Windows 7 and SSD — Get the most our of you computer
While a solid state disk drive can provide a major upgrade to hard disk drive-based computers out-of-the-box, many users find themselves somewhat disappointed at first blush. According to a recent ZDNet report, this disappointment stems from operating systems that are not configured to handle the SSD's capabilities, and users should reconfigure Windows 7 to make sure their SSD reaches its full potential.
The report said poor SSD performance on Windows 7 stems from the way the operating system has been designed and the relative youth of solid state drive technology. The SSD has only been available for widespread use for a few years, and, it is just now becoming a relatively common piece of hardware, even for performance enthusiasts. Recognizing this, Microsoft designed Windows 7, the newest version of its popular operating system, was designed specifically for hard disk drives, the report said.
Over the past few years, Microsoft has developed each version of Windows with tools that run in the background and help maximize an HDD's efficiency. While these utilities can make an HDD run significantly faster, they are completely useless in SSD machines, the report said. This is the case because the programs are designed to identify which programs users run the most, and store for optimal access. This is possible because an HDD involves an actual moving disk with spindles, lasers and other devices. As a result, the physical location of data on the hard drive can ensure optimal operation by reducing the amount of rotations the disk must perform to be read. Since an SSD does not move or have any moving parts, these programs are all useless in SSD-based systems.
As a result, the report said users actually need to make changes to their computer's configuration to make an SSD work at maximum capacity on a Windows 7 system. One such update, however, has little to do with the software and instead addresses firmware issues with the hardware. The report cites an incident when a number of users on a certain type of machine were experiencing poor SSD performance and could not solve the problem. Over time, people realized that a common hardware item needed a firmware update to handle working with an SSD. Once the update was made, performance climbed steeply. As a result, the report recommended making sure the computer's firmware is updated to handle SSD technology.
Users can also experience poor SSD performance if their system is not set in AHCI mode. In the system BIOS, users can find an option that adjusts the way the SATA controller functions. If the SATA controller is not set to AHCI mode, the SSD will not function properly. This is because older SATA modes, such as ATA or IDE, do not allow users to install the disk controller necessary to work effectively with SSDs, the report said.
How users install the new partition on the drive can also impact SSD performance. The report said using the Windows setup utility to create the new partition will ensure the SSD is properly aligned with Windows 7. If you use a different setup utility the two may not naturally work in concert.
According to an earlier ZDNet report, poor configurations for SSDs led some experts to believe their performance did not live up to the hype. However, the report said a well configured system running Windows 7 can experience significantly faster boot and general run times than an HDD-based machine.
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