SOURCE: Bruce Boyers Marketing Services

March 03, 2009 07:21 ET

Preventing Flash Drive Performance Problems Before They Occur

BURBANK, CA--(Marketwire - March 3, 2009) - Preventing something negative from occurring is almost always better than having to cure it after the fact. A prime example is that of a smoke alarm; a fire can be detected before it has gone too far and a home is lost. Another example is the many gauges on a car. The fuel gauge keeps the driver advised so he or she doesn't run out of gasoline; the temperature gauge alerts the driver to overheating of the engine; the oil pressure light alerts to a drop in oil pressure that could lead to engine failure.

All of these are gauges and alerts; however the real preventative action must be taken by the homeowner or the driver. An even better measure is one that is put in place to prevent any problem from occurring in the first place.

In the computers world, a recent development has taken the brakes off of storage speed. That development is the flash drive, and is a "preventative measure" of a sort in itself. For decades transfer rates for storage have been painfully slow, many times slower than that of memory or CPU. Flash drives -- or solid state drives (SSDs) as they're also known -- are composed of solid state circuitry and therefore come much closer to memory and CPU speeds, preventing the need for the many caches and data buffers heretofore necessary to solve the speed differential.

Because of the function of the NTFS file system, however (NTFS is the file system utilized by all current Microsoft operating systems) there is a problem within flash drives themselves that must be consistently prevented to make the most out of these high-speed solutions.

NTFS is designed to save data onto hard drives, not solid state drives. As a result, as data is saved to solid state drives, free space is shattered into pieces. This phenomenon slows write performance dramatically and within a month can cause it to degrade by as much as 80 percent.

Additionally, solid state drives have a limited number of erase-write cycles. Because of this, anything that increases the number of erase-write cycles decreases the life of the drive. The breaking up of free space increases the number of erase-write cycles, shortening drive life in addition to hampering performance.

To ensure that solid state drives bring the performance they are designed to deliver, a solution must be employed that optimizes their free space. When this is done, write performance is brought back to a high-speed level and kept there, and once the solution has been in operation a short time, write-erase activity becomes substantially reduced. The life of the drive is lengthened and performance is maximized.

In the case of solid state drives, there is no cure "after the fact" except to get a new drive. The preventative measure of a free-space optimization utility will ensure that SSDs deliver full speed and reliability.

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