10 Things You Must Do When Running an SSD in Windows

Sanmsun NVMe SSD on a desk

Windows has many features that help solid-state drives (SSDs) operate to their full potential, but it doesn’t always enable them by default. Also, many of the “must-do” rules from the early days of SSDs aren’t necessary anymore. As you install a new drive into your Windows PC, these are our top recommendations on things you must do when running an SSD in Windows.

Tip: facing drive errors? Check your hard disk health in Windows.

1. Disable Fast Startup

Yes, this one may sound counterintuitive, given that fast startup was pretty much designed to make the boot process faster for systems with SSDs.

But at this point, the time gained from fast startup is negligible if you have an SSD, and disabling fast startup means your PC gets a nice clean full reboot each time you shut down.

There are various niche issues fast startup can cause, too. For example, if you dual-boot, you may not be able to access your Windows drive, as it could get locked. Disabling fast startup isn’t essential but could be useful.

To disable fast startup, go to Control Panel -> Power Options -> Choose what the power buttons do.

Windows settings power options power buttons

Next, click Change settings that are currently unavailable (if the fast startup box is greyed out), then uncheck the Turn on fast startup box.

Windows settings power options fast startup

Tip: has your Windows bot slowed to a crawl? Try these solutions to fix Windows slow boot times.

2. Update the SSD Firmware

To make sure your SSD is running as well as it can, it’s worth staying on top of the firmware updates for it. Unfortunately, these aren’t automated; the process is irreversible and a bit more complex than, say, a software update.

SSD firmware update

Each SSD manufacturer has its own method for SSD firmware upgrades, so you’ll need to go to the official website of your SSD manufacturer and follow the guides from there.

A handy tool to assist you, however, is CrystalDiskInfo, which displays in-depth information about your disk, including the firmware version.

3. Enable AHCI

The Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) is a paramount feature for ensuring that Windows supports all the features that come with running an SSD on your computer, especially the TRIM feature, which allows Windows to help the SSD perform its routine garbage collection.

The term “garbage collection” is used to describe the phenomenon that occurs when a drive gets rid of information that is no longer considered to be in use.

To enable AHCI, enter the BIOS of your computer, and find the appropriate setting. Each BIOS functions differently, so you’ll have to do a bit of hunting. Chances are that newer computers will have this enabled by default. It’s recommended that you enable this feature before installing the operating system, although you may be able to get away with enabling it later, too.

4. Enable TRIM

TRIM is vital to extending the lifespan of your SSD, namely by keeping it clean under the hood. Windows should enable this by default, but it’s worth double-checking.

To make sure TRIM is enabled, open a Command Prompt window, and execute the following command:fsutil behavior set disabledeletenotify 0

Ideally, you should see a notification that says “Disabled,” which (confusingly) means that TRIM is enabled, as shown below.

SSD enable TRIM command prompt

5. Check that System Restore Is Enabled

In the early days of SSDs, when they were much less durable than they are today, many people recommended turning off System Restore to improve the drive’s performance and longevity.

That advice has become redundant. System Restore is an extremely useful feature that we recommend keeping an eye on, so it’s worth going to your settings to confirm that your SSD hasn’t disabled it on the sly.

Click Start, type “restore,” then click Create a restore point.

System Restore Windows

Next, select your SSD, and click Configure. Ensure Turn on system protection is selected.

FYI: facing problems with System Restore? Learn how to fix System Restore not working on Windows.

6. Keep Windows Defrag ON

Another relic from the early days of SSDs, defragmenting, was not only unnecessary but potentially damaging to the SSD, as defragging chipped away at the number of read/write cycles left in the drive.

Windows Optimise Drives defragment

That’s kind of true, but Windows 10 and Windows 11 know this already, and if you have enabled scheduled defragmentation, Windows will identify your SSD and defragment it (as, contrary to popular belief, SSDs do get fragmented, albeit much less so).

It’s better to think of today’s defrag option in Windows as more of an all-around disk-health tool. (Even Windows now refers to the process as “optimization” rather than “defragmentation.”) The process will also “retrim” your SSD, which runs the lovely TRIM function we talked about earlier.

In other words, Windows defrag adapts to your SSD, so keep it on!

7. Configure Write Caching

On many SSDs, user-level write caching can have a detrimental effect on the drive. To figure this out, you’ll have to disable the option in Windows and see how the drive performs afterwards. If your drive performs worse, enable it again.

To reach the configuration window, right-click the Windows button, and select Device Manager. Expand Disk drives, right-click your SSD, and select Properties. In the Policies tab, check the box next to Enable write caching on the device. Benchmark your SSD with and without the option and compare the results.

SSD enable write caching

8. Set the “High Performance” Power Option

This should be a no-brainer. When your SSD powers on and off all the time, you’ll notice a slight lag whenever you use your computer after it has been idle for a while.

To configure your power options, open Control Panel from the Windows search bar, then navigate to System and Security -> Power Options. Select High Performance. You may need to click Show additional plans to find it.

Windows settings power options

On a Windows 11 laptop, you can also click the battery icon in your notification area, then click the battery icon in the window that pops up. Under Power, select Power mode -> Best performance.

Windows power settings best performance mode

Good to know: want to extend your laptop’s battery life? Enable Windows 11 efficiency mode.

9. Disable Indexing

By default, Windows indexes your drive data to make search faster whenever you’re looking for something. You can choose to disable indexing on your SSD if you don’t use the search function much.

To do this, open an Explorer window, right-click your Windows drive (usually C:), and click Properties. Uncheck the box next to Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties.

SSD disable indexing

10. Disable Pagefile for SSDs

Windows automatically manages the pagefile size for every drive, and uses the file to dump the least-used files whenever it starts running out of physical RAM. In cases where you have more RAM than you need, disable the pagefile on your SSD to release the occupied space.

Open a Run window by pressing Win + R. Type “System Properties Advanced,” and press Enter. Under the Advanced tab, click Settings in the Performance section.

Windows advanced system properties

Select the Advanced tab, and click Change in the Virtual memory section.

Windows virtual memory settings

Uncheck the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives, select your SSD, and select No paging file.

Disable paging file Windows

The best SSDs offer blazing-fast system performance, compared to conventional hard drives, whether you’re gaming or using creative applications. There are many things to consider when buying an SSD, but the most important are the interface (SATA, NVMe) and whether it’s a DRAM or DRAM-less SSD. Some of the fastest Gen4 and Gen5 SSDs can even speed up your loading times in games using DirectStorage.

Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots by Tanveer Singh.

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Tanveer Singh

After a 7-year corporate stint, Tanveer found his love for writing and tech too much to resist. An MBA in Marketing and the owner of a PC building business, he writes on PC hardware, technology, video games, and Windows. When not scouring the web for ideas, he can be found building PCs, watching anime, or playing Smash Karts on his RTX 3080 (sigh).

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