Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Otimum configuration for SSD plus hard drive

  1. #1


    Posts : 20
    Windows 8.1

    Optimum configuration for SSD plus hard drive


    I am considering fitting an SSD to my desktop computer to improve its performance. The computer is a Dell XPS8700 with 16GB RAM, running Windows 8. I have some questions about the best way to do this:
    1. Should the whole of Windows be installed on the SSD?
    2. If only certain parts of Windows should be installed on the SSD, which parts? And how do I do this?
    3. Should all my applications (of which I have hundreds installed) be installed on the SSD?
    4. If only some of my applications should be on the SSD, how do I choose which ones?
    5. Should the Page file and/or the Hibernate file be on the SSD?
    6. Should any of my documents be on the SSD? If so, which ones?
    7. Does the SSD need to be of any particular type to get the best speed improvement?
    8. How big does the SSD need to be? Or to put it another way, how much spare space should there be on the SSD after installing Windows and whichever apps need to be installed on it?

    Thanks for your help

    Rowan
    Last edited by rowanbradley; 18 Sep 2016 at 07:55.

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  2. #2


    N. Calif
    Posts : 2,363
    W10 Pro (desktop), W10 (laptop), W10 Pro (tablet), W10 (laptop)


    How large of an SSD do you plan to get? If possible, you should install the OS and your programs on the SSD, all of your data should stay on the HDD.

    If the size of your SSD limits you and you aren't able to install all of your programs there, then you should install the ones that you feel will most benefit from faster disk access.

    One possible plan of attack would be to re-partition your current HDD now to separate the data from the OS and programs. Once you have that done, then you can determine how large of an SSD is required to contain the OS and programs and buy something somewhat larger than that in order to allow for future program installations. Once you do that, you can then clone the 1st partition of your HDD to your SSD. Once you have the SSD installed and working, then you can go back and delete the OS and programs partition from the HDD, then resize the data partition in order to have the whole HDD as a data drive.
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  3. #3


    Posts : 20
    Windows 8.1


    Thanks for your advice. I can't do what you suggest, because my hard drive is corrupted and won't boot, so the first thing I have to do is to get Windows running on the SSD, and run some data recovery software on the hard drive to rescue my files. Then I can set about configuring things properly. I imagine that certain bits of windows, that frequently get written to, should not be on the SSD. So this perhaps means the registry, file indexes, log files. Have I forgotten any? How do I set Windows up so these are on the hard drive?

    For programs that keep all their variable files in the Documents folder, then there is no problem. I just move the whole of Documents to the HDD. But some programs seem to keep various data files in their Program Files directory. How do I find these, and move them? Is there a way of marking the Program Files and Program Files (x86) directories read only, and then finding out which programs try to write to them? How do I set things up so I have a Program Files directory on the SSD and another on the HDD? Can Windows live with two Program Files directories?

    Thanks - Rowan
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    You are making things way too complicated. Just install Windows on the SSD, no special configuration needed. Things like the hibernation file, registry, index and log files cannot be moved anyway. The pagefile can be moved but normally it should not. The only legitimate reason would be to conserve space on a too small SSD. As an ideal all programs should be installed on the SSD. If necessary they can be installed on a conventional drive to a folder of any name of your choosing. As an ideal you would have everything on the SSD, using a conventional drive being merely an economy measure. Typically the SSD is used for the OS and applications and the conventional drive for data. This provides most of the benefits of an SSD but at a significantly lower cost. Don't skimp on the size of the SSD. A system with 16 GB RAM deserves one of at least 256 GB.

    SSDs do have limited writes but that value is so high it is rarely reachable in the real world. Most SSDs that fail do so for other reasons long before limited writes becomes a factor. And many are replaced, not because of failure, but because they are just too small.
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  5. #5



    Trying to Sith things out
    Bamberg Germany
    Posts : 2,247
    Windows 10 Pro 64 bit


    Quote Originally Posted by LMiller7 View Post
    You are making things way too complicated. Just install Windows on the SSD, no special configuration needed. Things like the hibernation file, registry, index and log files cannot be moved anyway. The pagefile can be moved but normally it should not. The only legitimate reason would be to conserve space on a too small SSD. As an ideal all programs should be installed on the SSD. If necessary they can be installed on a conventional drive to a folder of any name of your choosing. As an ideal you would have everything on the SSD, using a conventional drive being merely an economy measure. Typically the SSD is used for the OS and applications and the conventional drive for data. This provides most of the benefits of an SSD but at a significantly lower cost. Don't skimp on the size of the SSD. A system with 16 GB RAM deserves one of at least 256 GB.

    SSDs do have limited writes but that value is so high it is rarely reachable in the real world. Most SSDs that fail do so for other reasons long before limited writes becomes a factor. And many are replaced, not because of failure, but because they are just too small.

