Maximize your SSD's lifespan with the right maintenance

0402 primary ssd

Phillip Mitchell replaced his hard drive with a high-capacity SSD. He asked how best to keep it healthy.

Flash RAM--the storage technology within SSDs--is immune to the violent disasters and wear-and-tear that can crash a hard drive. But SSDs have their own problems. Every time you write to flash RAM, you bring it a step closer to the day it fails.

Fortunately, those steps are very tiny. If you avoid unnecessary writing, your SSD will probably last until you want to replace it with something better. But it's still a good idea to avoid unnecessary writing. You can do that by turning off these four Windows settings.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

Defragger

An extremely fragmented hard drive can slow down a PC, but fragmentation is irrelevant on an SSD. Worse, it writes all over the place. Best to turn it off.

In Windows 7, Click the Start button, type disk defrag¸ and select Disk Defragmenter. If the big button near the top-right corner says "Turn on schedule…," no problem; you don't have to change a thing. But if it says "Configure schedule…," click the button and uncheck Run on a schedule (recommended).

0402 ssd win7 defrag

In Windows 8, search for disk defrag and select Defragment and optimize your drives. Once in the program, click the Change Settings button. If Run on a schedule (recommended) is checked, uncheck it.

0402 ssd win8 defrag

Virtual memory

If you're running more programs than fit in your physical RAM, Windows swaps some of them to your internal drive. If that drive is an SSD, that's not good.

Check out my article on virtual memory to learn more about this issue and learn how to turn it off.

Superfetch

No, Superfetch is not a canine superhero, but a cache-like Windows feature that's supposed to improve performance. It didn't really help all that much with hard drives, and it actually slows down SSDs as it wears them down.

To disable Superfetch, search and select services.msc. In the resulting Services window, scroll down to and double-click on Superfetch. Pull down the Startup type menu and select Disabled.

0402 ssd superfetch

Hibernation

When you put a Windows PC into the energy-saving sleep mode, it still uses a trickle of electricity. When you hibernate it, you shut down the hardware entirely.

But hibernation also copies everything in RAM to the C: drive--wearing out the SSD just a little bit.

You can simply not hibernate. Or, to be safe, you can disable it. If you're using Windows 7, follow Microsoft's instructions. In Windows 8, don't worry about it; hibernation is disabled by default.

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