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Gem
Premium
join:2005-09-10
kudos:4
Reviews:
·CableOne

[WIN8] SSDs - using Intel Toolbox or W8's drive Optimizer?

I first ran Windows 8 SSD drive optimizer and "tuned it" within that program. That was supposed to turn off prefetch and superfetch, iirc.

Later I downloaded and ran Intel's SSD Toolbox version 3.1.2 and it says the SSD has not been "optimized" and that Superfetch still needs to be disabled.

So what's up, do we need to run both of the programs or just one or the other?

This was on an early Intel V25 40GB Intel SSD drive by the way in case that matters. It had the latest Intel firmware installed when the latest Intel Tool was run, but still had the earlier firmware when Windows 8 drive optimizer was run. Would that have made a difference?


id09542

join:2002-04-25
Bloomington, IL

I am under the thinking that all the tools are designed for Windows 7. Windows 8 has native SSD support built in for everything. I see no reason to run any of the SSD tools that the vendor provides to optimize if under Win 8. These tools make recommendations for Win 8 that are just plain wrong.


techsup1983

join:2013-03-23
reply to Gem

Windows 8 maintenance tasks I believe it uses the 'trim' command on ssd's.
I think this is all that they need maintenance wise. SSD's dont need to be defragged or optimized as far as i know.
Could be wrong.


Gem
Premium
join:2005-09-10
kudos:4
Reviews:
·CableOne

For most manufacturers' SSD programs "optimize" means that they disable fetch and superfetch to prevent excess writes to the SSD memory banks.

It's up for discussion whether that is good or bad for SSD users.

Likewise the debate over whether or not to use a pagefile on SSD drives.

And with some SSD controllers the process of "over-provisioning" to assure efficient operation of the SSDs as they accumulate usage time.

I don't know how much of the above Windows 8 does or doesn't do automatically. What I have read is that Windows 8 automatically declines to defragment SSD drives. That's good.


Mele20
Premium
join:2001-06-05
Hilo, HI
kudos:5
reply to techsup1983

Click for full size
said by techsup1983:

Windows 8 maintenance tasks I believe it uses the 'trim' command on ssd's.
I think this is all that they need maintenance wise. SSD's dont need to be defragged or optimized as far as i know.
Could be wrong.

I disabled Windows 8 Maintenance tasks as best I could partly because it was running "trim" way too often.

I handle optimization on my SSD on Win 8 just as I handle the defrag for the Data drive. I do it manually. Periodically, I check to see if Optimization of any drive is needed. I just checked. It had been over a month since I last checked and I was yelled at and told that the SSD needed to be optimized. It took all of about 1 second.
--
When governments fear people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. Thomas Jefferson


koitsu
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-16
Mountain View, CA
kudos:23

2 edits

3 recommendations

reply to Gem

On Windows 7 onward, you do not (and SHOULD NOT) need to use the Intel Toolbox "Optimizer" feature. This feature does nothing other than induce TRIM for unused LBA ranges on the drive.

Windows 7 onward has native TRIM support, so the Intel Toolbox "Optimizer" feature serves no purpose, and (especially if scheduled periodically) can on newer OSes actually decrease the life expectancy of the SSD. This has been proven here on DSLR by a user who, on Windows 7, scheduled the "Optimizer" to run periodically and in turn may have actually exhausted the erase-write cycle count on his SSD.

I wrote a lengthy technical article explaining how Intel's Toolbox "Optimizer" works, and even mention that story on DSLR:

»koitsu.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/···e-works/

Other SSD manufacturer utilities (such as Samsung Magician) actually do more than just issue TRIM for unused LBA ranges -- they actually induce garbage collection (GC), which allows for optimising the FTL map inside of the SSD (in turn increasing performance). GC can take a long time (it will block (pause/stall) other I/O requests until the GC engine has a chance to get things into a safe/usable state -- you might see this as periodic "stalls" after doing lots and lots and lots of writes (gigabytes) to an SSD and letting the drive idle for a while, as GC tends to happen when the drive is idle, and can take some time to abort/finish). This is one of the differences between Intel's firmware methodology vs. Samsung's firmware methodology; which is "better" is a matter of opinion and is not the point of this discussion.

If you wish to disable Superfetch (which is entirely unrelated to all of the above -- do not let anyone tell you otherwise), you can do so on your own.

However, Superfetch does not do what you think it does (quote: "... disable ... superfetch ... to prevent excess writes to the SSD ...") -- all Superfetch does is pre-load (i.e. reads) commonly-used portions of application and DLL/library space into memory, to decrease disk I/O (regardless of what kind of disk is used). Reference materials for that:

»en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Vi···perFetch
»www.osnews.com/story/21471

The reason people often disable Superfetch with SSDs is to a) save on RAM (memory) usage (which is arguably pedantic because as described the OS will release the memory used when memory pressure situations occur), b) decrease the amount of overall I/O to the SSD. It has nothing to do with writes / the limited nature of NAND flash erase-write cycles.

