Friday , 25 July 2014
Learn What SSDs Can Do For You:

The SSD Optimization Guide Ultimate Windows 8 (And Win7) Edition

At this point in the game, SSD optimization is nothing new to technology and has become a very popular topic as a result of SSD popularity, coupled with Microsoft’s shutting down sales of Windows 7.  Microsoft wants the world to be a Windows 8 world, at least until Windows Blue arrives as originally discovered in our own Forum Community. Even more amusing is the fact that SSDs require no optimization whatsoever but they seem to be, well,  like a new car that one has to keep clean. We can’t resist learning each and ever characteristic and then fine tuning it until it purrs.

The SSD industry (and Microsoft) has made a definite step ahead in the incorporation of many important SSD optimizations in order to smooth the worlds transition from the dreaded hard drive to solid state.  Many of these optimizations go against the grain of most’s thinking, however through the past few years, we have seen just about every one that we recommended in 2010 accepted.  Back then, they told us we were losing our mind and a person would be nuts to follow our lead.

SSD Optimization Guide

The SSD Optimization Guide Windows 8 Edition is our third in our series of such guides, the first published close to three years ago to the day which was redesigned last year.  A comparison of ‘yesterday’s and today’s’ will show many similarities, this because the engine at the heart of Windows 8 is still much the same as it was in Windows 7.  It is the fine tuning of Window’s 8 that make this guide so special. Our goal hasn’t changed as well.  We hope to provide you with as much as an understanding of each optimization, as well as helping you to weigh the pros and cons of making your final decision to complete that tweak.

IS YOUR COMPUTER SATA 2 OR SATA 3?

If you are upgrading to an SSD in your own system, it is important to understand whether your desktop (or portable) computer is SATA 2 or SATA 3 as this strikes directly to system performance.  With the introduction of solid state drives, the technology sector realized that faster disk access times and transfer speeds made possible a very visible performance increase in computers.  A traditional computer is SATA 2 and capable of transfer performance up to roughly 275MB/s read and write speeds while newer SATA 3 solutions are capable of over 500MB/s read and write performance, almost double the speed.

The SSD Optimization Guide Windows 8 Edition SATA Interface

Did you know that SATA 2 and 3 actually refers only to the interface that you plug your systems data cable in to?  SATA =  Serial ATA = Serial Advanced Technology Attachment

The good news is that all SATA 3 SSDs are fully backward compatible to SATA 2, however, understanding the difference can save you days of frustration wondering why your SATA 2 PC is not hitting manufacturer listed performance of 500MB/s transfer.  Do you want to know a secret?  For a typical user, the difference is moot as they will probably never be able to visibly observe a difference between SATA 2 and SATA 3.  The difference between a hard drive and an SSD, on the other hand, is absolutely amazing!  It is an entirely new experience for most.

IS IT A SSD, HYBRID SYSTEM, CACHED SSD OR HYBRID SSD

First up on our list is our choice of storage medium.  A hybrid SSD is a hard drive with contained flash modules that claim to increase performance to that hard drive.  Unless your performance is limited only to start times, we don’t feel this a viable consideration.  A cached SSD, on the other hand, is a solid state drive that may be purchased with a user installed caching program.  The most popular caching program that we have seen and tested to date is Samsung’s own NVELO Dataplex Caching Software.

Hybrid-designNVELO Dataplex caching software increases the speed of your hard drive to that of the SSD through caching of ‘hot’ or frequently used data.  This data includes all OS functions and the start process which increases your hard drive speed significantly. Manufacturers such as Crucial, OCZ, Mushkin and Corsair have jumped aboard the NVELO train and provide solutions in sizes ranging from 30 to 128GB, capacity being the key element in disk caching that hasn’t been realized in hybrid hard drive solutions to date.

Although we are SSD through and through here at TSSDR, we have very positive support for any NVELO Dataplex caching solution and, if this seems the way to go, check out product availability at Amazon. NVELO Dataplex is the ONLY caching solution that can make cached hard drive transfer performance of 550MB/s read and 510MB/s write with up to 80,000 IOPS a reality.

Not get too confusing but a hybrid laptop may be a laptop with an SSD and caching solution, as we recently tested with the new Sony VAIO T14 Touch Ultrabook where a 32GB ‘SandForce Driven’ SSD was used with Condusiv ExpressCache.

Our solid recommendation is always an SSD (or SSD with hard drive for data) and the SSD Optimization Guide is only of value to systems that use an SSD as their primary drive and their operating system and/or software and data is installed.  For those that have to have that capacity, we will get to a trick for moving your ‘Documents’ folder off of the SSD and on to the hard drive.

