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back to article Kingston SSD Now V 40GB boot drive

We are deeply impressed by solid-state drive technology and would love to recommend that you ditch your hard drive immediately. However, there are a few obstacles. You can buy a 2TB hard drive for £135 but have to fork out £195 for an 80GB Intel SSD, up to £300 for a 128GB SSD and £500 for a 256GB SSD. Kingston SSD Now V 40GB …

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5 minutes to boot XP?

If your XP box is taking five minutes to start up, you don't need an SSD, you need a Windows re-install. You must have some serious cruft installed. Even with a 3 year old installation of XP on a bog-standard SATA hard drive, I get a start-up time in the region of 1:30. I wonder if that means it'll boot in 20 seconds when I get around to buying an SSD?

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Flame

I see a problem

Windows will still put "Documents and Settings" crap on C.

Programs written my morons will still put crap in "Documents and Settings" on C.

This is a *very* good idea for Linux boxes that have proper hadling of user prefs and whilst it may help lardy Windows units, they won't be able to extract maximum performance.

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Go

Nice review

First SSD which seems good for the price.

My only concern is, do you still allow the paging file to run on the SSD? I'm not fairly knowledgable on this, but I've always been told, for the smaller 1gb/2gb flash sticks that the limited writes are used up fast.

Is this the case for normal SSDs like this et al?

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good stuff

Already have one on my Windows 7 system. Boots up in under a minute to the desktop. All my massive games are installed to my raided mechanical drives. Often I can hear them power down, which indicates how often I use them!

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Haleluya...

Finally, a drive for us commoners...

I will buy that straight away if they drop the capacity down to 20-30G (if possible with an IDE interface). I need at least 3-4 replacement drives for my PCs and laptops at the moment and if this goes just a bit down in price (with capacity still above 10G) it will perfectly fit the bill. I have 5TB+ on the house servers so the only reason I need a local drive in a workstation is speed and working hybernation (unfortunately hybernation and diskless do not mix). I tried the low-end FDMs and they s*** really really bad so having a proper flash drive option is definitely a welcome addition to my Xmas shopping list.

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These things are great...

I stuck a Corsair x64 SSD in my media centre as the boot drive. It used to take 1 min 50 from cold until I could watch live TV, it is now 40 seconds.

Also, it just feels much snappier. Once the desktop appears, I can click the firefox icon and firefox will appear - it used to fanny about for ages after showing the desktop.

Just waiting for the 256 GB ones to become cheap enough to stuff one in my laptop.

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More Tips

Having the luxury of a 256Gb SSD, then I can heartily recommend it. Certainly putting in a system disk partition onto an SSD is a great way to do it, and it's always good practice to put data areas into separate partitions or disks.

However, there is always that problem that such space is expensive and it's often awkward to work outside of the standard subdirectory structure when making optimal placement of data. In addition, besides the system space, there are some data areas that can be usefuly placed on SSD.

One way to make this easier is to make use of a facility of NTFS that hardly anybody uses. That's the ability to mount a file system into the directory structure of an NTFS file system (and with Windows 7 you can do it with symbolic links as well).

I always create a separate partition for MyDocs (good practice in any event to keep that separate from the system disk). It's then easy to create folders for things like video files (which you can mount at MyVideos or in a sub-folder) and then get a largely transparent access to a unified directory system. Other bulky directories of large files read mostly sequentialy (like music or photographic) work well enough on HDD.

I suspect it's possible to do the same on programs installed onto the system partition - it may be that some large programmes will work perfectly well with their executables installed into a sub-folder than happens to be an HDD partition. That approach may not be practicable using if it involves creating a new partition for each application, but as Windows 7 supports symbolic links then this could be an excellent way of doing that.

Oh yes - and if somebody knows of a laptop into which I can install two 2.5" drives, then I'd be grateful, as I'm quite keen on the idea of using a hybrid SSD/HDD setup without having to drag around an external drive.

Finally, what is really required is a file system that can map across both SSD & HDD partitions and place files according to appropriate access patterns.

