How to Improve Your SSD’s Performance

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I wrote about the differences between solid state drives (SSD) and hard disk drives (HDD) in a previous post. SSD drives work best as primary drives where the operating system is located. They don’t need to be defragmented, are fast, and save significant time at start-up.

But is it possible to optimize the performance of an SSD drive making it even faster? Yes, it is.

Manufacturers’ Management Tools

I use a Samsung 840 EVO SSD drive. So in my case, I use the Samsung Magician software. Samsung also makes available other optimization tools for its SSD users, such as the Performance Restoration Software and Firmware Updates. All these can be downloaded here.

Other SSD manufacturers have their own software tools available, too. Here are the links to other major SSD manufacturers’ software tools:

All these software tools are available for free.

Now let’s take a look at the various settings Samsung’s Magician software offers us.

Hibernation Mode

This setting enables or disables hibernation for your computer.

When the power is turned off (e.g. when your laptop runs out of battery or there’s a power outage), Windows will automatically save all system information to a hidden file called hiberfil.sys. After the power supply is renewed, Windows resumes to an operational state very fast.

Virtual Memory

In case you have little memory (RAM) installed, this setting lets you define how much drive space should be set aside for use as virtual memory.

This setting is not really useful today, but was extremely useful back in the times when RAM was expensive. Virtual memory is stored in a hidden file called pagefile.sys. Just to make sure nothing bad ever happens, Windows allocates the same amount of disk space for virtual memory as is RAM installed.

Tip

Both hiberfil.sys and pagefile.sys are located in the root folder of your primary drive.

Indexing Service/Search

Windows lets you search for files very fast using the Indexing Service and Search functions.

To check whether you have these functions turned on, go to Control Panel > Programs > Programs and Features and click Turn Windows features on or off.

The Windows Features window will appear. See if the Indexing Service and Windows Search features are ticked.

If not, tick them. It will take a few seconds for Windows to update its settings and then it will require a system restart.

windows-indexing-service

Windows Indexing Service

After your computer restarts, launch Windows Explorer (Win+E).

In Windows Explorer’s window right-click on the hard drive you wish to have indexed and select Properties from the drop-down menu.

In the hard drive’s Properties window, tick Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties.

Then click Apply and give Windows some time to update the hard drive’s contents properties.

After the process finishes, click OK to close the Properties window.

Prefetch/Superfetch

In order to improve performance, Windows stores device drivers and frequently used applications in RAM. But since SSDs are very fast, it’s not necessary to have this setting enabled anymore.

Write-Cache Buffer and Flushing

Hard drives have RAM installed in them to buffer burst of data to be written directly on them. Writing to RAM is much faster than writing to any hard drive, therefore it is a good idea to enable write-caching.

When using write-caching, it is also good to enable write-cache buffer flushing. Should there be a sudden power or device failure, all data in the hard drive’s RAM is instantly saved onto the hard drive, so that no data loss occurs.

Power Options

Samsung Magician uses the High Performance power settings by default. You can take charge of your power settings via Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options.

System Restore

Windows lets you create system restore points when adding new updates, software or devices to your system, so that when something goes wrong Windows simply returns to its previous flawless state. However, it also takes up quite some hard drive space.

For advanced users, I strongly recommend disabling this feature.

Performance Comparison

After tweaking Samsung Magician’s settings according to the suggestions above, I can report significant gains in random reading and writing. Sequential reads and writes remained virtually unchanged.

Before the changes:

samsung-magician-before

Samsung Magician — Before

After the changes:

samsung-magician-after

Samsung Magician — After

To summarize, here are the numbers in a table:

Sequential Reads Sequential Writes Random Reads Random Writes
Before 303 516 75.323 38.014
After 310 529 93.426 59.338
Change +2.31% +2.52% +24.03% +56.09%

I believe that with the correct tweaks, improvements such as these are available to all SSD users.

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