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How can you increase SSD lifespan and keep performance?

Solid-state drives offer high performance, but their cost remains prohibitive. Here are some ways to prolong your SSD lifecycle while maintaining performance.

Some of the better known methods of prolonging SSD lifespan include enabling wear leveling and disabling automatic defragmentation. Contrary to popular belief, solid-state drives can benefit from occasional defragmentation -- there is such a thing as too much fragmentation -- but it does not have to occur on a regular basis.

Disabling the system's pagefile or moving the pagefile to a different drive can also extend SSD lifespan. Moving the system pagefile to a spinning disk can degrade system performance, however, so some organizations use small, commodity SSDs as a dedicated pagefile repository. This reduces wear on higher cost SSDs, while maintaining system performance.

You should also verify that your system has garbage collection and TRIM enabled for SSDs. The TRIM feature has more to do with drive performance than SSD lifespan. SSD drives are only able to write data to empty sectors. If a sector is partially filled, or filled with the remnants of a file that has already been deleted, the drive cannot write to the sector until its contents have been removed. TRIM is designed to erase cells containing data that is no longer in use. In some cases, it also consolidates the data from partially used sectors in an effort to free them up, thereby improving performance.

Incidentally, SSD performance decreases dramatically as a drive fills up. Because of this, some organizations have adopted a policy of limiting SSD storage between 75% and 80% of the SSD drives' actual capacity. But this policy increases the cost per GB of storage.

One last thing you can do to increase SSD lifespan is to periodically perform the manufacturer firmware updates that are designed to improve the disk performance and longevity of your solid-state drives.

Next Steps

Techniques to increase SSD endurance

Learn how TRIM works with different operation systems

SSD controllers improve endurance

This was last published in April 2016

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