Performance: Windows XP, the now “Classic” OS and Solid State Drives.

With my last post, I mentioned that there are 3 things you should do with SSD drives on Windows XP.  I left 4 other things out, because I honestly didn’t think they’d make any performance difference.

I was wrong.

With the Intel X-18M 160B drive I tested, I saw a sustained performance improvement of 3.3%.  And a maximum total performance increase of 12.6%.

What I did % cumulative improvement change over no changes
Turn off Windows PreFetcher.
Turn on Large System Caching
Disabled System Restore
Turned of NTFS Last File Access Date feature. +1.94%
New Intel SSD Firmware +3.38%
Partition Alignment    0%

“What about this 12.6% improvement?”, you ask.

I installed the Intel SSD Toolbox utility, and ran the SSD Optimizer option.  This option causes the SSD to perform a TRIM operation.  TRIM support is a good thing

To understand what TRIM support is, you first need to understand how solid-state drives work. SSDs use NAND flash memory to store and transfer information. This flash memory is created up of small “pages” and groups of pages are called “blocks.” When you tell your computer to delete a page on the solid-state drive the page isn’t actually deleted – it is merely marked for deletion. This is because data can only be deleted in blocks. You cannot delete individual pages on an SSD. Later on, when you tell your computer that you need the space, the pages marked for deletion are grouped into a block and the whole block is wiped clean. This process slows down the solid-state drive when it is writing.
Top Ten Reviews – What is TRIM Support?

So, in other words, the TRIM command frees up the deleted pages on your SSD, at the time you run the TRIM command.  Over time, the amount of deleted pages will build up, and your drive performance will get worse.

Yes, it’s worth doing these changes to your Windows XP to support your new Solid State Drive.  If I had to rate what I’d do first, I would install the latest SSD Firmware.  And then run a “TRIM” command.  Partition alignment may work for some configurations, but made nil difference when I tested it.

Update: 7th Nov.  Updated post to include details of partition alignment results.