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Lead Image © Sergiy Serdyuk, 123RF.com

Optimizing Windows 10 for SSDs

Ready for Takeoff

Article from ADMIN 42/2017
Not all PC settings – traditionally optimized for magnetic hard disks – are suitable for solid state drives. We show you how to configure Windows 10 for optimal operation with SSDs.

Many users find flash memory appealing, thanks to steadily falling prices and good performance. If you use solid state drives (SSDs) on computers, you should check some of the configuration options to be sure they make best use of the disks and to avoid premature failure. Windows 7 is the first Microsoft operating system to support SSDs correctly. Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10 have extended this support.

Drivers and BIOS Settings

To make optimal use of SSDs, enable Advanced Host Configuration Interface (AHCI) mode in the BIOS/UEFI. This is not only faster than IDE mode, but also provides additional features, such as native command queuing. Thus, commands can be better managed and run because the tasks can be performed by the SSD itself. Of course, Windows also requires the matching driver for the SSD, which must be enabled for the controller to which you have connected the SSD; you can check this in the Device Manager (Figure 1):

1. Open the Device Manager by running devmgmt.msc.

2. Navigate to the driver for the controller and invoke its properties.

3. Switch to the Driver tab.

4. Click on Driver Details .

5. Load the driver with "ahci" in its name.

Figure 1: The driver for the SSD controller must support AHCI.

Paging Files and SSDs

Many tips state that users should deactivate the paging file on SSDs. Conversely, other instructions indicate that the paging file makes sense on SSDs. Windows uses the paging file to store data from memory temporarily that the operating system does not currently require or for which Windows does not have enough physical memory space. Deactivating the paging file in Windows, even if you use SSDs, is not meaningful according to Microsoft because doing so will slow down the computer. Windows performs significantly more reads than writes in the paging file, which is why you can benefit from keeping the paging file on the SSD. Microsoft explains [1] that the ratio between read and write access is 40:1 and recommends activating the paging file. Although the discussion refers to Windows 7, the statement remains valid for Windows 8.1 and for Windows 10.

Measuring Performance

In Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, you cannot create a performance index for a computer as you could in Windows 7. However, you can display the appropriate data. Without additional tools, you can obtain an overview as to whether the SSD and the rest of the hardware are working properly. To do so, start the metric by typing winsat formal or winsat prepop at the command prompt. Toward the bottom of the list you will see the read and write speeds of the SSD, so you can pretty quickly determine the performance.

Next, display the result in PowerShell with:

Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_WinSAT

The performance measurement provides information in the following areas:

  • CPUScore: Processor
  • D3DScore: Graphics (DirectX)
  • DiskScore: Hard disks
  • GraphicsScore: General graphics
  • MemoryScore: RAM
  • WinSPRLevel: Overall rating

If you are using an SSD, the values should be close, and DiskScore should reach at least a value of 8.

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