How to CORRECTLY optimize your SSD for windows 7

Discussion in 'Memory and Storage' started by taltamir, May 4, 2010.

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  1. taltamir

    taltamir Lifer

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    I keep on seeing flat out wrong advice on how to optimize your SSD for windows 7. I thought I would correct it.

    So here are the steps for optimizing your SSD for windows 7:
    1. Enable AHCI in the BIOS before installing windows.
    2. Install windows 7.

    Thats it, thats all you need to do!

    One suggestion typically made that I can't exactly say is "wrong" is "verify that windws7 set the right settings". The notion is that maybe windows7 misidentified your SSD as a spindle drive, and thus configured itself incorrectly. I would very much like to hear from someone to whom that actually happened rather then mere speculation that it might happen.

    Optional "personal preference" settings:
    1. Consider enabling indexing for your SSD, it is disabled by default. This is an issue not limited to SSD, there is argument on whether to have it on or off for either SSD or spindle drives. In both cases it is a matter of personal preference.
    In windows 7 Indexing is turned off by default for SSDs because it is disastrous for drives like the first gen jmicrons which had atrocious random write performance. As a result everyone said "disable it" and MS followed suit. There is no noticeable change in a high performance SSDs and I personally find it to be a useful feature.

    2. Consider disabling system restore.
    Many disable system restore even with spindle drives. I find that when I have a problem it doesn't work for me, and it eats my HDD space, and it makes windows update installations take much longer. Plus malware likes to hide in it (or so I have heard).
    Many others recommend to leave it on but at a reduced size setting, as it has worked for them in the past and saved them much time and effort in reversing a problem with the system.

    There are claims that system restore interferes with TRIM. Which lowers SSD performance. It should be noted that it has never been mentioned in professional review sites such as anandtech or PcPer; but several people here say they have seen it personally. I will search for more information about the TRIM compatibility issue.
    Even if it interferes with trim, there is a good a chance you would not notice the performance difference while finding system restore to be a useful feature. So this is still largely a personal preference.

    Lets compare it to this list I was recently shown:
    this: http://thessdreview.blogspot.com/p/windows-7-ssd-performance-optimization.html

    Now lets go item by item from the other list and explain why it is wrong.
    IF YOU ARE READING BELOW THIS LINE BE AWARE THAT THE FOLLOWING IS MOSTLY WRONG ADVICE WHICH I AM CRITIQUING!
    The built in generic windows drivers pass on trim, the chipset drivers? most do not. Intel just very recently finally released a driver that passed trim along.
    So there is no benefit or drawback to installing those.
    To be fair the author did mention that, and specifically referred to it only being of use to people who have RAID arrays.

    Actually this is good advice.
    I have not heard about it "not working with trim"... but it is a heaven for viruses and malware, doesn't work properly when you need it, never can fix anything, and if you use it leaves your system a broken wreck. Waste of space and effort, disable it.

    Windows 7 automatically disables indexing for SSDs... you should enable it!
    Indexing makes searching for stuff much faster. The purpose was never to allow PROGRAMS to ACCESS files faster, the purpose was to allow SEARCHING for files faster.
    Disabling indexing on the original crappy Jmicron controllers helped because they were vastly inferior to spindle drives. Indexing will not harm your performance on a quality SSD, like an intel, sandforce, or indilinx SSD.

    Windows 7 actually have sensible defragmenting for spindle drives, normally I recommend that people don't defragment even a spindle drive but with windows 7 defrag method it is a good idea to use on spindle drives. it only performs the absolute minimum defragging, the defragging that is actually useful to you.
    As for SSDs, it automatically disables defragging for SSDs in windows 7.

    the explanation of:
    is also hilariously wrong. Fragmentation has nothing to do with moving parts. SSDs do fragment, this is why they need TRIM, the reason defragging does not work on SSDs is because they have an abstraction layer and do not grant direct access to the OS to the data, instead they give it virtual addresses which they resolve to physical addresses (which change as the drive performs wear leveling!)

    This should help clarify things http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRIM_(SSD_command)

    This goes back to the days where windows buffer flushes were broken, it would simply reply with "done" as soon as it got the command, resulting it appearing insanely fast... so a few rare applications that haven't been updated in decades might use excessive amount of forced buffer flushing...
    this is really not something you should mess with and it isn't even guaranteed to improve performance, with those giving out this advice saying "it might increase OR decrease performance"

    Horrible terrible and stupid advice! Windows 7 handles the page file very well, and turning it off lowers performance, worse, it WILL cause crashes in some programs (ex: the game spellforce the order of dawn) when they try to access it.