    Let Windows take care of everything. It is SSD aware since Windows 7.
    It will even run trim/retrim when it's needed On Windows 8 thru 10.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    As to which SSD you purchase, that would depend on what your motherboard will support. Do you have M.2 connection is it 2 land or 4 lane? With no M.2 socket. your limited to SATA SSD's as mention before 256 GB is optimum for OS and important programs, AV - Office - all the programs you use every day. The rest of your seldom used program can go on your Data Disk. Seems Samsung probably has the best SSD or Intel Others will work. Also it seem that the larger the SSD the faster they run. A 256 GB SSD is noticeably faster than a 128 GB. I'm running 3 workstations and a notebook all with 256 GB SSD and none of them are more than 50% used. Also as mentioned in an earlier reply let windows handle all the logs, Page file if you use one? with a fast computer and 16 GB of Ram you might not need a page file. None of the ordinary stuff will take up all that much room actually. These new SSD are not crippled with limitations as they were 5 years ago. Samsung Pro models are guaranteed for 10 years The EVO for 5 years far longer than they will be relevant. I keep my Document etc Library folders on my second drive or drives.
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  7. #7



    Trying to Sith things out
    Bamberg Germany
    Posts : 2,247
    Windows 10 Pro 64 bit


    If you get a smaller SSD and have an extra disk(HDD) you could move just your data files/libraries to it,
    Or you can do like Kari does and move your whole user profile to it, which is good if your system disk does die on you: User Profiles - Relocate to another Partition or Disk
    information   Information
    The method described in this tutorial allows relocating user profiles and folders already while installing Windows 8, before any user accounts are created, as well as after installation on an already installed system.

    The advantage of this method is that it changes some internal Windows 8 environment variables, being a “Do it once and forget” procedure. Changing the variables takes care of all existing and future user profiles, locating them when created to selected drive or partition. The method is fail proof and reversible.

    When Windows 8 is installed, 5 or 6 system folders are created depending on chosen bit-version:

    • PerfLogs (Performance Logs), where Windows stores performance and reliability logs
    • Program Files, where applications and software are installed. Windows x86 (32-bit) stores all applications here, Windows x64 (64-bit) only native 64-bit applications
    • Program Files (x86), exists only in Windows x64. All non-x64 applications are stored here
    • Windows, which contains core operating system files and drivers
    • ProgramData, where some applications store application and user specific settings and configuration files.
    • Users. This is the “home” of all user profiles. When a new user account is created and this new user logs in first time, Windows creates a set of user specific folders (Users\Username)



    Microsoft does not recommend relocating, moving ProgramData, Program Files, Program Files (x86) and Windows folders. Too much is depending on information and data stored on these folders. However, there's simply nothing preventing us to move the Users folder. In this tutorial we show how to move (relocate) the Users folder by changing an internal Windows Environment Variable.

    Moving Users folder can save a lot of space on system disk. Pictures, mp3’s videos, documents and so on, a user folder with its subfolders can be tens, sometimes hundreds of gigabytes.

    Personally, when installing Windows 8 I always use Audit Mode to relocate Users folder, leaving system drive only for Windows and applications.
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  8. #8


    I say buy a large enough SSD to house Windows and all your program files. Then let Windows manage everything. A SSD, BTW, is the ideal location for the Page File. Make sure you buy big enough to leave plenty of space for Windows to work in (same as with HD).

    Do NOT disable the PF - I don't care how much RAM you have. There is NO EVIDENCE ANYWHERE to suggest disabling the PF is "better". Just because some believe (with no evidence to support it, btw) you don't need a PF with large amounts of RAM I say again, there is no study, report or evidence of any kind anywhere saying it is "better" to disable it. Ask those who advise it to show you just one recognized expert, or just one genuine study - they can't. "I didn't see any difference" or "Windows will run without it" is no evidence!

    I say the proof is in Windows itself. The developers at Microsoft are NOT stupid! I can't the same for marketing and PR but that's for another discussion. The developers know their stuff. If it was "better" to disable the PF with large amounts of RAM, they would code Windows to do just that. It would be as easy as disabling defragging on SSDs - which Windows does automatically when a SSD is detected. Windows does a great job of managing the page file size dynamically - so let it!

    Unless you are a true renowned authority on the subject of virtual memory management (and Microsoft has several on staff - plus exabytes and decades of empirical data), let Windows manage your PF. Don't dink with the size and by all means don't disable it. But don't believe me. See Understanding the Windows Pagefile and Why You Shouldn't Disable It.

    FTR, I have a 256GB Samsung 850 Pro as my boot drive on this computer. It houses 64-bit W10 Pro, Office Pro 2007 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook), all my security apps, tools and utilities, and other programs. It also supports all my data files, my Windows managed PF and Windows temp files and I still have nearly 90GB free.

    I have a 250GB Samsung 850 EVO as my secondary drive to house a backup of my boot drive, my "Downloads" folder, plus nearly 2500 songs copied from my 600 CDs and I still have 50GB free.

    And remember, Windows knows how to optimize SSDs. There's no need for any tweaking or 3rd party software either.

    I say if you don't need many TB of space, go all SSD. Yeah, they cost more, but spread that cost over the life of the system and the cost becomes less an issue - especially if you factor in the savings in energy and heat negating (if room is air conditioned) compared to HDs. Plus HDs make noise. Note that no HD has a 10 year warranty either.
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  9. #9


    Posts : 20
    Windows 8.1


    Thanks for all the information and advice. My MB has a socket marked MSATA1. I've attached a picture of it.

    Click image for larger version

    It seems to have 8 pins to the left of the keyway and 18 pins to the right of the keyway. Is this an M.2 connection? How do I tell how many lanes it has? I'm confused by the differences between MSATA, M2, PCIe etc. How do I know which my MB has, and therefore which SSD will be compatible?

    Thanks - Rowan
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    No that is not a M.2 socket. That is a MSATA socket. Remember, Google is your friend.

    M.2 vs MSATA

    How do I know which my MB has
    Read the manual!
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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