Now, about the Windows 8 "Optimize Drives" program -- you should not use this on SSDs. EVER. This is just a renamed disk defragmentation utility, and that will absolutely hurt the performance of your SSD (the FTL map will eventually become full with all the LBA tracking it has to do, and drive performance will become slower and slower over time). The OS's I/O abstraction layer already does TRIM on file deletes or resizes (truncation) -- do not let this hogwash chart make you think otherwise. You can (and should) use the Windows 8 "Optimize Drives" program with MHDDs, but not SSDs.
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.


Gem
Premium
join:2005-09-10
kudos:4
Reviews:
·CableOne

Thank you, koitsu. That is an outstanding reply.

You've added much new knowledge on SSDs in General, Intel's Toolbox, the Samsung Magician, and Windows 8 Drive Optimizer program.

I'll access your linked SSD article in a moment for more information, but first here is another question.

I now have a Samsung 840 SSD in addition to Intel SSDs.

Is there any thing else we should know about Samsung SSDs and the Samsung Magician in addition to what you've already stated in your reply above to this thread?


Gem
Premium
join:2005-09-10
kudos:4
Reviews:
·CableOne
reply to koitsu

Koitsu, I just read your article on Wordpress. That in itself raises many more questions. Perhaps you can point to another FAQ, Forum Post, or Wordpress article by you or others that will address the following issues.

Or if time permits and if you desire, perhaps you could author another WordPress article to be titled something like "A User's Guide to Setting up and Maintaining your new SSD"

Hopefully it would answer questions like the following with separate answers for installs of XP vs Vista, W7, and W8:

"Okay, I got that we should never do a Full Format on an SSD, so what should we do prior to a new Windows install of a new or used SSD?"

"What use, if any, should we make of the manufacturer's SSD software on SSDs on XP vs Vista, W7, and W8?" if need be, with different answers for different brands and models of SSDs (say original Intels vs newer Intels, and perhasp OCZ vs Samsung and other manufacturers) or divie that up by controller type.

"When, if ever, should we use or run the Secure Erase on our SSDs?"

"What, if any, windows features should be enabled or disabled for optimal life and efficiencies of our SSDs?" with possible different recommendations depending on which version of Windows we are running - XP vs Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8.

"Should we use the "over-provisioning" command that Samsung suggests and by how much should we reduce the usable space on our SSDs if we do?" Again with possible different answers for XP vs Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8, and with possible different answers for different brands and models of SSDs.

"Should we eliminate the use of page files on any SSDs on any operating system? Should we index or not index on SSDs on any operating system?"

So much of what you say makes sense, and so much of it seems different that what some other articles mention, that I'm now thoroughly confused as how to setup, configure, maintain, and use different makes and models of SSDs on different operating systems - including XP, Vista, W7 and W8.

A comprehensive matrix of recommendations would be a big help. ;>)



koitsu
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-16
Mountain View, CA
kudos:23

1 recommendation

To be honest, I really don't have the interest in writing some gigantic FAQ on how to "properly" treat an SSD. Such things tend to induce a lot of arguing and random Internet jhonkas coming out of the woodwork to fight (you should see how many people dig up my Email address just to engage me over things I've said on my blog).

This is all pretty easy though:

All OSes -- do not use a disk defragmenter of any kind. Ever.

Windows XP -- need to make sure your partition is 4KB-aligned (or better yet, 1 or 2MByte-aligned to match the NAND erase block size, but I'm not going to discuss that -- just align it to 1MByte and don't sweat it). Vista onward defaults to 1MByte partition alignment.

Windows XP -- OS lacks TRIM support in the I/O abstraction layer so you need to use an SSD vendors' utility (e.g. Intel Toolbox, Samsung Magician, etc.) periodically (I recommend once a week).

Windows Vista -- lacks TRIM support; advice from Windows XP applies here.

Windows 7 -- has TRIM support; no need to use SSD vendors' utilities periodically.

Windows 8 -- same as Windows 7.

General "optimisation tweaks" -- almost all of these you'll read online are purely matters of opinion. If you want to cite specific sites or items that you'd like me to weight in on, I can do so, but I'm not going to go analyse all the crap "tech sites" post item by item. I don't have the desire or time for that. This includes disabling search indexing features.

Page files -- you can offload these on to an MHDD if you want, but it doesn't matter (really, it doesn't. I repeat: it doesn't). Do not disable the page file. I have talked about that in other threads (including with people who argued with me about it, then when I pointed them to the issues/problems with it, changed their opinion.)

