SSD as boot drive question

Posted by: fredk

SSD as boot drive question - 09/22/12 11:43 AM

Since I need to redo one of my desktops I think it makes sense to go to an SSD boot drive.

I'm thinking a 60 gig budget priced unit would do fine for a non gaming machine. Are there any brands/models to stay away from?
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/22/12 11:46 AM

Heh. Yes.

Go do some reading on anandtech.com or techreport.com, and don't get just a 60. I mean, good lord, Newegg has a special this weekend on a 240 for something like $150. There is a significant performance increase to be had going with a larger size, because they use more flash chips, which means they can do more in parallel.

Avoid the cheapest stuff, obviously.

I'd go with Samsung (830 series only), Corsair, Crucial, or OCZ (and the last one is kind of a maybe).
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/22/12 11:50 AM

http://techreport.com/news/23615/deal-of-the-week-ssds-at-55-cents-a-gigabyte?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+techreport%2Fall+%28The+Tech+Report%29
Posted by: fredk

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/22/12 12:18 PM

Thanks Ken. It looks like OCZ is clearing inventory on older drives. The deal you linked to appears not to be available to those north of the 49th...
Posted by: fredk

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/22/12 12:25 PM

Hmm, if I put the price of the upgrade at a max of $90 are you saying it is not worth the performance upgrade vs an HDD?
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/22/12 12:29 PM

Oh, it probably is, but you're eventually going to regret only having 60GB and you can get better bang for the buck with a larger drive (120, 240, etc).

Don't get an Intel; they're reliable but a little behind on tech.

I might go for this.
Posted by: fredk

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/22/12 12:42 PM

That is actually one I was looking at. One generation back is probably fine for my use. I can pick one up locally for $79 if they still have stock. That is comfortably in my budget.
Posted by: Da_Gimp_Pimp

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/23/12 07:39 AM

I went with Intel because they're known to be the most reliable. At the time I purchased it, it wasn't dated; it had the new Sandforce (or whatever it's called) controller.
Posted by: Da_Gimp_Pimp

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/23/12 08:00 AM

Fred, if you want to go with the drive Ken linked to, and you can't get it locally, Canada Computers has it on sale for $79.99. I searched around and that's the cheapest price I could find. I've ordered from them numerous times, and I've never been dissatisfied.
Posted by: fredk

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/23/12 01:18 PM

Thanks Cam. Went there today.
Posted by: chesseroo

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/23/12 04:56 PM

Originally Posted By: fredk
Thanks Cam. Went there today.

Ncix is another Canadian shop that has tons of deals each week.

I've been running an OCZ Vertex 2 for well over a year now. It has been the single biggest upgrade to computers in a long time. My boot time is less than 20s and booting down in about 6s.
Opening programs happens lickety split.
On that note, i had a friend with the same drive as mine. I built his computer. He's had 2 of them fail. He's now onto a Corsair if i recall.
Posted by: Boltron

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/23/12 08:09 PM

Samsung 830 or Intel 520 are very good choices. Go for at least a 120 GB.

Actually, most of the current crop of SSDs should be fine. I was an early adopter and had huge headaches with my Vertex 3 when it was released.

For best practices, make sure to over-provision the SSD when it's the boot drive. Just don't allocate all the space for example when installing Windows, leave about 10% unallocated. This provides some very important extra space for the SSD firmware to do it's optimizations. Also, disable Windows drive spin down power savings. The SSD should always be powered, when the drive is idle is when TRIM, garbage collection and other maintenance activities occur. They can't happen if the drive is off. Along these lines, about once a week, reboot the computer and just leave it there over night. Don't log in or anything.
Posted by: fredk

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/23/12 10:38 PM

Chess, I've done some shopping there in the past. This time I got a better deal locally.

Boltron. I've not really played much with OS optimization and disk allocation. I'll have to look into it.
Posted by: pmbuko

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/23/12 11:05 PM

Originally Posted By: Boltron
For best practices, make sure to over-provision the SSD when it's the boot drive. Just don't allocate all the space for example when installing Windows, leave about 10% unallocated. This provides some very important extra space for the SSD firmware to do it's optimizations. Also, disable Windows drive spin down power savings. The SSD should always be powered, when the drive is idle is when TRIM, garbage collection and other maintenance activities occur. They can't happen if the drive is off. Along these lines, about once a week, reboot the computer and just leave it there over night. Don't log in or anything.

This advice is definitely not harmful, but it's also overly cautious. From what I understand, TRIM operations take place after only 15 seconds of idle time. Normal computer use — reading a web site, composing an email, writing a letter, etc. — does not always involve constant disk access, so there will be many opportunities for the SSD to process the TRIM commands without scheduling special down time for these to occur. More info is here: http://en.opensuse.org/SDB:SSD_Idle_Time_Garbage_Collection_support
Posted by: Boltron

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/24/12 08:25 AM

Sorry I should have elaborated a bit more. It's more than just TRIM.

