Windows 7 Makes Solid State Drives Worth the Money

  • Comments: 2
  • Written on: July 3rd, 2009

I have been playing around with a solid state hard drive for the past few weeks to get a better understanding of how they improve my notebook’s performance under different operating systems.

While I certainly don’t look like Goldilocks, my solid state drive experience was a lot like the classic children’s fairytale.

Windows XP on a solid state drive was fast, but at times too fast.  With XP, my notebook booted so fast that I could log in, and open Firefox just to have it fail because the system had not negotiated an IP address yet.

Windows Vista was not much faster than a traditional hard drive.  I got a serious case of heartburn thinking I had just spent $450 on a 120 GB solid state drive when a $60 drive would have done the same job.

Then there was Windows 7.  It booted in seconds.  Response times were amazing.  Windows 7 was JUUUUST RIIIIIGHT!

Why is Windows 7 So Fast on a Solid State Drive?

Flash drives became fashionable when Windows XP as around, but only as a backup medium or for temporary storage.

Nine years later, a bundle of super speedy flash drives can be teamed up to create an entire hard drive with no moving parts.  Lower failure rates, faster access times and no defragging.

It sounds like a match made in heaven, except that XP and Vista were hard-coded to treat all drives like they spin.

That means that unnecessary operations happen all the time on a solid state drive that tie up valuable resources and sap the power of this expensive performance booster.

That is, all operating systems except Windows 7.  Windows 7 is the first Microsoft operating system that was specifically designed to detect if it is operating on a solid state drive or a rotating disk drive.

Windows 7’s secret is a technology Microsoft calls TRIM.  TRIM allows Windows 7 to detect

  • Enhancing device wear leveling by eliminating merge operation for all deleted data blocks
  • Making early garbage collection possible for fast write
  • Keeping device’s unused storage area as much as possible; more room for device wear leveling.

Is Solid State Worth the Cost?

That all depends on what you are using your computer for.  We just build a kick-butt Vista system for one of our customers who runs a video production company.  The solid state hard drive cut his video rendering in half, allowing him to recoup his investment quickly by increasing his business productivity.

If you are just using your computer for casual things, a solid state drive might be a bit pricey for you still.  The 120 GB drive I put in my notebook set me back $400.  The largest solid state drives are only 250 GB, so if you have a mass-storage need, solid state is not the way to go – yet.

Additionally, we have seen solid state hard drives reduce the instance of hard drive failure in laptops that are used in mobile applications.  A bouncing car is not a big deal for a solid state hard drive.

If you are in an environment where performance is important to your productivity,

When Will Solid State Be Available as a Standard?

With pressure being applied to reduce the costs of PCs and laptops, manufacturers have little incentive to add solid state hard drives to their economy models right now.

With that said, Schrock Innovations has a PC model that could include a solid state drive in research and development now that could be released in Q4 2009 if everything continues to go well in testing.

In my opinion, solid state drives will not become a viable technology for economy PCs until Q4 of 2011.

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