12 Things You Must Do When Running a Solid State Drive in Windows 7

While reading through forums, I’ve noticed that a ton of people are now using solid state drives (SSDs) instead of hard disk drives (HDDs) for their operating system partition and, sometimes, for the entire computer’s storage. That’s all fine and dandy, but if you run an SSD, you pretty much don’t benefit as much from it as you would if you knew how to prepare your operating system for it. Windows 7 supports certain features that SSDs need to operate at optimum velocity, but it doesn’t enable them by default. This means that you have to come in and change OS settings to support the full potential of your SSD. Let’s get down to it!

The Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) is a paramount feature for ensuring that Windows will support all of the features that come with running an SSD on your computer, especially the TRIM feature, which allows Windows to help the SSD perform its routine garbage collection. The term “garbage collection” is used to describe the phenomenon that occurs when a drive gets rid of information that is no longer considered to be in use.

To enable AHCI, you’ll have to enter the BIOS of your computer and enable it somewhere within its settings. I can’t tell you exactly where the setting is, as each BIOS functions differently. You’ll have to do a bit of hunting. Chances are that newer computers will have this enabled by default. It’s most recommended that you enable this feature before installing the operating system, although you might be able to get away with enabling it after Windows has already been installed.

We’ve talked about TRIM enough in the previous section. You could see how such a feature would benefit your computer’s speed greatly, so let’s get to enabling it!

Open up your command prompt and enter the following: 

fsutil behavior set disabledeletenotify 0

That’s all you have to do! Onto the next step!

This isn’t an obligation. But, just so you know, your drive doesn’t exactly have infinite space. System restore undermines both the speed and space of your SSD. Why don’t you just get rid of it?

Click your Start menu, right-click “Computer,” and click “Properties.” Click “System Protection” on the upper left-hand corner:

win7ssd-systemproperties

Once in the window, click “Configure,” like so:

win7ssd-systemprotection

Once in the configuration dialog, click “Turn off system protection.” Click “OK” and you’re all set!

A good part of your SSD speed is consumed in indexing files for Windows search. This could be useful if you store everything you have on your SSD, but you might be annoyed by it if you experience slow-downs due to the periodic indexing process that occurs every time you add new data to the drive. You’re better off without it in an SSD, because the speed boost from the indexing process is superfluous in such environments.

Click your Start menu and click “Computer.” Right-click your SSD and click “Properties.” De-select the box labeled “Allow files to have contents indexed in addition to file properties” and click “OK.” Once you do this, the operating system will apply this to all the files and folders on the drive. If you see a dialog telling you that it couldn’t remove a file from the index, click “Ignore All.” That will streamline the process and ignore any errors.

Because the SSD is a solid media with no moving parts, you often don’t see a performance drop due to file fragmentation. Therefore, there’s no need to actually defragment the drive as frequently as you would defragment an HDD, per se. That’s why we’re about to disable this!

Access your Start menu, click “Accessories,” click “System Tools,” and then click “Disk Defragmenter.” Click “Configure schedule,” like so:

win7ssd-defrag

Once in the schedule configuration window, uncheck the box labeled “Run on a schedule.” Click “OK,” and you won’t have to worry about scheduled defragmentations again.

The page file in Windows refers to a file on a disk reserved for the storage of application components that would otherwise fit into physical memory. It’s like a form of RAM on your hard drive. Disabling the page file on a solid state drive would greatly increase the focus it would have on running system processes. Don’t do this if you run your computer solely on one SSD. If you paired an SSD with an HDD, then you can easily configure the HDD to handle the page file. The most ideal setup, though, is one SSD to run the page file, another SSD to run Windows, and an HDD for storage.

The process of configuring the page file differs based on your setup, so we’re only going to teach you how to reach the configuration window.

Right-click “Computer” in the Start menu and click “Properties.” Click “Advanced system settings” on the top left-hand side of the window and access the “Advanced” tab. Click “Settings” under “Performance.” You should now be at a window like this:

win7ssd-performance

Click the “Advanced” tab and click “Change.” The rest of the configuration process should be easy enough!

Windows occupies at least 2 GB for the hibernation state image. If you want to keep it, that’s fine by me, but you’re not getting all the juice you can out of your drive. Type “powercfg -h off” in your command line to disable it. You’ll be thankful for those two extra gigabytes when you have an intense game to install on it!

Windows sometimes places information in your physical memory and virtual memory belonging to programs that you don’t currently use, but use very often. This is known as “Prefetch” and “Superfetch.” If you are stuck with having to cope with virtual memory on your SSD, you’re better off just doing away with these two features. You can find them on your registry editor under

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\CurrentControlSet\Control\SessionManager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters

as two values: EnablePrefetcher and EnableSuperfetch. Set both values to zero and be done with it!

On many SSDs, user level write caching can have a detrimental effect on the drive. To figure this out, you’ll have to disable the option in Windows and see how the drive performs afterwards. If your drive performs worse, enable it again.

To reach the configuration window, right-click “Computer” on the Start menu and click “Properties.” Click “Device manager,” expand “Disk Drives,” right-click your SSD, and click “Properties.” Select the “Policies” tab. In this tab, you’ll see an option labeled “Enable write caching on the device.”

win7ssd-writecaching

Benchmark your SSD with and without the option and compare results.

Even with the above-mentioned registry tweak and index removal, your computer might continue slowing your hard drive with their respective services. Press “Win+R” on your keyboard, type “services.msc,” and press “Enter.” Find both services mentioned in the title of this section and disable them.

Windows is quick to implement things that are no longer necessary. An SSD operates on flash memory, making it possible to easily overwrite things on the disk. Therefore, the page file doesn’t need to be erased while the computer’s shutting down. This will make the Windows shutdown process much faster. LargeSystemCache, on the other hand, exists primarily in Server versions of Windows, and tells the computer whether to use a large cache for pages on the drive.

Both these options are found in your registry editor under

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\CurrentControlSet\Control\SessionManager\Memory Management

Set them to 0.

This should be a no-brainer. When your SSD powers on and off all the time, you’ll notice a slight lag whenever you use your computer after you’ve been idle for a while.

To switch your power options, access your control panel, click “System and Security,” and then click “Power Options.” Select “High Performance” from the list. You might need to click “Show additional plans” to find it.

And that’s how you reach SSD Nirvana! If you have any questions, shoot them at us in the comments section, and we’ll get to you as soon as we can!