Should You Really Optimize Your SSD? | TechBuzz

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As solid-state drives (SSDs) have become cheaper and more reliable, hard disk drives (HDDs) are finally close to dying, at least for the average consumer. But even though SSDs work totally differently than HDDs, many people use their SSDs just like HDDs, including optimizing them for day-to-day use.

But this begs the question: Should you really optimize your SSD?

The answer is a little more complicated than a simple yes or no. So, let’s dive deeper into this subject and see why optimizing or defragging an SSD might not be a good idea.

Why You Should Not Optimize Your SSD

If you don’t want the long version, here is the shorter one:

You shouldn’t optimize or defrag your SSDs, as it does nothing for the drive’s performance. On the contrary, it can decrease your SSDs lifespan.

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With the shorter version out of the way, let’s look at why defragging an SSD does nothing.

The first thing that you need to understand is that SSDs are different from HDDs at the hardware level. Although they are storage devices, they use different technologies to do so.

A HDD uses a magnetic platter to store data and uses a read/write head that moves across these platters to read/write data. The platter on a HDD is divided into different sectors. So, whenever a read/write request is received by the HDD, the read/write head moves to the specific sector to perform the operation.

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SSDs, on the other hand, don’t have any moving parts. SSDs are a form of flash memory that uses NAND cells to store data. When an SSD controller receives a read/write request, data is stored or written to the NAND cells electrically without any need for an actual moving part.

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Secondly, whenever a piece of data is stored on a HDD or SSD, the data is divided or fragmented into thousands of different parts and stored wherever there is free space on the disk.

Every time a HDD or SSD receives a read request for a file, it has to find and read all fragments placed in different sectors (HDD) or cells (SSD). The read/write process takes considerably longer on a HDD because the read/write head must find and position itself on top of the relevant sector for every fragment of data

The time it takes is known as seek time, which is measured in milliseconds for HDDs and varies with the location of the sector. Since SSDs don’t rely on a read/write head, the seek time is in nanoseconds and doesn’t vary.

On a hard drive, defragging reduces seek time by ensuring that the read/write head doesn’t have to do a lot of, well, seeking by arranging different fragments into one big pile of sequential data.

However, SSDs are designed to work with scattered fragments of data. With a fixed seek time of nanoseconds, defragging doesn’t make much of a difference to the overall performance of an SSD. In fact, as you’ll read in the next section, defragging isn’t something you should be doing to your SSD at all.

Should You Defrag an SSD?

As we’ve mentioned in the previous section, HDDs and SSDs store data in fragments wherever there is free space on the disk. In the case of a HDD, the fragments are located on different sectors of magnetic disks. For SSDs, the data fragments are stored on NAND cells.

Due to the long seek time on a HDD, it is preferable to keep data fragments belonging to a single file together sequentially. Defragmentation is the process of arranging scattered data fragments sequentially, reducing the time it takes to read one complete file.

Unsurprisingly, defragmentation increases the performance of a HDD substantially. However, the case for SSDs is a little different.

SSD NAND cells have a limited number of write cycles. At some point, these NAND cells will wear out, resulting in reduced storage capacity or complete drive failure.

SSD controllers aim to prevent drive failure by distributing data evenly on the available free cells using built-in algorithms. This even distribution of data fragments ensures that there is even wear on the SSD, and the process is known as wear-leveling.

When we defrag an SSD, we try to re-arrange these already intelligently placed fragments. In other words, we are subjecting the drive to more wear. Do this repeatedly, and you’ll, at least in theory, find yourself replacing your drive sooner than you like.

How Windows Keeps an SSD Healthy Automatically

Although SSDs don’t require defragmentation, they do benefit from optimizations like TRIM.

When we delete something from an SSD, the data doesn’t actually go away. It stays on the cells. Once there is new data to be written, the cells need to be erased completely before data can be stored on them.

Removing data to store more data consumes a lot of time, resulting in decreased performance. This is where the TRIM command comes in.

TRIM command forces an SSD to perform garbage collection and wipe the cells clean of information no longer needed.

Windows has come a long way since the days of Windows XP when you had to use the TRIM command manually. Since Windows 7, the operating system will TRIM automatically when needed.

Windows also has a built-in defrag function tailored for SSDs. We know we said you shouldn’t defrag SSDs, but the case for Windows is different. Windows defrags your SSD once a month to prevent max file fragmentation errors.

Long story short, Windows keeps your SSDs healthy automatically. You also don’t need to perform any of the following operations:

  • Setting your computer to performance mode to increase SSD performance.
  • Turning off hibernation by deleting the hibernation file from your SSD.
  • Turning off System Restore.

Modern SSDs Will Last for Years Without Your Intervention

Modern SSDs are rated for years of use. For instance, a 500GB Samsung 980 Pro drive will last you north of five years with an endurance rating of 300TB (how much data you can read/write to the drive).

Coupled with Windows’ built-in SSD optimization techniques, such a high endurance rating ensures that you are more likely to upgrade the drive of your own volition than storage failures.

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I am admin of blog & I provide tech-related news. As a part of my hobby, I make content related to technology and gadgets reviews too. I love to be a content creator apart from it, I am a full-time employee in an MNC company and manage blogs systematically. You can mail me at [email protected]

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