CAN WINDOWS 7 USERS BENEFIT AS WELL?

In a word…yes.  Much of what we are going to describe is the same in Windows 7 as it is in Windows 8, given exception to the route we follow or a few changes here and there.  We have added some significant performance enhancements that both Windows 7 and 8 users can try to significantly increase the speed of their system.

It is important that readers follow our direction exactly, and regardless, any changes you make to your own system is of your own choice and we are not responsible IN ANY WAY for unexpected results that may occur.

SYSTEM MIGRATION VS FRESH INSTALL

Consideration should be given as to whether you will migrate or conduct a fresh OS installation when moving from a hard drive to SSD.  Our most common ‘troubleshooting’ issue has always involved those who have followed the SSD migration route.  We ALWAYS recommend a fresh installation and following of this guide, or the original SSD Optimization Guide.  The reasoning is not always known but, in migrating from a hard drive to SSD, some experience a significant performance drop in the first few days after migration, most of the time because TRIM isn’t working.

We should understand that we are migrating a well established system, that has never understood the workings of TRIM, and expecting the new OS to fall in place and function properly. Most of the time it does. Some of the time it doesn’t and the end solution is a fresh install well after the fact.  Our Beginners Guide contains a plethora of valuable SSD knowledge (always wanted to use that word), to which we have an article entitled ‘SSD Migration or Fresh Install’ that you might be interested in.

WHY OPTIMIZE?

SSD Optimizations are conducted to improve performance, increase SSD capacity and to increase write endurance.  They all help to strengthen system stability. Most of us will never see the ‘end life’ of our SSD so write endurance is not so crucial, however, we just love the feeling of having a solid system that has been fine tuned for increased performance and capacity. Throughout this Guide, we will put forward optimizations, in an order that we would follow, explaining the purpose of each and highlighting the main reasoning for that tweak, be it to increase performance, capacity or write endurance.

1. AHCI MODE AND NOT IDE – PERFORMANCE

The performance increase between a computer in AHCI mode, as compared to IDE, is just over 15%.  Most computers today are in AHCI, by default, but occasionally we encounter otherwise from our readers.  Checking your BIOS does the trick but may be a bit difficult for some.  The easist way is to check your SSDs properties in System devices.

Windows 8 SSD AHCI Screen

Clicking on any of our photographs will bring up a higher resolution copy for your viewing ease.

While on the Windows 8 Start Screen, type ‘Control Panel’ and then select it.  This is a small trick of Windows 8 many don’t realize.  Open Control Panel and look for IDE/ATA ATAPI controllers and select that.  It will confirm that AHCI controllers are installed and working properly when each is selected by right clicking your mouse. Windows 7 still select Start Orb/Control Panel/IDE/ATA ATAPI controllers.

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+
  • Grec

    Nice work! Many of these are a repeat of what we typically see, even from your previous, but it a huge step up from just saying do this and that. Great links and pulled 128MBs 4k write out of that last tweak…Thanks.

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

      The fact that some were rehashed is why we were so late to the game. Only when we sat down and dug into Win8 did we then find it viable to demonstrate the rehashed options by that route. Add on a few new ones, including one very powerful tweak that we hadn’t seen in guides prior, as well as plenty of free software links, and we are happy with the final package. Thanks for the support.

      • PommieB

        Thanks Les read every word and liked it immensely, hope you don’t mind me adding it to my sticky on the extreme overclocking forum, didn’t agree with everything but was very impressed with your explanations, keep up the good work.
        PommieB.

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

        Pommie my old friend. Of course I don’t mind you adding it and not everyone will ever agree with all. We have come a long way since 07 though when we were condemned for even mentioning Pagefile and restore. Egad! My son is in your end of the world and loving it! University in Australia…how great does life get?

      • PommieB

        Thanks Les, the weathers superb in Australia at the moment, I’m right in the middle of renovating the house, didn’t do the traveling bit, it was costing me too much time so I’m living on the place. Your sons about 700km from where I am but the coasts the place to be, used to live on the coast, did a lot of skin diving when I was younger, intended to live there permanently but never quite managed it due to work. Didn’t get into ssd’s till mid 2009, too expensive then. Couldn’t live without one now.

        There were only the migrating and saving to disk I didn’t agree with, I like doing both. All the best PommieB.

  • fiftyone

    +1 fort sticky & +1 for Les. top article

  • MikeGR7

    Thank you for this Les!
    I knew the tips for Win 7 already but you put them nice
    together in one place made a perfect bookmark!

  • http://twitter.com/PanosStathakis Panos Stathakis

    From what i see Mr.Les removes comments that he doesn’t like and only leaves the possitive ones. Typical i guess.

