SETUP AND MANAGE SOLID STATE DRIVE WITH WINDOWS 7 Contents: - SSD + HDD - HOW IT WORKS - TIPS - SECURE ERASE - INSTALL SSD/HDD - SET UP BIOS - PARTITIONS - INSTALL WINDOWS 7 - OS MANAGEMENTS - POST INSTALLATION - HELP LINKS - CLICKABLES -All the managements in this guide are widely used and are meant to help maintain the speedy performance and life of SSD's. Computerforum.com nor I are responsible for the outcome of anyone's efforts using this guide. If you are unsure, ask. If you don't want to use a management, simply don't. -Please read entirely. Follow the instruction accurately. Windows 7 will be referred to as OS. Always create backups when applicable. SSD + HHD -SSD's are an alternative for operating systems and programs that will benefit from the increased read/write and seek times. For a desktop computer, they're not a viable option as the only system drive. Due to the cost per GB and the nature of the technology, it should be used with an accompanying HDD. Data storage, and programs that wouldn't be any faster or warrant the cost of using up high dollar real estate, makes the resilient HDD invaluable in this line up. How It Works -Mainstream SSD's used in a laptop or desktop are based on Multi Level Cell NAND(MLC) flash technology. A Single Level Cell(SLC)holds 1 bit of data and has 2 states, per cell. This means the SLC is either written (filled) or erased (empty). MLC's hold 2 bits and have 4 states per cell. As a result, MLC's controller can be more active. The flash cells themselves also have a lifespan. Manufacturer's build in a few extra cells that get used towards life end as replacements for any failed ones. The controllers for both types of flash cells have a limited number of write cycles and almost always wear before the cells. MLC is faster, costs less, and should last 5 yrs under normal in/out GB's per day. -On its own, Windows 7 will do a pretty good job of helping us maintain the drive. But why not help ensure longevity and help maintain speedy performance by minimizing, or even removing, some of the drives work that 7 doesn't do, if we could? Well, we can. Let's start with some things that we can do on our own. TIPS -The controllers use secure erase firmware command that cleans data from the cells. A few instances, such as erasing and benching, that use up large amounts of write cycles can result in a noticeable decrease in performance. Refrain from use that helps cause the need for erasing. Good program and application management will keep you in tune. -Install/uninstall. Each time install or uninstall happens, the cell is being written and then erased. And the controller works to do those tasks. Install/uninstall can happen with no ill effects, but not like a HDD. Altho SSD's don't take the fragmented performance hit, they do fragment. Log off and let it idle 1-2hrs pr week to allow for Garbage Collection. Be considerate regarding install/uninstall. HDD is the place for something you're not sure you want on the SSD. -Investigate your programs prior to installing them. Some may need to be on the same partition as an OS folder, or have parameters on how Windows will interact with it to work properly. Find out how created storage can be relocated. Changing Windows default install location, then temporarily back for what's intended for c:, is a way to control programs that don't have a custom install option. -Setting up administrator account, moving Users/Program Files/Program Files (x86), can be done during W7 installation. Option 1 . Option 2 -Before you begin: Have a well thought plan on how you're going to configure your system, and the steps to do so. Download your system drivers from the manufacturers and put them to disc or usb. For Intel, get your ACHI driver. Make ready the HDD. SECURE ERASE Use the manufacturer's guidelines for Secure Erase, and Firmware updates. Erase the SSD using a computer that has Windows 7 or Vista. -As of yet, there isn't any one method of reliability for cleaning (erasing) all SSD's because of the different controller/firmware configurations. The manufacturer's, along with their users input, should know the best method. Not all manufacturer's guidelines work as planned. Here are 2 frequently recommended methods. Parted Magic . HDDEraseSecureErase INSTALL SSD/HDD 1. - Have the SSD and 1 HDD installed. It can matter which port, so connect SSD to Sata port 1. 