How to Get Best Performance from SSD in Windows 10/8/8.1/7
Why Solid State Drive Is Popular
A solid state drive (SSD for short) is a data storage device which uses integrated circuit assemblies as memory to store data persistently. Unlike mechanical hard drives (HDD) which require track seeking time and latency time to read data, SSD is capable of retrieving and reading data directly from any location of the flash memory. In other words, there is almost no random access time to read data on SSD (it is typically under 0.1ms), which saves a lot of time. Therefore, SSD is preferred by lots of computer users who are seeking for speed.
However, SSD performance is easy to be affected by various kinds of factors, so users had better take some basic operations in case of performance loss. In this post we are going to show users some tips on getting the most out of solid state drive as well as methods for SSD optimization in Windows 10, Windows 8.1/8, and Windows 7. At the same time, an SSD optimization tool will be introduced.
How to Get Best Performance from SSD in Windows 10, 8.1, 8, and 7
One Tip on Using Solid State Drive – Use It as System DiskWe had better use SSD as the boot or system disk (the disk installing Windows OS), because SSD will tweak your Windows 10 as well as any other version of Windows OS via reducing computer's boot time, increasing system running speed, and boosting data stabilization.
In addition, we highly suggest installing Windows 7 or more recent Windows operating systems on SSD, because these systems have a lot of features which are useful to optimize SSD performance, including the TRIM command, auto partition alignment, the feature of disabling defragmentation/Superfetch/Prefectch, and so on. Later, we will introduce some of these features in detail.
Now Download MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition and use its Migrate OS to SSD /HD Wizard feature to transfer your Windows from HDD to SSD.
Of course, you can also install programs like games, PhotoShop, and other apps requiring speed on SSD, which will also bring you wonderful experience.
However, if your computer (especially laptop) is configured with SSD only (no HDD), all files, including Windows and user data, have to be saved to SSD. In this case, create 2 partitions at least. One for Windows and apps, and the other for data.
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5 Methods for SSD Optimization in Windows 10/8/8.1/7
Here, we provide users with 5 ways to optimize SSD performance. Now, let's explain them one by one.
Method 1: Align Partitions with SSD Optimization Tool
4K alignment is a quite important issue for SSD since it largely affects SSD performance.
As we know, 512-byte sector is the most widely used standard for hard disk. However, with the increase of hard disk capacity, employing 512-byte sector is no longer as reasonable as before. Therefore, many manufacturers have set their hard disk to 4096-byte (4k) sector. But considering compatibility with operating system, manufacturers emulate a 4k physical sector to 8 512-byte sectors to read/write data, which is the so called 512e. Due to this change, the physical 4K sector may be misaligned with the 4K cluster ( the default cluster size for NTFS):
As a result, reading data in 1 cluster will read 2 physical 4K sectors so that data read and write speed will be reduced.
Tip: cluster is the smallest unit to save and read data on hard disk, which is set by system rather than hard disk manufacturers.
Therefore, if we want to get best performance from SSD, it is very necessary to make them aligned, and to align partition can help us achieve this goal.
In Windows 7 and more recent OS, all newly created partitions will be aligned automatically. However, if you migrated Windows from HDD or SSD to SSD or once changed partition size and location on SSD, your partitions might be misaligned. Well, how can we know whether our partitions are aligned or not?
How to Quickly Check and Align Misaligned Partitions in Windows 10/8.1/8/7
Firstly, please download and install MiniTool Partition Wizard on your computer, which is a free SSD optimization tool.
Then, launch the program to get its main interface:
Here, as long as we select a partition and choose "Align Partition" feature from the left side, MiniTool Partition Wizard will tell you whether this partition is aligned. If it is already aligned, you'll receive the following message:
However, if it is misaligned, there will be a pending operation after you click "Align Partition" function:
At this time, as long as we click "Apply" button, Partition Wizard will align the selected partition automatically.
Instead of aligning one partition, you can select the whole disk and choose "Align All Partitions" if there is more than one partition on your SSD, which could detect and align all misaligned partitions on the SSD.
Method 2: Enable AHCI Mode
Why Do We Need to Enable AHCI Mode for SSD
AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) is a technical standard defined by Intel that specifies the operation of Serial ATA (SATA) host bus adapters in a non-implementation-specific manner. Well then, why do we need to enable AHCI mode for using SSD? Here we mainly introduce 2 reasons:
- NCQ will be supported after we enable AHCI, which contributes a lot to SSD performance optimization. NCQ (short for Native Command Queuing) is an extension of the SATA protocol that allows hard disk drives to internally optimize the order in which received read and write commands are executed. With this feature, the amount of unnecessary drive head movement can be reduced, thus increasing performance largely for workloads. Nevertheless, since SSD does not have head and head arm, many users think it useless to enable NCQ. Actually, though solid state drive does not have those mechanical parts, it has multiple channels. After NCQ is enabled, SSD host controller will analyze data request and NAND data distribution to make full use of the bandwidth of host controller channel so as to enhance performance.
- AHCI enjoys faster data transfer rate than IDE (also called ATA). Due to technology limitation, data transfer rate of IDE is slower than that of IDE most of the time. For example, theoretically the maximum transfer rate of IDE133 is 133MB while AHCI enjoys 300MB/s speed.
Tip: there are many other factors affecting data transfer rate, including computer configuration, technology level of your SSD manufacturer, particular type of use of the drive, and so on. In addition, different benchmarks always give us different results. Therefore, the real transfer rate of AHCI on your computer might be slower than 300MB/s.