Yes, I am a cautious guy and leaving the machine over-night might be overkill but overprovisioning is, I believe, good practice.

Overprovisioning reserves a portion of the drive to be used in garbage collection, wear leveling and other activities where information must be temporarily stored while a block is cleared. At the end of the day, OP helps increase the life of the drive. The extra space helps with wear leveling activities and provides additional space for remapping dead cells which is inevitable with SSDs. In addition, some argue that it may also help maintain long term performance.

The Samsung SSD Magician utility for my 830 actually has an over provisioning option built right in. This is the first para of the description: "Over-Provisioning is a feature that helps resize partitions on you SSD to create unused space on the drive, giving the controller room to manage, improve, and sustain the performance of you SSD. This feature is restricted by the amount of free space on your drive. Files are not reallocated during the resizing process."

SSD Review has an excellent article on the topic of SSD write performance degradation over time and OP:
http://thessdreview.com/ssd-guides/optimization-guides/ssd-performance-loss-and-its-solution/
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/24/12 08:26 AM

Additionally, leaving 10% unallocated is unnecessary--manufacturers actually make something around that amount unaccessible by the OS for just that purpose. It's why you see odd sizes for SSDs (240 instead of 256, 120 instead of 128, etc).
Posted by: Ray3

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 10/03/12 08:07 PM

fred, I just went through enormous research on this and the Samsung 830 (current) as Ken suggested, stands out for speed, reliability and the controller it uses. I got a 256GB and the PC is being built as we speak. Do yourself a favor and bite the bullet to get a Samsung 830 128GB.

Set it up to be the boot disc, but only have the OS and programs on it. Put the data and even the cache on a different disc.
Posted by: fredk

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 10/03/12 08:24 PM

I already cheaped out and picked up one of the discounted OCZ drives. When I was in the store the guys there pointed out I'm using a SATA 2 connection and would not even fully benefit from the speed of the drive I bought.

For the price, it will be a good experiment. The MOBO/CPU on this machine is 4 years old already, so I expect I'll replace the whole system within 2 years anyway. When I do that I'll move the SSD to my next oldest system and buy a better drive for my new one.
Posted by: Murph

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/13/13 02:31 PM

Old thread but I just ordered the
SAMSUNG 840 Series 250GB SATA III for 149.00 at Newegg.ca

The existing HD boot drive in my home office PC is making those telltale noises that indicate a failure is very imminent. I've already had some BSoD and the "Windows has shut down for your protection".. type errors.

It will be boot drive only (pretty much) but I opted for a bit more room so I can dual-boot Linux.
Posted by: nickbuol

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/13/13 03:18 PM

Kingston HyperX 3K SH103S3/120G 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) - $89USD today at Newegg (not .ca) That is what I am using in my server build. We'll see how it goes.

I know a lot of people have used the 840 series and liked it. (some don't, but you get that with anything)
Posted by: Murph

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/13/13 03:28 PM

Thanks.
I actually looked at some US sites but with the current HDD barely hanging on, I didn't want to risk a SNAFU from a random Customs delay.
Posted by: nickbuol

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/13/13 05:31 PM

Those darn Canadians.... Oh.... wait....
Posted by: fredk

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/14/13 10:08 PM

Wow Murph, that's a huge boot drive.

We just got a laptop with an SSD for our general manager. He's happier than a pig in shit now. No more, "did you put enough mice in this thing" comments at morning boot.
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/15/13 07:43 AM

Go big or go home, Fred. I was thinking it was a titch small, myself, until I saw the array.
Posted by: fredk

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/15/13 10:59 AM

My 60gb ssd is working well for me. I must be doing something wrong. wink
::slinks away feeling small::
Posted by: Ajax

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/15/13 12:09 PM

I saved up and just got the Samsung 840 EVO , 250GB SSD. I'm now screwing up my courage to try to install it. This a bit above and beyond my computer tech level, but my hard drive is going bad and I'm going to give it a try. The software should make most of it fairly easy, but I find the physical installation of the drive in my computer a bit daunting. Wish me luck.

Fred & Murph. Hope you don't mind me piggybacking on your thread.
Posted by: nickbuol

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/15/13 05:56 PM

I keep reading that SSDs need regular maintenance run on them to keep the data "good" and the "drive" working. Something that does "trims" and such...

I haven't looked into it, but need to myself. If I come up with something, I will share it.


**EDIT: So it basically sounds like you should make sure that TRIM is enabled or seen in your O/S, and turn off anything just reads/writes odd amounts of data to the SSD to enhance the longevity.

For example, here are some "speed tweaks" which are oddly named since they are more about keeping the SSD alive as long as possible... These are for Windows:
Windows Ultimate SSD Tweaks

Here is some info about TRIM:
TRIM - What is it.