Overprovisioning -- I have no comment on this at this time.

Formatting -- do not format your SSDs (as in write zeros to all the LBAs). A "Quick Format" is completely OK, but a full format should never be done, as it'll fill the FTL up for no justified reason and impact performance badly. To accomplish the equivalent of a full format on an SSD, use the ATA-level Secure Erase operation (Google this for details).

Controller type -- completely and entirely irrelevant. The only thing that matters (purely for performance, not for usability or reliability reasons) is use of AHCI. If your motherboard/controller supports it, use it. Period.

SSD vendor differential -- not really worth discussing either, because there are too many variables based on what a users' needs are. For example: I won't buy OCZ products because I run Windows XP and OCZ doesn't provide a TRIM utility, while Intel and Samsung do -- but John Doe who uses Windows 7 obviously isn't impacted by that. YMMV.
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.



Ctrl Alt Del
Premium
join:2002-02-18
kudos:1
reply to koitsu

Absolutely excellent advice all around, but there's one thing you're not entirely correct on:

said by koitsu:

Now, about the Windows 8 "Optimize Drives" program -- you should not use this on SSDs. EVER. This is just a renamed disk defragmentation utility, and that will absolutely hurt the performance of your SSD (the FTL map will eventually become full with all the LBA tracking it has to do, and drive performance will become slower and slower over time). The OS's I/O abstraction layer already does TRIM on file deletes or resizes (truncation) -- do not let this hogwash chart make you think otherwise. You can (and should) use the Windows 8 "Optimize Drives" program with MHDDs, but not SSDs.

If Windows 8 determines that you have a SSD, it will not defragment it. All it will do is run TRIM if the amount of dirty blocks exceeds a threshold. Otherwise, Windows wont do anything to the drive.
--
less talk, more music


koitsu
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-16
Mountain View, CA
kudos:23

said by Ctrl Alt Del:

Absolutely excellent advice all around, but there's one thing you're not entirely correct on:

said by koitsu:

Now, about the Windows 8 "Optimize Drives" program -- you should not use this on SSDs. EVER. This is just a renamed disk defragmentation utility, and that will absolutely hurt the performance of your SSD (the FTL map will eventually become full with all the LBA tracking it has to do, and drive performance will become slower and slower over time). The OS's I/O abstraction layer already does TRIM on file deletes or resizes (truncation) -- do not let this hogwash chart make you think otherwise. You can (and should) use the Windows 8 "Optimize Drives" program with MHDDs, but not SSDs.

If Windows 8 determines that you have a SSD, it will not defragment it. All it will do is run TRIM if the amount of dirty blocks exceeds a threshold. Otherwise, Windows wont do anything to the drive.

Good to know (about it not attempting defragmentation on an SSD) -- thank you!

As for the Windows 8 Optimiser doing TRIM -- this is completely/entirely superfluous, as the filesystem and I/O abstraction layer already does automatically this upon file deletion and file truncation.

I get the impression that the Windows kernel (and/or NTFS layer) has a queueing system of sorts when it comes to issuing TRIM for LBA ranges, so it's possible the Windows 8 Optimiser might force immediate processing/completion of that queue -- but there's absolutely zero point/gain to doing that since the OS will get to it as needed.

This is one of those situations where guys like Mark Russinovich need to appear and provide actual low-level details of both application and kernel behaviour. I really don't trust what's written on MSDN with regards to what all the Optimiser truly does.
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.

Gem
Premium
join:2005-09-10
kudos:4
reply to koitsu

Thank you once more, koitsu.

That's the information needed to properly run my SSDs. It corrects prior mis-information I'd read elsewhere.



dib22

join:2002-01-27
Kansas City, MO

1 recommendation

reply to techsup1983

I will admit the first time windows 8 maintenance kicked in I was a bit panicked because in task manager I saw "Service Host: Disk Defragmenter" and I run SSDs.... but indeed it seems to be doing some trim work and not defragging it. Wish they would have named the process "Optimize and Defrag" but good to know it's not sitting there shortening my SSDs life



Ctrl Alt Del
Premium
join:2002-02-18
kudos:1
reply to koitsu

said by koitsu:

As for the Windows 8 Optimiser doing TRIM -- this is completely/entirely superfluous, as the filesystem and I/O abstraction layer already does automatically this upon file deletion and file truncation.

The OS only marks bits as ready for deletion and sends a TRIM command to the SSD. The SSD firmware is responsible for keeping track of the dirty bits and what to do with them. The firmware and garbage collection on different SSDs will do different things with the dirty bits. All the Windows 8 Optimize Drive utility does is explicitly send another TRIM for the entire SSD volume, essentially asking the SSD's firmware to clean the whole thing. In actual use it is probably not needed, but since Optimize Drives is only issuing a command to the SSD, and the SSD decides whether to actually do anything, it shouldn't be a concern.

