The use of a solid-state drive (SSD) with Windows 7 can have a great deal of benefits for your customers' environments, including improved shock resistance and higher read and write speeds. However, Windows 7 SSD optimization requires solutions providers to shut off certain settings for features, such as prefetch and superfetch, prior to everyday use.
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Windows 7 expert Ed Tittel provides a background on SSDs, gives Windows 7 SSD optimization advice and outlines what you should keep in mind when tweaking SSDs on Windows 7. Learn the top techniques for Windows 7 SSD optimization by reading through the answers in this FAQ.
Check out Ed Tittel's answers to other frequently asked questions on the importance of SSD firmware in a Windows 7 implementation.
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•What is an SSD, and what makes SSDs so special -- and expensive?
•Isn't Windows 7 SSD-friendly? Doesn't it automatically configure itself for Windows 7 SSD optimization?
•More resources on SSD firmware
•About the expert
An SSD is a solid state drive. Most SSDs use the Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) interface and are usually quite compact -- 1.8-inch and 2.5-inch models dominate this product category, which makes these drives well-suited for notebook and desktop use. SSDs use memory chips to store information rather than spinning magnetic platters as done in conventional hard drives. This makes them compact, extremely fast (accessing an SSD is more like accessing RAM than accessing a conventional rotating disk) and also fairly expensive. These days, it's not unusual to pay $2.50 to $3.50 per gigabyte of SSD storage, whereas hard disks usually go for around $0.10 per gigabyte of storage.
SSDs do offer some profound benefits to solutions providers and their customers. They can be up to four to five times faster than conventional hard disks for both reading and writing. They include no electric motors, so they consume much less power than conventional rotating media, which is good for overall power consumption and great for battery life on mobile PCs. They're also much more resistant to drops and shocks than rotating media. SSDs typically offer rated shock resistance of 1,000 G and higher, compared to hard disks, which provide 30 G to 70 G resistance when operational and 350 G when the heads are parked. For customers that can cover the cost, SSDs present a lot of benefits for both desktop and notebook applications, particularly for system drives where they can increase start-up, boot-up and shut-down speeds considerably.
Windows 7 is most sensitive to and accommodating of SSDs when you install the operating system on a solid state drive to begin with. Even then, Windows 7 often fails to make numerous settings that Microsoft product discussions claim should be made. That's why it's essential to check a short laundry list of such settings on any system, whether that system included an SSD as the system drive for a Windows 7 install, or the SSD is a replacement for an original drive (probably the system drive).
Here's a list of items to check:
- Turn off prefetch, superfetch and ReadyBoost
- Turn off the Windows System Restore service for the SSD
- Turn off disk defragmentation for the SSD
An excellent tool called SSD Tweak is available to help you check the settings for Windows 7 SSD optimization. That said, you'll find many sources that recommend tweaks that are either unnecessary or counterproductive. Solutions providers should be sure to do some tweaking, but it's important to do so only where it's really helpful.
Windows 7 and optimization for solid-state drives
Real world Windows 7 SSD tweaks and optimization
Engineering Windows 7: Support and Q&A for SSDs
Intel releases Windows 7 SSD optimization toolbox
About the expert
Ed Tittel is a full-time freelancer who's written and contributed to more than 100 computing books, including MCSE Windows XP Professional Exam Cram 2 (Exam Cram 70-270), and he writes and blogs regularly for numerous websites. Tittel's most recent projects have focused on Windows 7 as that OS has gone into commercial production.