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dj-access

Maximize the life and efficiency of windows XP on my Kingston 120GB A400 SSD

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Hello,
I have a desktop computer running Windows XP 64, Dell Studio 540, 6 GB of RAM, intel cor 2quad… It was on a 1 TB mechanical disk, however, I bought myself a Kingston 120GB A400 SSD for the make it faster. Are there manipulations to be done before and after installing the system to keep the SSD fast? I saw that there was a special partitioning method that had to be done by installing Windows 7 before xp, I did not understand much about it I must say. In addition, how is the tream managed? I know that some software can do it manually or with a task scheduler, how I do with this ssd ... I would like, if possible, that it can last me a few years with this installation without becoming excessively slow.
Thank you in advance for all your valuable advice!

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1 hour ago, dj-access said:

Hello,
I have a desktop computer running Windows XP 64, Dell Studio 540, 6 GB of RAM, intel cor 2quad… It was on a 1 TB mechanical disk, however, I bought myself a Kingston 120GB A400 SSD for the make it faster. Are there manipulations to be done before and after installing the system to keep the SSD fast? I saw that there was a special partitioning method that had to be done by installing Windows 7 before xp, I did not understand much about it I must say. In addition, how is the tream managed? I know that some software can do it manually or with a task scheduler, how I do with this ssd ... I would like, if possible, that it can last me a few years with this installation without becoming excessively slow.
Thank you in advance for all your valuable advice!

With the partitioning, you don't necessarily need to do it from Windows 7 and up nor WinPE NT 6.1 or higher. One could use GParted from any linux live (including GParted's own live media) to do the formatting, partitioning and aligning.

Windows XP doesn't natively support TRIM, so if you need it, you have to make sure that:

  • The SSD itself supports TRIM (obvious!)
  • The SATA controller is set to AHCI mode and its driver has TRIM support (according to Fernando@Win-Raid, Full TRIM support has been added to Intel AHCI drivers since version 9.6.1014)
  • The SSD software (or a specific version of it) supporting Windows XP and the SSD plus includes TRIM option (good universal solution is ADATA SSD Toolbox v2.0.1, scroll to bottom of the post; I'm not aware whether Kingston's SSD software supports XP and up to which version [of course acknowledging your SSD model])

You need to slipstream the AHCI driver to the XP installation medium via nlite, but before you do that, what are the hardware identificators of the SATA controller? (include the exact HWIDs, including the subsystem id)

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2 hours ago, dj-access said:

I saw that there was a special partitioning method that had to be done by installing Windows 7 before xp, I did not understand much about it I must say.

It is not difficult.

The "standard" has changed over the time.

Up to XP (the change was with Vista, not 7) it was assumed that the geometry of mass storage device was 63 sectors (and 255 heads, but that is irrelevant) 512 bytes in size and even if long before XP disk access in NT systems was LBA based and not CHS based the old paradigm was to start and end partitions on a cylinder boundary.

You don't need to know what CHS and LBA are, all you need to know that until Vista the partitioning software in NT base systems (Disk Manager and Diskpart) defaulted to:
1) start first partition at the offset of 63 sectors
2) have partitions end on multiples of 255*63=16065 sectors

Well before SSD came out, it came out that in some cases having partions aligned to a multiple of 8 sectors (4096 bytes) provided some advantages in speed of disk access (the reason of that being essentially that the ubiquitous NTFS filesystem has normally a cluster sized 4096 bytes).

So starting with Vista the so-called MB alignment was used:

1) start first partition on 2048 sectors (2048*512=1048576 bytes=1 MB = 256*4096)
2) have partitions end on multiples of 1 MB

Of course the good MS guys never retro-fitted to XP tools the same "new" behaviour.

By sheer coincidence (or luck or whatever, possibly even by design) SSD have an internal structure based on 4096 bytes "chunks" (that are only artificially divided into 512 bytes sectors) so this same new paradigm remained valid, as a matter of fact it became necessary, as unlike the (modest, if any) speed advantages on mechanical hard disks in 2006/2007 using the "old" paradigm on the new SSD's increases the number of needed writes (and consequently the wear).