Windows 7: NTFS will send TRIM hints when files are deleted or moved from those regions; SSDs consume these hints to perform a cleanup in the background called as 'reclaim' that helps them get ready for next writes. The SSD may choose to perform the optimization immediately, store the information for later optimization or throw away the hint completely and not use it for optimization since it does not have time to perform this optimization immediately.

Windows 8: Still does what Windows 7 did above, but the Optimize Drives feature sends a complete set of trim hints for the entire volume again - this is done at idle time and helps to allow for SSDs that were unable to cleanup earlier - a chance to react to these hints and cleanup and optimizer for the best performance.

And most importantly, it does not do a traditional defrag (moving files to optimizer there location for space and performance) on SSDs.

SOURCE: »superuser.com/questions/479207/w···indows-8
--
less talk, more music


koitsu
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-16
Mountain View, CA
kudos:23

It seems to me the MSFT individual who provided the write-up there does not entirely understand how SSDs work -- I can tell from his explanation he is not familiar with ATA protocol. I'm one of those weirdos who actually does ATA protocol stuff (ATA device drivers are something I have poked at, usually alongside kernel folks).

Some of what he said is correct, but other things are questionable. It get the impression he's looking at it from an ABI perspective, as in "I helped write the Windows 8 Optimiser, and it behaves like this, because I call a magical Win32 I/O ABI function and it does magical things". There just isn't enough low-level technical detail in what he's describing. It's loads better than what you'd find on some enthusiast forum, sure. But for example his claim that TRIM "causes things to happen in the background" is somewhat incorrect.

This whole topic would require quite possibly an hour long interview / discussion with me, in probably audio and video form (with a whiteboard), because it would take me days to really explain how it all works. One of the most common misunderstandings/misconceptions is what "garbage collection" actually is, what it does on an SSD, and how/when it does it, and how TRIM works with it.

One thing I did want to get out of the way though: you cannot issue a DATA SET MANAGEMENT (ATA command 0x06) (commonly known as TRIM) CDB for the entire LBA range on a drive. The CDB only supports a 16-bit field for length/size so only up to 65536 LBAs can be TRIM'd with a single CDB. The LBA size is always 512, so the maximum amount you can TRIM linearly in a single CDB is 33,554,432 bytes or ~32MBytes -- see T13/2015-D rev 1a ATA8-ACS specification for details. Meaning: the OS/storage driver must issue multiple CDBs to the drive when informing the drive those LBA ranges are no longer in use / can be free'd from the FTL map. And as I'm sure you know, files are not necessarily stored in contiguous LBA ranges (depends on many things (file size, available space, and allocation algorithms per that filesystem model)), so in many cases an OS can end up submitting thousands of CDBs to an SSD when doing something like deleting a directory with many files in it.
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.



Ctrl Alt Del
Premium
join:2002-02-18
kudos:1

I don't know much more about the inner workings of the Windows 8 Optimize Drive feature, I only have what I could find online. There's a lot of junk out there that don't actually describe the technical underpinnings of things. Really the most important thing was: Windows 8 is smart enough to know not to defrag a SSD.

My knowledge of TRIM and garbage collection is limited. I've read most of Anandtech's reports in curiosity, but can only absorb so much. Any good places to start?
--
less talk, more music



koitsu
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-16
Mountain View, CA
kudos:23

said by Ctrl Alt Del:

I don't know much more about the inner workings of the Windows 8 Optimize Drive feature, I only have what I could find online. There's a lot of junk out there that don't actually describe the technical underpinnings of things. Really the most important thing was: Windows 8 is smart enough to know not to defrag a SSD.

Yeah, agreed. And I again thank you for bringing that fact up since I didn't know of it. Likewise I appreciate Microsoft inhibiting defragmentation if the device is an SSD. Thumbs up on both accounts!

said by Ctrl Alt Del:

My knowledge of TRIM and garbage collection is limited. I've read most of Anandtech's reports in curiosity, but can only absorb so much. Any good places to start?

That's a tricky one, because SSDs are still an incredibly new technology and continues to rapidly change without any disclosure of the internals of what's changed (for example I'm used to the classic method of there being only one translation layer being involved, but newer drives have two TLs that serve two different purposes); the MHDD industry operates the same way. What we usually get these days is marketing-driven explanations of technology, not explanations provided by actual engineers.

If I come across some resources or articles that are technical and beneficial I'll be sure to post them here, but for now all I can really recommend is that you try to read as many of the existing ones online and follow up with what's on Wikipedia. Sorry that I can't be of more help in this regard right now.
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.