Poll: How much storage is enough for a system drive?

In the PC storage world, 2011 looks primed to be the year of the SSD. Drives continue to get cheaper, the latest models look poised to actually take advantage of 6Gbps Serial ATA connectivity, and a whole bunch of ’em are due to trickle out over the coming months. If you’ve already got a nice system with a fast CPU and graphics card, upgrading to a solid-state system drive is the next logical step.

Even before weighing the pros and cons associated with different drive makers and underlying controllers, prospective SSD buyers need to determine how much capacity they need in a system drive. There’s the OS, of course, plus commonly used applications and games. It all adds up, but to what? How much capacity would you need in a system drive? (Thanks to TR reader DeadOfKnight for the suggestion.)

Last week, we asked whether Apple, Google, or Microsoft is the most evil tech company. Based on the comments, it looks like folks have some pretty strong opinions about this one. Unsurprisingly, Apple was deemed the most evil with 68% of the vote. Microsoft garnered 17%, while 15% named Google as the worst.

Comments closed
    • snowdog
    • 9 years ago

    I assume this is aimed at how small an SSD you can get away with.

    I already use a 64G partition in windows(planning to move to SSD), I install most of my apps there, but all my media/games are on other partitions/drives. I think 60GB is the smallest I could go.

    40GB could probably be done in a pinch if it wasn’t for the way windows backs up every version of every DLL endlessly in the winsxs directory. That beast just grows with every install and every windows update (mine is ~10 GB).

    winsxs is like a black whole for SSDs. It just keeps gobbling up space.

    • travbrad
    • 9 years ago

    Around 100GB seems good to me, maybe 120 just to be safe. Right now my system partition is 100GB and I only have 10GB free. The crazy thing is I only have a handful of games installed, they are just so massive these days… I don’t understand how L4D2 takes up 10GB (more than BC2)..oh well.

    At least it’s not like my Flight Simulator install though, which is now over 60GB (on my storage drive) with all the add-ons/textures. 🙂

    • deinabog
    • 9 years ago

    You can never have too much local storage.

    • tootercomputer
    • 9 years ago

    I voted for greater than 200G, as the price of mechanical hdds is so low now, why not have absolutely plenty of room. Now if using an ssd OS drive, with the current high prices, then the size of of the OS drive is more relevant given the costs of ssd. I have yet to make the switch to ssd, and right now am generally satisfied with my 300G velociraptor OS (W7 Home, i7 Lynfield build) drive, plus a larger storage drive.

    • albundy
    • 9 years ago

    well, if you just plan to use only windows 7 with no other software, and no saving of any files/temp directories locally, no local swap file, and no hibernation, then a 32gb ssd would be sufficient. If you want to install several mainstream games, adobe master collection, ms office, video/graphics editing apps, etc, then you would need more than 200gb.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 9 years ago

    120GB. Enough size for Windows and breathing room for apps, SSD of course.

    • DancinJack
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t consider my Steam/Games folder/s to be a part of the system disk. I have all media on a secondary disk.

    ~20GB for Windows and drivers (Windows on primary machine for me)

    I really don’t have that much else on a system drive.

    Office
    Browser
    Media Player
    3rd party defrag

    That’s really about all I have. Just under 30GB on my SSD.

    • Jambe
    • 9 years ago

    This poll was a bit too broad to be very meaningful. Budget general-access PC? Gaming PC? Really-lightweight portable? Desktop replacement laptop?

    I have three PCs and one laptop. One PC has a 256GB SSD and the laptop has a 128.

    I voted for “More than 200GB” but it depends on usage. If you only use a few programs (and/or relatively small ones) extra capacity just means a helluva lot more expenditure for a bit more speed — speed which wouldn’t be as noticeable as the difference between a (good) smaller-cap SSD and a mechanical alternative.

      • DeadOfKnight
      • 9 years ago

      Well it seems that it’s generally assumed by most of us that we’re talking about a system drive paired up with plenty of mechanical storage. The story is completely different if we’re talking about a notebook with only one drive. But even then the poll results shouldn’t be too different unless you’re using your notebook as your primary PC. Of course it’s still going to be different depending on how people are using their computers, but it’s interesting to see how much more people want to store on the SSD other than the OS.

    • Krogoth
    • 9 years ago

    It depends entirely on the system’s intended role, usage patterns and memory capacity (needed for swap/virtual memory space).

    IMHO, SSDs are still firmly in the workstation/server drive arena. They make little sense for mainstream desktops and gaming rigs. Modern games are too large (4-6GB+ each title installed) and typically benefit little from the superior access speed found in SSDs.

      • internetsandman
      • 9 years ago

      Upgrade to an SSD. Everything, and I mean everything that you do involving large reads or writes will have a massively noticeable difference, and the smaller reads and writes will be so instantaneous you won’t have to wait for anything. In terms of every day usage, an SSD is actually the most beneficial upgrade you can get for a PC, more so than a faster CPU or GPU in most cases

    • blitzy
    • 9 years ago

    I think if cost is disregarded then I think 120 is a practical starting point, it could possibly be done on smaller, say 60 or 80, but im sure once there are apps and things installed and you get to shifting stuff around youd be gagging for more space.

