SSD – Locked, Loaded and Stupid Fast

I bought an Intel branded Solid State Disk (SSD) last fall when the hard drive in my server died and the blog lost nearly a months worth of entries. SSDs are much more reliable in the fact that they are not mechanical; instead they are like a big thumb drive but much faster and built with more expensive (reliable) components.

Luckily, I was able to recover the entirety of the blog off of the fallen Raptor hard drive that it had lived on before.  I got the server up and running with just one hard drive – and then I got lazy.  Finally, after talking about some future spending plans it came about that there was going to be something like a voluntary spending freeze on my main PC (hello 1080p projector!) and I determined that the best way to use the SSD that I already had in the basement was the boot drive for my main rig.

It is only the boot drive because it is only 40GB and even less actually usable.  Back in the day I tried to live on a 36GB raptor and found it impossible.  The difference now is that I am shoving everything except the operating system and applications like Chrome and Office off onto the larger, normal hard drive that I have had in the PC for some time.  No games on the SSD either, given that many games are approaching 10GB+ each installed these days.

Now my PC boots up crazy fast and applications launch almost instantaneously.  Even after installing 7 and Office along with a few other apps there is still over 20GB (50%) left available on the drive.  Before optimization, that was more like 13GB.  Important optimizations:

  • Move your page file.  The “System Managed” page file is usually the same as your installed ram.  In my case this was 4GB – over 10% of my drive set aside for some worst case scenario!
  • Change your system restore percentage.  By default its 3%, minimum is 1%.  This is your safety net for things like Windows Updates gone bad, so you should leave it on but keep it to a minimum.
  • Drag and drop space hogs out of your user “library.”  This is folders like “My Videos”, “My Downloads”, etc.  You can just grab them and “move them” in windows explorer to a different hard drive.  Windows 7 takes care of moving the contents – but you won’t see anything different in your library as it also takes care of doing some nifty redirection.  It looks the same to you, but now those folders are taking up cheap space on your secondary hard drive.

At this point I am more impressed with my hard drive upgrade than my video card upgrade which was substantially more costly.  It feels like I got a whole new PC!  Review sites have been saying it for some time now, but having done it myself now I am really a believer.

— Nat

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