2. - Disconnect other hardware/peripherals where feasible. SET UP BIOS *For best performance ACHI mode is recommended. If the BIOS is not set, you will have to attempt a fix to get Windows to boot with ACHI. *RAID does not support TRIM. AMD Asus motherboard is the example. For reference, the tabs will be like This. The item to be configured LIKE THIS. And settings mode [THIS]. A - Main*As long as the Sata port is set to [ACHI], PIO and UDMA can be set to [AUTO]. 1 - Find your SSD in the Sata list. Set PIO MODE to [ 0 ] 1a- While you're there UDMA > [ 5 ] or [ 6 ] 2 - "Main" > STORAGE CONFIGURATION. 3 - SATA SPEED for SSD's Sata port # > [ 6.0 ] If no option continue... 3a- SATA PORT > [ACHI] *HDD's: Windows might not recognize pre-existing partitions/data if set to ACHI. If you don't use ACHI capabilities such as , NCQ, external eSata, hot-swap,, or,,if it has partions/data, setting these HDD's to IDE may be benificial for some systems. B - Power Set "SUSPEND MODE" to [ S1 ], if no S1 [S3]. If no option, continue… C - Boot 1 - Boot Priority "1st BOOT DEVICE" and set to [CD/DVD]. Disable any other device listed. 1a- Expand "DISK DRIVES" and set all to [DISABLED] 2 - Insert the Windows 7 DVD. 3 - "Exit" > EXIT AND SAVE SETTINGS > [OK] The computer will boot to the installer. PARTITIONS System Reserved partition using DiskPart Command-Line Options within the installer. *If you want the 100mb System Reserved created by Windows, skip this section. *200mb is recommended, esp for multi boot. *Diskpart will list each disk or volume by number & size. Use the size to determine the disk #. Instruction: When you get to the "Language to install" screen / press and hold down "SHIFT" / then F10 to open Elevated Command Prompt. *Diskpart will confirm the execution after each command is entered <enter>. A - New. Instruction: diskpart <enter> list disk <enter> select disk # <enter> create partition primary size=200 <enter> list volume <enter> select volume # <enter> quick format fs=ntfs label="System Reserved" <enter> active <enter> exit <enter> exit <enter> B - Erased. Instruction: diskpart <enter> list disk <enter> select disk #<enter> quick format fs=ntfs <enter> align=1024 <enter> create partition primary size=200 label="System Reserved" <enter> list volume <enter> select volume # <enter> active <enter> exit <enter> exit <enter> *Make sure you have the right disk number. Make sure you have the right volume number for "System Reserved" volume. *1024kb boundries is Windows default alignment. * 200 is the example size for System Reserved. Choose the size you want in mb. * Include " ". A & B are done with Diskpart and the installer will continue. INSTALL WINDOWS 7 *Do not use format within the installer. *When you get to "Where do you want to install Windows?", choose "Unallocated space". If you're using Option 1 or 2 in TIPS, follow those instructions during the install, and these: Option 1: For Intel systems:at step 2, install the appropriate chipset drivers first , then the latest Intel RST/ACHI driver. For AMD: use the native MS ACHI driver that Windows will automatically enable from the fresh install. Option 2:For Intel systems: after "Close System Preparation Tool by pressing Cancel" install chipset driver first, then RST/ACHI driver. *Option 1 & 2 return here to OS Managements before Shut down. WARNING: Failure to have ACHI set in the BIOS, and for Intel also have the RST/ACHI driver installed, before Windows boots (restart) for the first time, may result in difficulty getting Windows to boot in ACHI mode. OS Managements For any brand SSD and they are all recommended. If it's already done, consider it verified. *32bit Windows will use approx 3.5GB RAM no matter how much is installed. If you have extra RAM, consider RAMDisk for options. 1 - Shrink the Partition Filling the drive will slow it down. Having unused flash cells maintains performance. The amount (if any) you leave unused is up to you. 20% is recommended. Instruction: Start / right click: Computer > Manage / left pane: Disk Management / right click: (c) drive / Shrink Volume…Follow the on screen instructions after Shrink Volume… Option: Do not fill the drive close to capacity. 