Things that shorten a SSDs life span And how to prolong its life
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* [b][u]Introduction[/u] :[/b]

For those who don't know, here are the links on [url="http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/intel/showdoc.aspx?i=3403&p=2"]how SSDs work[/url], why they've got only [url="http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/intel/showdoc.aspx?i=3403&p=3"]limited number of write / erase cycles[/url], and why MLC SSDs have a very short life-span as compared to SLC SSDs. The [url="http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/intel/showdoc.aspx?i=3403&p=1"]entire article[/url] is in itself quite informative, and you should read it if you've the time to do so.

So now you know that every write / erase means the clock of doom is ticking closer to zero hour for your SSD. The clock ticks ten times faster if you've got a MLC SSD which is what is relatively common. So to protect the data and money you've invested in your SSDs, you definitely need to make them last longer.

But you've got lots of things in Windows, that are an indispensable part of the OS, that keep writing or erasing data a huge number of times without your knowledge. Most of these can be avoided or at least made to operate in such a way that they don't harm your SSDs, and now we'll look at them:

[color="#00BFFF"]1. [b][u]Defragmentation software[/u] :[/b]

Defragmentation software consolidates files by moving all the fragments of a file to one place i.e., to adjacent sectors in a HDD, or adjacent cells in a SSD. In this process, it erases data from some cells and writes them into other cells. Keep doing it daily or even weekly, you're going to end up exceeding the write / erase cycles too quickly for your liking.

And for SSDs, defragmenting is totally unnecessary. You see, in HDDs, the seek head has to move over various sectors and hence it has a read time in the order of miliseconds. So it'd help reduce this seek time noticeably by defragmentation when you place all parts of the file sequentially in order to eliminate the necessity of searching through the entire platter.

But with SSDs, there are no moving parts and the SSD already knows in which cell each part of the file is written and so seek time is thousands of times still less; it's in microseconds, and so however heavily a file is fragmented, the SSD knows exactly where every fragment is, and any amount of fragmentation is not going to affect the seek time of SSDs and hence read time for that file.

So remember to disable defragmentation of any SSD volume that you might be having.[/color]

2. [b][u]Logs and disk clean up utilities[/u] :[/b]

Logs are another problem because data is being constantly written to the SSD's cells. If you're going to use some disk clean up utility, it'll simply delete the data in those cells. So those cells would have been made to undergo one write / erase cycle everytime the utility cleans up your SSD. And contnuation of the log will be written to other cells (because of wear-levelling) and they will also be made to undergo similar such unnecessary write / erase cycles.

So the best thing is to do is not maintain logs, but if you do need them, like temperature logs for CPU, GPU, etc.. then see if you can change the directory of where a log file is being written. If you can change it, then ensure that the directory does not point to a SSD volume. But most of the logs are maintained by Windows and can't be relocated and so the best thing to do will be to let them be as such and use the clean up utility a lot less frequently.

[color="#00FF00"]3. [b][u]Internet Explorer browser cache and default downloads folder[/u] :[/b]

The content of every website visited is written to a small browser cache. Within that cache itself, data gets written and rewritten many times. Add to that the number of times you delete that internet cache (or some disk clean utility does it for you) and you end up with a very large number of write / erase cycles.

So you can change the directory of the browser cache and ensure that this directory does not point to a SSD volume. So now, the temporary internet files no longer get written into your SSD. You should also change the default directory where the files you download are saved to, when using download managers, and let the new directory not be on a SSD volume.[/color]

4. [b][u]Instant messaging[/u] :[/b]

Whenever you send Instant mesages or have PC to PC voice chats, the typed messages, or spoken sound files are written as very small files to the SSD before being sent to the other person (it's in a folder which is either the installation folder of the IM software or located in Application Data or Local settings) and then they are deleted after the chat.

Again, these write / erase wears SSD cells. Try installing the program in a mechanical HDD instead of SSD if the IM files are saved to the installation folder. If it's otherwise and the files are written inside Application data or Local settings, only the program creator should alter the program to suit SSDs. Additionally, if you've read through the entire article I've linked this post to, you'll find writing of very small packets of data into most MLC SSDs by itself causes problems.

[color="#FFA500"]5. [b][u]Page file[/u] :[/b]

Page file or virtual memory is a portion of the HDD, or a particular number of cells of a SSD that's used as if it were RAM. Now data gets written, erased and rewritten into the page file a staggering number of times every minute. And this data is the page file constantly changes with the dynamism of the data in the RAM. So your SSD will hardly last a year if it has got the page file in it.

And wear levelling algorithms will constantly change the cells that act as page file and so you'll end up with all of the cells of the SSD worn out completely in the blink of an eye. So the best option is to add 2 GB more of RAM and then disable your page file altogether. This simple step will dramatically prolong the life of your SSDs, even if you have the operating system in it.

Or if you're very particular about having a page file, you can change the drive where the paging file is, and have it on a mechanical drive instead, but beware; applications will suffer lags because the mechanical drive involved is not as fast as the SSD and hence the benefits of a SSD will not be fully realized as it is made dependent on a mechanical drive.[/color]

6. [b][u]Registry[/u] :[/b]

Now coming to the second biggest, but the most incurable problem of all: the Windows registry. It grows constantly everytime you install programs or even simply use Windows, and data entries are also constantly being deleted from the registry. The rate at which registry entries are written / erased is in itself enough to wear out SSDs within a few years. Add to that the fact these are written in very small packets, and that disk caching will not be of much use here.

This is most bugging because there is nothing you can do to translocate the registry to another directory. So this can be resolved only if Microsoft decides to create upcoming versions of Windows optimized for SSDs with registry whose location is left to our choice at the time of installation of the OS. Until then there's nothing we users can do. Perhaps the statement "if SSDs suck, blame Windows and not SSDs" has a lot more veracity in it after all.

[color="#FF00FF"]7. [b][u]Intelligent disk management[/u] :[/b]

The simplest way of all; just don't move files from one partition to another or install or uninstall, or create or delete files and folders unless absolutely necessary.

SSDs are simply great with marvellous read and write speeds, lightning quick access times, great durability and with enormous endurance wherein they can last almost infinitely when you just keep reading files from it.

But when it comes to writing files and erasing them many times over as in normal usage, the real Achilles' heel of the SSDs are exposed and that's where the trouble begins with them. This happens to be the sole aspect in which HDDs beat them.[/color]
* Introduction :



For those who don't know, here are the links on how SSDs work, why they've got only limited number of write / erase cycles, and why MLC SSDs have a very short life-span as compared to SLC SSDs. The entire article is in itself quite informative, and you should read it if you've the time to do so.



So now you know that every write / erase means the clock of doom is ticking closer to zero hour for your SSD. The clock ticks ten times faster if you've got a MLC SSD which is what is relatively common. So to protect the data and money you've invested in your SSDs, you definitely need to make them last longer.



But you've got lots of things in Windows, that are an indispensable part of the OS, that keep writing or erasing data a huge number of times without your knowledge. Most of these can be avoided or at least made to operate in such a way that they don't harm your SSDs, and now we'll look at them:



1. Defragmentation software :



Defragmentation software consolidates files by moving all the fragments of a file to one place i.e., to adjacent sectors in a HDD, or adjacent cells in a SSD. In this process, it erases data from some cells and writes them into other cells. Keep doing it daily or even weekly, you're going to end up exceeding the write / erase cycles too quickly for your liking.



And for SSDs, defragmenting is totally unnecessary. You see, in HDDs, the seek head has to move over various sectors and hence it has a read time in the order of miliseconds. So it'd help reduce this seek time noticeably by defragmentation when you place all parts of the file sequentially in order to eliminate the necessity of searching through the entire platter.



But with SSDs, there are no moving parts and the SSD already knows in which cell each part of the file is written and so seek time is thousands of times still less; it's in microseconds, and so however heavily a file is fragmented, the SSD knows exactly where every fragment is, and any amount of fragmentation is not going to affect the seek time of SSDs and hence read time for that file.