    I think having less than 500gb theres always chance for compromise, above that point you would be rarely pressed for space (assuming you have decent actual storage drives to work with)

    • xii
    • 9 years ago

    Running Debian, I’d say 8GB system and 4GB for the home partition. That’s the absolute minimum. Then there’s any sources you’d like to track and build, maybe another 5GB. And my music collection, which at about 600GB really fits better on a data disk or NAS. I don’t play any games. So I guess with about 20GB you’d fit pretty much anything you’d like to have installed in Linux and your own files, minus any proprietary games/software (which I don’t have); and minus media files such as music and movies, which are probably rather pointless to keep on a SSD.

    But smaller SSDs are usually a lot slower, so that’s one other factor that might influence people’s decision. For this reason I’d not want to get a 40GB drive (or 20GB, if they’d exist). For a system disk, I’d be happy with even 20GB if it were lightning fast.

    For laptops where SSDs are presumably only storage, it’s just a trade-off between how much of your data/media storage you’d like to carry and how much money you have to spend.

    • Jason181
    • 9 years ago

    I voted for more than 200GB. The key is how much is “enough” which is likely to vary based on people’s usage patterns a lot. While you can move data to a slower drive, the whole point is having a fast system and fast launching applications (which for me basically boils down to games).

    Sure, for things like MP3s, DVD/Blu-Ray rips, etc., the speed of the drive is largely unimportant. I’m sure there are people out there with bigger steam folders, but mine is definitely bloated at 700 GB. I don’t like installing/uninstalling/symlinking games all the time, though I do occasionally symlink commonly played games onto the SSD.

    I think some people think of a system drive as pretty much everything; I don’t want to mess with multiple drives except for the SSD case, but still “enough” would be enough to hold my system, apps, and games. Otherwise, everyone would be choosing less than 40GB since you can easily fit Windows on a 40GB drive and symlink/install to a different drive.

      • Zoomer
      • 9 years ago

      Agreed. I’m using 160GB now discounting user profiles, so voted for 180GB as a bare minimum. My system partition is 240GB.

      For me, SSDs are kinda overrated. Caching makes up for a lot of the difference. Currently, I have 4GB cached, and am hoping to bump that up to 8GB of cache very soon, once that package from newegg gets here. Install 4 * 4 and it’ll be 12 GB of file cache on sweet DDR3.

      If there are APIs available to direct the OS which files to cache or not to cache on a semi real time manner, I would say SSDs are probably unnecessary. Games could have the OS stream data in/out in the background depending on the player’s position. OS can still cache commonly used files/apps.

      Alternatively, SSDs could be used as sort of a cache once someone decides to build that into the filesystem.

        • d0g_p00p
        • 9 years ago

        What is this cache you are talking about? I don’t know of any system tool that lets you define cache size vs running memory

          • Zoomer
          • 9 years ago

          [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SuperFetch[/url<]

      • paulWTAMU
      • 9 years ago

      yeah. with steam folder taking up 100+ gigs, then the other applications I have (like 15-20 gigs?) and the OS, I’m looking at at least 160 for it to work.

    • paulWTAMU
    • 9 years ago

    I just want one drive in a system so I put in 200 gigs or more. Right now I’ve got just over 100 gigs of games, so even if I just kept games, GIMP and my OS on the SSD, it’d still need to be like 160–and I’d have to add a 2nd drive to handle my music and video and pictures.

    • ColeLT1
    • 9 years ago

    I have 2x WD640gb Black RAID0, these drives were in my C2Q, and moved to my I7 with no issues, and get 200-240mb/s in the first 400gb. I have all my programs, OS, and games (including steam) and am sitting on 130gb. This is even with me going in and moving any game that I don’t currently play to my home server (steam game backup is pretty awesome).

    Have:
    220mb/s 1280gb $160 (at time of purchase in 2008)

    Waiting for:
    440+mb/s 200+gb <$200 (I would like it to be at least 2x the speed of my current setup)

    Edit: I have done RAID0 since 2005, on my DFI-SLIDR (NF4), X48, and X58, with never a hickup (Hitachi 250’s then WD640s). Not a big deal to me because I have an image of my computer, after win7 and driver install, and all of my data is stored on my server (mydocs mapped to it), and my profile + steam is copied to the server. I tend to re-install windows yearly, so I know how long it would take if a drive crashed, on average, around 4hours of moving files and I will be back running again.

    • Sunburn74
    • 9 years ago

    Currently have 150 gigs of SSD space. At best I’ve used 50 percent. Most of the time i have 90 gigs free.

    I only play at most 3 games at a time. The rest I don’t keep installed. That works fine for me. Outside of gaming, I have 10gb of music and thats about it.

