What is Trim?
Technically, TRIM is a command for the ATA interface. The command is different for other interfaces, and goes by different names in different operating systems, but the action is usually referred to as "Trim". Trim tells your solid state drive which pieces of data can be erased. No matter what name it goes by, Trim works with Active Garbage Collection to clean up a solid state drive. Trim is beneficial, but not mandatory. Because some operating systems do not support Trim, SSD manufacturers design, create, and test their drives assuming that Trim will not be used.
What does Trim do?
The Trim command tells the SSD that specific areas contain data that is no longer in use. From the user's perspective, this data has been deleted from a document. Because of the way solid state drives read and write information, the data is not deleted from the drive at the user's command. Instead, the area of the SSD that contains the data is marked as no longer used. The Trim command tells the drive that the data can be removed. The next time the computer is idle, Active Garbage Collection will delete the data. Learn more about Active Garbage Collection.
If the Trim command did not exist (as was the case before Windows® 7), then the solid state drive would not know that certain sectors in the drive contained invalid information until the computer told the drive to write new information to that location. The drive would need to erase the existing information, then write the new information. This takes slightly more time to do than just writing the new information, so using Trim and Active Garbage Collection helps your SSD perform write commands more quickly.
Trim also affects the longevity of the solid state drive. If data is written and erased from the same NAND cells all the time, those cells will lose integrity. For optimum life, each cell should be utilized at roughly the same rate as other cells. This is called wear leveling. The Trim command tells the SSD which cells can be erased during idle time, which also allows the drive to organize the remaining data-filled cells and the empty cells to write to to avoid unnecessary erasing and rewriting.
Benefits of Trim
The biggest benefit of Trim is the time savings by having the solid state drive erase data while the computer is idle, rather than using extra time during a write process to remove data that is no longer valid before writing new data.
Trim and Active Garbage Collection also work together to extend the life of your SSD. Because Active Garbage Collection moves related segments of data so they're next to each other, dynamic wear leveling works more efficiently.
Microsoft® Windows® from 7 forward supports Trim. It runs automatically in the background unless you have turned it off. You can run it manually or check that Trim is enabled by looking at the Properties of the drive, then selecting Tools, and Optimize.
MacOS® with Apple® SSDs has built-in Trim and Active Garbage Collection. Some versions of MacOS support third-party SSDs with additional software. To check to see if you have Trim support, select the Apple menu while holding down the Option key. Under System Information, scroll to the name of your storage interface under Hardware. TRIM Support will indicate either Yes or No.
Most RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) setups do not support Trim, although that is changing. More RAID software supports Trim with each generation, so check your particular software.
Trim is a useful tool that can benefit the speed and longevity of your drive. But if your operating system doesn't support Trim, it's not a disaster. All of Crucial's SSDs are designed and tested assuming that they will be used without Trim.
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