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What maintenance is needed for SSD's

Posted on 2011-03-24
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I'm looking at getting a ssd as the boot drive for my 2008 server. The old drive I'm using is just very slow even though I'm running a quad core and CPU.

So I've been looking at ssd's and I read the others have said that they are fast but you need to do maintance to keep them fast.

What maintenance?

Also, how realiable are these over regular drives? Should I get 2 and do a raid 0.

Thanks
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Question by:rdefino
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by:Aaron Tomosky
ID: 35206708
I think you mean raid 1 which is a mirror. I always recommen using a raid 1 for the server os drive unless it's just a dev server and you don't care If it goes down for a bit.
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Robin CM earned 252 total points
ID: 35208359
Any drive can fail, just because it's not magnetic storage doesn't mean the drive firmware won't have a bug or the interface electronics won't die etc. SSD is not a substitue for RAID.
Due to how the SSD works, fragmentation isn't really an issue in the same way as it would be on a magnetic drive. The drive can read fragmented data just as fast as contiguous data - there are no drive heads to move - which is what slows down magnetic drives.
SSDs do wear out over time, how long this takes depends how much write action the drive sees. But for this reason it'd be wise to have a maintenance/support agreement covering them - they're expensive and you don't want to be paying for the replacement.
Decent SSDs use a technique called wear levelling to stop bits of the disk burning out quite so fast, so really slowdown shouldn't be an issue.
One thing to be aware of with SSDs - whilst they easily outperform a magnetic disk for random IO, for sequential IO they'll not do any better than a decent magnetic disk (e.g. 15krpm SCSI).
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by:garycase
ID: 35208455
"... What maintenance is needed for SSD's ..."  ==>   With Server 2008 the answer is NONE, as it is fully SSD aware and supports TRIM.    For earlier OS's you needed to occasionally run some utilities to maintain the SSD's performance, as the OS's weren't "SSD aware".    Each major manufacturer had their own set of these, but the best is probably Intel's SSD Toolbox [http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&DwnldID=18455 ]

The reliability of an SSD is FAR above that of any rotating platter drive, but ANY electronic device can fail, so whether you need a RAID-1 array or not is your decision.    Do you have a RAID-1 array now?    If not, you'll already be getting a BIG improvement in reliability just by switching to an SSD.

I would, however, stick with a high-end SSD.    The ONLY SSD's I would personally buy are the Intel X-25 series or an OCZ Vertex 2.
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by:kevinhsieh
ID: 35223777
Windows 2008 R2 supports TRIM. Windows 2008/Vista does not.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRIM
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by:quarky42
ID: 35301490
I agree with garycase:   Stick with OCZ Vertex 2 or Intel X-25.   It appears that there are two kinds of OCZ Vertex 2...those that support TRIM and those that don't.   Your O/S must support TRIM as kevnhsieh has pointed out, but even if you don't have 2008 R2, you should get the one with TRIM because you may upgrade O/S at a later time.

From what I recall, the OCZ Vertex 2 drives perform some maintenance when you are logged off the system.  If your OS supports TRIM, then this is negated.  

Be sure to optimize your system after putting in an SSD, especially if you haven't done a fresh install of the operating system (example:  If you imaged the system) you will have to manually disable defrag, move your browser's disk cache to another magnetic drive if you have one installed or a RAMDisk, and other tweaks.

Personally, I install all my applications to my magnetic drive, unless it is something that I really want to load faster.    I may install something like Photoshop on my SSD because when I open it, I don't want to wait.    You have to figure out what balance works for you.  

Keep in mind that your SSD should have as much freespace on it as you can realistically manage.  If you run low on freespace on your SSD, it will have a dramatic effect on performance, even if everything else is working normally.
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by:Robin CM
ID: 35312423
Note that TRIM probably won't work if you are using hardware-based RAID - check with your RAID controller supplier.
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by:quarky42
quarky42 earned 248 total points
ID: 35314712
robincm makes an excellent point and I completely forgot to address that raid concern.  

The only reason I would do a raid with SSD is for data redundancy.  The drive is already plenty fast without the raid.   What kind of backup system do you have in place and would it be sufficient for you to replace that drive if it failed?  

In my environment, if my SSD were to fail, I would simply install the OS onto a new one.  I don't keep anything critical on the SSD.   (not because I'm worried about reliability...I have a lot of faith in the OCZ Vertex 2 with the latest firmware.  Mainly just because I try to keep all my user level storage on the cheaper regular SATA HDDs instead.)

I try to leave as much free space on my SSD as possible thus, there isn't much else on there except the operating system and a few bloated programs that would normally take a long time to load from a regular drive.
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