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Wrong packaging?

They could make installation far quicker and easier AND save some cost on packaging, if they re-engineered this SSD as a PCI card . (The bus connection would be for power supply only. Data via SATA. Alternatively leave the SATA power connector alone and make the bus "connection" mechanical only)

Of course they'd still need to sell the disk-like variant for notebook systems.

I wonder which is the best mid-life kicker for 1Gb RAM XP systems with older (slow-ish) 40Gb and 80Gb HDDs - this drive, or upgrade the RAM to 3Gb? "Reg", it would be nice for all of us if you benchmarked this. The SSD has the advantage of being able to outlive the system you upgrade with it.

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@TheBigYin / I See a Problem

To change the location of the magical "My Documents" do the following:

Right click on "My Documents"

Click the "Location" tab

Change the C:\ prefix to the drive letter of your choice

Developers don't hardcode to paths unless they're a 14 year old script kiddie. Main because a lot of enterprises redirect Documents to a UNC path for backup reasons. Also, Vista and Windows 7 use C:\Users\ rather than C:\Documents and Settings\ - it's reasons like this that some custom / in-house apps don't work in Vista (or 7) - the developer was a dick and didn't readup on how to develop...!

Instead you use enviromental variables (%appdata% is often used for a read/write area for an individual user for example - type %appdata% into your run box and have a nose about)

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Hmm...

I can see the potential here but I think your pocket guide lacks a little.

First, your average home install will quickly break the 40Gb limit, if you have even a small number of games installed, so a note to move all the large installations (games mainly) to another HDD would help. Second, the device will also be used as swap space so you want to take measures to ensure it doesn't get full. I'd propose using two partitions on the drive at 8Gb and 32Gb - the 32Gb partition for your core Windows installation, and the smaller partition just for the swap file (at 4x physical memory). Install all your program files to a separate traditional HDD; selectively install software onto the SDD C drive only if you need super-fast access.

For even more blinding speed, why not two SSDs, one dedicated to the OS and the other to the swap file. Might even have a play with that configuration if prices come down enough...

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@Jason D

For larger SS drives you're talking write-endurance of 50-80 years - so all things being equal your SSD should outlive you, never mind your PC :)

(source http://www.storagesearch.com/ssdmyths-endurance.html)

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@Steven Jones

"what is really required is a file system that can map across both SSD & HDD partitions and place files according to appropriate access patterns."

I think it won't be long now before we start seeing disk migration utilities that act something like meta-defragmenters. They'll do exactly what you describe: examine your access patterns and migrate frequently-accessed files to the SSD, others to HDD, and possibly even create burn groups so you can archive unused files to DVD.

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Re: More Tips

"Oh yes - and if somebody knows of a laptop into which I can install two 2.5" drives, then I'd be grateful, as I'm quite keen on the idea of using a hybrid SSD/HDD setup without having to drag around an external drive."

Pretty much every proper (not a small ones) IBM/Lenovo can do this, if you sacrifice Optical Media bay. You will need to buy a caddy that fits there (eBay around 15-25 quid) and put drive inside.

Tried it before - interesting option, although I used it in RAID not with SSD.

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Anonymous Coward

@ boot time fanatics

...or you could just install linux, boot from your exisiting hardware in less than 30 seconds, and solve 90% of all security issues in one move. It will cost you zero pounds. It may cost you some temporary slowdown in productivity as you learn how real computers work; but will ultimately make you understand more about computing and give you a real sense of achievement.

You can then write smug comments on forums and shake your head at the gadget fanatics that have more money then sense.

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(Written by Reg staff)

@debaser

"You can then write smug comments on forums..."

As opposed to writing smug comments on El Reg's BB, eh?

Seriously, to say any machine other than some OLPC-style 'for the kids' job isn't a "real computer" is just plain daft. Aren't Reg readers bigger than all this 'my dad's bigger than your dad' BS?

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64gig A Better Option?

