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Topic # 66671 21-Aug-2010 15:04
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So it seems the bottleneck of fast systems would be their hard disk drives. Slow to read, slow to write, and the head can only be at one place at a time, travelling to other places as required. Cost around 10c a gigabyte.

So i decided to eliminate this bottleneck of "windows experience index 5.9". Researched and found that the new SandForce controlled SSDs are capable of around 280MB/s read and write. Thats alot faster than 60MB/s for a standard 7200rpm drive. Downside was, they cost about $4.50 a gigabyte. Ok so bought a "120GB" OCZ Vertex 2 drive. Of course i forgot even SSDs gimmick their ratings, and it turns out to be actually 111.7GB of space.

I thought ... ok with Windows 7 Home Premium i'd just make a OS image and a restore would take a few minutes. Removed old drive, plugged in SSD, hooked old drive to eSATA and/or USB.

4 hours later, failed to restore image.
- when i tried to restore initially into a blank drive, it restored image not onto SSD, but onto the HDD. weird. formatting the blank drive didnt help either.
- tried cloning the HDD 100MB system partition + OS partition (yeah no idea why Win 7 does that kind of install!) onto SSD - unable to boot. Repaired -> boots into "Preparing Desktop for Use" and then it just stops. Maybe something wrong somewhere - turns out Win 7 strongly believed i was using a "non-genuine copy" - maybe that's why it hung.
- tried to repair using image restore now that there was something in the SSD - "crucial disk not found" or something like that, restore unable to proceed

in the end i just reinstalled everything. 6 hours from the beginning everything was great. then i did some reading called "optimizing your SSD"  - i'm only going to state the optimizations for win 7.

Turns out there are a few crucial bits

1) your SSD must be "aligned" - ie it has cells of sorts of 4kb sizes. if its been formatted such that the partition has cells misaligned to the physical 4kb space it not only goes real slow but dies young. thankfully there are tools like Paragon Alignment tool which tells you whether it's aligned or not, and can align your SSD on the fly. thankfully windows 7 is superior to XP in that it knows how to align things from the start. phew.

2) there are additional drivers to make it work fast: as i have intel Mobo, i needed to download "intel matrix storage manager" and "intel rapid storage technology" which provides sata drivers. (prior to IMSM my SAT score was only 5.9 still post that on its own shot up to 7.7)

3) sometimes if your SSD can't work you need to run it in IDE then fool win 7 into making work in AHCI mode. it seems my mobo has no IDE and it just works in AHCI straight off - i dont know why it's such a big deal on the net.

4) now the more you write on the SSD the slower it gets and the faster it dies.
to prevent early death:
- stop defragging it
- stop prefetching (apparently prefetching causes drive activity to increase due to re-placement of files for easy access
- stop indexing and windows search

to prevent slowdown
- the most important seems to be complete wiping of empty cells. windows 7 has this feature called TRIM. win 7 sends a command to your SSD control telling it that certain cells are no longer needed. the controller than wipes it clean. trouble is, it's very very very difficult to know if the cells are wiped clean. the most i know how to do is to go to CMD and check "fsutil query behavior disabledeletenotify" if it is 0 trim commands are sent when you delete stuff. also i am told if you hard drive is very active after you delete stuff TRIM is working. i'm also told i need to leave my system completely IDLE ie NO active process activity for a few hours to get TRIM going. huh i thought trim happens straightaway? who knows!
- disable superfetch - no idea why apart from it's not needed
- dont do repeated benchmarking - wait a few days for it to recover, says the internet

also because there isnt much space on the drive we need to maximise drive space
- cut pagefile right down to 32MB
- remove hibernation
- disable system restore at your own risk
- dont have so much stuff on it!

after all that i now have a lot less space, a windows experience index of 6.7 (graphics card) and things happen WAYYYYYYY faster! i found that it never hits the claimed 280MB/s burst max nor the fast write speeds claimed. but since all the other older drives have the same $/GB i thought the new Sandforce SSDs are the way to go at the moment. immensely fast read speed on its ownn with very fast write speed (if it cant do immensely fast write - probably coz my drive is not new anymore) is acceptable.




Swype on iOS is detrimental to accurate typing. Apologies in advance.


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  Reply # 370719 21-Aug-2010 16:40
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Thanks, very interesting read.
I'm on the lookout for an SSD soon and it will be good to know of these tips when I install.

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  Reply # 370721 21-Aug-2010 16:44
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Why are you turning indexing/windows search off? Once it's indexed the files, reading the index will be super fast.