    Common advice found elsewhere on the web is:
    this is ALSO wrong, for maximum performance you should place your pagefile on the device with the best random write performance. In the days of Jmicron SSDs that was any spindle disk... if you have a good SSD then the SSD has better 4k random writes and you should place a pagefile on it.

    This is completely pointless and will not provide any boost to performance.

    This is completely pointless and will not provide any boost to performance.
    Furthermore, the assumption that "you don't need it because SSDs boot so fast" is flawed, a significant portion of the boot up process involves various firmwares, and in windows itself, it involves the CPU.

    You delete files in the log-in screen?

    EDIT:
    Actually that is exactly NOT how TRIM works... background cleaning might run on its own accord (many drives don't do it either, such as the intel SSDs)... TRIM is a command that is used to notify the drive that something is safe to delete. It is near instantaneous and only occurs when you delete a file.

    TERRIBLE advice. Superfetch greatly improves performance and uses ram to the best of its potential with no harm to your SSD at all. There is no reason to ever turn it off.

    Useful advice that will shave off 2 seconds from your bootup, has nothing at all to do with SSDs.

    Pointless. if you delete things via the recycle bin rather then immediately permanently remove them it is so that you could potentially recover them later... This doesn't help at all.

    What can I say, they are right about this.

    Completely uncessary, this just means that your computer will terminate programs as they are closing if they take too long... just let programs finish shutting down properly when you shut down windows... this is mostly dependent on your CPU speed anyways.

    disabling largesystemcache is unnecessary, and clear pagefile at showdown should be off by default.

    This is the same as #10, and its still as wrong.

    Why would you disable backwards compatibility with programs that use 8.3 names? what do you hope to gain aside from crashes when using such programs.
    As for NTFS memory useage... I have no idea what that is but I don't trust the author based on his other advice.

    Good advice, should be #1 on the list, should have been done BEFORE installing windows.
     
    #1 taltamir, May 4, 2010
    Last edited: May 5, 2010
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  3. flamenko

    flamenko Senior member

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    I agree that AHCI should be number one but well there are a number of inconsistencies with respect to your suggestions. Thanks for the attempt though. I don't understand how you could say that these are so wrong and then list some stating that they are right.

    In any case, consider the following:

    1. Install Chipset Drivers - 99% of people are always wondering why, after a reinstall, System Device is identifying drivers not yet installed. This is the reason.

    2. Disable Indexing - Windows does not always disable things such as indexing and defrag as it should. There are many cases which I have assisted in helping people check and shut these down after a fresh installation;

    3. Windows DOES NOT HAVE SENSIBLE DEFRAG ON A SSD. I don't need to b clearer but to say this thread IS THE ONLY I have seen to advise such...bad advise.

    4. Turn Off Write Cache Buffering - It makes a huge difference on some SSD performance. I would suggest trying it.

    5. Turn Off Pagefile - I have been through this a million times ofver the past few years. Pagefile is created ONLY to make up for physical ram that isnt there. If you have the ram, it is useless.

    6. Turn Off Hibernation - Gets you 3Gb of valuable SSD space back. Read the article...as does Pagefile another 3.5.

    7. Power Settings - TRIM runs on its own accord and not only when you delete a file. If the power settings arent set at boot up, well...its like grammar school now isnt it.

    Any again...thanks for the effort. I always appreciate one who can voice an opposing view in order to allow my confirmation of the reality and support for the 'suggested' optimizations. Do you have a SSD?
     
  4. taltamir

    taltamir Lifer

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    And yet, it does nothing to improve your SSD. And if you have a non intel chipset driver, it will actually disable TRIM reducing the performance of your SSD.

    You should ENABLE indexing.

    You misunderstand, windows 7 has sensible defrag for spindle drives. I normally recommend disabling defrag on SPINDLE drives... but with winodws 7 I would leave it on...

    with SSD it is not needed because windows 7 automatically disables defrag on those.

    It MAY actually DECREASE your performance. Only try that if you are willing to perform your own benchmarks with it on and off and keep whichever performs better for the particular drive in question.