  • ladril

    Is it possible to get this guide in a complete PDF format?

    • Mars

      +1 That’ll be convenient

  • Mike Piff

    “For a typical user, the difference is mute”

    You meant “moot” not “mute” I think!

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

      Big tx!

  • John Lyu

    Thanks for the guide. I did a fresh install on a SSD as the boot drive so I’ve been reading on this topic.

    From what I’ve read Superfetch and Prefetch will be automatically disabled if Windows 8 detects a SSD in the computer/system.

    I’ve got one question though. If I have moved the Indexing Cache to a mechanical HDD do I have to worry about Indexing using writes on my SSD’s? Do I have to turn it off period?

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

      The question that might be raised is why would you move the indexing cache to a hard drive when the SSD is significantly faster? Logically, you may have unintentionally created a bottleneck.

  • Anon

    The rational for making the individual changes seem a little better defined this time around (in my quick scan of the guide) so thanks :)

    Anyway, in Win7, turning off the pagefile results in a dialog box warning that data related to a system crash may not be saved. It could be worth rationalizing the importance or lack importance of crash data when a BSOD occurs.

    Also, the part related to prefetch, and checking the registry for superfetch, seemed to be a little too Win8 centric in wording and it wasn’t clear what you did to actually disable prefetch. Then in my win7 case, with the superfetch service disabled and ‘winsat disk’ run in a privileged command prompt, i still had the EnableSuperfetch registry key defined (value=0). Should i manually delete it?

    And why isn’t there any mention of actually running ‘winsat disk’ in win7? Does it not benchmark the disk and determine it is an SSD making appropriate adjustments like disabling defragment schedule and delete the enablesuperfetch registry key (which should be manually checked in Win7 as that didn’t quite happen)? Some comments to clarify the above from a win7 perspective may be worthwhile in the appropriate sections.

    Oh, and a pdf (preferred) or web printable version would be great as i’m not always online when doing such optimizations.

  • Thee MC

    Very nice guide, thank you!

  • Mr G

    Nothing new. Too many myths and some mistakes.

  • http://www.idolium.com/ Idolium

    Take care with step 13. DISABLE WRITE CACHE BUFFER FLUSHING In my Kingston SSD Now 30Gb the performance drop a lot if you disable the cache. For example, start windows with cache: 20 secs. Without cache: 1min 30 secs.

    • North

      screwed my pc HAD to re-install, id say this is a very dodgy setting even screwed safe mode all im saying be carefull

  • Gamkutopolowk Inhumanoid

    please help! i have SSD+HDD Virtual Memory SSD-> no paging file and HDD-> system managed size? it is ok or no ?

  • vav

    Be careful with moving folders to harddrives (point 18). I made such a folder and couldn’t install anything in it because it still counts as being part of the SSD when it comes to space requirements so if your ssd has like 5 gb left and you want to install photoshop it won’t let you, even if the harddrive folder has plenty of space

  • Asad

    Thanks a lot samsung 120 gb (non pro) this tutorial increased my reading speed but writing speed has been reduced for some reason but i am happy unless any more tricks can help :). Now it’s a lot faster plus I have gained 10 gb of free space. Thanks again

  • Mondy

    I have waded through pages of superfluous waffle to move folders to hdd,and here it is so simple! Thank you.

  • Richard

    When disabling indexing on the SSD drive, apply changes to C: or subfolders too? The fans started running high and it took a long time when I chose subfolders so I cancelled the operation after several minutes… :’(

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

      I apply to all subfolders without difficulty. I cannot seak for much larger systems however.

  • Nickleodeon

    How to install windows in SSD and others in HDD?

  • http://www.robinj.be/ Robin Jacobs

    Missing one important tweak for capacity: Move program files :P Then again, it might kinda defeat the purpose of an SSD.

  • Will

    For God’s Sake, change the Black color of the website into something else that is not as much as eye-straining.

    I keep Ctrl+A then copy contents into a blank MS Word file so that I can READ.

    One more request for the Sake of Virgin Marry :) reduce page splitting, make an article 1 single page w/o the need to click through 7 pages.

    Please!

  • Gunner

    Woe, major problems, I’m not blaming anyone, Les please contact me at the below email address if you get a chance. I running a Samsung 840 Pro, and after following the guides instructions, after a reboot my system crashes (restarts) about 3 seconds after I see my desktop. I have a WD My Book running (H:Drive), Ms dialog box pops up saying WD bla bla has stopped working, I hear lock-up buzz, then my System restarts. I can boot into all modes of “Safe Mode”, but that’s it. Any idea where I should start, and can everything in the “SSD Guide” be un-done in Safe Mode? Or anyone else reading this with advanced knowledge.

    http://www.thessdreview.com/ssd-guides/optimization-guides/the-ssd-optimization-guide-2/

    w4cgunner@yahoo.com

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

      Of course everything can be reversed in safe mode and I might suggest something may have inadvertently not been done correctly as this guide has been followed for years now without difficulty.