      • jplayer01
      • 9 years ago

      I generally relocate my pictures/videos/documents/music/games/downloads folders to my data drive instead of keeping them on my system drive. Saves space and time if I ever end up reinstalling Windows.

    • TheBob!
    • 9 years ago

    I mean in one sense I have a 30GB SSD as my boot drive and it is sitting at 25GBs used. I have to empty the downloads folder every now and then, but it works just fine.

    That said SSDs are still far to small for my liking. I’ll upgrade mine when I can get a SSD that will fit my 200GB Steam folder.

    • ludi
    • 9 years ago

    I threw a 60GB vote into the hat. A fully loaded Windows installation these days likes to hit in the 4-8GB range, plus Office and some other critical apps that really want to install in the root directory and the inevitable My Documents folder.

    Everything else, particularly games, music, and digital photos, can easily be stored elsewhere.

      • moshpit
      • 9 years ago

      I voted the same after looking at my 120Gb SSD I dedicated for OS, drivers, and basic apps. Only 37Gb is used on it with 82Gb free, and I never put anything else on it. All my games and serious apps that are space hogs go to my storage drive. I have a huge chunk of space going unused, which for an SSD is actually a good thing as it gives me more life expectancy out of it, but still, that’s a lot of idle space.

        • mav451
        • 9 years ago

        Why are your games not on your SSD? Kind of defeats the purpose of an SSD in the first place if you don’t bother taking advantage of the SSD for the loading times.

        Regarding the survey, considering my Steam folder size, I’d say 120GB is the absolute minimum. Oddly enough I voted for 200GB lol.

      • Meadows
      • 9 years ago

      You’re talking about an outdated Windows version.

      • mutarasector
      • 9 years ago

      I had assumed the poll’s question was largely aimed at an average windows desktop setup, so I voted 60GB myself. My thinking was a W7 installation, and perhaps a non-drive letter assigned diagnostic partition (like OEMs such as Dell use), or UEFI partition. 60GB would be more than sufficient for this, and could even be set up for a Linux partition as well with plenty of room.

    • Voldenuit
    • 9 years ago

    2 words: Steam Folder.

    Part of the problem is Steam’s annoyingness in not letting you control where you install your apps, but it certainly is frustrating as load times are one of the major reasons to get a SSD, so it’s not a catch-all solution to put Steam on a mechanical drive.

    My steam folder is 180 GB, and I don’t even have half my games installed.

      • grantmeaname
      • 9 years ago

      One word: symlink.

      • ludi
      • 9 years ago

      Good to see you out and about, Vold. You went kind of quiet after the Big One and I was starting to wonder if you were digging out of somewhere.

        • Voldenuit
        • 9 years ago

        Thanks lud! Wasn’t affected by the Jp quake, although some close friends narrowly missed it by a week or so (were vacationing in Japan).

        Just moved to the midwest and been busy setting up the house, PC, etc, so haven’t had much time to go online. Also just got a husky pup and it’s keeping the missus and me up at nights.

      • burntham77
      • 9 years ago

      When I can one day get an SSD drive around 250 gigs for a reasonable price, then I will finally be able to use it for Steam, and my gaming universe will be complete!

      • Kamisaki
      • 9 years ago

      You can change where you install your games on Steam, or at least, you can change where you install Steam, and wherever that is, that’s where your apps folder will be. You can even move where you keep your current Steam installation and games without reinstalling them. I currently have all my Steam games on a 1.5 TB secondary drive.

      • maxxcool
      • 9 years ago

      cut steam folder
      paste steam folder in ssd drive
      done
      play game on ssd

      • jplayer01
      • 9 years ago

      Huh … my Steam folder is on my data drive, also 100+GB. No need to clutter your system drive with that. In fact, it makes it easier on you when/if you ever reinstall Windows. Your games are still on the other drive and Steam automatically installs itself when you run it from its folder. Saves time and bandwidth.

      • bill94el
      • 9 years ago

      To move Steam installs:

      [url<]https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=7418-YUBN-8129[/url<] Works like a charm

        • Suspenders
        • 9 years ago

        Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of getting an SSD though? I mean, if you play games, you’d want those to be loading super fast as well, so if you stick ’em on a standard HDD you’re loosing the benefit of that expensive SSD.

        To me those puny 40-80 gb drives aren’t really worth it, you’re probably better off getting more RAM and sticking with a mechanical.

          • DancinJack
          • 9 years ago

          In the day and age of online gaming, loading times aren’t that big of a deal. SP sure, but I can deal with a 34 second load time instead of 18 seconds.

    • Kurotetsu
    • 9 years ago

    Looking at my C: drive right now, I’d need 160GB. I have managed to live with a system drive as small as 20GB (I think that was back when I was using XP), but I definitely would NOT want to go back to that.

    • Amien
    • 9 years ago

    I choose 40 GB. 20 GB for the OS, 20 for applications that need to be really snappy. Sounds about right.
    Considering the price:space ratio, games would still need to be installed on a fast mechanical drive instead, as they are too large to be accommodated on an SSD for which the price would then get even harder to justify.
    What are you going to gain from games installed on an SSD? A few seconds of load time? Not worth it. Not as of now, at least.