2 - Hibernation File will write as much as the available RAM installed. We're not going to be hibernating so let's turn it off. Instruction: In Elevated Command Prompt (Start > type: cmd > right click: Command Prompt > Run as administrator / Yes) type: powercfg -h off <enter> Type: exit <enter> 3 -Manage pagefile The computer accesses data from RAM. Windows will write a block(page)or blocks of data from RAM to the SSD (default is (c)when it thinks it needs to free up some RAM. Data will go from RAM to disk, then from disk back to RAM if the computer asks for that "swapped" data. I recommend turning off(or manage) those writes IF you have enough RAM for the programs that will be in use. If you turn pf off and don't have enough RAM, the program will not work correctly or crash. Many say with no pagefile they have no issues with 4gb of memory. If a "low memory" warning appears or a program doesn't respond correctly, then setting page file size is an option. The default size of pagefile.sys is 1.5 times the amount of installed RAM. Pagefilesize may only need be as little as 512mb. Or more depending on what you do/RAM installed. If it's too small, you can increase it. Instruction: Start / type "sys" > View advanced system settings / Advanced / Performance > Settings…/ Advanced > Change…/ highlight "C:" (if it isn't already) > select: No paging file > Set (then look to see the changes have been made) > OK (to the pop-up warning) > Apply. Next pop-up " restart before settings apply…" click OK (it won't restart), then click Apply and OK as needed to close the three windows. You'll get the "restart now"/"restart later" pop-up > Select "restart later". Do not restart the computer. If pagefile enabled: Move it to HDD. It will get fragment if it's on a small dedicated partition. Instruction to move pagefile to HDD: Start / type "sys" > View advanced system settings / Advanced > Performance Settings…/ Advanced > Change…/ highlight "C:" (if it isn't already) > select: No paging file > highlight the HDD and select: custom size > set Initial and Maximum size to the desired mb > Set (then look to see the changes have been made) > OK (to the pop-up warning) > Apply. Next pop-up "restart before settings apply…" click OK (it won't restart), then click Apply and OK as needed to close the three windows. You'll get the "restart later" pop-up > Select "restart later". Do not restart the computer. Warning: If a crash occurs due to a power outage with pagefile set to 0, no crash data will be saved. A few programs require pagefile enabled no matter how much RAM is installed. 4 -System Protection Save SSD space by turning off system protection. Make your own system back-up. Instruction: Start > Type: sys > System > System Protection > click the drive to highlight it > Properties > Turn off system protection. Set all drives to "Off", esp. c: 5 -Drive Indexing turn it off. Don't need the extra drive activity. Instruction: Start / Computer / right click a drive / Properties / uncheck the box: "Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties" > select "Apply changes to drive c:, subfolders and files" > ok > apply > ok > "restart later" if you get it. Not all files will be accessible, just skip those. Repeat for all drives. 6 -Disable Indexing Service. Unneeded and will slow SSD performance. Instruction: Start > type: p / Programs and Features / left pane: Turn Windows features on or off / new window: uncheck Indexing Services > OK > "restart later" 7 -Disk Defragmenter Schedule. SSD's aren't defragmented. Disable. Instruction: Start / type: disk / Disk Defragmenter / Configure Schedule / uncheck: Run on Schedule / OK 8 -Windows Search , Reliability Monitor, and Disk Defragmenter Reliability Monitor uses up RAM and wears on the SSD. It can be enabled to see the data logs. Instruction for all 3: Start / type: adm > Administrative Tools / right pane, open: Services / next window, open: Windows Search / tab: General > set Start up Type: Disable > Apply > ok / "restart later" / still in Services-open Disk Defragmenter and verify/select Startup type: Disabled. Close Services window to get back to Administrative Tools / open: Task Scheduler / left pane: expand Task Scheduler Library > Microsoft > Windows > RAC. At the top left of the Window(next to Help) click View > add checkmark to "Show Hidden Tasks" > in the center pane: right click " RACTASK" > select: "Disable". Close all windows. *Right click and select "Enable" if/when you want to view Reliability Monitor data log. 9 -Enable TRIM on Nforce motherboards: right click:Computer / Manage / Device Manager / IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers /NVIDIA nForce Serial ATA Controller / Update Driver Software / Browse My Computer for Driver Software / Let Me Pick from a List of Device Drivers on My Computer / Standard Dual Channel PCI IDE Controller / OK. 10 -Custom Power Plan Start / type: power / Power Options / High Performance > change plan settings / change advanced power settings. Set: Hard Disk > off after 1 min. / Sleep > sleep after > never / Power buttons > sleep button > do nothing 11 - Option Recycle Bin, turn it off or make it smaller. Right click the bin > properties. *Close any open windows so you have only the desktop screen. 