SSD units have become the norm thanks to a major price drop for SATA models. As we know, SSD units using PCIe slots are still really expensive.
The surge in popularity of SSDs over HDDs is expected, as even cheaper SSDs make a huge difference in terms of performance in contrast to HHDs. SSDs make the OS and apps open quickly by reducing their load times in most cases.
One of the biggest upsides of SSD units is performance, but it is not the only one. SSDs are also more efficient and durable because they lack mechanical parts, so they are especially great for laptops. However, we must bear in mind that there are a series of steps or advices to follow in order to make the most out of their capabilities and lifespan. We will tell you more about said steps in this special article.
1. Do not use defragmenting tools
SSDs are entirely different than HDDs. SSDs work differently, which means they do not need the same type of maintenance. What is good for HDDs is not good for SSDs.
Defragmentation is one of the best examples. Traditional hard drives can improve their performance by grouping scattered data across different sectors. However, defragmenting an SSD does not do the same; in fact, it reduces the unit’s lifespan.
Each sector of an SSD unit has a maximum number of write operations that sets its lifespan. By defragmenting the unit, those operations are carried out with no benefits at all, reducing the unit’s lifespan.
Additionally, do not forget to disable the automatic defragmentation built into some systems like Windows, for example.
2. Do not wipe
When we delete files on HDDs, the sectors are marked as deleted, but until they are overwritten, the data could be recovered if needed.
This prompted the creation of specific tools to recover residual data. However, said tools are not necessary for SSDs that support TRIM on compatible OS (Windows 7/8/10, from Mac OS X 10.6.8 onwards, and from Linux 2.6.28 onwards).
In those cases, when a file is deleted, TRIM immediately deletes the sectors’ data. Therefore, the data cannot be recovered, making wiping unnecessary as we have just said.
3. Do not use old OS
It is implied in the previous bullet point, but it is worth being explicit. If we use old OS like Windows XP, Windows Vista or old OS X and Linux versions (older than those in the previous bullet point), we will lack TRIM support.
Therefore, if we want to delete files, the command will not be performed and the data will remain in the drive’s sectors. This has a major impact on performance because the sectors must first be erased and then written to if we want to write new files to that free space.
As you may wonder, this has a clear outcome: it negatively affects the drive and system’s overall performance. Bearing this in mind, it is clear you should not disable TRIM.
4. Do not fill them to capacity
Again, this is something specific to SSDs that is easy and simple to understand.
SSDs store data on blocks. When an SSD has a lot of free space, it has a lot of empty blocks, so write operations can be carried out faster.
However, when an SSD has little free space, it has a lot of partially filled blocks. When we write a file, the unit will have to read the partially filled block into its cache, modify the partially filled block with the new data, and then write it back to the drive.
The process will repeat itself with every new operation until the unit runs out of free space, causing it to suffer a drop in performance.
What is the optimum level then? According to some media outlets like Anandtech, the best is to use less than 75% of the SSD’s storage capacity in order to get the best possible balance.
5. Do not write constantly to them
As we have already said, SSDs have a limited number of writes that set the unit’s lifespan.
That number is usually really high, giving the unit a lifespan of several years, so we will probably end up replacing the unit before its lifespan is over. However, it is best to reduce the number of writes in order to maximize the SSD’s lifespan.
It is also recommended to avoid constantly installing and uninstalling apps, especially large ones like games, for example.
Lastly, there is something important to bear in mind. We must avoid storing very large files that will remain inactive for long periods of time. They would not be a problem for the SSD at all, but they will take up a lot of free space unnecessarily, preventing us from really making the most out of the unit.
If we need to store a lot of data that will remain inactive for some time (like multimedia content, for example), then the best option would be to have an SSD as the main storage unit and a really affordable external HDD unit that could be used to store said data.