    • bthylafh
    • 9 years ago

    In theory I’d just need a big enough drive to install Win7 and Linux in separate partitions, and then I’d have to redirect C:\Program Files\ and C:\Program Files (x86)\ to the big storage drive, plus a fudge factor to allow upgrading to the next versions of Windows & Ubuntu.

    Win7 needs about 20GB and Ubuntu… about 5GB for binaries, and then I can create partitions on the storage drive for /var, /home, /usr, &c. With a decent fudge, 60GB should be plenty, and 80GB just because.

    edit: OTOH it’d be spiffy to have games &c on the SSD, because, you know, speed. That’ll quickly put me above the 200GB poll limit.

    • Stargazer
    • 9 years ago

    640kB ought to be enough for anybody.

    • mcnabney
    • 9 years ago

    I need at least half of a TB for the OS, applications and games. Hell, my Steam directory is over 300GB. That is why I haven’t even bothered considering SSDs. I currently use a fast 640GB mechanical drive and all of my content is stored on a server (18TB) connected through GigE.

    • ColdMist
    • 9 years ago

    My HTPC only needs 20GB, but my primary computer uses ~60GB, with 1-2 big games installed on it. I’ve got an 80GB Intel X25-M, with 15GB free.

    I keep my main Steam directory on a 150GB Velociraptor.

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 9 years ago

    I need 512 Gigs man. I’ll be waiting a looong time.

    • maxxcool
    • 9 years ago

    after remapping program files, and program files common files to d:\ …. 40 gigs or less. but no less than 25 gigs or the evil winsxs folder gets all bent out of shape

    • Meadows
    • 9 years ago

    80 for every average person, giving enough headroom for lots of applications plus hibernation. If you have a content-creative hobby however, even 200 can be justified.

      • ColdMist
      • 9 years ago

      The survey is about a “system drive”, not a single, everything drive. If you have a content-creative hobby, then you get a 2TB dive to store your content, and you only need an 80GB for the system drive.

        • indeego
        • 9 years ago

        80G is cutting it close… CS5 alone is about 26G…

        • derFunkenstein
        • 9 years ago

        Depending on the content you’re creating, you could be storing apps with large periphery. Audio apps are like that – large sample and loop libraries pile up fast.

        In my case, though, I have 3 drives – system/apps for one, loops/samples for another, and recordings on the third. Digidesign recommended that layout years ago, and while today’s drives are fast enough that it may not matter, I prefer to have as much disk performance headroom as possible. 🙂 A 120/128GB drive is sufficient, though if we’re talking SSDs here, I’d like to have my sample libraries on the SSD as well so we might as well bump that up to a 240/256GB drive.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 9 years ago

          I’ve always put everything on one drive and it’s never been a problem. I don’t think mine goes any faster than about 60MB/s, and I run very small RAM cache sizes. Most people could probably put everything in their RAM at this point.

          I think that concept of multiple drives came about because it wasn’t all that long ago that some drives were not even fast enough to be held back by USB 2.0’s 30MB/s cap. If you had a bunch of 96+ KHz files, you’d have been in trouble.

          I would hope the samples are able to sit in RAM, as well. I don’t know that a typical SSD would actually load them noticeably faster, considering current HDDs are pushing 150MB/s.

          Out of caution, I think I’d prefer to record to the SSD if I were using one with with a HDD.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 9 years ago

            Yeah, I’m probably not actually gaining anything out of it other than helping me sleep better at night. I’ve done recording of 8 tracks at once on a 5400RPM system drive in a laptop and never had a problem there. I don’t mind my placebo, though. :p

        • Meadows
        • 9 years ago

        I know it’s for a system drive, that’s what I said.

    • crazybus
    • 9 years ago

    At the moment my system drive is using ~360GB, which is just Windows and programs, with a negligible amount of media. My Steam folder itself is ~140GB. It’s not the end of the world, but with any smaller SSD I’d have to be judicious in what applications I install and where I put them. Seeing that my storage drive is a “slow” 5400rpm model, moving programs on to it wouldn’t be ideal, basically necessitating a secondary 7200rpm drive for that purpose.

    • nagashi
    • 9 years ago

    For JUST the system? 40 gigs. But realistically I always have 3tb hooked up, and couldn’t imagine not having that much storage.

    • alphadogg
    • 9 years ago

    As usual, it depends. For the average user, maybe 100-120GB. For me, as a developer, after I install Win7, Office, Visio, VS Studio 2008 and 2010, SQL Server, IE/FF/Chrome, Qt, Eclipse, a few other dev-related pieces like PS or DW, and a couple of games, I find that 120GB barely cuts it.

    In fact, 256GB is my last SSD size, and as Golidlocks would say, it’s just right.

