SSD Tips
April 19, 2011 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Hoping for reliable info on appropriate care and management of modern SSD drives.

I was just gifted a new 50 GB Revodrive PCI-E card, and am new to the world of SSDs. I'm thinking of popping it into my HTPC and putting Windows 7 on the drive with an additional HDD RAID I currently use for my media.

I've been trying to read up on appropriate care and optimization of SSDs, and I can't seem to find straight answers on how best to set them up. Some people advocate no tweaking at all. Others recommend moving caches and temp directories to HDD. Others refer to the recs from Tweak Town, which are over a year old and somewhat contentious.

I ask you: how best to ensure a usable drive life of 5 years, while getting the most bang for the buck out of this drive?
posted by drpynchon to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You know what? 50Gb is going to feel pathetically small in five years. Let it "burn out", and in fact, dare it to.

See, five years ago, computers were coming with ~40Gb hard disks, sometimes even 20Gb ones. Today 1-2Tb is normal, and if you actually found a 20Gb disk laying around, you'd probably just throw it out, without regard for whether it had reached its end of life or not.

So I say leave the caches and temp directories on the SSD, since that's where you'll get the biggest performance boost, and isn't performance why you're using an SSD in the first place?
posted by rokusan at 8:07 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Once Windows7 detects an SSD it will disable superfetch, disk defrag, and indexing. It does this to minimize wear on the drive and because these services are useless on SSDs. I really don't think you need to do more than this and I trust MS's judgement a lot more than "PC enthusiast guy" on some random webboard. If you clone a drive, this may not happen automatically and you may need to do this yourself. I don't think anything horrible happens if these services are left on, modern SSDs have write cycles measured in years of heavy use.

My only concern is that those little OCZ drives don't seem reliable as the Intel stuff I've been working with. Also, Win7 will issue the proper TRIM commands to the drive, but TRIM does not make it past most (any?) RAID controllers. So if you're putting this thing in a RAID array you might have some performance issues in the near future.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:53 AM on April 19, 2011

One more thing, you should check to make sure you have the latest firmware for that drive. I've used the Vertex 2 OCZ drives, but not your model, and found that they sometimes ship with old firmware.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:58 AM on April 19, 2011

Oh, I also disable the swap file, but I do this on non-SSD systems too for performance reasons because RAM is so cheap. Arguably, this lengthens the life of the SSD, but I am not sure that's 100% proven.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:04 AM on April 19, 2011

You know what? 50Gb is going to feel pathetically small in five years. Let it "burn out", and in fact, dare it to.

I bet you couldn't make it burn out if you wanted it to. In a poorly formatted site, the SSD Myths and Legends spells out in extended detail how long you'll get out of a SSD in typical circumstances. TL;DR: a 64GB SSD lifespan is somewhere between 25-50 years. Because your drive is smaller in capacity, your 50GB SSD should last 20-40 years with heavy use before the write cycles are gone. Dropping it the HTPC won't kill it in 5 years no matter how hard you try.

So for the tweaks. Caches and temp can stay on the SSD. You won't burn the drive out. Some people advocate for disabling swap file to prevent additional writes to the SSD. Again, I don't think you'll be able to use the write cycles, but if this concerns you it can be done. You will need a large amount of RAM to make up for it, preferably 6 or 8GB minimum. Disabling swap files with 4GB is doable but risky, and a rather poor choice with 2 or 3GB.

A couple of the tweaks in the guide are necessary, but most should be automatically set by Windows 7 by now.
- Defrag should never be run on a SSD. It's not needed as fragmentation has no effect on a SSD, and the write/re-write does heavy wear. Also, with the SSD algorithms in the controller, you have the potential to get corrupted data. Windows 7 should detect your SSD appropriately and not to defrags on it, but it's worth checking.
- Indexing service is worthless on SSDs. The point of the indexing is so the computer can find files faster on HDDs. Your SSD is so fast that it's unnecessary, so it can be disabled for the SSD. Leave indexing on for HDDs.
- Enable write caching. This will help to prevent data loss/data damage if you have a power outage. I'm fairly sure this is automatically set.
- Superfetch and Prefetch are worthless on SSDs, as both features are meant for HDDs. Windows 7 should disable it automatically, but sometimes doesn't.

Last note: TRIM is tricky with these RevoDrives. Early ones haven't supported TRIM, and instead had a garbage collection utility. Verify the firmware and version of the drive to see if TRIM works. You may need to run the garbage collection utility from time to time to make the SSD perform properly.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:10 AM on April 19, 2011

I'm not sure about the SSD Myths and Legends page. The author appears to be talking about SLC memory, not the MLC found in consumer SSDs. The write endurance of that type of memory is considerably less, about an order of magnitude.

The figure I tend to see bandied about is around 10,000 cycles, not the 2M figure he uses to get the half-century mark. SSD throughput is also considerably higher. On a 64GB device, going at 200MB/s and 10,000 cycles for the endurance, you're talking a bit under 900 hours of life on the device. So, a bit under 40 days, if you have a totally bonkers process that is continuously writing to the drive.

Real world, the drive should last a couple of years, depending on what you're doing with it.

I personally wouldn't bother with putting it in a HTPC. The disk throughput isn't your bottleneck on video decoding. If you have a laptop, throw it in that. The shock-proof quality of the SSD would be good there.
posted by chengjih at 2:38 PM on April 19, 2011

« Older Can you help ID this mysterious piece of...   |   Canadian Election returns in Austin? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.