Saturday, November 08, 2014

SSD Partition Alignment and Layout for Windows 7 and later

There are a lot of places on the Internet that describe how to use GParted to realign your data for an SSD. Unfortunately, they are primarily written for people with just one partition, which isn't necessarily the case for Windows 7 and later. They also don't mention the need to leave 10% free, unpartitioned space at the end of your SSD to assist the SSD in more efficiently writing data.

[Instead of the below, just use the align partitions option in the bootable Mini Tool Partition Wizard. It's just so much easier]

First, get the live CD image of GParted and burn it to a disc. Or use the instructions there to create a USB boot drive.

Boot to the disc, and follow the following instructions from Lifehacker for the VERY FIRST partition on the drive:

"...find your SSD in the upper-right dropdown menu. Select it, and click on your first partition in the menu. Hit the Resize/Move button in the toolbar. Change the "Free Space Preceding" box to 2MB, uncheck "Round to Cylinders", and hit "Resize/Move". (If you're using a newer live CD, check the "MiB" box). Hit Apply once and let it do its thing.

"Now hit Resize/Move again, and change the "Free Space Preceding" box to 1MB. Uncheck "Round to Cylinders" again, hit Resize/Move, then click Apply."

Before you go any further, or IF YOU SUSPECT THAT YOUR PARTITIONS ARE ALREADY ALIGNED, you can verify in GParted:

Right click the first partition and choose Information. The first sector should say 2048. Right click all remaining partitions and check the the first sector is evenly divisible by 2048. If so, skip the next paragraph.

Next, you will notice that you have unallocated space after the first partition and before the next partition. Use GParted to move all successive partitions backwards so they butt up right against the previous partition. The only unallocated space should exist right at the beginning (the 1MB you created earlier) and possibly at the very end.

Lastly, determine if the total allocated space at the end of the drive represents 10% of the drive space. If it does not, resize the VERY LAST partition (expand or shrink, as necessary) so that 10% of the drive space is left unallocated at the end. (If you have a Samsung drive, you can do this last step in Windows using the Samsung Magician software, through which you also optimize the OS and enable RAPID mode.)

If Windows does not boot after these procedures, check out GParted FAQs 14, 15, and 16 for how to use the Windows install disc to repair boot options.

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