Solid State Drive - How to Care for It

Solid State Drives are becoming the preferred choice for laptops, netbooks or even system drives in desktop computers. The reason is simple: speed, durability and silence. In comparison to standard hard disks, SSDs are faster, lighter, consume less energy and in theory should live longer. They base on flash memory, known from pendrives and memory cards used in digital cameras. This means there are no moving parts inside, which translates into less noise and longer lifespan. Unfortunately, there is a drawback: each flash memory block can be written a fixed number of times, after which it will die out. Therefore through normal usage, the SSD 'burns out itself' and at some point it will simply stop working. So it's a good idea to limit, the number of unneeded writes, as it will allow your drive to operate longer and your system faster.

Upgrade to Windows 7

Windows 7 is the only OS from Microsoft that supports TRIM commands, which allow the SSD to clean itself from deleted data. Windows does not truly delete files, but only marks them as deleted. When you write a new file, it's simply written 'on top' of previously deleted files. Flash drives require that a particular flash memory block needs to be purged, before it can be written again. TRIM commands take care of that and once you delete a file, the mechanism tells the drive which blocks to clear. Without TRIM, SSD would eventually fill every block and on attempt of writing a new file, it would have to clear it first and write new data. It slows the process down considerably. Of course on older systems it's still possible to perform TRIM by hand, using tools provided by the drive manufacturer, but it takes some time and effort.

Disable disk defragmenter

Both Windows Vista and 7 have built-in disk defragmentation tools, which automatically merges portions of data together, so access and search times on hard disks are faster. SSD can access each block with the same speed, so fragmentation causes no drop in performance. What is more, the process itself is about constant reads and writes so it literally kills your drive... slowly. If by mistake you perform one or two defragmentation passes, nothing drastic will happen. No worries there.

Disable search indexing service

Search index constantly monitors your drive for changes and indexes both files and their content. It decreases search times, but causes unnecessary writes. Disabling the service through 'Administrative Tools' will let your SSD live longer. Just remember, that standard search will function and there is little chance, you notice any decrease in performance. Unfortunately, Windows won't be able, to search inside your files, so the decision is yours.

Disable SuperPrefetch service

Service monitors your working habits and puts files used most frequently on the very beginning of the drive, where operation speeds are higher. SSD can operate with maximum performance on every block, so the service does nothing, but moving data around, which causes unneeded writes. It can be safely disabled via 'Administrative Tools'.

Disable hibernation

Hibernation creates a snapshot of your current system state on hard disk and turns of the computer. When you turn it back on, system will load much faster and everything would be just like you left it. SSDs however, are much faster, so boot times are almost equal to resuming from hibernation, so it's best to disable the feature. It can be done from an elevated command prompt by typing: powercfg -h off.

I'm a full time computer enthusiast, who just finished writing his master thesis on product management strategies in the IT sector. Now I'm simply trying to leave a footprint in the world, by sharing my passion and experience with others.

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