Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet

TRIM, and how it can save your computer's life.

You're excited, you just hot home from work/school and you see the box from UPS on your porch as you're approaching the door, you've been dreaming about it for so long, and you just want to get inside and install that SSD and get going through everything at blazing speed! But hold on! SSDs are very fragile software-wise, still, and you don't want to burn out a drive that you just paid a rather large chunk of money for out of not knowing the tricks to get it going properly!

Most Operating Systems nowadays (yes, even Linux and Open BSD!) have a little thing called TRIM which is essentially your drive's life support. It allows your drive to keep itself in order, deleting what it doesn't need, re-allocating space on the drive, and otherwise making the best use of idle clock cycles that it can. Without TRIM support, a 32 gig SSD can expect to see a drastic decrease in performance within a week, and 128 gig within a month. (Note: Only Windows 7 of the Windows OSes supports it currently)
Also, one should also use caution to NOT defragment the SSD (wait, did he just say to not defrag it?) yes I did, SSDs do not need to be defragmented, because they are not discs, and all data is immediately available for read (the reason you defragment in the first place is because the data on a HDD becomes scattered after deleting some files here and there, and the most efficient placement of the data is along the outside of the drive, so it moves it all back out there). This is actually bad for your SSD, not bad as in it'll explode, but it can reduce the lifetime of it by a decent amount.

So, let's get started then, do you have your OS install disc? Good. Got your coffee (or soda in most cases) and some patience? Also good whenever you're working with computers.

So, turn off your computer, and then boot it back up (don't restart, we're going into BIOS land). Right as you hit the power button, begin to tap del, or F2, or F12, it's different depending on your motherboard manufacturer, but the two most common are F2 and del. You should see a mostly blue screen with a lot of options, some of which you're wondering what the heck they mean. Just see if you can navigate to a page where it displays options for a SATA controller. Chances are it's set to AHCI as a default, but if it's not, you're gonna want to change it to that (to the people that use RAID from BIOS: you're gonna want to back that up, Windows will be taking that over for you) hit F10 to save and exit BIOS setup. Now you may begin to install your OS, but this is not about that, so I'm going to assume that you're doing that fine.

After you have installed your OS (If you're using Linux, then continue on down and read all of this before installing), and I'm going to assume that it's either Linux or Windows for the duration of this so, Windows first:
When you finally get into Windows, open command prompt with admin privileges (from the start menu, type cmd, then press ctrl+shift+enter) type this in exactly as it's written (without the quotes): "fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify" if CMD returns with saying "DisableDeleteNotify = 0" then TRIM is enabled, good job. If it returns with 0, then either your drive does not support TRIM, or you forgot to enable AHCI.

in Linux, as you're installing, use the Ext4 file format (you'll require version 2.6.33 or later, as it has no TRIM support before then). Now it's time for the wonders of the terminal: Having met the two requirements, all we need to do to enable TRIM is the following: First, we have to make a backup of the current /etc/fstab for disaster recovery purposes:

  1. sudo cp /etc/fstab /etc/fstab_bak-notrim
  2. Then we need to edit the /etc/fstab file:
    gksudo gedit /etc/fstab
  3. For every partition using Ext4 we add the word discard to the list of options. That is we prepend or append the word discard to the existing list of words separating it with comma without leaving space. We do not change anything else. So for example if we have only one partition mounted at root "/":
    UUID=[NUMS-AND-LETTERS] / ext4 errors=remount-ro 0 1we change the entry to:
    UUID=[NUMS-AND-LETTERS] / ext4 discard,errors=remount-ro 0 1
  4. Now save and exit from Gedit or Nano, or whatever you use
  5. Now, just reboot your computer
  6. In case of failure you can always use an Ubuntu Live CD or another form of live Linux media, mount the root partition of your SSD and revert the changes by raplacing [MOUNT-POINT]/etc/fstab with the backed up one -[MOUNT-POINT]/etc/fstab_bak-notrim.

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