    Then you have been wrong a million times.
    if you have the ram then windows will NOT use it and you are not harmed at all by having it... However, if you disable it then a program that tries to FORCE the use of a pagefile will cause a blue screen crash. I have even given a specific example of a game that does so. (or at least, used to at earlier versions)

    How about you read my explanation why you do want to hibernate? Hibernate is awesome and I use it, even with an SSD... you can leave certain work open, and avoid the time of boot that is not sped up by the SSD.

    Actually that is exactly NOT how TRIM works... background cleaning might run on its own accord... TRIM is a COMMAND that is used to notify the drive that something is safe to delete. It is near instantaneous and only occurs when you delete a file.

    Check my signature
     
    #3 taltamir, May 4, 2010
    Last edited: May 4, 2010
  5. Voo

    Voo Golden Member

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    Yep good article that summarise everything lots of people have said countless times here and there are still those dubios optimising guides flowing around.

    Only one thing: While there are programs that use the page file per se those are rather rare and it may or may not be important. Though I'd say the best compromise is a small 200-300mb large pagefile on the HDD.

    And disabling hibernating doesn't get you 3GB valuable SSD space (I don't have to read an article to know that that's wrong..), but as much space as you have RAM, so for people with 8gb RAM and a 64gb drive that could be more important than hibernating, so I wouldn't be too fixed on that. But if you can spare the space it's a nice thing to have.
     
  6. Idontcare

    Idontcare Elite Member

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    taltamir thank you for this :thumbsup:

    Although I must deduct points because you really missed out on an opportunity for shameless self-promotion here...you are supposed to refuse to post any actual info in your forum post and instead create a blog that contains the relevant details and mostly do nothing more than refer people (over and over again) to go to your blog so you get page hits.

    Oh and if you really want to be shameless you will even go so far as to write posts redirecting web traffic to your blog with follow-up instructions that they click your advertiser links just so they can get to Newegg...that's how the cool spammers do it these days :p

    ^ I love how our forum has come to embrace the true spammer spirit :'(
     
  7. Voo

    Voo Golden Member

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    Gosh, I've no idea whom you could mean by that description.. but I'm sure that spammer was intelligent, clever, charming, humble, and a pleasure to work with ;)
     
  8. taltamir

    taltamir Lifer

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    oh, you are so right :p
    next time then...
     
  9. Golgatha

    Golgatha Lifer

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    My guide is pretty similar after having just dealt with these issues following upgrading to a SSD.

    1) Enable AHCI in BIOS.

    2) Install Windows 7 and disable activate once connected to the Internet before installing. I disable auto-activation because a lot of my hardware and peripherals have to be installed following the main OS install. Also, I install Daemon tools to get a virtual drive. I've had both of these types of things trigger a reactivation in Windows, so I wait until all system drivers are installed and virtual drives are up and running before activating now.

    3) If you have an Intel Chipset, install the latest chipset drivers as they do pass trim commands to the SSD. If you have a non-Intel chipset, leave it alone I suppose.

    4) Use diskpart to make sure the SSD is aligned correctly (if you do a fresh Win7 or Vista install, it should be fine, but it takes 2 seconds to check so why not do it) following a successful install.

    5) Disable system restore (you would do this even if you weren't using a SSD, as I agree, it is completely useless and furthermore is a resource hog).

    6) Set your pagefile to be static (i.e. min and max size are the same) so Windows doesn't have to enlarge and reduce the size of it (this causes unnecessary wear and tear on the SSD too) when you're running a program which actually uses it. Pagefile should be 1-2x the amount of RAM present in the system. I have 12GB of RAM and have a static 12GB pagefile on my system FWIW.

    7) Install all the other system device drivers, verify everything is working correctly, and then activate your copy of Windows.

    8) Make an image of your system using Windows Backup, Acronis (I suppose you'll have to install 3rd party backup software before step 8 in my guide, so we'll call this step 7.1) :), etc once Windows has been successfully activated.


    The only thing I disagree with in your post is enabling drive indexing on your OS drive. I don't want Windows constantly reading from my OS drive just to make my OS drive searches a bit faster. Not to mention a SSD is going to search really quickly even without being indexed in the event you actually need to search it. Indexing makes a bit of sense on your data storage drive, but that's only because it's probably (relatively) big and slow compared to your SSD.

    My setup is like this:

    B: - 1.5TB non-indexed Blu-ray image drive. I don't need 20 folders indexed for fast searching thank you very much.

