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About Solid State Hard Drives

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A solid state drive (SSD), available on many HP computers, stores data on solid state memory. The SSD differs from a traditional hard drive in that it does not have platters, actuators, or other moving parts (such as the read/write heads). Because an SSD has no moving parts, it is faster to read and write, quieter, and less susceptible to physical shock. This means it has different maintenance considerations, as well as slightly different usage considerations with regard to Hibernate and Sleep functions.

Maintaining Solid State Hard Drives

There is no need to perform regular maintenance on a solid state hard drive. SSDs are designed to perform parallel reads on multiple sections of the drive, so defragmentation adds wear to the drive with no benefit. Integrated optimization tools such as TRIM, Garbage Collection, and Wiper Utility are controlled by the system and the SSD directly. If the drive and the system driver support these features, they generally work in the background automatically.
In some cases, SSD optimization needs to be started manually, or the tools must be configured to start on a predetermined schedule. For optimization, you must first determine your SSD's manufacturer and firmware. If you are using an Intel-manufactured SSD, the optimization might be done automatically. If manual implementation is required, then you must install the Intel Solid State Drive Toolbox to do it.
Periodically ensure that your SSD firmware is up to date. Outdated firmware could introduce compatibility issues with the operating system. Windows Update should maintain the latest firmware version for the SSD, as it does with the other pieces of hardware in your computer, but you can also manually check the firmware version.

Checking the SSD Manufacturer and Firmware

To identify the SSD's manufacturer and firmware version, and determine whether optimization should be implemented on an SSD drive or not, take the following steps:
  1. For Windows 7 and Vista: Click Start, right-click Computer, select Properties, and then click Device Manager.
    For Windows XP: Click Start, right-click My Computer, select the Hardware tab, and then click Device Manager.
  2. In the Device Manager window, double-click the Disk drives entry to expand the list of drives. This displays the model and manufacturer of the SSD.
  3. Right-click the SSD and select Properties.
  4. In the Properties window, select the Details tab. The firmware version is displayed under Value.
    Figure 1: Properties
    Properties Details tab
  5. For Samsung SSDs: Download the Samsung Magician software. This tool scans your SSD and determines whether its firmware is up to date, and if it is not, prompts you to install a more recent version.
    Optimization is implemented automatically on Samsung SSDs with Windows 7 only, but cannot be implemented with other Windows systems. No further action can be taken, so you may close this document.
    For Intel SSDs: Go to the Intel Download Center and search for the "Intel SATA Solid-State Drive Firmware Update Tool" to determine if an update exists for your SSD's firmware.
    Optimization is not automatic on your Intel SSD, depending on the driver used to manage it. Continue to the next section to find out more.

Determining the Intel SSD driver

If you have an Intel SSD, then optimization might need to be manually implemented. The actions depend on the SSD driver and the operating system. To determine the Intel SSD driver, do the following:
  1. In the Intel SSD's Properties window, select the Driver tab and click the Driver Details button.
  2. In the Driver File Details window, you can see which driver the SSD uses under Driver files.
    Figure 2: Driver File Detail
    Driver File Details window
  3. For Windows 7: If you have the Microsoft AHCI (msahci.sys) storage driver, optimization is handled automatically by the operating system. No action can be taken, so you can close this document.
    If you have the Intel® Matrix Storage Manager (iaStor.sys) driver, optimization is not automatic. Go to the next section to learn about manually implementing the Intel Solid State Drive Toolbox.
    For Windows Vista and XP: Optimization is not automatic by default for either driver. Go to the next section to learn about manually implementing the Intel Solid State Drive Toolbox.

Determining the use of the Intel® Solid State Drive Toolbox

The Intel® Solid State Drive Toolbox is required to examine and configure the optimization settings for Intel SSDs that meet the following criteria:
  • Any Windows 7, Vista, or XP computer with the Intel® Matrix Storage Manager (iaStor.sys) driver.
  • Any Windows Vista or XP computer with the Microsoft AHCI (msahci.sys) storage driver.
The Intel Solid State Drive Toolbox does not come installed on HP computers, but you can download it from the Intel Download Center . The toolbox guides you through the process of optimizing your particular Intel SSD.
Consult the Intel Solid State Drive Toolbox User Guide, also available for download, for detailed instructions on installation, setup, and usage.
NOTE:First generation Intel SSDs do not support TRIM prior to Firmware Version 2CV102HA. The Intel Solid State Toolbox will let you know if you have a first generation SSD and that it cannot implement the TRIM feature.

Using Hibernate and Sleep with SSDs

A computer should be placed in a lower power state before it is moved or if it will not be used for an extended period of time. Instead of turning it off, a computer can be placed into either a Hibernate or Sleep state to save power and protect the data. Use the information below to determine how to best configure your hibernate and sleep modes.
  • Unlike computers with traditional hard drives that take several seconds to wake up and return to operating condition, a computer with a solid state drive (SSD) starts up from Hibernate as fast as it does from Sleep.
  • If the operating system is installed on a solid state drive, use Hibernate to conserve battery power. The Sleep state requires a constant trickle of power which gradually drains the battery. Hibernate does not use any power.
  • On a computer with a solid state drive, when entering the Hibernate state, the data in memory is written to the SSD for storage. Therefore, the minimum amount of free space on the SSD must be equal to your computer memory. For example, if your computer has 4 GB of memory, then you should have at least 4 GB of free space on the SSD for Hibernate.

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