      • PixelArmy
      • 9 years ago

      I [i<]thought[/i<] the same of dev tools but comparing work and home I was surprised... I found games easily outweighed dev tools (the tools themselves, not counting projects). Office I guess can push maybe 2-3 GB, same with each Visual Studio (and this is probably an overestimate), but games nowadays close in on double-digit GBs. Of course if you do both... Like you said it depends.

        • alphadogg
        • 9 years ago

        Well, VS 2008 + MSDN takes up about 4GB. I think VS2010 is another 2GB. A local install of SQL Server 2008 adds another 1-2GB. Then, SDKs and libraries can add up on top of that.

        And, as a versatile dev, I do have other platforms. For example, Qt is a 2GB install. Eclipse can hog space too. I frequently have to do my own PDF/Image work, so there’s another bunch of gigs going to Adobe…

        Yeah, games take this up an order of magnitude per game. But, all said and done, Win7+ a full dev suite is nothing to sneeze at. I recently had to move up from a 120GB SSD because, even with only a couple of games, I was redlining the space! 🙁

          • PixelArmy
          • 9 years ago

          Right, not saying that it doesn’t add up quick. Was just saying games add up a lot faster.

          At work, I’ve got Office, two VSes, MSDN, Windows SDKs, Eclipse/Java SDK, like 8 different compiles of Boost (that’s a nice 16 GB), ACE, all that .NET crap, Apache crap, MATLAB, IE/FF/Chrome, etc. and this is only ~80 GB. (Ok, I’m on XP, Office is only 2007, and it’s VS 2005 and 2008, so add another 10 GBs). How much stuff did you graft onto Eclipse, it’s only like 150-200 MB. 🙂

          At home (Win7 here), I’m at like 60 GB with the main things being VS 2010 Express, StarCraft 2 and Batman AA. Two games ,~20-25 GB, accounting for like 30-40% of what I consider system drive stuff.

          Of course things like .NET end up on non-dev boxes as well…

      • shank15217
      • 9 years ago

      90% of your apps can sit on a non-system drive.

    • Silus
    • 9 years ago

    I voted 160 GB, but something between 100 and 200 GB is more than enough for a system drive.

      • DeadOfKnight
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah? I voted 160 GB as well just because I don’t really know but I figured Intel must have had a good idea last year and 80 GB just seems too small. I’m sure you could squeeze just the OS on a 40 GB but I want some of my games on there too.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    Imaging a single drive is one of my favorite ways to back stuff up and its easiest with a single large system drive.

    • bcronce
    • 9 years ago

    Personally, I think 80GB is the minimum(for a modern desktop) and 120GB is the max. At 80GB, you can install your OS and your apps and still have a comfortable buffer.

    At 120GB, you can install your OS, Apps, and quite a few games and still have a comfortable buffer.

    Given the option for a single drive, I would go 120GB as the larger drivers are typically faster than the smaller ones. One large drive vs 2 small ones. The larger drive would help the OS boot faster, and once the OS is booted, it will help my games load faster. I would probably have a separate 30GB SSD for the swap.

      • bittermann
      • 9 years ago

      +1 except for the 30GB SSD for the swap file, no need. I have 8GB’s of ram so I set mine to 2GB static swap and leave it alone, which I probably don’t even need that much!

        • bcronce
        • 9 years ago

        not as much an issue of “needing” it anymore as wanting a different SSD to wear out than my primary drive. 30GB is cheap and “fast enough” as memory is cheap and it should rarely be used.

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    The more the better. When you run into some limitation because the system drive fills up you realize any savings previous were wasted on making it smaller/cheaper and all the hassles that come with it.

    • UberLaff
    • 9 years ago

    120 definitely seems like the sweet spot.

    Win7, Office, and a couple games gets you half way there and leaves you enough space for new games, work space, and a buffer.

    And you need a buffer, because of all the stupid software out there that is hard coded to use the standard my docs folder (iTunes).

      • designerfx
      • 9 years ago

      With windows 7 there is no reason to partition your drive, so doing so is quite the error. Separate drive for storage, separate drive for games? sure. Logical partitions? Not a good idea. Most modern OS’s probably don’t really encroach on even 120GB for the OS though.

        • miken
        • 9 years ago

        What has changed in Win7 that makes logical partitions unnecessary? Actually this begs the question, what reasons do you think there were for people to use them before?

          • Zoomer
          • 9 years ago

          Reimaging C:\ every few months so that win98 stops BSODing randomly?

          • mutarasector
          • 9 years ago

          I have to ask the same question. This is Windows we’re talking about here, right? And of course, W7 is so *perfectly robust* that I feel completely comfortable with intermingling my user files and folders with OS files on the same partition. I have absolute faith in the UAC not ever letting users do something to bypass it and letting ‘Antivirus 2010’, ‘Action Alert’, or ‘System Security’ slip in on their system. And of course, no partition ever develops sector errors any longer so your user folder data is just *fine* sitting on the same partition as W7 files, right? I mean, it’s not like you’ll you’ll *ever* need to restore Windows or anything – heck, thats why OEMs don’t even bother shipping systems with restore CDs/DVDs, right?

