While the single best upgrade available for a PC is still the solid state drive, misuse and misunderstandings can diminish and limit its effectiveness. The SSD is not the same as a mechanical drive and has to be treated differently in both storage planning, capacity, and maintenance.
So far, we have already covered the proper planning of your SSD's file structure, how to move previously installed programs, and how to adjust system folder pathing. Now, we will cover the care and feeding of your drive so that simple mistakes can be avoided that will keep your SSD lightning fast and viable for years to come.
Save and Reduce
First, we made sure that your SSD only contained the files the most benefit from storage on a solid state drive. There is more to this choice than just application and system performance. Limiting the amount of space used on the SSD will also protect the performance of the drive.
An SSD will slow down as more space is used due to the fewer and fewer empty flash storage blocks left available for use. Due to the nature of the drive, empty storage block provide better drive performance that partial or used blocks. Most manufacturers will suggest leaving a minimum of 25% of the drive empty in order to continue receiving the best performance. Plan to regularly review the files stored and in use on your SSD and remove the files that are no longer needed by either deleting or moving them of the drive.
Another byproduct of restricting the file types and space used in an SSD is the reduction of unnecessary write cycles. Solid state drives have a finite number writes before the drive will begin to experience errors or fail. The number of writes is not small and most drives have many years of use ahead of them before any issues may arise. This is not to suggest that you should change the way you interact with your computer in an attempt to limit writes. Just keep in mind that this is the limiting factor of all SSDs and not overdo it.
Defrag and TRIM
After just talking about limited writes and drive performance due to free space on the SSD, the first thing many proactive users thought of is the Disk Defrag process. For as long as mechanical drives have been used in personal computers, we have been told to regularly defrag our hard drives.
However, do not defrag your SSD. The benefits that a mechanical drive received from the defrag process do not transfer over to an SSD. The process is unnecessary for a solid state drive and will only add wasteful write cycles onto the limited lifetime of your drive.
On the other hand, TRIM should be enabled for all SSDs. TRIM is a command that orders the SSD to erase and consolidate all cells that are no longer in use. This is useful because an SSD can only write to an empty sector on the drive. Under the old standard of file deletion, only the record of the file was removed and the data was left to be overwritten. This would force an SSD to erase the data in a sector prior to writing new data and slowing the entire process down as the drive filled up further.
The TRIM command is enabled by default on Windows 7 and up, but will not work with Windows Vista or XP