To visualize what happens, Imagine that you have a (crazy) work where you have a printer output 8 copies of each document and you have to separate the printed sheets into 8 piles, storing them in a cabinet. with several drawers, depending on the contents of the document printed, let's say keeping invoices separated from orders and separated from memos. 

Would you prefer your cabinet with 3 drawers, each large enough to hold side by side the 8 copies or (say) a cabinet with 5 drawers, each one large enough to store 5 copies?

In the first case each time the printer outputs the 8 copies you only need to open 1 drawer, in the second case you need to open 2 drawers.

Using the Windows 7 setup disk (there is not actually any need to fully install the 7) to partition the SSD is only one of the possible ways to create the partitions according to the "new" paradigm of 1 MB alignment, as IntMD said one could use Gparted or a number of other tools, including some that run just fine under XP.

If you prefer, the important thing is to have the partition properly aligned on a SSD, the actual method tool you use to obtain that alignment is irrelevant, and the Windows seup disc is only one among the many ways to do that.

jaclaz

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dj-access said:
> I would like, if possible, that it can last me a few years with this installation without becoming excessively slow.

Several years, a SSD-disk? And even such a tiny one??
For most people the average lifetime seems about 1 year, then crash. Make sure to keep good backups... And be careful when connecting a backup to a modern Windows computer, in order to restore your data. It might just format the backup automatically... Oh, and make sure it doesn't lie around for a few weeks without getting power, if you like to keep your data. The younger the flash disk or card or stick, and the tinier the cells, the shorter they survive without power... Oh, and if using Firefox with session saver enabled, double-check the time settings for automatic storage...

Edited by siria

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20 minutes ago, siria said:

For most people the average lifetime seems about 1 year, then crash. .

Any source for this rather bold (besides pessimistic) statement? :dubbio:

jaclaz

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If that's the case, I'm certainly on borrowed time!
:o

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I've used this one daily for 4.5 years -- and I have a pagefile on it:

SSD-1.png

SSD-2.png

SSD-3.png

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I have used Crucial SSDs in Windows XP since about 2012. I did align the partitions beforehand. No problems so far. Think the longest run was a 128GB one used for almost 8 years, until I decided to put in a bigger one.

The only issue I remember very well was when I used a manual trim command as offered by some utility, I tried it on four XP systems: This command immediately resulted in random data loss in 3 out of 4 systems, two of which were so affected that I had to reinstall the OS. The system not affected was an AMD one, with the SATA interface in IDE mode, the others were intel based systems.

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hello all,
Thank you for your advice, although I have not absolutely understood. I'll try installing tomorrow and see what happens.

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7 hours ago, dj-access said:

hello all,
Thank you for your advice, although I have not absolutely understood. I'll try installing tomorrow and see what happens.

Check the "sectors before" in the bootsector or the start of the partition.

In XP64 you should be able to use MBRWIZ (that has also a 64 bit version), you want the "legacy" version 2.0b:

http://firesage.com/mbrwizard.php?x=6

as follows (open a command prompt window, navigate where the MBRWIZ is and issue) :

mbrwiz /list

you will obtain an output *like*:

 

C:\mbrwiz>mbrwiz /list

 MBRWiz - Version 2.0 **beta** for Windows XP/2K3/PE         April 30, 2006
   Copyright (c) 2002-2006 Roger Layton                    http://mbr.bigr.net

 Disk: 0   Size: 140G CHS: 17861 255 63
 Pos MBRndx Type/Name  Size Active Hide Start Sector   Sectors    DL Vol Label
 --- ------ ---------- ---- ------ ---- ------------ ------------ -- ----------
  0    0    07-NTFS    140G   Yes   No            63  286,948,260 C: Disco

You see the field "Start Sector" (which is 63 in the above example)?

If it is 63 it uses the old, NOT SUITABLE for a SSD alignment, you need to re-create the partition correctly aligned to 1 MB.

