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How to keep your SSD in optimum conditions

How to keep your SSD in optimum conditions

November 10, 2014 6:13 am0 comments

SSDs have a strong presence in the market, after a few years with expensive prices and an undue degradation that reduced their lifetime, but now we have a completely different situation. The price of SSDs has been reduced and we can find 128GB models at only 70€ and their degradation lifespan has reduced considerably.

However, they still have many detractors who consider that the price $ / GB is still far too expensive in relation to HDDs, and that their degradation lifespan still does not make them a viable option when making backup copies of our data. But precisely it is what we should focus on, and pamper our SSDs cards with basic care, ranging from not defragmenting your SSD, to move larger files to a mechanical hard drive.

The following tips will give you a list to increase the shelf life and speed of a SSD hard drive, which have no particular technical difficulty, but they can help significantly to improve these aspects.

Knowing each type of file

SSDs work at a faster rate compared to HDDs, which are its main advantage, but their size is considerably smaller in the SSD, so you should only have operating system files and installed programs, but no games.

Large size files or those to which we access infrequently, such as videos or MP3 files, should be stored on a secondary mechanical hard drive, because then we will not get any benefit from having them stored in the SSD and we are forcing the access time to be less, as this usually happens also with the games.

Move away games and programs

As we have previously explained, games and some low load programs that we don’t use frequently should be placed in a secondary mechanical hard drive.

In case of a new installation, the process is very simple, we just change the installation path by default to the HDD where previously we must have created one or two folders called Program Files (x86), just for a simple organization matter and create within a new folder with the name of the program you want to install (This last step is done automatically in many cases).

But when we already have the program installed, this may complicate, for example, in the case of Steam, we can easily move the library, but for other programs it may be more complicated, making us having to uninstall and do a fresh install, or use symbolic links.

Symbolic links allow you to “fool” Windows into thinking that this is the original location of the file; this method allows you to move programs and games without major problems.

Let’s say you have a game installed in C:\Games, you could move it to a new HDD, for example, D:\Games and create a symbolic link from C:\Games to D:\Games. Then whenever a shortcut, registry entry, or anything else that tries to access C:\Games, the system would redirect it to D:\Games.

To create a symbolic link you must use the MKLINK command in DOS command prompt (cmd.exe using the Search tool on Windows). If you want to create a link outside of your user folder, you have to open a cmd prompt as Administrator. To move C:\Example to D:\Example, you would move the folder C:\Example to D:\Example using Windows Explorer and finally the command would be executed.

mklink /d C:\Example D:\Example

Organize the main Folders

The main Folders with user data can be moved with ease. To move the Videos folder in the main system drive, an SSD, to a mechanical hard drive, you just have to find the user folder in C:\Users\NAME. You have to click the right mouse button and select Properties, then open the Location tab and select a new location. The folder will still appear in C:\Users\NAME\Videos and form part of the library of videos, but its content will be stored in the HDD.

Keep free space always

SSDs slow down as they fill up, as the unit will have a lot of partially filled blocks, which make it slower to write on empty blocks. It’s tempting to fill a SSD, but you must leave a certain percentage of free space on the SSD, as otherwise it will begin to lose performance when it is above 75% capacity.

To free up some space we can resort to eliminate certain data that is not useful, for example, updates to graphics drivers from NVIDIA leave an unnecessary folder in C:\NVIDIA after they are installed. This folder contains the installation files and occupy around 500MB.

We can use free software tools like CCleaner to automatically release the space occupied by temporary or unnecessary files.

Do not defragment your SSD

Unlike HDDs, SSDs do not improve their performance by defragmenting, as this task will only consume a lot of its cycle, thus reducing its lifespan.

Defragmentation tools and operating systems in theory tend to block defragmentation in such types of disks, but you should review it and when using old defragmentation tools they should be updated.

The TRIM Command

TRIM is essential to keep your SSD in top shape.

SSDs can only write data on empty sectors. This means that if an SSD has to modify a crowded sector, it has to read it, take note of the contents, modify them, delete the field, and write again over the modified contents. If you want to overwrite a sector, the sector would have to be erased and write new content for the now-empty field. You are wasting time with all these extra steps.

Operating systems tend to delete a file by marking their data as deleted on the disk. The file data still remains on disk and still it is overwritten only when the operating system needs this “empty” space to write new files on disk.

The TRIM command erases and consolidates the cells that are no longer in use, avoiding the previous steps to the SSD and improving read and write times.

This command is built from Windows 7 and there should be no problem with it, but when using older operating systems you may need an external program for the maintenance of your SSD.

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