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  1. #1
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    Restoring SSD Performance

    My home office PC and my gaming PC each have Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium installed on an SSD. One is a Kingston 96GB V+100 and the other is a Sandisk Extreme 240GB model. They've both been trouble-free since new (3 years and 2 years old). Recently, it seemed as though it was taking longer to save large files. A quick run-through of CrystalDiskMark showed slow Write speeds of both Sequential and Random data on both computers. TRIM is definitely working on both drives so no problem there, and the drives are around 50% full so, again, not a cause for major slowdowns. Unable to think of any other reason, I took drastic action. EaseUS ToDo made backup images. That was followed by running the Secure Erase command which takes all of 2 seconds on an SSD. Then i used the EaseUS bootable CD to restore the backup images. Afterwards, CrystalDiskMark showed my Write speeds had doubled and were back up where they should be. While waiting for the Restore process to finish i did a little research and came across an article by a guy who tests a lot of SSDs for his website. He suggested that over time Windows System Restore feature causes many brands of SSDs to have diminishing Write speeds. He suggests disabling System Restore in order to maintain the SSD's performance. Since i never use System Restore anyway it's now disabled. Has anyone else here on the forum experienced a similar problem? Attached are benchmarks for the Sandisk after Secure Erase and restoring Windows from a backup image. It's connected to a SATA III controller card which ever so slightly limits its maximum speed. It's interesting that the Write speed slowdown took around 2 years to become evident. Have you guys here experienced any similar slowdowns?

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  3. #2
    Bronze Lounger DrWho's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, or incidently, an SSD can be affected by many of the same things that cause slow-downs in mechanical hard drives.

    Just one thing that comes to mind is file fragmentation. It takes any drive longer to read a badly fragmented file than one that is contiguous.

    I would have done exactly what you did, to speed up file access...... backup, clear and then restore. I'm not sure that erasing the SSD is even required, before a restore, but I might do it anyway, just in case.....

    In the case of a normal SATA hard drive, like mine, just doing the Ghost-Restore re-writes the whole drive or partition and all fragmentation is eliminated.
    I do that about once a week on my own desktop system to keep performance at its peak.

    I use Ghost 11.5 (DOS Version) on my own PC's. It copies files to the backup one at a time, like they appear in the master directory. Then, when they restore, they are written back to the HD in perfect order, with no spaces between them, and of course, NO Fragmentation.

    Unfortunately some Backup programs copy the drive, sector by sector, with spaces between files and of course, all the fragmentation.

    I've been royally flamed for saying that my Ghost Backup and Restore is the "Worlds best Defrag". But it is!

    Sounds like you're on the right track!

    Carry ON, Mate!

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    Last edited by DrWho; 2013-12-09 at 10:31.
    Experience is truly the best teacher.

    Backup! Backup! Backup! GHOST Rocks!

  4. #3
    Silver Lounger mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrWho View Post
    I use Ghost 11.5 (DOS Version) on my own PC's. It copies files to the backup one at a time, like they appear in the master directory. Then, when they restore, they are written back to the HD in perfect order, with no spaces between them, and of course, NO Fragmentation.

    Unfortunately some Backup programs copy the drive, sector by sector, with spaces between files and of course, all the fragmentation.

    I've been royally flamed for saying that my Ghost Backup and Restore is the "Worlds best Defrag". But it is!
    If, in fact, that's how Ghost Backup and Restore works, then we could call it "textbook" defragmentation -- it assembles the fragments into whole files on the first copy, then writes them to the original drive as whole files on the 2nd copy.

    In fact, it doesn't have to do it piecemeal like a normal defrag, because it has an external location where it can assemble all of the pieces.

  5. #4
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Dr.
    In the case of a normal SATA hard drive, like mine, just doing the Ghost-Restore re-writes the whole drive or partition and all fragmentation is eliminated.
    I do that about once a week on my own desktop system to keep performance at its peak.
    You're a braver soul that I. With the limited write cycles on an SSD I'd be hard pressed to recommend this course of action. I'm just sayin'...
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

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    SSDs will be affected by fragmentation, even if not as much as standard HDDs, performance wise. It seems the really write performance affecting factor, however, is available free space. It's a bit of an old post, but have a look here: http://www.mysqlperformanceblog.com/...e-performance/

    There aren't really many things that you can do, other than what you have done, already. Traditional defragmenters help very little, even when specifically optimizing a SSD: http://www.pcworld.com/article/20475...-your-ssd.html

    That said, I don't have mine long enough to have noticed a real performance degradation.
    Rui
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  7. #6
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    File fragmentation is much less of a problem with an SSD than it is with an HDD because all flash memory cells can be accessed / read nearly simultaneously. There's no mechanical swing-arm so latency / access time is around 0.2 milliseconds compared to 9ms - 14ms for an HDD. HOWEVER, as Dr. Who rightly points out, if a file is badly fragmented it will still take longer to read it than if the file is stored contiguously. In my case, a very large number of programs, games, utilities, etc. have been installed and uninstalled over the last couple of years, as well as photos, videos and music stored on the SSD then moved / offloaded to another drive. Defragmentation has never been run. Windows analyzed the SSD and reported it to be 46% fragmented !! I chose to defragment the SSD, then follow with a Secure Erase before Restoring. With SSDs the manufacturers have stated clearly that you can restore factory-fresh performance by using the Secure Erase command. I can confirm that it works. Ideally, a fresh install of Windows follows Secure Erase, but i have a number a programs and games i can't or don't want to reinstall.