      I might try to unhook the H: drive to see how things work from there.

    • Astrix_au

      Use Samsung Magician OS optimisation and set it to Max Performance.
      I use that and set my main SSD to rapid mode :)

  • Azad Jannati

    Thank you so much but , I did all of it and my speed is still slow , like this http://i1127.photobucket.com/albums/l629/Aze80/2.jpg
    and this is my config
    core i7 950
    Motherboard asus p6t deluxe vt
    16 g ram corsair 1600
    ssd 240 corsair , what should I do?

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

      Lets tackle this… Was it a fresh install? Are you sure it is on the intel ports and not the secondary? Is your power settings on high? Was it a new SSD?

      • Azad Jannati

        Yes it is a fresh install on AHCI but I don’t sure to connect on intel port ( how should I find it ? my motherboard is asus p6t deluxe v2 , and my power setting is on high

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

        Red not orange

      • Azad Jannati

        all of my port is red but my speed is slow

      • Azad Jannati

        at last I got it , my sata is not 3g /byte , it was 3d bit , that’s why I had not the most speed of my ssd hard

  • alex

    great guide, thank you! You know if anything here works with the new Imac Fusion drive? (sorry double post, wanted to post here)

    • alex

      nevermind, the fusion drives ssd is not used in windows bootcamp.

  • aex

    Hi,
    Thanks for a useful guide. Just one comment and that is I found disabling Pagefile sent my Boot time from 15 seconds to about 28 seconds. All was restored when I allowed Pagefile again.
    I use an OCZ Vector 256.
    Regards Alex

  • Eric

    Hi Les,

    Check out this optimization tip for SSDs running Windows 7 & Office:
    http://www.1hd.biz/2013/02/how-to-permanently-disable-lnk-files.html

  • Pinkar

    Turning off Pagefile on my Win 7 system caused AS SSD to freeze.

  • Tsais

    I’d like to keep system protection, its saved my butt more than a few times!

    Isn’t it possible to get Windows to write the restore point data to another drive on the system?

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Not that I am aware of and, today, this isn’t as much of a problem as it used to be, although it is still at thge forefront of most manufacturers optimization recommendations. If you would believe it, there was a time when I was THE ONLY to recommend this and people used to condemn my ideas calling me nuts. If you are wanting ideal consistent SSD performance over the long term, however, System Restore is not the way to go.

  • Hooks

    I also move my browser’s cache files on my HDD along with a few other temporary files folder other programs use

  • pixeldroid

    Wow, thanks for this guide!
    Regarding #8, is there a optimization recommendation for Win7?

  • pixeldroid

    Just to confirm — # 15, to disable Prefetch, RMB on the key and delete it?
    Thx.

  • Bale

    Howdy! Thanks for the guide, very insightful!

    Running Windows 7.

    I’m wondering about Step 15:

    Specifically what BaseTime and BootId are as our values are very different.

    I have 000000170(368) for BootId, not even sure what that is and I can’t seem to find a good explanation online.

    For BaseTime it’s some long string.

    Thoughts?

  • Mihai

    Hi, disabling windows search index has crashed my computer, and now I can’t boot, and it continuously restarts. Do you have any advice for that ?

    Running crucial m500 ssd and windows 8.1 x64.

  • El Dinero

    Hi,

    I have a PC with Win 7 installed on a “SAMSUNG 840 Pro Series SSD 256GB”. I also have a additional “1TB Western Digital Blue HDD” built in.

    I get it, that you wouldn’t want your SSD to get defragmented. Win 8 seems to make a good job at determining which kind of drive deserves which type of treatment. How about Win 7 though?

    Can I run an automatic defrag schedule for my HDD, which excludes my SSD? When I try to configure a defrag schedule, Win 7 doesn’t even list my SSD for possible defragmentation, whereas my HDD is shown correctly. I take this as a sign that Win 7 knows that my SSD shouldn’t be included in a defrag schedule, and automatically excluded it from possible defrag?

    Is this correct?

    • Gavin

      Yup. correct.

  • Lestat Craven

    Sry Les I get nothing under: IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers plz advise….

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Join our Forums and list screen shots. Simply providing advise without system background doesn’t serve a purpose here.