            • miken
            • 9 years ago

            Sir, sensors are picking up dangerous levels of sarcasm in the area.

    • Forge
    • 9 years ago

    I have about 120gb used on my raptor 300gb, but my steam install (all 300gb of it) is on another disk entirely.

    I’ve been thinking about getting an sad for os, but all it would affect is boot time. I have 12gb of ram, so the entire os tends to get cached in short order.

      • KilgoreTrout
      • 9 years ago

      I think you are a little mistaken about the effect of an SSD on the system. Windows reads and writes to disk a lot even if you have tons of RAM. My guess is you would be surprised by the improvement in performance. I know I was.

        • UberGerbil
        • 9 years ago

        It’s not just Windows. Virtually all non-trivial apps read and write to the registry, and in many cases that registry read is on the critical path during app startup (and often at other times as well), which means the whole app is momentarily hung up waiting on a random IO to the system disk. That’s bad program design, but programmers are lazy and that’s the easiest way to do it. The registry is demand-paged, so some of it is already cached, but chances are the already-cached portion does not include the chunk containing the entries for some app you just started (unless you’re [i<]really[/i<] predictable and SuperFetch figured it out)

        • dmjifn
        • 9 years ago

        Well, I upgraded my Vista laptop from a 160GB Seagate Momentus 5400.3 (https://techreport.com/articles.x/17183/4) to a 120GB Intel X25-M and I’m not finding it a game changer in subjective performance. And that’s quite a jump in drive tech, if you ask me.

        Some apps load quicker – 1-2s instead of 3-4s. I’m guessing superfetch was probably pulling its weight in my case. Boot, resume, and shutdown times are much quicker – again disabling superfetch probably means all the credit doesn’t go to the SSD, either. Yes, my drive is aligned, yes it benches fine, yes I run Intel’s TRIM utility. In fact, I gave it a little more space for overprovisioning after seeing an Intel whitepaper documenting performance improvements for doing so. It benches well.

        I will say that there was a noticeable reduction in heat and noise. The system cooler doesn’t even turn on anymore (yes, it still works).

    • Parallax
    • 9 years ago

    80GB should be the absolute minimum. I’ve got Vista x64 on a 50GB partition and the windows directory alone is 30GB. Everything is installed to a separate partition, but it just keeps growing in size. And no, I don’t install that much either.

      • PrincipalSkinner
      • 9 years ago

      Your wallet as well.

      edit : meant to reply to 5150’s bragging post.

      • UberGerbil
      • 9 years ago

      You could clean out all the backed up system files that result from installing service packs and updates — they’re compressed, but they’re fairly incompressible, and they’re one of the things that causes your system to “keep growing.”

    • 5150
    • 9 years ago

    I have three Vertex 2 240GB in RAID 0, that seems pretty sweet to me.

    Yes, my ePeen is bigger than yours.

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      Your ePeen is going to deflate faster than ours also. 😉

        • UberGerbil
        • 9 years ago

        Tripling your odds of data loss due to hardware failure can be so detumescencing.

          • bcronce
          • 9 years ago

          SSDs use RAID 0 internally anyway. The same thing could be said about 720GB drive vs a 240GB drive.

          But the point does remain that it does increase your odds of failure dramatically. Not only that, I don’t know of a single raid controller that can handle SSD speeds. Most $600+ raid controllers actually slow down SSDs and you lose the ability to take advantage of TRIM, which will also reduce write performance as the drivers get older and increase the rate at which they wear out.

            • UberGerbil
            • 9 years ago

            Yes, SSDs “use RAID 0 internally” in the sense that they read and write data in multiple parallel channels to enhance throughput. But that mischaracterizes what they do with regards to data integrity; the nature of flash read/write/erase cycles requires the SSD controller to be checking for failures (and recovering from them should they occur) in ways that make it unlike simple RAID 0, where a single bad sector can ruin your entire volume. Which is not to say there aren’t single sources of error (the controller is one, obviously) or that SSDs are immune to failure, just that saying “they use RAID 0 internally” is a glib and to some extent misleading characterization.

            • bcronce
            • 9 years ago

            That still ignores the purpose of my post.

            A single SSD with 16 memory chips has nearly identical failure rates as two SSDs with 8 memory chips.

            Most SSDs in a given family line will have the same memory density, just different chip counts. So there is a good chance a 256GB drive will have double the chance of failure as a 128GB, assuming similar usage relative to their size.

            On a side note, holy crap, you get +3 and my post gets -2. F’n vote trolls out there. We both made good points.

        • BKA
        • 9 years ago

        Which would result in premature data loss. 🙂

      • jpostel
      • 9 years ago

      off topic, but are you using hardware or software raid?

      I have never been able to find a source that clearly tested that TRIM works in a software raid config. I would guess that it does, since TRIM works at a lower level than partitioning and RAID.

      And yes, I do understand the difference between the firmware level garbage collection and TRIM.