    C: - Non-indexed 256GB SSD with OS and programs only (ok, I did install a couple of games here too...couldn't resist).

    F: - Non-indexed 500GB single platter games only drive. Large capacity and fast sequential reads FTW.

    G: - 1.5TB indexed file backups drive. Movies, music, documents, pictures, drivers, drive images, etc, etc, etc....yes, this needs indexing.
     
    #8 Golgatha, May 4, 2010
    Last edited: May 4, 2010
  10. taltamir

    taltamir Lifer

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    excellent guide, I agree with it all :)
     
  11. Golgatha

    Golgatha Lifer

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    I updated with one disagreement, but really it's just a matter of personal preference concerning enabling or disabling indexing on drives.
     
  12. Idontcare

    Idontcare Elite Member

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    I think the relevant differentiation here is to plainly and openly distinguish between those things you are doing to your system solely to enable performance with an SSD versus things you have personal convictions regarding (like disabling hibernation for extra disk space, or turning off pagefile, etc) and you would do them whether you were using SSD or spindle-drive.
     
  13. rolodomo

    rolodomo Senior member

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    Thanks for the list, I'm always glad to see someone willing to post "anti" conventional wisdom. I disagree about system restore though. It has repeatedly helped me in past especially regarding dodgy software and drivers that fail to install/remove correctly.

    I admit, I have not yet needed to restore in Win7 on my SSD(s), but I used it many times in Vista and it never failed me when I was in a bind. Restore is an easy, intermediate step to have available on the road to an full image restore from backup software. I usually create a restore point before I install software, just to have a very easy and quick way to rewind the clock a few minutes (just in case). Plus, you can easily control the amount of disk resources it takes through the command line.

    If I did experience a serious malware problem, yes, I would not look to restore as the solution.

    Has anyone experienced a problem with trim and Win7 restore? Does Intel really recommend disabling restore for their SSD(s)?
     
  14. taltamir

    taltamir Lifer

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    exactly.
    disabling indexing is a thing people used to recommend for spindle drives as well... as well as enabling indexing. Indexing exists to allow people to shave time off of a search at the cost of constant access. which you prefer to do is up to you.

    I only started enabling indexing because I noticed that when I DO search for something on my SSD it takes far too long. I have since noticed massive speedups on search, and no noticeable change in day to day performance. (with the jmicron, your overall performance will crash and burn with indexing on due to what random writes do to it)
     
    #13 taltamir, May 4, 2010
    Last edited: May 4, 2010
  15. MJinZ

    MJinZ Diamond Member

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    Uh, yea mostly agree except:

    Hibernation - if you don't use it, disable it. Period.

    Pagefile - should be set to 400mb or so, and then to use a fast HD as a system managed one. Should not be turned off completely.

    System Restore - OK with disabling for power users, but not for computer idiots. It's much easier to have them simply do a restore and hope for the best.

    ^ That is basically all you need to do assuming you installed Windows 7 correctly (AHCI mode).

    Also, regarding Chipset drivers, some people would want the Intel Drivers rather than the MS ones because Auto-trim may or may not useful. If you just remember to run the Intel SSD Optimizer once in a while, Auto-Trim (MS driver) is pretty useless, especially if you are not writing and deleting stuff all the time.
     
  16. taltamir

    taltamir Lifer

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    I agree, my point was that the argument is "hibernation is useless and nobody uses it"... that I disagreed with, there are uses for it...
    but naturally if you DON'T use it EVER then disabling the capability will release space equal to the amount of ram you have.
     
  17. rolodomo

    rolodomo Senior member

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    What would an advanced user first try? Consider this example, which really happened to me. I downloaded a new game controller driver, installed it, but it caused windows shutdown to hang. I uninstalled the driver, but windows still hung on shutdown (after a forced reboot and with controller connected/disconnected). I quickly restored to a point I made a few minutes earlier, and all was back to normal. What would be a better way to handle it? Manually edit the registry? That "might" work, plus it is much more difficult and time consuming. Restore a disk image? That's the last resort, hammer approach, plus very time consuming.
     
  18. linjy2

    linjy2 Senior member

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    good read, subscribed for when i get my ssd.
     
  19. MJinZ

    MJinZ Diamond Member

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    Hmmm I think there is Windows 7 System Backup option. I would have just restored to a backup image.

