SSD thrashing and RAMDrive

This is continuation of my previous post: disabling superfetch, prefetch and indexing

After installing SSD I was monitoring how Windows has been using the drive. One of the day I spent quite sometime watching videos over web and the data written to SSD increased by ~35GB. That day I effectively did nothing other than watching videos on youtube and pluralsight. With this in mind I set out to investigate what caused this un-neccessary writes to SSD. Crystal DiskInfo has been my companion in deciphering the SMART data reported.

Crystal DiskInfo can read the SMART information quite nicely, it is a bit easier to use as compared to OCZ’s toolbox. The stats of interest here are the Total Host Writes and Total NAND Writes. Host Writes is how much data OS has transferred to SSD to write and NAND writes represents how much controller wrote to SSD (there is compression at play here- I am not losing data :))

Crystal Disk Info SMART status
Crystal Disk Info SMART status

After monitoring the stats from DiskInfo, next I started the Resource Monitor. Some good information here about using Resource Monitor to your benefit. I started monitor the processes/services doing disk I/O

Resource Monitor Disk Usage Tab
Resource Monitor Disk Usage Tab

In the above image there is no chrome, as i have already fixed it. Firefox I have left alone and thus does read and write to SSD.

After filtering for chrome in process I could see it was writing a lot of stuff to cache. Chrome uses cache to temporarily save data for smoother playback and cookies and all sorts of wonderful stuff. But a lot of it is temporary and I would not prefer it doing tons of I/O on my SSD.  If you search online you will find many folks complaining about chrome thrashing the disk badly.

Now that I have only one disk in my modest laptop and don’t want chrome to thrash my SSD neither do I want to give up on the nice speed of SSD- and off course I still want to use chrome- it is a very nice browser. While I can’t do away with the chrome, I can configure where chrome puts it cache- all you need to do is to start chrome with flags: –disk-cache-dir=”r:\temp” –user-data-dir=”r:\temp”, we will get to r:\temp in a bit.

Now I need to find a place to cache data- but should be fast enough- what better place to put in RAM! Yes you can take a chunk of RAM and mount it as a disk. There are several ways to get your ramdisk going:

  • tweak the Microsoft Driver to suit your needs
  • Pay for one of the softwares
  • Use IMDisk- it is a RAMDisk driver but free- I will be using this one
  • I have installed the software and created a RAMDisk with Drive name R of 512MB and this is good enough for use. Have been using google chrome with cache dirs set to R:\temp and it hasn’t touched my SSD since then.