Check SSD alignment in Windows

Check SSD alignment in Windows

It’s important to check SSD alignment in Windows. If your SSD isn’t aligned, you reduce its performance and its life expectancy. Fortunately in many cases, your SSD will be properly aligned, but it only takes a minute to check.

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In defense of telework

I work from home one day a week. Most of my coworkers do as well.

So I was interested when I read about Yahoo! doing! away! with! telecommuting! (with apologies to The Register. I couldn’t resist.)
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Reduce your RAID failure rate

It’s not often that you end up talking about computer hardware at church. It’s especially not often that you end up talking about a RAID failure at church. But one such conversation got me thinking again about ways to reduce RAID failure rate.

This past Sunday, I talked with the executive director, who told me five of the drives in the 8-drive RAID array failed all at once. “That’s not supposed to happen,” he said.

It isn’t. But I know why it did.

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Yes, ramdisks still make sense, especially with memory so cheap

A former classmate and industry colleague dropped me a line a few weeks ago. He pointed out that memory is dirt cheap, and he bought 16 GB of RAM, just because it cost him around $100 to do, and was wondering what to do with it. A ramdisk, perhaps?

My search logs prove that ramdisks are the best-kept secret in the industry (virtually nobody knows or cares about them), but they’re still the best way to increase the longevity or life expectancy of an SSD and an outstanding way to pep up performance. A ramdisk is 80 times faster than a hard drive, 60 times faster than a RAID array, and 10-20 times faster than an SSD.
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Attack of the monster 4 TB hard drives

The Register reports that Seagate is offering a massive 4 TB hard drive for $250.

Seagate brags that the drive can store 2,000 high-definition movies, thus answering the question of what you need such a large drive for.

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A free SSD alignment tool

We’ve talked recently about the importance of aligning your partitions on your SSD or your RAID array. What if I told you you could align an SSD or RAID array for free? Here’s where to find a free SSD alignment tool–it’s just not normally billed as such.

Alignment helps performance, sometimes tremendously, and it also dramatically improves your SSD’s life expectancy. Newer versions of Windows automatically align their partitions, but only if you do a clean installation to an empty drive. Older versions of Windows created their partitions starting at sector 63, for tradition’s sake. Maybe moving off sector 63 made dual-booting with Windows 9x harder.

Two readers, Jim and Xrocode, suggested utilities to do the job. One costs $30 and seems fairly automatic. One is free and requires a small amount of work. Grab the freebie here. It’s a 274 MB download, so it doesn’t even take all that long.

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How to check SSD alignment

If you didn’t align your partitions when you upgraded to an SSD, there’s a pretty good chance you’re giving up performance and life expectancy. Here’s how to check SSD alignment.

But first, a bit of good news. If you created the partition with Vista or Windows 7, your partitions should be aligned. If you upgraded from XP and didn’t re-partition the drive in the process, then it probably isn’t.

Get ready for some command-line jockeying and some math. Read more

4 more questions about RAID

Longtime reader Jim ` asked me a few more worthwhile questions while I was procrastinating working on yesterday’s post about RAID. Let’s go to Q&A format. Read more

RAID 101

If you need an introductory course on RAID, here’s RAID 101 for you. Once exclusively used in corporate servers and by performance enthusiasts, the cost of hard drives and chipsets is so low now that RAID is showing up in consumer PCs. That’s good–as long as you set it up carefully. Read more

Computer won’t boot? Check your USB ports

A friend called me in panic. A brand-new computer, freshly reinstalled with Windows 7, suddenly wouldn’t boot.

I couldn’t figure it out. I looked up the manufacturer’s 800 number and suggested she call. Sure, I could fix the problem eventually, but the manufacturer would know the quirks of the motherboard they used better than I would. I’ve given up on trying to give anything but the most basic, superficial support of anything I don’t own myself–especially when it’s not sitting in front of me.

He had her change the boot order. For some reason the system was trying to boot off its RAID array before the SSD. That explained why the system took a couple of minutes to get through POST, then spend a few seconds booting. But that didn’t fix the problem. Read more