Friday, 7 May 2010

Windows 7 System Restore And Your SSD - IMPORTANT READING

I have been involved in the consumer solid state drive industry since the first release in 2007 and was one of the first to publish a SSD Review which can be found with many other early articles at the bottom of this page.  At one point in the passed few years, it became common knowledge in the industry that solid state drives would suffer performance degradation with age.  I found this very unusual because, for the most part, I had not experienced this with any of my drives and believe me, they have all been around the block a few times in the past few years.  I have tested with drives from Sandisk, Samsung, Memoright, Mtron, Intel and OWC and have utilized both slc and mlc SSDs.


In an effort to find out why my drives were running so well, I examined what I was doing different than the average consumer and, more specifically, how my system setup could contribute to this.  Three things stood out.  I have been running 64 Bit on my system since before it was even believed to be viable.  Would you believe I had a small part in the push for Dell to introduce it to the market and also, people used to laugh and think I was ridiculous to believe it would ever make it?  The other two variables were that I don't run a Pagefile and haven't run System Restore since my first SSD in 2007.  Simply, I believe Pagefile was created for systems that didn't have adequate RAM and we have allowed it to become a crutch now that RAM is affordable.  I also I found it much easier to simply backup regularly than allow System Restore to do its magic.  In considering all points, I was a bit confused except one thing stuck with me.  System Restore grows as it backs up your system and changes your storage characteristics as it continually establishes new restore points.  This seemed like a common sense approach to think it might be related to System Restore.


I have been watching SSDs for some time and observed that non-TRIM SSDs such as the Intel X25-m G1 were particularly prone to this phenomenon of degradation which continued to be present through the introduction of the Intel G2 with TRIM.  I purchased and installed a Intel X25-m G2 160Gb SSD.  In the process, I elected to leave System Restore on because, well, I was about to rip apart the OS in order to see how it ran best with a SSD and would want to be jumping back and forth.  I am also a performance nut and rely heavily on Crystal Disk Mark as it provides one with both large sequential as well as 4kb random performance evaluations for your SSD.  Two weeks after playing around with my system, I observed a large drop in the performance of my SSD.  I wish I had kept the original result so I could post it here but no fear, I will have a test for you to try later on. Here is what Crystal Disk Mark looks like.

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