So remember to disable defragmentation of any SSD volume that you might be having.



2. Logs and disk clean up utilities :



Logs are another problem because data is being constantly written to the SSD's cells. If you're going to use some disk clean up utility, it'll simply delete the data in those cells. So those cells would have been made to undergo one write / erase cycle everytime the utility cleans up your SSD. And contnuation of the log will be written to other cells (because of wear-levelling) and they will also be made to undergo similar such unnecessary write / erase cycles.



So the best thing is to do is not maintain logs, but if you do need them, like temperature logs for CPU, GPU, etc.. then see if you can change the directory of where a log file is being written. If you can change it, then ensure that the directory does not point to a SSD volume. But most of the logs are maintained by Windows and can't be relocated and so the best thing to do will be to let them be as such and use the clean up utility a lot less frequently.



3. Internet Explorer browser cache and default downloads folder :



The content of every website visited is written to a small browser cache. Within that cache itself, data gets written and rewritten many times. Add to that the number of times you delete that internet cache (or some disk clean utility does it for you) and you end up with a very large number of write / erase cycles.



So you can change the directory of the browser cache and ensure that this directory does not point to a SSD volume. So now, the temporary internet files no longer get written into your SSD. You should also change the default directory where the files you download are saved to, when using download managers, and let the new directory not be on a SSD volume.



4. Instant messaging :



Whenever you send Instant mesages or have PC to PC voice chats, the typed messages, or spoken sound files are written as very small files to the SSD before being sent to the other person (it's in a folder which is either the installation folder of the IM software or located in Application Data or Local settings) and then they are deleted after the chat.



Again, these write / erase wears SSD cells. Try installing the program in a mechanical HDD instead of SSD if the IM files are saved to the installation folder. If it's otherwise and the files are written inside Application data or Local settings, only the program creator should alter the program to suit SSDs. Additionally, if you've read through the entire article I've linked this post to, you'll find writing of very small packets of data into most MLC SSDs by itself causes problems.



5. Page file :



Page file or virtual memory is a portion of the HDD, or a particular number of cells of a SSD that's used as if it were RAM. Now data gets written, erased and rewritten into the page file a staggering number of times every minute. And this data is the page file constantly changes with the dynamism of the data in the RAM. So your SSD will hardly last a year if it has got the page file in it.



And wear levelling algorithms will constantly change the cells that act as page file and so you'll end up with all of the cells of the SSD worn out completely in the blink of an eye. So the best option is to add 2 GB more of RAM and then disable your page file altogether. This simple step will dramatically prolong the life of your SSDs, even if you have the operating system in it.



Or if you're very particular about having a page file, you can change the drive where the paging file is, and have it on a mechanical drive instead, but beware; applications will suffer lags because the mechanical drive involved is not as fast as the SSD and hence the benefits of a SSD will not be fully realized as it is made dependent on a mechanical drive.



6. Registry :



Now coming to the second biggest, but the most incurable problem of all: the Windows registry. It grows constantly everytime you install programs or even simply use Windows, and data entries are also constantly being deleted from the registry. The rate at which registry entries are written / erased is in itself enough to wear out SSDs within a few years. Add to that the fact these are written in very small packets, and that disk caching will not be of much use here.



This is most bugging because there is nothing you can do to translocate the registry to another directory. So this can be resolved only if Microsoft decides to create upcoming versions of Windows optimized for SSDs with registry whose location is left to our choice at the time of installation of the OS. Until then there's nothing we users can do. Perhaps the statement "if SSDs suck, blame Windows and not SSDs" has a lot more veracity in it after all.



7. Intelligent disk management :



The simplest way of all; just don't move files from one partition to another or install or uninstall, or create or delete files and folders unless absolutely necessary.



SSDs are simply great with marvellous read and write speeds, lightning quick access times, great durability and with enormous endurance wherein they can last almost infinitely when you just keep reading files from it.