        • UberGerbil
        • 9 years ago

        I’m not sure what you mean by saying TRIM works “at a lower level” than partitioning and RAID. TRIM is a filesystem-level function, because only the filesystem knows what clusters are no longer “in use” after a file is moved, resized, or deleted. And the filesystem sees a RAID volume as a single volume rather than the individual disks that constitute it. So RAID operates at a lower level than the filesystem, and TRIM operates at a higher level than RAID.

          • Airmantharp
          • 9 years ago

          Which is all cool and good (and how I understand it), but when you present it this way, I’m left wondering why we can’t get TRIM working over RAID?

          Is there something stopping it from a technical standpoint, or are we just waiting for the parties responsible for the various pieces to get their act together?

            • stdRaichu
            • 9 years ago

            Getting TRIM working over RAID means that the filesystem has to tell the disc (RAID controller) which blocks are free, and then the RAID controller has to translate FS blocks X, Y and Z into flash blocks 1, 2 and 3 on discs A1, 4B, 9C. It’s a *lot* more complicated, especially when you factor that FS blocks may be a completely different size from the flash blocks.

          • jpostel
          • 9 years ago

          What I meant by lower level was misleading. SSDs support it at the controller/firmware level, but it must be fed at the OS filesystem/driver level.

          That clarified, I asked about [b<]software[/b<] (OS level) RAID vs hardware RAID. TRIM is still beholden to the driver. [url=http://blogs.msdn.com/b/e7/archive/2009/05/05/support-and-q-a-for-solid-state-drives-and.aspx<] NTFS on Windows 7 [/url<] feeds the ATA driver the operation when files are deleted and safe to remove. In a software RAID scenario, the drives show up as individual ATA devices. Based on the references I can find, Windows 7 should TRIM software RAID SSDs.

    • vikramsbox
    • 9 years ago

    I voted for 120GB and note that it has the most votes. What gets me thinking is- with the burgeoning size of Windows (12GB+ for Win7 as opposed to 4GB+ for XP Pro) and the lot of games and Adobe software who think that they have inherited homes in the Sahara, will eve 120GB be enough in the near future?
    The software seems to be getting heavier than the data it is handling.

    • Farting Bob
    • 9 years ago

    It depends how lazy you are with installing programs in places other than the default (which will be the system drive usually). My w7 partition is 140GB, not for any particular reason. Currently using about half that, which is how i like it. Obviously i have programs that dont need to be on there but are but its not an issue until it starts getting full.

    If i wanted to, i could use a 40GB partition/drive, but that would be a bit too small and id have to keep an eye on disk space and where programs install to.
    120GB is where i would start looking at SSD’s, so thats what i went for.

    • JMccovery
    • 9 years ago

    I think more people would use a SSD if: 1. They were cheaper. 2. Windows would offer multiple partition usage right out of the box, like Linux. Not everyone likes to manually install software.

      • vikramsbox
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah, Linux scores on that front way more than Windows. It is one of the prime reasons that I moved to Linux. I could get a working system up and running in 15 mins flat, with all the software in place- not to mention that the complete set up takes about 3+GB with Office software, multimedia, browsers etc.
      I’m still new to Linux, with Ubuntu 10.10/ Mint 10 being the first ones that I really liked, and it looks that I won’t be taking the 20GB Win8 in my PC.

        • stdRaichu
        • 9 years ago

        To be fair, any UNIX does, including OSX. Windows is the OS I’ve seen on the modern market that can’t handle installation on to more than one partition. Storage management under *nix is an utter doddle compared to windows.

        And yes, not being able to spin out crap like c:/users or c:/windows/winsxs (either during or after an installation) is an inherently stupid idea. To echo Hamster, why MS couldn’t bite the bullet and make symlinks/junctions Just Work for NTFS in NT6 is anyone’s idea.

      • Anonymous Hamster
      • 9 years ago

      It would also be nice if symbolic links “just worked”.

        • ColdMist
        • 9 years ago

        Search for ‘hard links’ instead. When I’ve used them to “link” Steam games over to my SSD, they have always worked perfectly.

        mklink /D source dest

        That works for me.

          • stdRaichu
          • 9 years ago

          There’s a bunch of applications, especially backup/imaging software, that have been known to break on encountering an NTFS hard link, and the last time I attempted to use them they would only work with files on the same volume, which kinda defeats the point.

          NTFS junctions are far more reliable, although only in NT6. They’ve still got a whole bunch of caveats in NT5.

          Edit: mklink *is* the tool for NTFS softlinks, not hardlinks.

            • miken
            • 9 years ago

            What are the caveats under NT5?

      • marvelous
      • 9 years ago

      Totally agree with you. Windows should offer multiple partition usage. That’s the biggest draw back for me.

      SSD is coming down in price. $1 a gig isn’t too shabby.

      • jwb
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah, this poll is going to be meaningless because the spread between operating systems of what constitutes the “system drive” is very large. I’ve been using a 32GB SSD as my system drive for several years, which is prima facie evidence that it’s big enough. But I can install Debian on a 64MB CF card, so 32GB is positively luxurious.