    System Restore is OK for everyone, I am just saying OK to disable if you really know what you're doing. Otherwise, no big deal with keeping it.
     
  20. jimhsu

    jimhsu Senior member

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    Contributions - keep in mind that I have a 80GB SSD (and try to keep 20GB free space), so space REALLY is tight.

    I don't see any problem with keeping System Restore enabled. Considering # of times it has saved me vs. space usage, I say it's worth it (just tune down the size a bit). Can you demonstrate that there are instances where TRIM is degraded or non-functional when System Restore is present?

    For pagefiles, I just shrink it down to a ridiculously small size (i.e. 256MB) and leave it on the SSD to prevent any programs from complaining. With 8GB of memory, it takes a ridiculous amount of usage to even approach "out of memory".

    Hm.. don't use hibernate at all. When my computer is actually off, it's because I'm doing a restart. Otherwise, it's on 24/7. I'd rather have my 8GB back, thank you. For laptops, its a completely different story.

    For indexing, I let Windows index only my user profile folder, and use Everything (http://www.voidtools.com/) for everything else. Returns better results than Windows's stupid search solution, and faster.
     
    #19 jimhsu, May 4, 2010
    Last edited: May 4, 2010
  21. Zoeff

    Zoeff Member

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    Err, shoot.

    I never enabled AHCI mode on my SSD and it doesn't seem to be possible to enable it after installing win7 on it. (Doesn't boot)

    What am I missing with it disabled?
     
  22. Zap

    Zap Elite Member

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    Hey, that's what I've been saying!

    Bad idea to outright turn it off. I've personally encountered software (some media player) that had problems if page file was turned off. The software must have been coded to expect it because a really tiny page file would work, but disabled altogether would make the software crap out.

    LOLOLOLOL!

    Wow, I thought I was the only one that did this. I usually get all the drivers and updates installed before activating, and if overclocking I leave activation until after I've done stability testing.

    Exactly!

    Windows 7 has backup plus system imaging. The thing is that using Windows Restore is a lot faster and easier than recovering using an image and then to your latest backup. Windows Restore has a bad rep with "techie" types probably dating back from when Microsoft bought out whatever company made the stuff and included it in Windows ME. At the time it was hit/miss for actually fixing stuff, and was prone to gobbling up way more HDD space than you allocated to it. Well, Windows Restore has come a LONG way from those days, and actually works properly most of the time these days. The only gotcha is that it does take up disk space, and of course can slow stuff down a bit during installs and such.

    Probably a bit of performance. You can enable it after-the-fact. Did a quick search and this popped up as one of the most concise guides:

    http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?t=313676
    Note that you normally would want to do the Regedit first before touching BIOS. I've heard of instances where Windows BSOD'd afer changing IDE>AHCI and it never recovered.
     
  23. taltamir

    taltamir Lifer

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    Maybe I should give it another whirl then... I was just today motivated to retest the speeds on my software raid6 array (compared to the speed of the same array prior to CPU and software upgrade) and was very much surprised by how much faster it was. Perhaps I Would be surprised to see how far system restore has come.
     
  24. killster1

    killster1 Diamond Member

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    i have to agree with indexing being stupid, what i want to know is how big pagefile should be. some people say small some big, id rather not have alot of pointless writes/reads to ssd but would like any performance (i have 8gb ram on most my boxes and soon they will all have ssd)

    indexing has been turned off by me on every drive for a long time now, if you need to search you should keep track your stuff better!
     
  25. hclarkjr

    hclarkjr Lifer

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  26. taltamir

    taltamir Lifer

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    Or maybe you have downloaded the sourcecode of something and need to look for something in there. (I put it on the SSD because it compiles faster on it).

    Or maybe I installed a program or a game and I am looking for a specific file, such as when modding.

    Or maybe I forgot where I placed something and I accidentally chose a non intuitive organization scheme (it is rare, but it has happened to me before)

    Or maybe I have no idea where within the unmovable appdata dir something was placed by a program. This is actually a very common search for me. There are 3 types of appdata: local, locallow, and roaming. Although generally nothing ever goes in locallow. There is also a specific user appdata and a "default" one (although again, things rarely go there). Then there are convoluted subdirectory schemes... I know that game X is called X, and that it is created by company Y, but is it under its own name, the company name, or the name of the publisher whose name I didn't even know...
     
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