But when it comes to writing files and erasing them many times over as in normal usage, the real Achilles' heel of the SSDs are exposed and that's where the trouble begins with them. This happens to be the sole aspect in which HDDs beat them.

#1
Posted 10/24/2008 09:32 PM   
Great info :)

Only thing to quibble with is disabling page file, it then means if a program crashes there is no dump file to take apart and find out what happened, not that a lot of people do that, but it can be helpful.
Great info :)



Only thing to quibble with is disabling page file, it then means if a program crashes there is no dump file to take apart and find out what happened, not that a lot of people do that, but it can be helpful.

#2
Posted 10/25/2008 07:32 AM   
If you don't have a page file, I think whatever is in the physical memory, will all get dumped into a crash dump file on the storage drive.

Anyway, thanks for bringing this to my notice. I've included one more sentence in my previous post about having page file when using SSDs.
If you don't have a page file, I think whatever is in the physical memory, will all get dumped into a crash dump file on the storage drive.



Anyway, thanks for bringing this to my notice. I've included one more sentence in my previous post about having page file when using SSDs.

#3
Posted 10/25/2008 04:47 PM   
Hehe, try disabling all your page files and read the warning windows pops up ;)
Hehe, try disabling all your page files and read the warning windows pops up ;)

#4
Posted 10/26/2008 04:45 AM   
Since I'd upgraded to 8 GB of RAM and disabled my page file, I haven't got a single BSOD. So I don't know where crash dump files, etc.. go to. And of all my builds, I haven't built a single comp with zero page file except mine. But I did get the warning saying that page file was disabled and so it could cause performance issues, but I know better than to bother with so much of RAM; at least I won't get any hard fault errors. The added bonus is the silence from the whining noise of the HDD's spindle motor that can rise to a crescendo sometimes.
Since I'd upgraded to 8 GB of RAM and disabled my page file, I haven't got a single BSOD. So I don't know where crash dump files, etc.. go to. And of all my builds, I haven't built a single comp with zero page file except mine. But I did get the warning saying that page file was disabled and so it could cause performance issues, but I know better than to bother with so much of RAM; at least I won't get any hard fault errors. The added bonus is the silence from the whining noise of the HDD's spindle motor that can rise to a crescendo sometimes.

#5
Posted 10/26/2008 04:41 PM   
The reason to leave swap file on, is even in the most rigorously used machine, some data in memory will never be needed, swapping it out is good practice as it means the extra bit of ram you gain can be used for cache, which has a direct benefit on the operation of the machine, unfortunately since windows handles caching so badly it doesn't help as much under it than under, well, any version of unix.
The reason to leave swap file on, is even in the most rigorously used machine, some data in memory will never be needed, swapping it out is good practice as it means the extra bit of ram you gain can be used for cache, which has a direct benefit on the operation of the machine, unfortunately since windows handles caching so badly it doesn't help as much under it than under, well, any version of unix.

#6
Posted 10/26/2008 10:01 PM   
Yeah, I remember you telling me, in that VelociRaptor Seagate thread, that if Windows improved its caching, we'd be better off with 64 GB RAM than a 64 GB SSD. RAM will start to work like a storage DRAM with improved cache.
Yeah, I remember you telling me, in that VelociRaptor Seagate thread, that if Windows improved its caching, we'd be better off with 64 GB RAM than a 64 GB SSD. RAM will start to work like a storage DRAM with improved cache.

#7
Posted 10/28/2008 05:24 PM   
i was considering SSDs.. but now im scared.. :blink:

maybe i should get a 10K OR 15K rpm SAS-HDD instead and use it as my system-disk.... it's slower, but less baby-sitting required yet much faster than SATA 7200rpm disks.....
i was considering SSDs.. but now im scared.. :blink:



maybe i should get a 10K OR 15K rpm SAS-HDD instead and use it as my system-disk.... it's slower, but less baby-sitting required yet much faster than SATA 7200rpm disks.....