You don't need to defragment SSDs.

The windows 7 prefetcher just loads apps/files off your drive into RAM based on how you use it. So you should leave this on. (RAM is still a crapload faster than any SSD)

As for the life time of SSDs. We have at work an Intel 160GB X25-M that we have been writing to since september last year. So far there's 44 "bad blocks" and 95% of the spare flash left.

 
 
 
 




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  Reply # 370732 21-Aug-2010 17:39
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i guess it's a balance between early death and super speed. i have to agree on balance ... it can't be that bad to be indexing stuff .. only small writes ... but each small write will eventually add up ... i will do some testing and report back if i have results re the best balance regarding indexing




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  Reply # 370812 21-Aug-2010 21:57
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i turn off indexing on the drive (right click when on my computer). i leave windows search on. typing in britney spears returns all results before i i could think about blinking. (turning off windows search as well means searching does not work at all.)

i dont know if turning off indexing on its own stops windows from making little indeces as the search was immensely lightspeed fast with it turned off. maybe you can't win here ... (in terms of maximising life span of the ssd)

the thing about SSD lifespan is ... probably when my SSD begins to die SSDs would be super cheap and i'd just get a 2 TB one for half the price of the current! well maybe not so drastic but you get the point ...




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  Reply # 370833 21-Aug-2010 22:55

joker97: i guess it's a balance between early death and super speed. i have to agree on balance ... it can't be that bad to be indexing stuff .. only small writes ... but each small write will eventually add up ... i will do some testing and report back if i have results re the best balance regarding indexing


 

From what I have read, the early deaths of SDD by lots of read/writes is slowly being eliminated. The old ones used to be bad, but the newest ones have as many R/Ws as a normal HD.

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  Reply # 370838 21-Aug-2010 22:59
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robbyp:
joker97: i guess it's a balance between early death and super speed. i have to agree on balance ... it can't be that bad to be indexing stuff .. only small writes ... but each small write will eventually add up ... i will do some testing and report back if i have results re the best balance regarding indexing


?

From what I have read, the early deaths of SDD by lots of read/writes is slowly being eliminated. The old ones used to be bad, but the newest ones have as many R/Ws as a normal HD.


The death of the early intel ones were because of firmware bugs..
As I said early, we've been writing to a 160GB X25E for almost a year now and it's been going strong. (writing as in 24/7)

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  Reply # 370844 21-Aug-2010 23:15
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You'll find a very good post on SSD support in Win7 on the Engineering Windows 7 blog.
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/e7/archive/2009/05/05/support-and-q-a-for-solid-state-drives-and.aspx

 








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  Reply # 370847 21-Aug-2010 23:25
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yes indeed but you are relying on some chicken and egg business of some fast SSD. mine was "slow" before i installed the intel mobo drivers above. hence i found defrag, superfetch, etc etc enabled by win 7 on clean install and i had to manually tweak them. so if win 7 detects your drive from the start you're sweet. but chances are you should check the optimizations manually.

nice to know dying young may not happen! (although google consensus is that nobody really knows how old it will live ...)




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  Reply # 370850 21-Aug-2010 23:40

joker97: yes indeed but you are relying on some chicken and egg business of some fast SSD. mine was "slow" before i installed the intel mobo drivers above. hence i found defrag, superfetch, etc etc enabled by win 7 on clean install and i had to manually tweak them. so if win 7 detects your drive from the start you're sweet. but chances are you should check the optimizations manually.


nice to know dying young may not happen! (although google consensus is that nobody really knows how old it will live ...)


 

It is a bit like LCD monitors when they first came out, people didn't know how long they would last.



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  Reply # 375096 31-Aug-2010 21:29
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would like to report another interesting behavior. long story (essentially a few of my usb hdd and card readers arent detected so i decided to change usb hub drivers and ended up requiring a full pc restore) ...

when doing complete pc restore onto SSD from esata hdd
1) it took about 2 hours when it used to take 30mins from slower usb hdd
2) SDD appeared to be wayyy faster after restore (anecdotal, no proof)

that led me to wonder if windows 7 completely wipes the NAND via TRIM during restore. googling had not a single suggestion but hopefully that's what happened? (rhetorical)

the other explanation - more likely - my pc restore capacity has doubled and my time estimation is wrong, cells weren't wiped clean and it's faster because they're arranged properly. who knows




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  Reply # 375110 31-Aug-2010 21:44
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Thanks heaps, this was an interesting read as i;m looking to buy a SSD hard Drive :)

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