Therefore, it is very necessary to make AHCI enabled when you are going to use or have used SSD in Windows 10 or other Windows OS. Next, we will introduce detailed steps to turn this feature on.
How to Enable AHCI
Before enabling this feature, we should confirm AHCI driver has been installed. Fortunately, there is built-in AHCI driver in recent Windows operating systems like Windows 10 and Windows 8, so users just need to enable AHCI in BIOS. However, if you are running older Windows, you may need to download one manually at first, and then enable it in BIOS.
Please press a specified key to go to BIOS when computer is booting. Different computers and motherboards require pressing different keys to enter BIOS, so users had better find the exact key via searching the internet or consulting computer manufacturers. Then, find the SATA Configuration or Type or Mode:
Next enable AHCI and finally press on F10 to save changes and exit from BIOS. Now, the AHCI mode has been enabled. However, many users may get a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) after changing the disk mode to AHCI. What's the reason and how to solve this problem?
How to Fix Windows Blue Screen after Enabling AHCI
Some operating systems, especially Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8, do not configure themselves to load the AHCI driver upon boot (though they have) if the SATA-drive controller was not in AHCI mode at the time of installation. Since AHCI driver is not loaded, Windows will crash. Therefore, users should change disk mode to AHCI before installing Windows.
But fortunately, even if Windows Blue Screen of Death has appeared, users still have a chance fix the error without reinstalling system. Detailed steps are as follows:
Step 1: change AHCI back to the original mode (like IDE) in BIOS so as to make Windows bootable.
Step 2: start regedit.exe after Windows starts successfully. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation. Tip: since operating Registry is a dangerous operation, users can make a backup for it in advance (optional). Please see how to back up and restore the registry in Windows to get details.
Step 3: go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\msahci (if you are running Windows 10, please change msahci to storachi) to get the following interface:
Step 4: double click "Start" on the right pane, change the value data to 0, click "OK", and finally quit from the program.
Step 5: reboot computer and enter BIOS. Then, change the mode from IDE to AHCI.
After these 5 steps, your Windows should be bootable.
Method 3: Enable TRIMIn the post how to erase private data permanently I have said deleting a file in FAT32 partition just operates root directory and FAT, and deleting a file in NTFS partition operates MFT (mater file table) only. That is to say the real data is still saved in the original place until it is overwritten by new data. To make use of space occupied by deleted files, the SSD has to find the space in data area, note and modify the contents, and finally write new data to overwrite the original data. These will take much time.
However, if we enable TRIM, operating system will inform the SSD which blocks of data are no longer in use and then erase these blocks internally and immediately. As a result, writing to those blocks in the future will be just as fast as when the drive was new, which can optimize SSD performance largely.
Since Windows 7, the TRIM is enabled by default but might be disabled due to some reasons. Therefore, users still need to check whether the feature is enabled: run CMD as administrator and type fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify:
If you get the result DisableDeleteNotify = 0, TRIM has been turned on. However, if the number is 1, you need to enable it manually by typing the command: fsutil behavior query | set DisableDeleteNotify = 0. However, if you are still using Windows XP or Vista where TRIM won't work, you may need to use third party SSD management software to force TRIM enabled.
Method 4: Turn off Page File or Transfer it to Another DriveThe pagefile.sys file is always located in the partition where Windows is installed, and it may take up several GB hard disk space. If your SSD is small like 120GB or less, we highly suggest turning this feature off or transferring page file to another drive, which is in long term good for SSD longevity.
How to Turn Page File off
Here we take Windows 7 for example.
Step 1: right click the "Computer" icon on the desktop and choose "Properties" from the popup menu.
Step 2: choose "Advanced system settings" from the left pane.
Step 3: under "Advanced" tab choose "Settings" of Performance.
Step 4: choose "Change…" of Virtual memory under "Advanced" tab.
Step 5: uncheck "Automatically manage paging file size for all drives", select partition C, choose "No paging file", and click "OK" to turn off the page file feature.
Actually, we can also transfer page file to another disk in this interface if the RAM is not large enough to support smooth computer running, and detailed steps are as follows.
How to Transfer Page File to Another Disk
After selecting "No paging file" in the interface of Virtual Memory above, we can click "OK" to turn this feature off, but alternatively we can also click "Set" to move the page file to another drive.
Then, select a partition on another hard disk to move the page file to (here we transfer page file to partition G) and choose either "Custom size" or "System managed size" to decide the size of page file. Then, click "Set" to make the change. However, this will require users to restart computer. Please do as told. Once the computer reboots successfully, we can see the page file will be transferred to the selected drive, and space on SSD is released.
Method 5: Leave Enough Free Space on Drive C
If C drive of SSD is running in low disk space, Windows will run slow, and data read/write speed might be influenced, too. Therefore, we'd better let C drive have 10% of free space. If your C drive is running out of space or in little free space, now download the free SSD optimization tool MiniTool Partition Wizard and use its Extend Partition feature to enlarge it.
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Actually, there are many other ways to help you get best performance from SSD or do best SSD optimization in Windows 10, Windows 8.1/8, and Windows 7, like use Hibernation instead of Sleep, disable indexing, enable write caching, and move temporary files, but here we just introduce the above 5 since they play much more important roles. Now, take or some of these measures to optimize your SSD and system performance.