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Can You Get More Space Or Speed From Your SSD?

Optimizing Precious Solid-State Storage

Solid-state storage is generally faster than mechanical disks. Sure, once you get down into the 40 GB boot drives, write performance really suffers. But for the most part, SSDs rule. However, they're also much more expensive. Every gigabyte of capacity on your SSD is precious space. And while SSDs are very fast inherently, there are plenty of folks online who'll try to convince you that they can be made even faster with simple adjustments.

Today's story is the product of our own efforts to maximize the amount of useful space you can squeeze from your valuable SSD. We also want to put some of those performance claims to the test using a couple of different drives in order to gauge whether performance-oriented optimizations are specific to a certain vendor's hardware, or if they're universally-applicable. Or, maybe they're entirely untrue, and there's no way to make an SSD any faster.

We'll launch our exploration into the potential of solid-state drive tweaking by testing nine of the most commonly-recommended optimizations we see tossed around once an SSD is up and running with Microsoft's Windows operating system. These include the following:

  1. Disable System Restore
  2. Disable drive indexing
  3. Disable the page file
  4. Disable Hibernation
  5. Disable prefetching in the registry
  6. Disable Windows' write caching
  7. Disable the SuperFetch and Windows Search services
  8. Disable ClearPageFileAtShutdown and LargeSystemCache
  9. Adjust power settings
  • Indexing is not used to access files more quickly. It's used to find files more quickly in search. Disabling indexing will result in slower searching.

    Hibernation: Amount of space saved by turning this off is equivalent to the amount of RAM in your system. Not limited to 2GB.

    Also, hibernation has benefits over standby where hibernation will allow your system to return to a fully working state after removing power whereas standby requires power to still be supplied to your system. Laptops for example you'll want to hibernate to avoid discharging the battery while in sleep mode.
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  • compton
    With system restore disabled, no swap file, and some of the additonal tweaks mentioned here, my two small capacity SSD's are running Win 7 effectively in a small footprint -- my 60GB Agility has 37GB free, while the X25-V in my laptop has over 20GB free. The best part is keeping lots of extra space help longevity, while the tweaks enhance performance while keeping my drives free of junk.

    Thanks for another excellent article -- I'm surprised I haven't seen an article on this subject that's as comprehensive. Toms to the rescue.
    Reply
  • anttonij
    Thanks for another great article. I would love to see a part 2 of the article where you would explore the causes of the performance drop.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    KWReidIndexing is not used to access files more quickly. It's used to find files more quickly in search. Disabling indexing will result in slower searching.Hibernation: Amount of space saved by turning this off is equivalent to the amount of RAM in your system. Not limited to 2GB.Also, hibernation has benefits over standby where hibernation will allow your system to return to a fully working state after removing power whereas standby requires power to still be supplied to your system. Laptops for example you'll want to hibernate to avoid discharging the battery while in sleep mode.
    Thanks for pointing both of these things out. You're absolutely correct about indexing.

    I've updated the story for the author to reflect hibernation as well. I added clarification re: desktops and notebooks, though I'd suggest powering down a notebook with an SSD is comparable to putting it into hibernation. I don't think anyone would recommend putting it into standby; as you mention, that continues to drain power.

    All the best!
    Chris
    Reply
  • damric
    Why are they testing last generation Sandforce and Intel SSD's?

    SSD's are changing faster than any other computer technology. The current generation SSD's are already twice as fast as the SSD's tested in this article. Tom's Hardware is being left behind in the dust with reviews like this.
    Reply
  • HalfHuman
    the article is very useful.
    disabling system rstore is usually a good idea, sometimes it's better to just limit it's size form the 10% default value.
    swap disabling is not a good idea, as you said. i'd rather have the swap on a secondary, mechanical drive.
    indexing is very useful. you can relocate the address to where indexing data is stored. i put it on a mechanical drive.
    disabling superfetch and turbo cache are really useful. ssd may be faster than hdd, but they are weak compared to ram speed. read caching really makes a difference.
    hibernation file is not really useful on a desktop but it's a matter of taste. better have it on a mechanical drive if possible
    another thing that really helps is putting firefox profiles on a ram drive. i develop on visual studio and there is a directory where lots of small files are written on build. having this temp folder on a ramdrive helps a lot regarding speed and writes as well.
    Reply
  • HalfHuman
    oops... i meant having windows superfect and turbo cache (not sure about actual names) active is really useful. the memory that is occupied by caching gets liberated quickly if it's needed by apps. in the mean time it can really help on read caching.
    Reply
  • ravewulf
    None of my controllers mention AHCI, but my motherboard is set to use AHCI. I do see "AMD SATA Controller," is that it? I also don't see any ATA Channels as in the screen shot, just two IDE channels with no devices on them. I don't have an SSD, so no need for TRIM, but I would like to verify that I'm using AHCI.
    Reply
  • nyrychvantel
    This article is excellent for those SSD users who have just installed/reinstalled their OS. I will also forward this article to all my friends using SSD.
    Reply
  • haplo602
    who came up with that idiot description of hibernation ? it was invented to:

    1. save power
    2. restore the previous work withou having to start everything

    I use hibernation a lot on my desktop just because I can leave all the network independent applications running and just power down. after power up, I am in the previous environment state and can immediately continue whatever I was doing before. No need to start applications and reopen saved files.
    Reply