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I'm considering getting an SSD drive to use as the boot/programs drive. I know that the best way to use an SSD to get maximum lifetime is to utilize it for mostly reads. In that sense using it for the OS and programs makes perfect sense. What I'm curious about is everything else: what about media files, and programs that make an extensive use of cache?

While media files are generally read only data, when you use something like Windows Media Player to manage your media, playing a song does write to disc: it increments the play count. Should I worry about it contributing to wear, or is it negligible? What about programs like browsers that generate a lot of cache? Does that contribute in a major way to wear? Are there other use-cases that I should be aware of?

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We've made a blog post about Maximizing the lifetime of your SSD –  Tom Wijsman May 10 '11 at 15:06
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3 Answers

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Having media files on an SSD is mostly a waste of SSD space, since even a normal hard is fast enough to play them in real time.

None of the examples you've listed involve enough writes that I would worry about it. You safely write several gigabytes to a drive to on a daily basis and have the drive last decades, provided it is good drive of decent size.

If you are short on RAM and end up writing a lot the the page file, then that could be a problem. Or if you have some database that is constantly being bombarded by random writes, that could also be a problem.

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One thing that is recommended is to disable logging and caches (disable in Firefox etc). On linux you can also enable discard option to fstab, Windows should use it by default. Also on Windows find how to minimize swapping to the filesystem. In general minimize writes.

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Don't throw out your old platter HDD. Use it in conjunction with your SSD. The following strategies should help.

  • Install your operating systems on the SSD.
  • Install your applications on the SSD.
  • Put the pagefile and as much operating-system level writeable stuff on the HDD. I don't know how you set things like the event log location in Windows, but if it's possible, put it on the HDD.
  • Go into sysdm.cpl->Advanced->Environment Variables and set the TMP and TEMP environment variables to point to the HDD and not the SSD. Also go into Internet Options and do the same thing with the Temporary Internet Files folder locations.
  • Look into the preferences of all your programs and see if you can move temporary file locations or cache locations to the HDD. However, things you want to have super-high performance you might want to leave on the SSD.
  • Move your profile directories (containing Desktop, My Documents, etc.) to the HDD. I'm not exactly sure how to do this but this does involve registry editing.

I'm sure others can come up with other ideas.

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Put the pagefile and %TEMP% on the HDD? Why pay a fortune for an SSD if you're going to not use it like this? –  Daniel Beck Mar 26 '11 at 16:48
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Agreed. After thinking about it, perhaps the money is better spent on maxing out RAM, to a point where pagefiles and temporary directories become unnecessary. –  ultrasawblade Mar 27 '11 at 4:18
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@ultrasawblade The amount of RAM wouldn't affect temporary directory usage in most cases... (Page file, yes. Temp directory, no.) –  Bob Jun 22 '12 at 15:19
    
With newer SSDs, most of this isn't necessary anymore. A "consumer-grade" 256GB SSD (say, Samsung 840 Basic) can and should be used to store pretty much everything (with the exception of huge files, like videos, which are read sequentially anyway), and still offer ~10 years lifetime. Placing the pagefile and temp files to the SSD is the best thing to do to get a really responsive system. –  Groo Oct 30 '13 at 16:09
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