> the write speed is very low as you can see when you compare the 40GB drive with other members of the Kingston SSDNow V series

With the 64gig SSDNow V at £100 (ie, £1.56 per gig vs £1.75 for the 40gig) wouldn't this make the 64gig a much better bet?

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Do it

I have moved over to this, because my old machine was struggling with windows7. It had made a massive difference to speed, and the cloning software is excellent. I just wish Kingston would release a firmware with trim support. My drive isn't very full, and not used that much for music and movies, but at sometime, I may start to get that slowdown that you get from not having trim support and having to wait for erases when writing to disk.

Kingston emailed me back yesterday to say:

Kingston is working on implementing TRIMM supporting features into our SSD. However it is not decided yet as to when will it happen and what form this will have.

Please follow our website for most up to date information.

I am living in hope of a firmware upgrade, but this doesn't inspire me with more confidence.

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@ Steve Jones

Some Lenovo laptops can take a SATA drive bay which replaces the DVD drive:

http://www5.pc.ibm.com/cr/products.nsf/$wwwPartnumLookup/_40Y8725?open&OpenDocument&epi=web_express

I hardly use my DVD writer now so I am considering this swap now. This cheaper SSD might just push me over the edge.

Bob

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Brilliant for SMB business machines

I would wager that not a single one of our work laptops (bar mine) comes close to having 40GB of kit on it. These would be a great replacement to crappy old 5400rpm HDDs at not a massive cost. If any laptops suffer a HDD failure now I will be recommending one of these as a replacement.

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Missed a bit

I meant to finish that last comment with "especially as half of them are running Vista for some reason."

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looks good for macbook pro use as well

My 13" pro is already pretty silent and rather fast but even faster for £70 would be really good. 40Gb is perfectly big enough for a Snow Leopard install and even a bunch of useful applications and data.

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Been doing this for some time already

I am not worried about swap wearing out my SSD. My swap partition is on sda2, so the following incantation tells me how many sectors have been written to swap space:

awk '{print $7}' /sys/block/sda/sda2/stat

It has been 7 days since the last power cut, and 0 sectors have been written to swap. (Anyone know the equivalent command for windows?). If swap space ever gets used regularly I will buy more RAM. Even if I do not, modern SSD's are so big that there are plenty of sectors for the wear levelling algorithm to work with. It will be a very long time before most of the sectors approach their limit.

I upgraded my desktop to silent (PVR disk is a 2.5", so I do not have to worry about spin up / spin down cycles wearing it out). The temperature controlled fan has never spun fast. The laptop is more of a problem. When the fan spins fast it downs out passing aeroplanes. I am looking forward to a replacement with an ARM or MIPS CPU and a Pixel Qi LCD panel.

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Huh

"Already have one on my Windows 7 system. Boots up in under a minute to the desktop."

Pretty shoddy seeing as my old Latitude D800 running Windows 7 boots in 45 seconds with a 5400rpm Samsung drive

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Gaming on SSD

I have my windows install on a normal SATA srive, my swap file on the SSD and I installed my fav games on the SSD.

Who cares about initial boot time? get a coffee while it does, but Crysis and L4D load times are so so fast, and having the swap file (i think) speeds up the general running on windows too.

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Bob H

Works perfectly in my really really old X60s so looks good for old Lenovos, even those with only sata150 like mine.

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Grenade

@ Tony Smith

Caught and landed.

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Anonymous Coward

Crucial SSDs have great performance too

My eee 1000h boots from cold into Windows XP Home in 10 seconds flat using a 64gb SSD from crucial for 110 quid. It's much faster than the Kingston one by the looks of it. Recommended.

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Linux

Very tempting

Considering my current linux setup has 5 (yes five) oses on the 40gb boot drive with space to spare, this looks like the ideal upgrade.

No bloatware here thank you very much!

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Jobs Halo

FPS

"...gives you the benefit of rapid start up, very low operating noise and a PC that is amazingly responsive."

Any Apple Mac from the past 5 years will do that too.