#8
Posted 01/26/2009 10:20 PM   
Amblin1980, as long as you don't install your OS on the SSD volume, you should be fine. You can have a games-only SSD volume or a volume reserved for apps, PDF files or something like that.

Though you won't get record Windows boot times (because OS is not on the SSD), you'll let the SSD live longer and also see record load times in games and apps, and you'll see large PDF files being opened in an instant.

SSDs are extremely advantageous, but Windows isn't optimized for SSDs and that's why you shouldn't install Windows on a SSD volume.

The idea of this thread is to bring out how SSD-unfriendly Windows is so as to warn SSD users from installing Windows on their SSD and wearing them down very quickly.
Amblin1980, as long as you don't install your OS on the SSD volume, you should be fine. You can have a games-only SSD volume or a volume reserved for apps, PDF files or something like that.



Though you won't get record Windows boot times (because OS is not on the SSD), you'll let the SSD live longer and also see record load times in games and apps, and you'll see large PDF files being opened in an instant.



SSDs are extremely advantageous, but Windows isn't optimized for SSDs and that's why you shouldn't install Windows on a SSD volume.



The idea of this thread is to bring out how SSD-unfriendly Windows is so as to warn SSD users from installing Windows on their SSD and wearing them down very quickly.

#9
Posted 02/14/2009 04:38 PM   
i just noticed this sticky after u mentioned it in the industry section i have to say its a very informative read thnks for puting in the effort to compile this info well done!!!

im tempted to get an ssd for games and office jyst for the sake of load times and prolly some performace in crysis
i just noticed this sticky after u mentioned it in the industry section i have to say its a very informative read thnks for puting in the effort to compile this info well done!!!



im tempted to get an ssd for games and office jyst for the sake of load times and prolly some performace in crysis

#10
Posted 04/13/2009 06:58 PM   
[quote name='Bladeripper' post='294857' date='Apr 13 2009, 10:58 AM']im tempted to get an ssd for games and office jyst for the sake of load times and prolly some performace in crysis[/quote]
Reviews have shown that min fps in Crysis doubles because textures load faster from a SSD than from a HDD. And if you have massive big PDF files, they open surprisingly fast. Adobe Creative Suite apps like Photoshop, Fireworks, etc.. will load plugins very quickly in a SSD. Like this, there are many awesome applications for SSDs even though you can't have the OS on it still.

Btw, office updates may overwrite many files and so you have to keep an eye out for that. And don't put Office documents on a SSD if you want to modify them because a temporary image of that document will be created that will be constantly overwritten and updated with every modification you make. I don't know if that document is kept on the disk cache or not, but if it's not on the disk cache but written to the disk, then you might have some problems there as well.
[quote name='Bladeripper' post='294857' date='Apr 13 2009, 10:58 AM']im tempted to get an ssd for games and office jyst for the sake of load times and prolly some performace in crysis

Reviews have shown that min fps in Crysis doubles because textures load faster from a SSD than from a HDD. And if you have massive big PDF files, they open surprisingly fast. Adobe Creative Suite apps like Photoshop, Fireworks, etc.. will load plugins very quickly in a SSD. Like this, there are many awesome applications for SSDs even though you can't have the OS on it still.



Btw, office updates may overwrite many files and so you have to keep an eye out for that. And don't put Office documents on a SSD if you want to modify them because a temporary image of that document will be created that will be constantly overwritten and updated with every modification you make. I don't know if that document is kept on the disk cache or not, but if it's not on the disk cache but written to the disk, then you might have some problems there as well.

#11
Posted 04/15/2009 01:16 PM   
[quote name='G.Abhinav' post='295383' date='Apr 15 2009, 02:16 PM']Reviews have shown that min fps in Crysis doubles because textures load faster from a SSD than from a HDD. And if you have massive big PDF files, they open surprisingly fast. Adobe Creative Suite apps like Photoshop, Fireworks, etc.. will load plugins very quickly in a SSD. Like this, there are many awesome applications for SSDs even though you can't have the OS on it still.

