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The ultimate guide to proper SSD management

Chris Hoffman | March 26, 2014
From file management to housecleaning, these tips and tricks will help you get the most out of your supercharged storage.

Use the mklink command in a Command Prompt window to create a symbolic link. (Search for cmd.exe in Windows' Run tool to bring up the Command Prompt.) If you want to create a link outside your user folder, you'll need to open a Command Prompt window as Administrator. To move C:\Example to D:\Example, you'd move the C:\Example folder to D:\Example using Windows Explorer. Next, you'd run the following command: mklink /d C:\Example D:\Example

Arrange Windows system folders

Your main user data folders can be moved easily. To move your Videos folder from your main system drive, an SSD, to a mechanical hard drive, just locate the Videos folder — you'll find it in your user folder at C:\Users\NAME. Right-click it and select Properties, then open the Location tab and select a new location for it. The Videos folder will still appear at C:\Users\NAME\Videos and be part of your Videos library, but its contents will be stored on the other drive. This also works for your Music, Pictures, Documents, and Downloads folders.

You can also choose the drive in which Windows itself is installed — you'll want it on your SSD for lightning-fast system performance. If you're setting the PC up from scratch and installing Windows yourself, click the Custom option in the installer and choose your SSD as the destination. If you're getting an SSD later, you can move your Windows install to a new drive with a drive-cloning program, or just reinstall Windows (after backing everything up, of course).

Keep some space free

SSDs slow down as you fill them up because the drive will have a lot of partially filled blocks, which are slower to write to than empty blocks. It's tempting to fill up an SSD to the brim, but you should leave some free space on your SSD — plan on using a maximum of 75 percent of the drive's capacity for the best performance.

With space at a premium, you'll want to regularly free up space and avoid wasting those precious flash memory cells on junk. For example, NVIDIA's graphics driver updates leave an unnecessary folder under C:\NVIDIA after you install them. This folder contains the installer files, which you'll need only for reinstalling or repairing the driver. They take nearly 500MB of space that you could put to better use.

A tool like the free CCleaner can help tremendously, scanning your hard drive for unnecessary temporary files and deleting them for you. Meanwhile, WinDirStat is an ideal tool for figuring out where your storage space is going.

Reduce writes to your SSD?

It's true: SSDs only have a limited amount of writes before they start to fail. Yes, it sounds scary, but in practice, don't sweat it.


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