Constant development and improvement of our storage devices have managed to create a new type of storage media, namely, the SSD or Solid State Drive. Although it is still a new technology, the SSD has benefited from a lot of constant enhancements that have made it more and more reliable in a short period of time.
There are a few important reasons a user would choose a SSD over a classic mechanical drive. Amongst those reasons we can find temperature, dimension and speed. Even if today’s SSDs are faster by a great margin when compared to a HDD, the SSD Tweaker
application comes with a couple of extra tricks to get all the power out from your drive.
However, before we can get to that, let's start the application. You'll be happy to know that SSD Tweaker can be run as soon as you've finished downloading it and does not feature an installation process. You will also be pleased to find out that the program is distributed free of any charge. Unfortunately, this free version does come with a nag screen when trying to exit the program.
The main window of the application is split into two panels. The one located on the left contains options available on Windows XP, Vista and 7 and the one on the right adds extra options that are only available in Vista and 7.
All the buttons, menus and selectable checkboxes are well designed and can be easily seen and accessed. However, the software looks a bit disorganized and crowded.
The first available tweak option is related to the Window Prefetcher. “Disabled”, “Application launch prefetching enabled”, “Boot prefetching enabled” and “Application launch and boot enabled” are the available options. The Windows Prefetcher is a system component that is supposed to shorten the time it takes for your system to boot and launch applications.
To be fair, on the newer generation SSDs you won’t really feel a speed improvement, but if you have a drive that features a Jmicron chip, you should disable the Prefetcher as it might slow down your unit.
Exploring the list further we can find that the next two options, namely the “Windows Indexing Service” and “Windows XP System Restore Service” are only available if you’re running XP, in which case the options are automatically selected.
The next available option is “Clear Pagefile at Shutdown”. If this option is enabled, chances are you’ll see an increase in your shutdown times. Basically, the page file is used by your operating system to store data temporarily, data that is permanently swapped in and out of the physical memory so you’ll have a larger quantity of virtual memory available.
Another tweak found in SSD Tweaker is the option to disable the Large System Cache. It comes disabled, and we recommend you leave it that way, unless you’re running a server edition of Windows. The Large System Cache sets aside the remaining free RAM for caching files, thus, generally improving background services, but taking out the performance out of your programs.
Let us continue with the software’s features. The next two tweaking options are aimed at the file system, more precisely the NTFS. You will be able to “Limit NTFS Memory Usage” and enable / disable the “NTFS 8.3 Name Creation”.
As a note, you need to know that limiting the memory usage of your NT File System will probably limit the number of concurrent operations you’ll be able to perform (but that will only happen when the buffers are full). As for the next option, you should know that creating 8.3 filenames may decrease your directory enumeration performance.
And so, we arrive at the last two tweaking options available in the left panel. The EFDS comes disabled by default, but you can choose to enable it as it can be quite useful for tracking files. Last, but not least, we have the “Enable Boot Tracing” option, that, when activated, lets you monitor the activity of your kernel, drivers and other apps during the boot process.
Integrated into Windows Vista and 7, the SuperFetch technology can also be managed with the help of SSD Tweaker. We are presented with the same options as in the Prefetcher case, because SuperFetch is actually supposed to do the same thing, namely, to make your PC boot faster, improve application loading and, as a plus, detect different usage patterns to further improve your speed.
Right under the drop down menu available for SuperFetcher, we can find the checkbox that lets us enable or disable the Indexing Service. Why should you choose to disable this option? Well, as we all know, the indexing service keeps a so-called index of the files found on a computer. A mechanical drive uses this service in order to perform searches at a faster pace. However, the indexing process takes a lot of time. A Solid State Drive, being much faster, does not require this option.
A feature that has been made available and I find quite useful, especially to the users that are not so familiar with computers, is present under the “Auto Tweak Settings” button. A word of caution is necessary tough. Not all the presented tweaking options are necessarily good. So you should study the available options with caution.
Now, let us not forget the TRIM command. Although optimizations are unavailable in this free version of the program, you are still able to see if your SSD supports it just by pressing the F9 key. Simply put, the TRIM function will allow your SSD to better manage your stored data. The TRIM command will constantly move your data in order to make new free space, prevent file fragmentation and the excessive wear of the drive.
As long as we are here let us talk about a SSD's life expectancy. First of all, there are MLC and SLC based drives, and, if you have a Solid State Drive, it's probably SLC based, which is a good thing, as they will last up to 10 times more than a MLC one. It is very likely that your drive will probably still be working long after all your other components have failed. Basically, it depends on the amount of write cycles and the size of the drive. The larger the drive the longer it will last. The estimated time a SLC drive will last is around 50 years, more or less.
Before we move on, you should know that using SSD Tweaker can bring certain speed improvements and minimize some of the wear of your drive, but you should always be informed of a feature's role before you turn it on or off.
It’s now time for the resource consumption report. On a system running Windows 7 x64, installed on an OCZ SSD, the program used a maximum of 13 MB of RAM and caused no problems whatsoever.
SSD Tweaker is a free application that is easy-to-use and does not require a lot of computer experience in order to enhance the performance of your SSD. A plus is given by the fact that it can display the TRIM status of your drive with the simple press of a button.
On the other hand, it would have been nice if a lot more information was offered about the options you are going to activate or deactivate. Also, the fact that you have to pay for the Pro version in order to remove all the advertisements and get a couple of TRIM optimizations doesn’t really drag a round of applause.
The fact of the matter is that SSD Tweaker is an application that offers the most important tweaking options for your Solid State Drive. You can give it a try and see how your SSD drive handles the changes. You can restore your settings with ease if you don’t see an improvement.
Here are some snapshots of the application in action: