Wednesday, May 26, 2010

SSD at Home

This past weekend I installed a new Intel X25-M 80GB solid state drive into my home PC (which I use for work and play).
I had no end of fun clearing out my 1TB disk formatted as my C: drive (and “system reserve” partition) by moving my documents and certain key applications to another partition in the system.  After I was done playing the “sliding square number puzzle game” with my data to pare the combo C: and system reserve down to under 80GB with some headroom I used Partition Wizard Home Edition to move the boot and system partitions to my new SSD.
From there it was a matter of changing the boot order in BIOS and then running a Windows 7 repair after a failed boot attempt and I was off and running. 
Drum roll, please!
Does it boot quicker?  Oh yes.  But, considering that I only reboot about once a week (I usually have the system sleep during idle time) it’s not a huge improvement for me.
Was 80GB enough?  Yes but I’m down to about 18GB free now.  My Steam game files all now reside on a spinning disk but honestly I’ve not had disk IO bottlenecks with my games. 
So… why did I spend money and time on this?  Frankly, I wanted to speed up work I was doing in Excel and Perfmon with customer performance data.  It didn’t really help that much, but I’m trying to figure out why that is.   Shame on me, but I assumed that the bottleneck was with disk because I’ve got an AMD Phenom II X4 955 running at 3.2GHz with 8GB RAM and I’ve got a CPU and RAM monitor loaded as widgets and check them often when things are going slowly.
Your mileage may vary but overall I’m not getting what I thought I’d get in return for my SSD investment but it was pretty much an impulse buy and gosh I just wanted to be the first kid on my block with a solid state drive. 
If you want faster boot time or performance improvement for your laptop, I’d check out the new Seagate Momentus XT drives.

Important Notes

Of course, always back up your data before moving anything.

Move documents using the location tab in the properties of the various user folders (i.e. My Documents, My Pictures, etc).

Steam files can be moved to a safe location, and then copied back after reinstalling Steam (you don't need to redownload your games or content).

Make sure you turn off defrag for any logical drives stored on your new SSD.

Make sure you move or RE-move your page files so you aren't thrashing your SSD.  Page files are probably not needed if you have ample RAM anyway.

Intel provides a utility to schedule and run TRIM - make sure you do this to maintain optimal drive write performance.  Once a week is recommended.

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