    • Dysthymia
    • 9 years ago

    I prefer to have all my applications and games installed on the system drive… 120 to 160 GB is enough for me to do that without worrying about the drive getting too full.

    • pjfan75
    • 9 years ago

    This is largely dependent on whether or not you play PC games and install the games to the SSD. If not, the required storage for a system drive is very low for most.

      • stdRaichu
      • 9 years ago

      Agreed. I’ve got two (linux) systems that use 32GB SSD’s (an OCZ Vertex and an Onyx) that are perfectly happy; my laptop has a 120GB SSD that’s fine for OS, music, a few movies and the few games that it can run. Be quite happy to run win7 off one for a desktop system.

      I voted 160GB because I’ve been running off a 160GB Intel G2, which was fine enough for me to install all my apps and games and still have plenty of room left over for scratch space (e.g. muxing/demuxing blu-rays, which is tortuously slow on mechanical discs – especially of source and destination are the same). Currently using a 256GB C300 which is even more awesome than the G2, and still never got it more than 60% full.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah, the entire contents of my work laptop is about 30GB. The one we save everything to is only 35GB and it’s got a bunch of junk on it that ought to be deleted.

      My desktop only needs about that. I’ve used it for recording 24 bit wave files since I got that drive in 2005 and I’ve never had to move any of that. The only game on there is probably Starcraft. My music folder is 10GB of mostly ripped CDs. I’m considering copying all of that over, sans the wave files, to a 30GB SSD for an ultraportable laptop.

      It also helps when you aren’t pirating everything you come across. :p

      • Theolendras
      • 9 years ago

      Fair enough, but I just checked out what I currently use on my main rig and it is 226 GB, it account for OS and applications (games are the most demanding) but no data to speak of. For mobile uses, or my HTPC I could get along with a 80 GB system drive or maybe even less. For bussiness PC I could get along with 160GB. So effectively it pretty much depends on usage. I’ll probably wait to build a new system entirely and hope for a few price drop before then.

      • Suspenders
      • 9 years ago

      Dragon Age Ultimate edition: 24 GB
      Starcraft 2: 9 GB
      Napoleon Total War: 20 GB
      Oblivion install w/mods: 15 GB

      Just those four games installed eat up ~70 gigs worth of space. Just four games. If you’re like me, and have a bunch of other stuff installed as well that you might play maybe once a month or so, drives under 160 gb starts to look pretty small. This is basically why I’m not that interested in SSD’s until I can get something fairly reasonably priced in the 160GB and up category. Preferably more.

      Like you say, if you don’t play many modern games I think most can make do without a lot of space.

        • Vasilyfav
        • 9 years ago

        Maybe you should stop playing awful derivative games 😛

          • Suspenders
          • 9 years ago

          Hahaha, there’s always that I suppose. With that said, having a bigger drive makes my choice easier 😉

    • jcw122
    • 9 years ago

    Surprising results, I thought 120GB was the standard 3 years ago.

      • vikramsbox
      • 9 years ago

      This is a poll for a system drive, not a storage drive.

      • Firestarter
      • 9 years ago

      I guess this result is coloured by the 120GB SSDs of today, which are fast (faster than the smaller variants) and have a great $/GB ratio.

        • Airmantharp
        • 9 years ago

        They’re the ‘sweet spot’ right now, but bigger is nicer of course.

          • DeadOfKnight
          • 9 years ago

          It is the sweet spot but you have to keep in mind the meaning of all these numbers combined. Sure 120GB has the most votes at 23%, but a good 38% of us think that 120GB is not enough. 39% think that’s more than enough. It just turned out that the one with the most votes was the sweet spot but that wouldn’t necessarily be the case. Anyway it’s good enough for me since I have no idea.

          • Xylker
          • 9 years ago

          That’s what she said!

    • DeadOfKnight
    • 9 years ago

    Thanks Geoff 😀

      • Airmantharp
      • 9 years ago

      I was wondering if you’d had some influence, thumbs up!

    • EsotericLord
    • 9 years ago

    I have my spiffy quad-core system booting off of a 32GB SSD, with my games/applications on a 1TB 7200RPM WD Cavlier Black, and music/vids/documents, etc, on a 2TB Cavlier Green.

    Works well for me.

      • bwoodring
      • 9 years ago

      What’s the point of having an SSD if your programs aren’t installed on it? Just boot time?

        • Anonymous Hamster
        • 9 years ago

        This would make sense if the frequently-used applications were on the boot drive, and the infrequently-used stuff were on the big drive. Of course, for me, I’d just need FireFox!

        • EsotericLord
        • 9 years ago

        Boot time, noise levels, stablity (less likely to fail than a HDD), and also forces me to be more organized. I always told myself I would have everything nice and organized, but having a 1TB system drive, it was just to easy to be sloppy.

        Now everything is nice and neat, and as soon as I save something it goes into its proper folder. Be surprised at the performance gain in games since my computer doesnt have to access the HDD for system operations anymore.

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