Putting a faster hard drive in a PC to make it go faster is not the correct answer. It's Windows and the mandatory CPU Gobbling anti-malware that makes your PC go slow.

Buy a mac.

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Boffin

@Tony Smith

Excellent riposte to debaser, except for the following:

"Seriously, to say any machine other than some OLPC-style 'for the kids' job isn't a "real computer" is just plain daft."

If you seriously believe that the only incarnations of Linux are "OLPC-style 'for the kids' jobs", you really need a Linux refresher.

My dad's is exactly the same size as your dad's.

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FAIL

Still too pricey

Me, I just spent £155 on 4x250GB SATA's in a RAID0 setup. Winters coming so the extra heat will help keep the gas bill down, they don't seem any louder than having the previous 1 SATA, and I now have 500MB/s (well OK 493MB/s) sequential read speed with 1TB of storage.

Fail, because that's what I'm waiting for one of my disks to do. :D

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Happy

Opportunity?

Surely some bright spark can slap together a small SSD and a big hard drive into the standard 2.5 notebook and 3.5 desktop packages with one connector, and then let the software work out where to put stuff?

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better still..

why have the larger traditional hard drive in the case at all?

40gb is MORE than enough to fit an OS in (!) and plenty of apps that really MUST have that kind of access time (i'm thinking primarily games here), whilst EVERYTHING else can go on the external HD?

why have a hard drive sitting there spinning away, containing your movies and stuff on that you rarely if ever, play? minute after minute, hour after hour?

i'm just about to do just that, get a 34nm X25M and use my 5400 "green" ext 1TB Hd for the rest!

cheers,

bill

eupeople.net

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Go

for most people a simple windows re-install would help!

just 'overlay' ("upgrade") a copy of windows into ur existing box..

a fresh windows install runs ridiculously faster than an old (1 year+) install!

trust me, it works a treat and only costs you some time..

with an 'overlay', rather than a completely new install, all of your existing apps and settings will be there, don't panic!

it *may* not be possible if you've already gone to SP3 and you only got SP2 discs (i have seen some SP3 discs around), in which case, it's a new install for you, but that's not the end of the world and it's possible that a totally new install will run faster than an "upgraded" one..

cheers,

bill

eupeople net

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64Gb version already in use

Had it for a few months now, some tweaking regards redirecting file locations and turning off indexing and keeping the number of machine initiated writes to a minimum is required. I use it as the boot drive on my HTPC which has mechanical drives for video/audio storage. The SSD gives the front end (WMC or MediaPortal) a much snappier feel and keeps the boot to the W7 powered HTPC frontend to about 30 seconds from a cold start. Overall I would recommend it, got mine for $109 from Newegg a while back and worth every red cent.

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With mklink tiny drives are no issue.

I recently did something very similar for my Win7 install, easiest way I found was with the mklink command with junction points.

There's many many more guides out there that explain what it does, but the way I look at is as a NTFS level shortcut.

Example: mklink /j C:\Users D:\Users

I copied all of C:\Users to D:\Users before hand... I'd recommend using robocopy (robust copy) instead of xcopy.

My actual drive was H: and haven't had any problems.. I've used mklink to move almost everything off C:\

Hope this helps. If only I could read this from last month.

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Coat

@Tony Smith, @Steven Jones

@Tony Smith

you must be new around here...

@Steven Jones

"Finally, what is really required is a file system that can map across both SSD & HDD partitions and place files according to appropriate access patterns."

This exsists, we call it "ZFS" (see the feature "L2ARC"). Frankly, if I where Ballmer I'd have (a lot of) someone(s) porting it. There is nothing in the CDDL which would prevent MS from using it.

Mine's the one that says "SMI" on the back...

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Happy

@Random Coolzip

Random Coolzip:

"I think it won't be long now before we start seeing disk migration utilities that act something like meta-defragmenters. They'll do exactly what you describe: examine your access patterns and migrate frequently-accessed files to the SSD, others to HDD, and possibly even create burn groups so you can archive unused files to DVD."

