Need More Space (or Speed) on Your SSD? – Part 3, Final (Feature)

As promised this will be the final of the three-part series we did for Need More Space (or Speed) on Your SSD?, also if you happened to miss our previous articles – check out Part 1 and Part 2 (respective links). A brief explanation of our following tweak, the Search feature in Windows indexes certain files and folders on your drive and the index itself is found in C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search with the space consumed being about 10% of the total contents being indexed. The space consumption may not be worth it for some due to the already fast nature of SSDs since the search indexes are cached to RAM from the drive.

Disabling Superfetch and Search services

  • Type services.msc in the Start menu Search textfield
  • Scroll down to Superfetch then right-click and select Properties
  • For the Startup type drop-down menu, select Disabled then hit OK
  • Scroll down to Windows Search then right-click and select Properties
  • Click the Stop button, change the Startup type drop-down menu to Disabled and press OK

Disabling Prefetcher and Superfetch from the Registry

Reason behind it? Well, Superfetch is setup to cache files that are accessed frequently since SSDs already have fairly low seek times, so the particular function can be disabled. However if you did a fresh install of Windows 7 on a SSD to start with, Superfetch should already be disabled (may not be if you imaged your OS from an existing HDD). On the other hand, Prefetch loads parts of program files and by disabling this you can free up more of your system memory.

  • Type regedit in the Start menu Search textfield
  • Choose the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SessionManager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters path
  • Right-click on EnablePrefetcher and EnableSuperfetch
  • Choose Modify on each then change the value from either 1 or 3 to 0
  • Restart your system

We hope you all enjoyed our three-part series on SSD optimization and appreciated the extra space or performance boost. Until next time.

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Need More Space (or Speed) on Your SSD? – Part 2 (Feature)

We’ll jump in right away after where we left off last time, and we’ll start off by discussing Power Settings (in Windows) that can affect the TRIM operation. By adjusting and ensuring that the drive does not turn off after a given amount of time, it allows the SSD’s idle garbage collection sequence to run even when you’re away. This can be done by:

  • Going to Control Panel and select Hardware and Sound (in Category view)
  • Click on the Power Options section heading (in green)
  • If you haven’t selected the High performance plan already then hit Show additional plans and select the bubble for it
  • Select Change plan settings for the High performance profile followed by Change advanced power settings
  • Expand the Hard disk drop-down menu and change the Turn off hard disk after to 0 minutes, which will show as Never
  • Click Apply then OK to save your changes

Disable Hibernation and Drive Indexing

This duo frees up space and can help with write performance at the same time. First off with disabling hibernation, you can gain the same storage space as the amount of RAM you have in your system. Reason is of the Hiberfil.sys hidden file on the root folder of the drive where the OS is installed and the Windows Kernel Power Manager reserves this file when you install the operating system. Not coincidentally, the size of this particular file is roughly the same as how much memory (or RAM) you have installed.

Since with a SSD you can power down and boot up with great speed, as a result you won’t have much of a performance gain by hibernating your system. To disable, you:

  • Type cmd in the Start menu Search textfield
  • Press and hold Ctrl + Shift + Enter or right clicking the cmd program to Run as Administrator
  • Key in powercfg -h off and hit Enter
  • An empty prompt should follow which is normal

Now we’ll cover Drive Indexing as response times on a SSD are quite fast already and won’t require contents of the drive to be indexed for quicker retrieval. Not only does this prevent unnecessarily writes to the drive meaning longer life, but also some help in terms of write performance as well. To do this:

  • Open Computer from the Start menu or if you have a desktop shortcut
  • Right-click the SSD and click Properties then un-check Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties

You will be greeted with a pop-up of how the attributes will be applied to the drive or drive and folders/files as well, it should be applied to everything rather than just the drive itself since that would just prevent indexing of future folders/files. Another pop-up that you may see is an error for applying attributes and you can simply hit Ignore All as this is normal.

Be sure to stay tuned for our third and final installment of our Need More Space (or Speed) on Your SSD? series.

Need More Space (or Speed) on Your SSD? – Part 1 (Feature)

As solid-state drives become more affordable, many of us are getting on board and using them for our systems. Whether it’s in a desktop or laptop, you’ll be seeing a substantial speed bump with faster load times and responsiveness all round. The main issue/weakness are the costs of SSDs and how the drives can get much more expensive as the capacity grows. This will gradually improve as time goes by with increased production volumes and general availability.

Most of us for obvious cost reasons will often opt for a lower capacity SSD to act as a boot drive, having said that you’ll have to be flexible with the space you have to work with. We’ll start out with the more basic tweaks that you can carry out to let you reclaim that much needed space and perhaps yield some gains in performance.

See if TRIM is Enabled

TRIM is an OS command that talks to the SSD telling which blocks of previously saved data are no longer required from deleted files. It then allows the drive to carry out garbage collection otherwise write performance can be negatively impacted. You can do this by:

  • Typing cmd in the Start menu Search textfield
  • Press and hold Ctrl + Shift + Enter or right clicking the cmd program to Run as Administrator
  • Key in fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify and hit Enter

A result of DisableDeleteNotify = 0 indicates that TRIM is enabled while 1 means that it is disabled.

Make Sure your SATA Controller is in AHCI Mode

This can be set through your motherboard’s BIOS/UEFI, and you may have to refer to the user manual on how to do this for your particular model. However your SATA controller may already be in AHCI (advanced host controller interface) mode, you can check by:

  • Opening Control Panel from the Start menu
  • Click the Hardware and Sound category (depending on your view)
  • Select Device Manager under Devices and Printers (there are many ways of doing this)
  • Spot an entry called IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers 
  • Expand it and see if one of the controllers list AHCI

If the AHCI controller is listed then your system configuration is set to AHCI, while is no particular controller is listed then it is not.

We’ll carry on next time with this mini-series with more complex tips towards the end, be sure to keep an eye out.

A First Look at Windows 8’s Interface

Rumors and everything set aside, Microsoft recently demoed the upcoming version of Windows aka “Windows 8”. That’s the name that has been going around, but it appears they’re using it as a codename for the time being. The new interface is quite drastic and the company is building this version to be suitable from small to large touch screens and with the use of a keyboard/mouse or not. They say it will have more to showcase at their BUILD developer event from Sept. 13 to 16 in Anaheim, California – US.

Angelbird’s Budget PCIe SSD

They’re a relatively new company, but what they’re bringing to the table is rather interesting. Angelbird is working on delivering high-performance SSD solutions to the masses, more specifically, a user upgradeable PCI-Express SSD product.

It’s called “Wings”, the PCI-e 1x card comes with either 16GB or 32GB capacities and the board allows users to customize the onboard bootloader via the the integrated flash memory. They have a built in “OS” called Virtue, and the company says the board will be fully bootable and configurable on both PCs and Macs. You can also create RAID setups from the same OS, or via another software tool.

The main highlight of this product is that it can take up to 4 SSD boards of different capacities, on both sides. A rep from Angelbird claims, during beta testing phases, that 4 drives can 1081MB/s read and 945MB/s writes (sustained). Now we’re talking about some serious speed here!

Every individual SSD card that attaches to the Wings board, use SandForce 1200 controllers, which is generally standard as far as high performance goes for solid state drives. The boards (and cards) also use Intel NAND flash and interestingly have a built-in USB port, which lets users remove the board and make transfers over USB.

All this is currently in production, but in terms of pricing we’re looking at a starting of $239 for the 16GB unit.

WD Releases Industry’s First 3TB HD

Just yesterday, Western Digital introduced the world’s first ever highest capacity drive, as they broke the 2TB mark and came clear with a 3TB, 5th gen Caviar Green. This drive boasts spacious storage, reduced power draw, lower operating temperatures, and whisper quiet operation as well. There are some drawbacks, however.

For those who are still running Windows XP, your system(s) won’t be able to make use of the full 3TB at the moment. This is because legacy operating system, with the conjunction of a older BIOS and MBR (master boot record), will be capped at 2.19TB. More recent motherboards with a BIOS (non-UEFI), GPT ready OSs like 64-bit of Windows 7, and using correct storage class drivers can address this restriction.

On top of the cap on available space, there are a number of HBA (host bus adapter) and chipset vendors that don’t offer specific driver support for these larger capacity drives. As a workaround for this, WD was so kind to bundle an HBA PCIe card with the Caviar Green 3TB drives which in turn will allow the host operating environment to use a known driver that will appropriately accommodate these larger capacity drives. Hit up the reviews below to see if it deserves almost two-and-a-half of your hard earned Benjamins ($240 to be exact).