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Windows 7 tips and tweaks

Tweak Windows 7 for solid state drives

Solid state drives (SSDs) are disk drives with no moving parts. They don't contain magnetic discs spinning at thousands of revolutions per minute and instead they contain memory chips. They are more similar to USB flash memory sticks than traditional disk drives. They are becoming more popular because they are much faster than standard disk drives and the price is falling. If you have one of these SSDs, there are some things you need to be aware of and some tweaks that you might need to make to Windows to get the best out of them.

One thing you need to do is to make sure that Disk Defragmenter is disabled. Go to the Start menu, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Defragmenter. Click the Configure Schedule button and clear the tick in the next dialog to run it on a schedule. If you have a mixture of SSDs and traditional disk drives, click the Select Disks button and just turn of Disk Defragementer for the SSD.

The reason for doing this is because solid state drives can only be written to a certain number of times before they wear out. Constantly rearranging the contents of the disk will cause the SSD to wear our sooner. In addition to this, there is no benefit anyway. Traditional disks have mechanical components that take time to move, but SSDs simple read and write memory locations. Whether those locations are adjacent or far apart makes no difference.

Windows uses Prefetch and Superfetch as a way of speeding up traditional disk drives. The idea is to pre-load files that you frequently access into memory so they are ready to be used and to keep track of them and organise them efficiently on the disk drive. Is this needed with SSDs? Maybe, but then again maybe not. It all depends on the performance of the SSD. You should try using your PC with and without Superfetch and see if there is a performance difference.

Click Start and enter services.msc. Look down the list of services for Superfetch, double click it and set the Startup Type to Disabled. Try your PC for a few days, then try it with the Superfetch service set to Automatic. It should be faster one way or the other.

Microsoft originally disabled Superfetch if an SSD was detected, then it changed it's mind and enabled it. Now it seems that Windows might try to automatically determine the best setting. Try setting it manually and see for yourself if it's better on or off.

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