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My conventional hard drive is clicking (second time this year I've killed the drive), so I just bought a SSD to benefit from the lack of moving parts. However, I am deathly afraid of using this as the only drive in my laptop running Windows 7, because the swap file is going to kill the flash with the way I use my computer (seriously heavy memory access).

There are no other drive slots available to my computer, although I do have an esata port. I was thinking about getting an external conventional hard drive to use for the swap file, but I don't want to lug this around with me all the time, and it would pretty-much nullify any benefits of the SSD's lower power consumption. Furthermore, I spent so much on the SSD that I don't have much to spend on another external drive.

I have also thought about using a USB thumb drive for the swap file, but the fastest thumb drive I came across is the Patriot xPorter. I'm not sure if that's what I will go with in the end, but it makes me want to barf thinking about it.

What would you do if you were in my situation?

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Don't forget that USB drives use flash memory too and will eventually die. It will also be very difficult to make windows use removable drive for swap! –  AndrejaKo Mar 26 '11 at 8:34
    
True, but they are extremely cheap. I am already planning to get one just to test out ReadyBoost, but I'm not sure that will have much benefit to an ssd system. –  TurtleToes Mar 26 '11 at 8:56
    
It won't. ReadyBoost is disabled on SSD systems. Also, cheap drives will have a major negative impact on performance, if you put the page drive on them. –  AndrejaKo Mar 26 '11 at 8:58
    
Buy a ridiculous amount of RAM to go with it, to minimize swapping? –  realworldcoder Mar 26 '11 at 13:32
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up vote 13 down vote accepted

Windows 7 is heavily optimised to make full use of both the advantages and disadvantages of SSDs. There's a blog post from the Windows 7 engineering team about it: Support and Q&A for Solid-State Drives

Windows 7 will continue to use the swap file on the SSD, but this is fine as the usage pattern is very good for SSDs, the number of reads will generally far outweigh the number of writes and both are in a pattern that leverage the SSDs strengths well. Wear levelling will also lengthen the time before failure.

Windows 7 will automatically disable pointless operations like defragmentation on the drive for you as well, saving precious writes to the drive.

How much memory do you have installed in the system at the moment? If it is less than 2GB then I would look at that as your next upgrade if you are using memory as heavily as you claim, if you have 2-4GB or more then I would just let Windows do its thing and get on with using it as you would any other drive.

Hard drives fail sooner or later too, and I would be surprised if you kill an SSD in a shorter time than it takes the average spinning platter drive to die.

To address your key concern, a quote from the page I linked:

Should the pagefile be placed on SSDs?

Yes. Most pagefile operations are small random reads or larger sequential writes, both of which are types of operations that SSDs handle well.

In looking at telemetry data from thousands of traces and focusing on pagefile reads and writes, we find that

  • Pagefile.sys reads outnumber pagefile.sys writes by about 40 to 1,
  • Pagefile.sys read sizes are typically quite small, with 67% less than or equal to 4 KB, and 88% less than 16 KB.
  • Pagefile.sys writes are relatively large, with 62% greater than or equal to 128 KB and 45% being exactly 1 MB in size.

In fact, given typical pagefile reference patterns and the favorable performance characteristics SSDs have on those patterns, there are few files better than the pagefile to place on an SSD.

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I have 4 gigabytes, running x64 windows 7. I do a lot of graphics editing and video conversion, and i have massive amounts of development libraries, help references, image libraries, and constantly downloading, editing code projects, etc... –  TurtleToes Mar 26 '11 at 8:38
    
From that I would assume that you got a reasonably large SSD, and if you really do have heavy usage patterns as you say then the main thing you can do is to keep a reasonable percentage of the drive free so that the wear levelling logic on the drives controller can do the job properly. –  Mokubai Mar 26 '11 at 8:48
    
I am currently trying to figure out how to trim my Windows 7 core size down to minimal. The OEM installer is a complete backup and contains too much garbage; so I am making a new backup –  TurtleToes Mar 26 '11 at 8:50
    
The main idea behind wear levelling is that you can either have a large amount of static data (and write as little to the drive as possible) or have a large amount of dynamic data (or empty space) so the wear leveller can keep everything nice and smooth. It's all about tradeoffs and how you use the drive to be honest, for now though I'd just enjoy the speed. –  Mokubai Mar 26 '11 at 9:01
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As you are running Windows 7 you can use the Resource Monitor that is built in to check your disk usage pattern as you can see the amount a program is reading/writing to disk, there's a video about it at technet.microsoft.com/en-us/edge/Video/ff710685 , though as to watching pagefile usage addictivetips.com/windows-tips/… looks like a nice tool. –  Mokubai Mar 26 '11 at 9:28
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