some huge issues with my system here.

When I boot my system it's fast. Everything seems fast. Use the computer for some time, say like for six hours, and you can see the system gradually get slower. Programs take longer to launch, right-click gets slower, etc. Hell, even the mouse starts to seem like it's asleep at the wheel in the sense that if you move the mouse the cursor doesn't always respond.

I have no idea why this is so. I can't pinpoint where the problem is. I've been doing troubleshooting for almost two weeks now and have come up completely empty-handed.

A system with a Core i7, 12 GBs of RAM, and an Intel 520 Series 240 GB SSD should not be having these issues.
--
Tom
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