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SSD Tweaks & Best Practices for Performance

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Solid state drives offer a significant performance bump over hard disk drives, but SSD performance can degrade performance-wise over time. But you can take steps to squeeze as much performance and operational life out of them as possible. If you have made the upgrade to a solid state drive, this article will show you how to maximize performance and drive longevity.

Set your SSD to AHCI mode

Short for Advanced Host Controller Interface, AHCI allows software to work with SATA drives and adds support for hot-plugging and native command queuing (NCQ). That latter feature is what we want, as it can improve overall system responsiveness. NCQ optimizes the execution of read and write commands by performing them in the most efficient manner possible.

Normally, AHCI needs to be enabled prior to operating system installation but it is also possible to modify the setting after the fact. Here’s how.

Windows 8

  1. Open the command line program in Administrator mode.
  2. Enter the following command:
    bcdedit /set {current} safeboot minimal
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  3. Reboot the computer.
    1. Enter the system BIOS. Normally done by pressing an indicated key when prompted.
  4. Set the SATA SSD to AHCI mode. This process will vary depending on your motherboard, see your computer’s owner’s manual for details.
    1. Save your changes and restart the computer.
  5. After rebooting and loading Windows, open the command line program in Administrator mode.
  6. Enter the following command:
    bcdedit /deletevalue {current} safeboot
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  7. Restart your computer. You are now finished.

Windows 7

  1. Open the Start menu and in the search bar, search for regedit.
    1. Open the Registry Editor (regedit.exe) when it shows up in the results.
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  2. Navigate to the following folder:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Msahci
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  3. In the right pane, right click on Start and select Modify.
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  4. In the value data box, change the number to 0 and then click OK.
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  5. Close Registry Editor and restart Windows.
  6. Enter the system bios. Typically done by pressing an indicated key when prompted.
  7. Reboot the computer.
    1. Enter the system bios. This is typically done by pressing an indicated key when prompted.
  8. Set the SATA SSD to AHCI mode. This process will vary depending on your motherboard, please check your computer’s owner’s manual for detailed steps.
  9. Save your changes and restart the computer. You are now finished.

 

Enable TRIM

The TRIM command that allows the operating system to tell a SSD which memory cells to not use and which to wipe. In older operating systems like Windows Vista or XP, TRIM is disabled by default and can cause SSD performance to degrade over time. Windows 8 automatically enables TRIM when it detects an SSD, so users do not have to manually set it.

Windows 7 should also automatically detect an SSD and enable TRIM as well, but you can verify yourself with the following method.

  1. Open the command line program in Administrator mode.
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  2. Run the following command to find out if TRIM is enabled.
    fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify
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  3. Ensure DisableDeleteNotify is set to 0, TRIM is enabled. If it is set to 1, then is disabled.
  4. To enable TRIM, enter the following command:
    fsutil behavior set disabledeletenotify 0
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Warning: Do not manually defragment your SSD

Before SSDs were popular storage solutions, defragmenting a drive was a common practice to combat deteriorating performance and overall sluggishness. With SSDs however, file fragmentation is a very minor problem. Because of this, experts often advise users to not defragment their SSDs because it may cause drive deterioration.

However, that is only partially true. Windows in fact does automatically defrag an SSD every so often in the background. Even if Windows knows the SSD is an SSD and not a hard disk drive, it will happen. As for how often Windows periodically defrags your SSD, it depends—though the default setting out of the box is a monthly increment. When it comes to defragmenting SSDs, the better piece of advice is to not do it yourself unless you absolutely have a reason to.

 

Install only frequently-used programs to the SSD

Another tweak you can do to improve SSD lifespan is to install programs you need to use frequently. Because a flash memory cells have limited write/rewrite cycles, choose these items wisely. If you install all your programs to the SSD, free space may soon be at a minimum. When that happens, the OS will start to constantly reuse a smaller pool of free flash memory cells and wear them out quicker.

By following the best practices and implementing tweaks, you will increase SSD performance and also prolong its operational life. What other SSD tweaks and best practices do you follow? Let us know in the comments.

Summary
Wallace Chu

Wallace Chu

A self-professed tech hipster that loves computers and music. Uses an iPhone ironically.

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