Is the Lenovo 128GB SSD worth it?

Discussion in 'Lenovo' started by adam7777, Aug 6, 2010.

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  1. adam7777

    adam7777 Notebook Guru

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    I'm so glad I didn't go with the stock SSD, but I'll move the 500gb hdd into the ultra bay when I find out a little more about SSd's and buy one.

    Still waiting for my newly ordered X201. Its only been a day, and I know its going to be such a long time to wait ...

    Just glad I used the 35% discount coupon in time :)
     
  2. erik

    erik modifier

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    BT - shrinking your partitions and leaving X amount unallocated would achieve the same thing.   the drive would still have to be imaged, secure erased, and re-imaged though to flag the previously-used blocks as open.

    anand has a good writeup on this theory (or perhaps hypothesis) in this article.   this concept has been around for a while and drives are starting to come over-provisioned from the factory.   most 100GB MLC drives are actually 128GB with 28% over-provisioning.

    imaging is taking a snapshot of the drive and restoring it.   acronis true image is one example of such software.   i use windows server 2008 R2 on all my systems and it has this capability built into windows server backup.   for your situation i would look into acronis.

    because drive imaging replaces the data in one large block, a secure-erased SSD will fill from the bottom to the top like a bucket rather than data being fragmented all over the place like on an HDD.   it would be like having a neat pile of legos on the table versus them being scattered all over.

    the 28% over-provisioning is more or less just a safe, round number.   it takes a 64GB drive down to 50GB, a 128GB drive down to 100GB, and so forth.   28% is more than enough to allow the average user plenty of room to write/erase blocks without "fragmenting" their SSD for a long time.

    any SSD can be written/erased to the point of being slow, even with TRIM or GC (garbage collection).   but, for those of us using MLC drives without internal provisioning, the manual method is proving to be a great workaround.

    i've been testing this for a few months on two thinkpads and it appears to be working.   benchmarks run in ATTO and crystal disk mark have been coming out almost identically every time.   i've actually found that changing power management affects benchmarks more than anything since a slower processor core speed can lower numbers by around 25%.   the lesson here is in not running benches on battery power and expecting full performance. ;)

    keep in mind that i'm by no means an expert on SSDs.   i've been using them since buying an X300 in march of 2008 and am learning new things every day.
     
  3. brutalturtle

    brutalturtle Notebook Consultant

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    ^then I'm all set erik. I have a new copy of acronis 2010 which I'll use to image the ssd. Care to play helper person one last time?

    -If the BIOS secure erase utility installs as an add-on, won't that require flashing the BIOS itself? (just out of curiosity)

    -If I read your post correctly, I MUST secure erase and re-image the drive in order for this workaround to work? (Even if I simply take it out of the box brand new and set aside 28% unallocated, it will not do? I assumed that if the free memory had NEVER been written on, you can simply partition it aside and there's no need to secure erase it.)

    -We are to set aside 28% free, but I thought drives never come with the actual advertised amount of space. 128gb is actually 123gb usable, etc. Should I just partition it to 100GB usable and leave the rest unallocated regardless?

    That's about it. Thanks so much for your explanations - I think you prolonged the life of my hard drive.
     
  4. erik

    erik modifier

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    the secure erase function is an add-on to the BIOS.   running the DOS-based installer simply enables a submenu under 'security' that allows an SSD to be erased.   so, no, the entire BIOS isn't reflashed.

    you are correct in that you have to secure erase a drive in between imaging.   think of it like taking a fragmented installation and replacing everything block-by-block in the correct order with no wasted space.   the non-wasted space is what makes an SSD fast -- even drives like the 2nd gen samsung MLC.

    a brand new SSD doesn't need to be secure erased but installing an OS tends to fragment it.   my practice is to install an OS and apps, image the drive, erase it, and re-image it.   i've regained faster 4k IOPS in benchmarks doing this so it must work.

    128GB is 123GB usable because of the conversion from binary (gibibytes) to base-10 (gigibytes).   everyone misinterprets this as losing space to formatting but it's actually due to converting the numbers.   the equation is roughly 1:1.074, making your 128,000,000,000 byte drive 119.2GB in windows.   don't get too caught up in the conversion though.   you'll be fine if you set the drive to 102,400MB in windows so it reports as being exactly 100GB.   that's what i use simply because i like to see round numbers in my partitions.
     
  5. brutalturtle

    brutalturtle Notebook Consultant

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    you're going to kill me for asking you another question.

    I fully understand your example of building legos up neatly instead of having them scattered all over the place on the ssd. But dont you repeat the same cycle of fragmenting the OS if secure erase wipes out your 28% unallocated partition? Let me explain my stupidity and not understanding you fully:

    -open the shipment box, take the laptop out and turn the computer on (OS already installed from factory). Provision 28% as unallocated space using windows. Image it and secure erase it in bios.

    ***this wipes out all partitions, everything***

    Then you boot into an external usb drive/usb dvd and re-install the OS using an image you created from acronis. But I've just fragmented the SSD once again because now there are no partitions on the drive and I installed the image on 100% of the SSD.

    Unless:

    acronis (or whatever imaging software) automatically RE-PARTITIONS EVERYTHING as it is installing. Once the image is reinstalled you still have 100GB used, 28GB unallocated just like before and thus mission successful? But what if it doesn't? What if re-imaging installs the OS on a 100% allocated SSD (1 partition only) and leaves you to re-partition empty space (the unallocated 28% we want). Aren't I back to where I started from? This cycle would never end. Lastly I dont even know how imaging software would deal with OEM recovery partitions as they are usually locked?

    I profusely apologize. It's been a long week and my head is spinning from work related material.
     
  6. erik

    erik modifier

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    re-imaging restores partitions.   if you set a 100MB + 100GB + ~28% unallocated partition structure before creating the image then this same structure will be replaced when re-imaging.   the difference is that now everything is being written in large blocks rather than fragmenting the tables.
     
  7. brutalturtle

    brutalturtle Notebook Consultant

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    coffee's on me next time erik. thank you.
     
  8. brutalturtle

    brutalturtle Notebook Consultant

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    Hello! (i dont think private messaging anyone is polite so I'll ask it here, it's a follow up anyway)

    I've partitioned everything to the correct sizes, used acronis to properly image the drive and tested the image successfully on a blank hard disk!! But now I try to run this program:

    And I get this. "DRVMenu.exe The version of this file is not compatible with the version of Windows your running. Check your computer's system information to see whether you need an x86 (32bit) or x64 (64bit) version of the program."

    so i know for sure its dos only haha. but Does anyone know how to run this BIOS setup menu extension utility? it doesnt work in command prompt normally or safe mode. how do i create a bootable dos floppy disk? the only search results i find for this tells me to create an entire windows 32 bit OS installation onto the USB stick. erik, how did you boot into dos when using Windows 7 64 bit? I can't run the thing at all and I even tried compatibility mode. I don't know what to do.. googled everywhere for it.
     
  9. leshan

    leshan Notebook Consultant

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  10. erik

    erik modifier

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    brutal - there's no way to run drvmenu.exe in any environment other than DOS.

    i have a USB floppy drive for stuff like this.   i created a DOS bootable floppy in windows and copied drvmenu.exe to the disk, then booted the system using the floppy.   a bootable USB flash memory drive would work, too.
     
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