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.
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.
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’.