It'll be sooner than you think since my Netware 4.1 could do it back in the 90's, automatically migrating data back and forth between HD and optical. Go pick up a copy on eBay for pocket change. Or wait until some startup reinvents the concept and sells it for $50K.

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How does this compare to the indilinx?

Wow, a cheap intel eh? How does this compare to the indilinx? They were about the cheapest bang for buck drives around last month when I last got an SSD.

Might have done better to compare an indilinx with this new intel, price and performance wise, and of course the winchester.

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Dual drive laptop

@Steven, the Inspiron 1720 has space for 2 drives:

http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/ins1721/en/sm/hdd.htm#wp1180014

But it doesn't come with a second bracket.

@Flocke Kroes

To hibernate a linux laptop you'd need swap space equal to or greater than the physical RAM. That wouldn't really be hit heavily by writes, though, so fair point.

sgb

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@The Original Steve

Very good. You have moved "My Documents".; now what about everything else, hmm? That is my point.

Almost all software I have encountered insists on installed some crap to c: (where "Application Data" etc live).

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Stop

What on earth?

Under a minute is good? Since when?!

I stuck a SSD in to my Dell laptop and with a fresh install of Karmic Koala I'm getting 11 second bootup times.

Thats including several seconds for the Dell BIOS.

5 Minute boot ups? 1 Minute bootups with a SSD? What the hell?

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@Tony Smith

"Aren't Reg readers bigger than all this 'my dad's bigger than your dad' BS?"

Say what? Of course not. The "my dad's bigger/my OS shits on yours" taunt is the reason for most geeks' existence. It's like a metaphorical kicking of sand in the face whilst puffing the chest.

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@Tony Smith

Any chance of an icon with a large bloke and a weedy little bloke on it? Maybe sand being kicked etc for the old OS flame-bait wars?

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5 Mintes to boot up?!

I have 4 year old Windows Server 2003 boxes which would do a complete restart in less time, you PC must have more junk than a landfill site, CLEAN YOU HDD Dude, format, reinstall and manage it properly, if you know enough to write this article you should know enough to keep your mahcine running to some kind of exceptable performance!

As for SSD, I want one desperately however the price is too much and the performance is far to hit and miss between models.

I think I'll wait another year or so, anyway my WD Raptor allows Windows 7 to boot in a matter of seconds with all my junk installed so is there really a need for it, not here thats for sure, still I want one. :P

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Sounds great but

Is there a product where I can plug-in a bunch of microSD cards and read it off a SATA/PATA interface

As each month rolls by you could buy another set of cards and shove them into the spare slots, each time the RAID like Droboness would re-jigg everything to accommodate the extra space

The next iterations of NTFS should really try for that usage migration trick some have suggested, put a layer of cloud on the end where it shoves FREQUENTLY changed USER GENERATED content (docs, excel files etc) up into the cloud for off-site backup ; hey charge a fee based on usage you got yourself a revenue stream whilst providing actual real added value, in fact in this case small SSD's would generate more revenue than larger ones..? So M$ could justify subsidising the low end...?

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if only

it had a hardware write protect switch i would buy it in an instant.

Install windows , move documents and settings to the mecha drive (D).

install programs to mecha drive. Once machine is config'd with the programs i use daily flick the switch.

Then let all the crap out there try to infect the installation... it won't work.

Guaranteed clean boot every time.

Or : here is a different aproach : one 'golden' install on write protected flash. Option to 'nuke' the working flash disk from the golden install. Should be possible using a tool like norton ghost.

I always wondered why nobody implements such an approach.

It would require splitting the registry in 2 pieces that are logically glued together. The info pertaining to OS happyness would live in write protected flash. Application and user settigns reside on the second block on mecha drive.

Before you install new software or do system maintenance you need to clean boot : boot from flash without loading any 'addon' data from mecha drive. Userneeds to press a button on the computer to allow flash to unlock and enter 'root' mode'. Only the package installer (from flash) can run at this point. After install/maintenance is done the flash gets sealed again.

this is a simple flipflop in the drive. holding the data low during hard reset ( user button ) the flipflop clocks in a zero and unlocks the flash. other wise it clocks in a '1' and protects flash.