And how to check if it is enabled:
The easiest way to learn if your SSD supports TRIM is to run an application like CrystalDiskInfo (Windows). It will tell you if your SSD supports TRIM, as shown in the screenshot.

The next step is to check if Windows is using the TRIM feature. For Windows 7, open the Command Prompt (Ed. note: I had to Run cmd.exe as an administrator for this command), then type fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify. If this results in "DisableDeleteNotify = 0", that means that the OS is using TRIM and thus is treated as an SSD.

If Windows isn't treating your drive as an SSD—and as such, isn't using TRIM—you should take a look at the properties of the SSD in the Device Manager. You may need to update the drivers of your disk controller in order for the OS to become aware of your SSD. To do so, right-click your hard drive in Device Manager and select Update Drive Software.
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/15/13 08:19 PM

I think those concerns are largely overblown at this point. While longevity used to be a major concern, modern consumer SSDs are pretty long lived. Tech Report is running a test now on worst case conditions with how long a variety of SSDs lasts. No failures yet, and they're already beyond the rated amount of data transfer on at least one of the drives.

As long as Windows is up to date, you're probably good to go. With OS X, if you install a 3rd party SSD, you should look up software called TRIM Enabler.

All that said, you should always be using some kind of backup no matter what kind of drive you're using.
Posted by: Murph

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/16/13 08:19 AM

Thanks for the Info Nick. One of our data center guy tell me that longevity is not as big of a concern now, but he also said that may be because automated maintenance is part of the standard recipe they use now. In any case, more information is always better than less information.

I'm much better now in controlling my urges to tinker. I was a hermit for days when I first built this PC, trying to understand and safely apply all of the overclocking options available. Now, if it were to accidentally reset to factory settings, I'd probably just leave them there.
Posted by: nickbuol

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/16/13 02:35 PM

The way I look at it, the items that they mention make sense for the most part, and won't hurt anything either. Possibly a slight performance hit if you move temp file locations off of the SSD. I think that the biggest thing is making sure that the drive has TRIM capabilities and your O/S recognizes this and can do the maintenance.
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/16/13 03:33 PM

Moving small file I/O off of the SSD completely obviates buying an SSD. That's what they're GOOD at.

Those all seem like good tips for when the post was written - 4 years ago. They're not so much now, aside from the defragging one.
Posted by: oldskoolboarder

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/16/13 05:21 PM

I've 'updated' my old Mac Mini 2GHz Core 2 Duo 8GB DDR to an Intel SSD. Boot time is VASTLY improved and Aperture performance is great. I would've gone the Samsung route but the Black Friday deal was too good to pass up.
Posted by: nickbuol

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/16/13 08:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Ken.C
Moving small file I/O off of the SSD completely obviates buying an SSD. That's what they're GOOD at.

Those all seem like good tips for when the post was written - 4 years ago. They're not so much now, aside from the defragging one.


Hmm.... Interesting because I've been told by at least 6 different people in 3 different discussion groups that it is still good to offload this stuff. That was all within the last 8 days, this would make about 50% more people in this one thread saying otherwise.

You guys are pretty smart though.
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/16/13 09:05 PM

My resume says I work in storage. Of course, on the scale that I work with, having a single SSD fail is not so big of a deal--that said, I've seen the mechanical drives in our arrays fail more often.

I would have a look at anandtech.com and techreport.com if you really want to get deep into the SSD arena.
Posted by: nickbuol

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/16/13 10:18 PM

Originally Posted By: nickbuol


You guys are pretty smart though.


That means you too Ken.
Posted by: MarkSJohnson

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/17/13 06:33 AM

Uuuuuuhhhhhh...... "What about me?" he asks while mouthing the wording with his belly button.
Posted by: nickbuol

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/17/13 10:12 AM

Originally Posted By: MarkSJohnson
Uuuuuuhhhhhh...... "What about me?" he asks while mouthing the wording with his belly button.


Oooohhhh, Mark.... You can be a smart one too.
Posted by: pmbuko

Re: SSD as boot drive question - 09/17/13 10:21 AM

Originally Posted By: nickbuol
Hmm.... Interesting because I've been told by at least 6 different people in 3 different discussion groups that it is still good to offload this stuff.

The reasoning behind that logic -- to increase longevity by decreasing the write cycles on individual blocks -- is dated. Pretty much all modern consumer-grade SSDs have what's called "wear leveling" technology that effectively eliminates the downsides of small file I/O on an SSD. By not allowing your SSD to do what it does really well, you're decreasing the benefits of using it.

It's important to remember that, in most cases, the claimed write cycles for SSDs are actually the guaranteed minimums, unlike the MTBF numbers for mechanical HDs. You'll most likely get many more cycles than that number unless you seriously abuse your SSD.