The issue of TRIM Support and whether your SSD or operating system support it, and how much do you really need it for a better performance of your solid state hard drive, and before all that, what TRIM Support is and how it works, all these queries are answered in the below article.
Now that SSD hard drives are becoming an affordable replacement for traditional hard disk drives, certain terms are being used quite often. One of them is “TRIM support.” To understand what “TRIM support” is, you first need to understand how solid state hard drives work.
Understanding How SSDs Deal With Data:
SSDs use NAND flash memory to store and transfer information. This flash memory is created up of small “pages” and groups of pages are called “blocks.” When you tell your computer to delete a page on the solid state hard drive the page isn’t actually deleted – it is merely marked for deletion. This is because data can only be deleted in blocks. You cannot delete individual pages on an SSD.
Later on, when you tell your computer that you need the space, the pages marked for deletion are grouped into a block and the whole block is wiped clean. This process slows down the solid state hard drive when it is writing.
Let us explain in a different way.
Imagine, if you will, that you have a stack of blank papers on your desk at work. Each workday you keep the papers with important information on them, but get rid of the unnecessary papers, like the one you doodled on during a boring meeting, by putting them in the “To Be Recycled” tray on your desk. It’s not worth going all the way down to the recycling center for a few sheets of paper, so you wait until you have a stack that is worth the travel time.
Eventually, you run out of blank paper. Since you have a project due that day, it is now time to use the paper from the “To Be Recycled” tray. You take out your eraser and get to work. Erasing takes a lot of effort, so you decide to only clean up a portion of the stack to tide you over for a while. Eventually you will run out of paper again and you’ll have to erase another portion, but you plan on crossing that bridge when you come to it.
That is why solid state hard drives slow down while writing after prolonged use, and the longer you use an SSD, the more likely it becomes that you see degradation in performance, even if the device isn’t filled with data. When the performance of conventional hard drive deteriorates it’s usually sufficient to defrag, because in this case it is beneficial to have all data stored in sequence or in the same physical location on the hard drive so that the head doesn’t have to move back and forth when reading or writing to the disk.
With an SSD the complete opposite applies – it is better to have the data spread out across different locations so that the data can be read in parallel. This is essential to get the best possible performance from the drive.
In addition, an SSD does not like to overwrite or physically delete data. Such instructions consume performance and also shorten the life span of the drive.
They have instead to clean the files marked for deletion by flagging them as “available” before they can be written on, and erasing takes time. This can cause serious delays, depending on how much data you’re trying to save and how much needs to be deleted.
However, when there are no vacant blocks that can be used for new files you run into another issue. While it is possible to read and write to NAND flash in 4KB pieces you can only delete an entire block of 512KB. In other words, if you want to overwrite a 6KB previously deleted file with another 6KB file, the drive has to start by loading the entire 512KB block. Then it rewrites it by replacing the deleted file with the new one and finally writes the entire block back to the drive.
TRIM Is There To Fix It
Luckily, TRIM alleviates this problem and is supported on many of the SSDs and operating systems made today.
A TRIM command enables your operating system to find the marked pages before you need them and wipe them clean. Cleaning these data pages beforehand saves you time when you need to write on the data pages again. It’s like you have your own recycling guy next to your desk, recycling the pieces of paper as they come.
In order to work correctly, TRIM has to be supported by both the solid state hard drive and the operating system you are using. When both the OS and the SSD support TRIM individual pages can be cleaned and your solid state hard drive will be informed that the pages are now blank and can be written on. This kind of cleaning and communication is essential to keep your drive performing to the best of its abilities.
SSDs such as the OCZ Vertex 4 and Crucial M4
The following video may help you understand the issue of TRIM:
What If Your OS Does Not Support TRIM?
Now, after getting to know better about TRIM, you might hesitate to go for an SSD because you are using an operating system that does not support it (such as Windows XP and Vista), and finding a suitable SSD that best fits into their XP operating system without suffering from the lack of TRIM support can be a challenge.
But hey, worry not. TRIM support is no more a worry with some of the newest high-end SSDs, such as Intel’s latest SSD products that come with special software that fulfill/simulate the functionality of TRIM in the operating systems that do not support it. So if you are interested to buy an SSD for your Windows XP computer, we cannot recommend better than Intel 330 series SSD, as it makes a good compromise between capacity, price, and performance.
The Intel SSD Toolbox was created to maintain Intel’s SSDs and take them to the top level of performance and reliability. It would send TRIM commands to their SSDs when that function is invoked from the Toolbox. The Toolbox does not “turn on” or activate TRIM within an OS, an OS is either TRIM capable or it isn’t, and Windows XP is not, and there where this toolbox is needed.
In other words, XP does not support TRIM but the Toolbox’s feature replicates the functionality of cleaning the SSD.
Watch the video below to get an overview of the Intel SSD Toolbox: