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Windows 7 tweaks for modern SSDs

How to configure Windows 7 for the latest SSDs

Time was when it was paramount to tweak Windows so it worked better with an SSD. This was both to save storage space and maintain the drive’s reliability.

Flash memory can be written to a limited number of times, so certain Windows programs, such as Defrag, which has no benefit for an SSD, would serve only to shorten the drive’s lifespan. In addition, small files occupying a block of flash memory slow down write speeds, so performance worsens over time. See also: How to install an SSD in your PC

These issues are now less of a problem. Modern SSDs have built-in wear-levelling techniques which ensure writes are spread across a drive, which increases its lifespan significantly.

Windows 7 is designed with SSDs in mind, so disables the ability to defragment SSDs, and it supports a low-level command called TRIM, which frees up SSD blocks which would slow down write performance.

As long as you use a modern SSD, you shouldn't need to make tweaks to disable write-heavy functions such as indexing, Superfetch, and Windows Search. You won’t see a particular improvement to your brand new drive’s lifespan or performance by disabling these features.

However there are still some nifty tricks that can improve an SSD in Windows 7, even if it’s just to free up a few extra gigabytes of space:

1. Move the swap file

Click Start, right-click on Computer then select Properties. Click on Advanced system settings, open the Advanced tab, and click on Performance. Open the Advanced tab in this window, then click Change under the Virtual memory heading.

Now you can move your page file to a hard disk. Select the SSD, then select the No paging file option. Then choose a hard disk, and select System managed size. Windows needs a swap file, though, so if your computer doesn’t have a second hard disk, leave it as it is.

Swap file

2. Disable System Restore

System Restore writes a lot of data to the SSD. Disabling it will free up a considerable chunk of storage space and may improve your drive’s performance over time. Warning: you will lose the ability to restore Windows to a previous state if you do this.

Click Start, right-click on Computer then select Properties. Click on System protection, then click Configure. Choose Turn off system protection, then click OK.

System restore

3. Turn Off Hibernation

Hibernation is a great aspect of Windows for PCs with slow boot times, as it lets you quickly resume from where you left off. Windows boots really quickly with an SSD though, so hibernation is less useful, and you can save yet more storage by disabling it.

Click Start, type cmd, then right-click on the command prompt icon that appears, and select Run as administrator. Enter the command ‘powercfg -h off’.

Disable hibernation

4. Use Windows 7 libraries

You can free up space on your SSD by moving picture collections, movies and documents onto a hard disk. There are numerous ways to do this, but with Windows 7, the most elegant method is to use its libraries feature.

Create a folder on your hard disk (for example e:/docs). Right-click the folder in Explorer, scroll down to the Include in library option, then choose the Documents library from the list. Then copy any documents from the My Documents folder to the new one. You can do the same for movies, music and pictures, keeping your files close at hand without them residing on the SSD.

Windows 7 Libraries

5. Inspect your storage use

With both SSDs and hard disks, running out of storage is always a problem. Over time, your SSD will inevitably become filled with temporary files and unnecessary installation programs. Knowing which files to delete can be tricky though.  A program called WinDirStat provides a visual representation of all your files and how much storage they’re using, so you can decide more easily whether to keep them.

WinDirStat

6. No-GUI boot

Disabling the Windows splash screen while booting can shave a few extra seconds off boot times, which isn’t a huge difference, but with the already-fast boot times of SSDs, it can make your computer feel really snappy.

Click start, type msconfig, then press enter. Under the boot tab, tick No GUI boot, then restart the computer.

Disable Windows graphical splash screen

7. Move Steam games back and forth

If you’re a gamer, you’ll probably have the Steam software installed. If you have a few modern titles in your Steam library, this can take up a huge amount of space. In computers with SSDs, we usually install Steam on a secondary hard disk, so games unfortunately load as slowly as usual.

A great tool called Steam Mover can solve this problem, moving the game over to the SSD with a single click, by using a series of DOS commands, then creating links to the files, so Steam functions as normal. You can move the game back to the Steam directory when you need more storage space.

Steam Mover

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