If it is 2048 it uses the new, OK for SSD  alignment, you are good to go.

jaclaz

 

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@jaclaz
Not wishing to hijack this thread, but as someone with three SDDs on my system and two conventional drives, I just tried this out myself, just out of interest.
This is what I got -

MBRWiz.jpg.60fe2e60ade3ee6e1a6c047c35b0bc53.jpg

The two SSDs that are partitioned, disk 1 and disk 2, both show the start of the first partition as 2048, which I assume is good.
Disk 3 is also an SSD, but shows its single partition start as 16065. Is that OK?
Disk 0, a conventional FAT32 IDE drive, also shows 16065, and disk 4, a conventional FAT32 SATA drive connected via an expansion card, shows 16321.
Also slightly puzzled that I'm only seeing drive letter and label information for two of the partitions, is that normal?
:dubbio:
 

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I too have an SSD on my windows XP comp here. Samsung 850 Evo 120 GB. It's been pretty great. defintely has been much better than a regular hard drive. I got it at least 5 or 6 years ago. And last time i checked the Samsung Magician software, it showed about 8 TB of writes done so far. I think it lasts up to 150 TB..or something, not sure.

I have 150 MB of physical ram used as a RAM Drive - program is called "ramdisk" (the 1st result on google search) - I moved the temp and temp internet files enviorment variables to that, to help out the SSD write load.

Edited by kuja killer

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23 hours ago, Dave-H said:

@jaclaz
Not wishing to hijack this thread, but as someone with three SDDs on my system and two conventional drives, I just tried this out myself, just out of interest.
This is what I got -

The two SSDs that are partitioned, disk 1 and disk 2, both show the start of the first partition as 2048, which I assume is good.
Disk 3 is also an SSD, but shows its single partition start as 16065. Is that OK?
Disk 0, a conventional FAT32 IDE drive, also shows 16065, and disk 4, a conventional FAT32 SATA drive connected via an expansion card, shows 16321.
Also slightly puzzled that I'm only seeing drive letter and label information for two of the partitions, is that normal?
:dubbio:
 

You were not in class (or you were distracted) the day they explained Extended Partitions (and how they are different), did you? :w00t:

In MBR style disks there are two kinds of partitions, primary and extended.

In a MBR partition table there are 4 entries available.

They can be filled with (up to) 4 primary partition entries or (up to) three primary partition entries and one (and one only) Extended partition.

If you prefer, since there are no more than 4 possible entries in the MBR partition table, the concept of Extended partition was implemented to have more than 4 volumes.

What gets a drive letter in Windows is the drive or volume.

A partition (primary) is essentially a "container" (to be more correct an extent, i.e. a start address and a size starting from that) where a single volume resides, in practice a primary partition (to be more correct the extent addressed in the MBR) is exactly the same thing as the volume (technically if the volume is NTFS there is a single sector which is inside the partition but outside the volume, at the end, containing a second copy of first sector - bootsector - of the volume, but that is a detail ).

In any case the first sector of a primary partition (i.e. the sector that you can find at the address "Start sector" in the MBR partition table entry)  is also the first sector of the volume inside it, i.e. the volume (or drive) bootsector.

A partition (Extended) is as well a "container" (again an extent) where one or more logical volumes reside.

The specific partition ID Extended partition have (either 0x05 or 0x0F) means more or less (to the OS accessing it):

Be aware that this is an outer container and you will have to parse other addressing data to find logical volumes inside it.

Then how can the OS find these logical volumes?

Here comes the "clever" trick, the first sector of an extended partition (i.e. the sector that you can find at the address "Start sector" in the MBR partition table entry) is NOT the first sector of any volume, nor a bootsector.

It is instead a structure very similar to the MBR, sometimes called EPBR (Extended Partition Boot Record), it has (at the same relative address 446 or 0x1BE as the MBR) a partition table, but - unlike the partition table of the MBR - this one has only two entries (and not four) which are filled with this data:
1) The first entry is the "next" logical volume inside extended (i.e. in the first EPBR, the one pointed to in the MBR, the first entry is the first logical volume)
2) The second entry is the "next" (if any) EPBR

and this EPBR will contain as first entry the "next" volume and as second entry the "next" EPBR (loop to #1 until all logical volumes are enumerated).

