Monday , 22 December 2014
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Windows 8 ‘Optimize Drives’ Sets Automated TRIM for SSD Health and Your Comfort

It is inevitable that we receive a great deal of questions regarding both Windows and SSD optimization on a regular basis here at TSSDR Headquarters.   Being a Windows 8 holdout, I elected to sidestep Windows 8 optimization questions until late and have recently discovered a tool in Windows 8 that benefits the SSD user, at least by way of comfort.

Historically, the company party line is to always shut down Windows Defragmentation.  We have been saying this since 2007 and there have been some interesting threads throughout the years regarding our many SSD optimizations, just about everyone one of which is the mainstay of any  SSD Optimization Guide these days.  Windows 8 has changed the rules just a bit though. Windows 7 Defragmentation Scheduling has now developed into Windows 8 Optimize Drive and Optimize Drive is good.

Optimize Drives Screen 2

First off, Optimize Drive recognizes if your storage medium is a hard drive or SSD and, if it is a HDD, disk defragmentation can be scheduled and will occur.  More specifically, Windows Assessment Tool determines initially whether you are using an SSD or HDD and then sets the environment accordingly. If you are utilizing an SSD, you can manually run ‘Optimize Drive’ which sends the TRIM command to the OS.  The OS then initiates garbage collection which wipes clean the space that files were recently deleted.  This is very important in the case of an SSD, because unlike that of a hard drive, new information cannot simply be placed over old information, that space must be cleaned which can slow your drive significantly if it occurred while you were writing that information.  Normally blocks of deleted data are wiped shortly after deletion or in idle time, thus the origin of ITGC or Idle Time Garbage Collection.

Windows 8 went one step further by providing the ability to schedule this activity that allows you to set TRIM for a specific period, be it a day, year or month.  So why might you need Windows Optimization if you know that TRIM is working on your SSD?  Comfort.  Since word of TRIM got out some time ago, understanding whether or not TRIM was working on their SSDs has been of major concern to most.  Most recently, we saw this through the response to our recent post on TRIMcheck, a free software program that writes date, erases it and then returns to the scene of the crime a few seconds later to see if TRIM triggered ITGC.

Windows 8

At the end of the day, when someone brings up the fact that it is bad to defragment your SSD in Windows 8, you can tell them they are not quite correct.  Windows 8 does not allow the defragmenting of an SSD and simply triggers TRIM instead.  It also creates no additional workload as all it does is tells the OS to send the TRIM command to the SSD.  If there are no ‘dirty blocks’ pending garbage collection, nothing occurs.

Maybe it is time we created a Windows 8 Optimization Guide… For now though, check out Optimize Drives by going to you Win 8 StartScreen and typing in ‘Optimize’ or even… ‘Defragment’.

About Les Tokar

is a technology nut and Founder of The SSD Review. His early work includes the first consumer SSD review along with MS Vista, Win 7 and SSD Optimization Guides. Les is fortunate to, not only evaluate and provide opinion on consumer and enterprise solid state storage but also, travel the world in search of new technologies and great friendships. Google+
  • Jim

    Does Window 8 differ from Window 7 in this respect? How about if you set up a dual-boot Windows 7/8 system?

    Jim

    • http://www.thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Yes, Windows 7 will only defrag your drive which isn’t good at all. Windows 7 does not activate TRIM. As for a dual boot system, good question of which I am unsure of the answer.

      • sluflyer06

        This is gross misinformation. Windows 7 supports trim and utilizes it without problems and this is nothing new.

      • .oO(DT)Oo.

        Sorry so late to reply, this is the top google result when searching “Trim Windows 8″. You are both right. Windows 7 does “support” TRiM. However, by default, there was a time (And it may very well still be the case, search google your own damn selves) that it did not automatically run TRiM on a schedule from the get-go. you had to activate it and set it.

      • sluflyer06

        So was that like 5 years ago when it first released? I’ve been using SSDs since the first generation drives released and Windows 7 has never needed anything special set, all you do is run the windows experience index after switching to or installing a solid state if you didn’t install it from the start on the SSD and it will turn on trim.

      • Techonium

        You are obviously missing the point, which is in regard specifically to the Defrag utility. In Windows 7, it will actually run defrag, not TRIM, an SSD. In Windows 8, it recognizes SSDs, and runs a TRIM job, not defrag.

        Yes, Windows 7 can and will TRIM your SSD without using this utility. The point is that in Windows 8, when you want to schedule the Defrag and Optimize utility, it will run the correct job according to the drive type.

  • http://twitter.com/Cape_Dave David Bell

    I tried it. Works great! I have win 8. However, I do not and would never use the Metro on my desktop.

    • http://www.thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      I am finding that Metro can be handy. Mind you, I am using a dual screen environment with a 27″ touch Planar Helium.

      • John Lyu

        I agree. I feel that the Metro is just an enlarged/customize-able start menu. My workspeed has increased with the conversion.

        I’m new to SSD’s so there is no problem with leaving an SSD to be optimized/TRIM weekly?

      • http://www.thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

        No there would be no problem at all. Remember, TRIM only occurs if something needs it. Also, for me, I try to avoid HDD completely and, if I were to keep indexing, it would stay with the faster SSD.

  • Chris

    Hey, just a quick question. As far as I remember in Windows 7 to enable Garbage Collection you need to logout and just leave it idle. How about Windows 8?

    • http://www.thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      That’s not entirely correct as garbage collection is part and parcel to the SSD and its firmware and not so much the OS. Your mentioning logging out is actually the first I had heard of that. My system is on and logged in 24/7 and I am certain ITGC was fully functional.

      • Chris

        Oh now I understand. Thanks for replying! :) Nice site btw.

  • http://www.ashisbhadra.com/ Ashis Bhadra

    Thanks for the great guide on SSD maintenance on Windows 8! You’ve opened my eyes to the “Optimize Drive” thing in Windows 8! :-)

  • Ethan Poole

    Can you speak at all to the differences between the Automatic Maintenance and Optimize Drive functions? There are some users claiming that the Automatic Maintenance feature in Windows 8 is defragmenting their SSD hard drives, and that Microsoft has been promising a fix since initial release of the OS:

    http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/performance/windows-8-automatic-maintenance-defragments-my-ssd/ac52d21c-a6c9-48de-9f22-27af6d23cf00?page=1

  • Frank

    Just found this discussion and tried the recommended actions. A couple of things surprised me.
    I am in Australia and use Australian English. ‘Optimize’ has been replaced by ‘Optimise’ which is the first time I have seen any evidence of this type of acknowledgement happening.
    Also Win 8 is not recognising my Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD system disk, seeing it as a standard HDD. ‘Analyse’ tells me the disk is 13% defragmented and that I should defrag it.
    I ran the Disk Magician’s Optimize immediately prior to this.

    I always worry a bit when different people get different responses from the system for the same input.

  • Andreas

    Does Optimization work with a raid0 setup?

    • Makis

      It depends on hardware (e.g. Z87 intel chipset supports TRIM with RAID 0).

  • dzezik

    Remember, even if TRIM is supported by Your SSD it does not mean it will improve performance. Some SSD perform better with disabled TRIM. That is why Microsoft decided to allow You to choose to send one TRIM command to disk when it is not used. Sending TRIM with any delete command can degrade performance.

  • iCrunch

    Yup, I’ve used Windows 8.1’s SSD optimization and did a manual TRIM’ing. Any advice for those on OS X? At least I can check to see if TRIM is enabled in System Information and you can even force it to work with non-Apple sanctioned SSD’s (dumb, yea, but no hate, please). One thing I can’t do is manually set it to TRIM exactly when I want it to.

    I guess it doesn’t matter much, but you said it exactly right: Comfort. As in peace of mind! As in being in control.

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