12 - Back-up-the-registry In Registry Editor: 13 - Disable SuperFetch It will learn your habits, perhaps using time to do so, and pre-load commonly used applications into memory to reduce their load times. We don't need/want the unnecessary activity. Besides, we're already going be fast. 13A - Disable Prefetch It records trace files to be accessed for future bootups. Ok, for a HDD, but since we're already fast at booting up, we don't need the files written to the SSD. Instruction for13A 13/: In left pane, expand the following: Computer (if it isn't already) / HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE / SYSTEM / CurrentControlSet / Control / Session Manager / Memory Management / PrefetchPerameters /(in the right pane) right click: EnableSuperfetch / Modify / change to 0 / OK / right click: Prefetch / Modify / change to 0 / OK . 14 -Enable LargeSystemCashe and set the Size to establish a working set that can expand to physical memory when/if needed. Helps when working with large files. Instruction: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE / SYSTEM / CurrentControlSet / Control / Session Manager / Memory Management / right click subkey: LargeSystemCache > Modify > change value to 1 > OK. Collapse: Memory Management / Session Manager / Control. At CurrentControlSet, expand: Services / Lanmanserver / Parameters / right click subkey: Size / Modify / change value to 3 > OK. 15 - NtfsMemoryUsage Increase memory usage for handling ntfs file operations. Instruction: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE / System / CurrentControlSet / Control / FileSystem / right click subkey: NtfsMemoryUsage / Modify / change value to 2. 16 -Disable disable8dot3 increases file performance. Every time you create a file with a long file name, NTFS creates a second file entry that has an 8.3 character-length file name. When NTFS creates files in a directory, it must look up the 8.3 character-length file names that are associated with the long file names. Some ancient 16bit programs require 8.3 enabled. Instruction: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE / SYSTEM / CurrentControlSet / Control / FileSystem / right click subkey: NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation / Modify / change to 1 / OK 17 -WaitToKillServiceTimeout It's going to shut down faster anyways, but while we're here we may as well lower the default 12 seconds Windows allows before killing services when we Shut down. 1,000ms=1sec, so Modify is going to say 12000 before you change it. I settled on 7000. Instruction: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE / SYSTEM / CurrentControlSet / click: Control / right click: WaitToKillServiceTimeout (make sure you have "Service" and not "App"/ Modify / change value / OK Done in the Editor. Completely collapse the registry to the word "Computer" and close the window. *For Intel, make sure your ACHI driver is loaded before continuing. Boot to the BIOS and confirm that ACHI is set, enable and the set SSD as 1st boot device, save settings and boot to SSD/Windows for the first time. POST INSTALLATION 1. - AMD: Install motherboard chipset drivers. Intel: already done. 2. - Verify Writecashe-buffer flushing: The storage device decides if cashing a command is used to represent to the system that the command has been completed before it actually is. This can help performance. Start > Computer > right click: c: drive > Properties > Hardware > click: c: > Properties > Change Settings > Policies > uncheck: "Turn off Windows write-cashe buffer flushing…." 3. - Verify TRIM. In Command Prompt (start / type:cmd / rc: cmd / run as admin / yes) type:fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify If it shows as DisableDeleteNotify = 1, type: DisableDeleteNotify = 0 <enter> Run the check again to be sure. Restart Install programs/drivers/updates. *If you've installed Windows in IDE mode and you want to change it to ACHI, try this MS fix. Shut down Reconnect hardware/peripherals. HELP LINKS With Option 1 or Option 2, some are already done. Change Installation Location . Redirect Windows Folders . Move Temp/Tmp Directories . Move Outlook Email/Personal Folders Firefox Cashe to RAM . iTunes Media Folder . Speed Up Non SSD Transfers . Enable Reserved Bandwidth Intel SSD Toolbox Video . Intel Download Support If you have a suggestion for this or any other section, pm me or post it here.