Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Windows 7 SSD Performance Optimization Guide

The Win7 SSD Performance Optimization Guide is a great contribution by Marshall Dean AKA Spartacus of ExtremeOverclocking.Com.  With its illustrations and easy to follow advice, it is the premier publication found anywhere on optimization of the solid state drive.

It is an important guide which will teach the reader ways to avoid pitfalls which will severely degrade the ssd, tricks that will return some of that valuable ssd storage property as well as methods to ensure your ssd is in top shape and tuned as best as it can be.  There will  be 'Webmaster Notes' included with some of the suggestions which serve to explain the importance of the particular suggestion.

READER ALERT!!!  There is no need to Optimize Win7 or your SSD whatsoever for it to function correctly.  The reader retains sole responsibility in their following of this thread and the Site and its authors shall not deemed liable for any damage that may occur to the readers computer or its hardware in following the thread.

Graphics in this guide have been reduced to assist the reader and simply clicking on each will enlarge them to their original size for better viewing.

1.  Install Chipset Drivers

Ensure your Chipset drivers are up to date by checking with your system or motherboard manufacturers website and seeking the support and drivers page.  This will allow for the efficient managing of data transmission through the SATA bridge and newer drivers may also be released to solve problems discovered with the system after its release.  If it asks for a restart please do so.

WEBMASTER NOTE:  TRIM is a very important part of ssd maintenance and allows for background wiping of previous deletions to retain ssd performance.   There is an AHCI driver which is a standard part of Win7 and Intel has finally released a new driver here which is also TRIM compliant.  Testing has shown that there are no performance improvements whatsoever between the MS or Intel drivers on a normal system, however, testing has shown that the new Intel driver provides performance improvements to RAID.  There are numerous documented tests that show that the new drivers perform 'wiping', similar to TRIM' almost immediately after a deletion is made on a RAID drive, thus restoring performance.  Again, unless you are using a RAID system, there is no proven benefit to installing the Intel Storage drivers whatsoever and no need to do so.

2.  Disable System Restore

WEBMASTER NOTE:  This is the most important piece of information in this Guide.  Recent testing has discovered that System Restore allocates restore points within the SSD that do not work well with the SSD or TRIM.  Typically, System Restore will degrade ssd performance significantly within a few weeks and makes it very difficult for TRIM to function.  Disabling System Restore is not only recommended throughout the web, but also, Intel has lately also included this advise with respect to its ssds.  Disabling System Restore will also return to you a fair amount of ssd storage space.

Right click on My Computer and select Properties.
Select System Protection.
Select Configure.
Select Turn Off System Restore.

3.  Disable Drive Indexing

WEBMASTER NOTE:  The purpose of drive indexing on a hard drive was to allow quicker access to a file.  As access times on a ssd are almost instantaneous (.1ms), there is a common belief that indexing does nothing more than increase the total number of writes to the ssd which results in a lesser life cycle.  Having stated this, there is no confirmed performance increase by disabling indexing and the chances of wearing out ones ssd is somewhere in the area of impossible to one in a million.

Go into My Computer, right click your SSD and select Properties (usually C: if the OS is installed on it). Un-check the box marked Allow files to have contents indexed in addition to file properties.  If it asks for administrative permissions allow it to do so.

A popup will appear stating an error applying attributes has occured, this is normal, select ignore all and it will continue.  This process will take about 2 minutes.

4.  Disable Disk Defragment Schedule

WEBMASTER NOTE:  Windows 7 should, by default, disable Windows Defrag automatically but this does not always occur for some reason.  Disk Defragmentation is not required in a ssd as the mechanics are completely different. There are no moving parts so file fragmentation doesn't occur as frequently as it does with a hard drive which fragments files as they are retrieved and stored on the disk while it spins at very high speeds.  Leaving Windows 7 with an enabled defragmentation schedule will drastically increase your ssd total writes and decrease its lifespan.

After finishing indexing, in the same properties of the SSD, select the Tools tab.  Select the box Defragment Now.
Select the box Defragment Schedule.  Un-check the Run on a Schedule Box.

5.  Turn Off Windows Write-Cache Buffer Flushing

WEBMASTER NOTE:   Turning Off Write-Cache Buffer Flushing may increase or decrease the performance of your drive and it is suggested that you perform benchmark tests with it checked and unchecked.  It is reported to improve performance on OCZ drives, however, decreases the performance of Intel drives.

Right Click My Computer and select Properties.
Select Device Manager.
Select Disk Drives.
Right click the SSD and select Properties.
Under the Performance tab check the box Turn off Windows write-cache buffer flushing on this device.