  • zz

    Some good points there, but some not. Well, there is no obligation to usee all of them, isn’t it? A user should use his/her own judgement, and thank yo ufor providing such a long list, even if some points are just an overkill.

  • MERL0

    So i followed your guide and having significant lack of RAM since then. Never had a problem before, now it is in like 100% usage all the time. Definitely taking these “pagefile” and “fetch” steps back. Win 8.1, 4 GB RAM…

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      My suggestion might be that something you did was incorrect. The guide has millions of downloads and has been complimented time and time again. If you want to work through it, join our forums and provide a detailed recount of events.

  • amy

    Thanks for the guide :)

  • Kevin

    Hey Les, I was recently going through and trying to clear space on my SSD, and realized that the hidden AppData folders in the User folders was taking up a significant amount of space (as well as the Temp Folders). I’ve seen in other SSD Optimization Guides that they moved the Temp and TMP folders off the SSD, but would you recommend that AppData be moved?
    I also understand that a significant amount of read/writes are caused by temporary internet files and browsing (which are stored in the aforementioned Temp folders).

    I guess the point I’m getting at is, are there other optimizations above and beyond those you’ve recommended in this guide, or are those the only critical ones. Your advice would be much appreciated. Cheers.

  • Warren Lauzon

    On #18 I can see no reason not to move ALL music, video, photo, document files to the HD – pretty much the entire /users folders.

  • Delimiyimben

    Thanx for this great guide. You (or somebody else) should make an app that contains all this tweaks just by a few clicks. It could be awesome and essential app for after fresh installation of windows. Sorry for bad english.

  • anon

    When turning off indexing, I applied it to sub-folders as well. Was that the right thing to do? Because after that, it went through every file applying the settings.

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Yes thats fine.

  • http://massmountain.com stelter

    Hello Les,
    Do you know of anywhere I might access similar information relating to SSDs in a server environment?

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      That is actually a great thought but sorry…no.

  • http://twitter.com/jimbolandjots jimbolandjots

    Excellent resource – thanks!

  • Adrian Spicer

    Can anyone give me a link/tutorial on the best version of Windows 7 to install, and optional components in order to save space? I have a 60GB SSD and when I installed windows on it previously, after all the updates it only had like.. 10GB free :(

  • Patryk Kulczyk

    You are completly wrong about drive indexing. It is not designed to reduce access time. It it drive content indexing so when you use search in windows (typing something in main screen that you recommended here so many times) it will give you results faster ams won’t scan your entire drive each timd you type to search something. Its like in databases. It actually reduces reads on your drive. Access time to your data has nothing to do with indexing unless uou consider search time as access time…

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Ya…but we aren’t using or speaking of hard drives…like apples and oranges thanks!

      • Patryk Kulczyk

        No we are not talking apples and oranges. If you type something in search it will show results immediately if there is an index on the drive and “read” performed while doing that with index is minimal. If You do the same without index – while you are typing it will start scanning for files (apps, documents, etc) that are matching your input. This is full blown scan, this slows down your PC while typing, this will not show you results instantly.
        This applies to all drives – SSD and HDD or hybrid. I understand that SSD is fast but to scan full SSD drive with windows system and program files on it will take time – much more than on indexed drive.
        Also index data is minimal -it’s size is so small that it does not have any impact on endurance. Again – Index Off = more workload for the drive and slower search results.
        I can guarantee that I will get faster search results within widows while using HDD and Index on than you with SSD and index off.
        Also please understand that this is just drive content index – very much like in database indexing it has nothing to do how SSD or HDD works. It’s just content index in windows – small database that You use when You search for files.
        Generally what You are proposing is performance lost while searching in windows with no significant endurance benefits or maybe none at all considering number of reads drive needs to do while searching without index.
        This would be only advised to noob users, seriously basic users that open web browser form a shortcut on desktop and Call Of Duty from the next icon and they do not know what command line is or that they can type in run filed to find desired app/file.

  • Dex

    Hello, I would like to point out that disabling Windows Search service caused problem in changing and searching for desktop wallpaper through ‘Personalize’.

  • Rob_Oppen

    Small correction: On page 1 of “The SSD Optimization Guide Ultimate Windows 8 (And Win7) Edition”, you tell users “While on the Windows 8 Start Screen, type ‘Control Panel’ and then select it. … Open Control Panel and look for IDE/ATA ATAPI controllers and select that. ” but the user should be searching for ‘Device Manager’ (and not Control Panel) as that is what is pictured. One can get to the Device Manager thru the control panel, but that step is not shown. Some newbies could get lost.
    Thanks for the great guide!

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