MBRfix ONLY looks at the partition table in the MBR, so:

 the Start sector for Primary partitions (which is actually ALSO the Start sector of the volumes) is a good indicator of the alignment for the volume

whilst

the Start sector for the Extended partition is meaningless to determine the alignment of logical volumes inside it (they may be aligned or not aligned, and you wont know unless you either inspect the whole chain of EPBR's or you check the volume bootsectors).

This said, 16065 - usually - is a sign of the partitoning having been made with the "old" paradigm as 255x63=16065, or if you prefer, a whole cylinder.

IF the old paradigm was used, the first volume inside Extended should be (but needs to be verified) a further 63 sectors, so 16065+63=16128.

Since 16128/8=2016 (with no rest), everything should be fine, the volume starts on a multiple of 8 sectors or 4096 bytes.

BUT this is only valid if the volume is NTFS (because in NTFS *everything* is a file, including the bootsector, which is 16 sectors in size, and common sizes of NTFS volues have also 4096 bytes clusters so everything is automatically aligned if the beginning of the volume is aligned) and NOT for other filesystems like FAT12/16/32 where there are a number of reserved sectors and the FAT tables that may - or may not - be a multiple of 8 sectors in size, besides the cluster size which could be smaller than 4096 bytes:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/140365/default-cluster-size-for-ntfs-fat-and-exfat

See also here:

And here:

http://reboot.pro/topic/16775-discover-allocation-unit-and-other-information-of-ufd-under-windows/

http://reboot.pro/topic/16783-rmprepusb-faster-fat32-write-access-on-flash-memory-drives/

to better understand the matter.

The disk where the offset to the Extended partition is 16321, IF the volume starts 63 sectors after, is OK as well (if the volume is NTFS) 16321+63=16384 and 16384/8=2048, but as well this needs to be checked.

jaclaz

 

 

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Thank you, I'll have to read that a few times to get my head around it, but I should have of course made the connection that the partitions concerned were extended partitions, not primary ones!
Is it normal for MBRWiz not to see the drive letters and volume labels of extended partitions?
:dubbio:

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2 hours ago, Dave-H said:

Is it normal for MBRWiz not to see the drive letters and volume labels of extended partitions?
:dubbio:

Extended partitions have NOT (and cannot have) "drive letters" (as they are NOT "drives" NOR "volumes")

MBRwiz is a wizard for the MBRnomen est omen, it only accesses the MBR where there is NO info whatsoever about the logical volume(s) (if any) inside the Extended partition, which is BTW what I tried explaining in the previous post. 

I does anyway look in the Windows Registry to find the drive letter (and the label) of the drive(s) - please read as volume(s) it finds (in the MBR)

To give you one of my (in-)famous layman examples :w00t:, imagine that you have for some reasons a security camera reading the registration plates of vehicles passing by:

1st recorded plate is a car, AA123456, you can look up for the registration number and find out (say) that it is a 1989 Corolla
2nd recorded plate is a car, AB234567, you can look up for the registration number and find out (say) that is a 2010 BMW series 3
3rd recorded plate is a car,  AC3425678 you can look up for the registration number and find out (say) that it is 2018 Range Rover
4th recorded plate is a lorry, BC 89765432, you can look up for the registration number and find out (say) that it is a 2006 Scania truck, a car transporter

Now, would you be surprised that you cannot find which cars (if any) the last vehicle is transporting? :dubbio:

If you want to check the start offset of logical volumes also you need another tool, PartInfo will do:

https://www.terabyteunlimited.com/kb/article.php?id=288

https://www.terabyteunlimited.com/downloads-free-software.htm

(but in this tool you won't see the drive letters, not for primary parttitons, nor for logical volumes) 

jaclaz

 

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