Btw, office updates may overwrite many files and so you have to keep an eye out for that. And don't put Office documents on a SSD if you want to modify them because a temporary image of that document will be created that will be constantly overwritten and updated with every modification you make. I don't know if that document is kept on the disk cache or not, but if it's not on the disk cache but written to the disk, then you might have some problems there as well.[/quote]

i was only thinking of having the actual aplication on the disk but its a good point on the cache and updating stuff stuff never actualy though of that

as for crysis ur bang on any time ive ran a benchmark the lowest fps i get are always at the begning which has the greatest impact once the textures have loaded my machine or any machine for that mater wont have an issue runing the graphics provigin the rest of the hardware is up to scratch
[quote name='G.Abhinav' post='295383' date='Apr 15 2009, 02:16 PM']Reviews have shown that min fps in Crysis doubles because textures load faster from a SSD than from a HDD. And if you have massive big PDF files, they open surprisingly fast. Adobe Creative Suite apps like Photoshop, Fireworks, etc.. will load plugins very quickly in a SSD. Like this, there are many awesome applications for SSDs even though you can't have the OS on it still.



Btw, office updates may overwrite many files and so you have to keep an eye out for that. And don't put Office documents on a SSD if you want to modify them because a temporary image of that document will be created that will be constantly overwritten and updated with every modification you make. I don't know if that document is kept on the disk cache or not, but if it's not on the disk cache but written to the disk, then you might have some problems there as well.



i was only thinking of having the actual aplication on the disk but its a good point on the cache and updating stuff stuff never actualy though of that



as for crysis ur bang on any time ive ran a benchmark the lowest fps i get are always at the begning which has the greatest impact once the textures have loaded my machine or any machine for that mater wont have an issue runing the graphics provigin the rest of the hardware is up to scratch

#12
Posted 04/15/2009 02:53 PM   
Hrmm, haven't tried this, but it may work well.

If you plan to use Vista 64 (or windows seven 64).

Install xp or vista 32 first, make a folder on C: drive called "Program Files (x86)" and map that folder (as I said in my steam article) to your SSD.

Now install windows 64 over the top (deleting the windows folder and regular program files and such) but leaving this association intact, it should mean ALL your games that install in the 32 bit folder (that is, all of them at the moment) would run from the SSD, as well as any other programs, but that cache and temp files would never land on it....

Will have to give it a go next time I reinstall.
Hrmm, haven't tried this, but it may work well.



If you plan to use Vista 64 (or windows seven 64).



Install xp or vista 32 first, make a folder on C: drive called "Program Files (x86)" and map that folder (as I said in my steam article) to your SSD.



Now install windows 64 over the top (deleting the windows folder and regular program files and such) but leaving this association intact, it should mean ALL your games that install in the 32 bit folder (that is, all of them at the moment) would run from the SSD, as well as any other programs, but that cache and temp files would never land on it....



Will have to give it a go next time I reinstall.

#13
Posted 04/15/2009 10:49 PM   
Wow! /w00t.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':w00t:' /> /spaz.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':spaz:' /> Damage, you're infallible! Damage's ideas prevent SSD damage! Awesome idea man!
Wow! /w00t.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':w00t:' /> /spaz.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':spaz:' /> Damage, you're infallible! Damage's ideas prevent SSD damage! Awesome idea man!

#14
Posted 04/16/2009 11:56 AM   
Windows would boot a little faster, but not a lot, but the big boost is with the running of programs, which would all be hitting the SSD constantly.

You could do a similar thing by making an extra "Program Files SSD" folder, linking it to the drive, then installing all your games on there, but you would have to remember each time you install a program to put it there, and your base windows apps wouldn't get the benefit.
Windows would boot a little faster, but not a lot, but the big boost is with the running of programs, which would all be hitting the SSD constantly.



You could do a similar thing by making an extra "Program Files SSD" folder, linking it to the drive, then installing all your games on there, but you would have to remember each time you install a program to put it there, and your base windows apps wouldn't get the benefit.

#15
Posted 04/16/2009 11:07 PM   
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