Leaving root mode does not require a reset. software can set flipflop to 1. ( software cannot clear flipflop. the bit would be set-only. it takes a hardware button to clear. that button only works for a boot operation)

That way you would always enter 'root mode' from a known clean system.

Any potential infections would live in 'userspace'. booting in 'root; mode does not load anything from userspace.

You could even nuke userspace addons by simply erasing the extended registry.

that way you can install a program first to userspace , play with it for a while. once you decide it's safe and a 'keeper' : Cleanboot and reinstall to flash space then switch back to userspace.

If a program messes up, behaves badly or turns out to contain a 'nasty' : cleanboot and nuke the extented registry.... byebye nasty.

You could even have aprtitioned flash drives. partiton 1 is cleanboot capable. Partition 2 is 'userland'

Since NTFS (or any modern file system) has mounting points it should be fairly easy to implemnt such a system. for windows : the run registry is the cleanboot registry + userland registry. Userland registry can override cleanboot registry. So you can override settings from userland. But you still retain the possibility to 'nuke' the userland portion ( erase it ) so on the next boot you have a clean registry again.

( when i talk about registry i also mean : config , autorun and other stuff )

This would not interfere daily stuff like downloading trialware, doing a quick install pay with it for a couple of days and then decide what you want to do. if it ends up being not what you wanted : cleanboot , nuke the registry , delete the directory where the thingie was installed and you are rid of it for good. If its a keeper : cleanboot and run the installer again.

it also would force the user to physically push a button to 'open up' the computer for maintenance. also software cannot bypass this. it is governed by hardware ( a simple fliplfop in the drive and a pushbutton on the case. ) a memory location allows reading of the fliplfop and setting it to '1'

( for the record : i have such a mechanism as described above in many of my embedded systems. To enter firmware update you need to force a button on the box. The system boots from a known good config , updates from the package file, then re-seals the flash Rom. you can try all you want to reflash or corrupt the flash. it will not work since you can't write to it. if the system crashes due to user installs : cleanboot , nuke userland and go.

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Reinstalling Windows

I'm well aware that my used-to-be-hard-drive-but-now SSD is full of software but it DOES NOT load endless crap at start-up. The app that takes a chunk of time is Sophos ani-virus but I don't have parental controls, toolbars and media players running at start-up, honestly I don't.

I run Windows XP SP3 and have discs for SP1 and SP2. I could have built a slipstream install and risked overlaying a new Windows installation on top of the existing installation but who needs the aggro?

For that matter I could have cloned my old Samsung SP2504C hard drive to a new hard drive and no doubt that would have helped performance but instead I jumped to SSD. The reduced time at start-up is amazing and at the very least shows that the hard drive is thrashed mercilessly.

By simply cloning my hard drive I have made life better with zero risk to my data or PC and it was a beautifully quick and simple installation. I had to reactivate both Windows XP and Office 2003 but that was the extent of the hassle.

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@The BigYin

I thought I covered the issue of big apps installed onto the C drive. Create a folder on the SSD into which you mount an HDD partition (NTFS only of course). Then get the application to install into a sub-folder in tha mount (even if apps insiste on mounting onto the C drive then they will normally allow you to specify an alternative folder). Even if that isn't possible, then you can always generate a folder at the apps chosen installation point and mount an HDD partition at that point (a bit messy as you require an HDD partition for each app installed this way - with Windows 7 you can do this with symbolic links).

Note that I'd only propose that for apps don't do a lot of small I/Os into their installation folder.

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Anonymous Coward

Wear Levelling

A few reports on wear levelling would be welcome.

Wear levelling always creates a little niggle in the decision to go SSD for anything critical.

The drive makers need to be more open about it, and track that as something to keep people aware of as it changes.

If SSDs are vulnerable to a sustained boot sector rewrite attack, it would be nice to know, as most are looking to use SSDs as the boot drive.

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