    Ghost backup & restore is amazing if it re-writes all files without fragmentation. i didn't know such a program existed. In fact, i thought Norton quit making Ghost a long time ago. Guess i was misinformed!

    SSD performance is commonly measured when the drive is totally empty and the test software is chosen to show unrealistic / inflated results. For example, most manufacturers test an empty SSD using ATTO benchmark. This test uses highly "compressible" data of various file sizes arranged in perfectly sequential order and produces huge scores. My own Sandisk Exteme 240GB will hit Sequential Read / Write speeds of around 550MB/sec. and 520MB/sec. The only way you would ever achieve this in practice is if you only use the drive to store huge, compressible files with no operating system present. Everyday computing for home and business involves mainly small files in random sequence. Benchmark tests like CrystalDiskMark or AS-SSD use incompressible random files. Results for small 4kb random Read and Write are typically around 20MB/sec. and 60MB/sec. Coupled with access time of less than a millisecond, these results are still many times better/faster than a regular spinning HDD. As the drive fills up to, say, half full and beyond you may expect some slowdown depending on the design, but it shouldn't be major.
    At the time we got our first SSD (a Kingston V+100 96GB model) prices were around $2/GB which is insanely expensive. But .... i really wanted to try one and watched websites like Newegg.com and Amazon.com and TigerDirect.com hoping for a bargain. When i saw "shell-shocker" deal on the Kingston SSD for a mere $89.99 i took the plunge, so to speak. Now, there are price deals almost every day on respectable brands for around 60 cents/GB., sometimes less. This means you can pick up a really fast 120GB SSD for around $75 which isn't bad for something that will very noticeably speed up your whole system. By keeping your existing HDDs in use for storing most of your data you have the best of both worlds - terrific speed for Windows and all programs and games (and even the internet browser) plus large capacity for your accumulated photos, videos, music, documents and so on. And, if you simply tell Windows that the default or primary location of all your "Libraries" is on the big regular HDD then the combination of having two drives remains very convenient to use. Data you use often can of course be kept on the SSD for fastest access. We make backups of both the Windows setup and the big data drive regularly, so no problem there. Maybe one day we'll see a 1TB SSD priced under $100 at which point it will be bye-bye HDD. Until then, we'll settle for a combination of speed and capacity on separate drives.

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    Symantec has stopped sales of Ghost. See Norton Ghost. I'm sure the Dr. Who has an old version he has used for a long time.

    Joe

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    Mmm, looks like they are replacing Ghost with "Symantec System Recovery 2013". As for Dr.Who's version he did say he uses a DOS version so that places it squarely in the 18th century if i'm not mistaken ....

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    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Restoring a drive image can help refresh a drive, but I doubt file fragmentation has anything whatsoever to do with it.
    I would think that the low level format that an image restore does is more benaficial than any defragmentation benafits on an SSD.

    File fragmentation is considerable LESS a consideration on an SSD than a mechanical drive.
    So much so that one need not bother with erstwhile means, like weekly drive image restorations, to have a significant impact on that particular aspect (file fragmentation loss of performance).

    Keeping the drive lean & the OS healthy with plenty of freespace is the main thing.
    If you have a firmware update in the wings, that's what you want to focus on for REAL stability a performance.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

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  13. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by CLiNT View Post
    Restoring a drive image can help refresh a drive, but I doubt file fragmentation has anything whatsoever to do with it.
    I would think that the low level format that an image restore does is more benaficial than any defragmentation benafits on an SSD.

    File fragmentation is considerable LESS a consideration on an SSD than a mechanical drive.
    So much so that one need not bother with erstwhile means, like weekly drive image restorations, to have a significant impact on that particular aspect (file fragmentation loss of performance).

    Keeping the drive lean & the OS healthy with plenty of freespace is the main thing.
    If you have a firmware update in the wings, that's what you want to focus on for REAL stability a performance.
    Extensive file fragmentation (in my case 46%) has a modest but measurable adverse effect on performance which becomes noticeable when multi-tasking with a lot of SSD activity happening at the same time. Low-level formatting as performed when restoring a backup system image is obviously more beneficial to an SSD's performance than is Defragmenting. Best of all is the Secure Erase command which sends a controlled voltage spike to all memory cells. By design this flushes all data from the cells and returns the cells to their default out-of-the-box condition. Multiple instances of Secure Erase do not harm the drive, although keeping the system lean and the OS healthy is, of course, the preferred method of maintaining performance.

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