How do I use an SSD/HDD combination?

Discussion in 'SSDs & Data Storage' started by blunt_eastwood, Aug 8, 2019.

  1. blunt_eastwood

    blunt_eastwood Limp Gawd

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    I bought a 250 GB SSD and am using it as my primary drive with Windows and a few games installed.

    I have my 1 TB HDD installed as a secondary and which currently has nothing on it.

    Using the SSD has definitely sped things up, but I can install a handful of games, which is proving to be a frustrating bottleneck.

    How do people manage this situation with SSD's?

    Or do I have the wrong expectation for how this is supposed to work?

    Thank you for any assistance.
     
  2. Brian_B

    Brian_B 2[H]4U

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    Symlinks

    I use SteamMover (which is not limited to Steam by any means) - it just automates the creation of Symlinks

    Install to your big drive, then use SteamMover to shuffle it to the SSD when I'm playing, and back to the HDD when I'm not. This isn't every time I play a game or use an app, but a general "I haven't used this in a few weeks, time to shelf it" type of thing.
     
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  3. daphatgrant

    daphatgrant Moderator Staff Member

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    SSDs or M.2 drives while perfectly great for large storage are typically used by most for the OS and most frequently used programs. I'd move your games to the 1TB drive and keep them there, you shouldn't see much of a difference other than maybe ever so slightly longer load times.
     
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  4. SeymourGore

    SeymourGore 2[H]4U

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    I originally used a 128 GB SSD solely for Windows, and a 2 TB SSHD for games/storage. I've started to run out of space on my 2 TB, but instead of managing my space properly, I purchased one of those $100 NVME drives solely for games (the thread with a ton of views in this forum).

    So basically, what I'm getting at, is buy one of those drives and just use it for games instead of trying to juggle everything on your OS drive.

    Had no idea about this program, will need to check it out - thanks!
     
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  5. blunt_eastwood

    blunt_eastwood Limp Gawd

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    Won't I end up with the exact same problem when I run out of space on the NVME drive?
     
  6. blunt_eastwood

    blunt_eastwood Limp Gawd

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    This makes sense. Thank you. So having my games on the HDD and OS on the SSD will still be faster than having everything on the HDD?
     
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  7. SeymourGore

    SeymourGore 2[H]4U

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    Yar, true enough. Unfortunately, like Life, storage capacity is a finite resource so eventually you will need to buy more storage.

    This is correct. Your OS will still feel nice and snappy (and boot fast).
     
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  8. daphatgrant

    daphatgrant Moderator Staff Member

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    Absolutely, you can't beat the speeds of SSD's or M.2 drives compared to mechanical drives, on the other hand GB per $ can't be beaten with the mechanical drives. If you wanted to and don't mind throwing the cash at it there's nothing wrong with running everything on SSD's or M.2's or a combination but being that you already have a 1TB drive and I haven't seen any crazy differences in keeping your game files on or off the OS drive I'd stick with what you've got.

    SSD (faster, smaller capacity, less GB per $) - for your OS and most of your run of the mill programs.
    HDD (slower, larger capacity, more GB per $) - for games and general file storage. There's nothing wrong with keeping a spinner around for your Steam library.

    You can always upgrade the 1TB drive if it starts to fill up, a 4TB WD blue is only $100.
     
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  9. GotNoRice

    GotNoRice [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Are you running an Intel system? If so, have you ever considered setting up Smart Response Technology aka SSD caching?

    It's pretty simple really. You set it up to use up to 64GB of an SSD as cache for a mechanical drive (or multiple mechanical drives in raid). The first time something is accessed from the mechanical disk, it's accessed from the mechanical disk directly, but at that same time it will be cached by the SSD and every time afterward it will be accessed from the SSD cache instead. Once the 64GB of SSD cache is full, it will remove the oldest data in the SSD cache to make room for newer data.

    It's not a perfect solution, especially because the first time you access anything it will be accessed from the mechanical disk only, but for any files that get accessed multiple times it will be done almost at SSD speeds as it will (assuming that data is still in the SSD cache) be read from the SSD cache instead.

    In my system I use a 500GB Samsung 960 Pro NVME drive for OS, Programs, and some of the games I care about the most. Then I have a 256GB Samsung 850 Pro SATA drive, 64GB of which is used as SSD cache. The remaining space on the 256GB drive simply shows up as an empty drive and can be used for anything. I keep some of my games on there also. Then finally I have two 1TB 7200RPM SATA mechanical drives in Raid:0, and this is what I use my SSD cache to accelerate. The majority of my Steam library, aside from a few of my most-played games, are loaded on this SSD-cached pair of Raid:0 mechanical drives. I also run a lot of Virtual Machines with their contents loaded on the SSD-cached mechanical drives. You can easily tell that the caching is working. The first time I reboot a VM it will be slow (because it's not cached yet), the 2nd time I reboot a VM it will be almost as fast as if it was on an SSD, because the data has been cached at that point.

    It's all 100% automatic once setup, and you can choose between "Enhanced" (only reads from disk are accelerated) or "Maximized" (data written to the disk is accelerated also, by having it written to the SSD cache instead and then slowly copied to the mechanical drive in the background afterward). Maximized mode has a slight risk of data loss if your PC is turned off, BSODs, etc before the data written to the SSD is written to the mechanical drive.

    One nice thing is that you can find older smaller SSDs in the 64-128gb range on eBay for like $20 or less these days. You can buy one and use it as a dedicated SSD Cache drive.
     
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  10. SamirD

    SamirD 2[H]4U

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    Interesting technology. I thought this idea was dead after some hardware solutions that worked in a similar manner were a royal mess.

    In the maximized mode, would it not only erase the data from ssd after it is written to the mech drive? If so, then the potential for data loss is no different than any other 'write through' caching method and should be quite solid. And the chance for loss would be even less if you're able to directly access the files in the ssd 'cache'--is that possible?
     
  11. blunt_eastwood

    blunt_eastwood Limp Gawd

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    Can someone tell me how to move games I installed onto my HDD? I have Steam, Origin, and Ubisoft's launchers installed.
     
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  12. GotNoRice

    GotNoRice [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Open Steam.
    From the "Steam" drop down menu, click on "settings".
    Click on "Downloads" on the left
    At the top, under where it says "Content Libraries", click on the button that says "STEAM LIBRARY FOLDERS"
    Click the "ADD LIBRARY FOLDER" button on the bottom left.
    Navigate to where you want the new folder location to be. Either select an existing empty folder or create a new empty folder - either way it has to be an empty folder. Click the "Select" button.
    You should now see this new folder listed under your "Steam Library Folders".
    Now go back to your main Steam window. Right click on the game that you want to move, click on Properties, and then click the "LOCAL FILES" tab at the top.
    You should now have a new button called "MOVE INSTALL FOLDER". This button only shows up when you have more than one Steam Library Folder, which is the reason for the previous steps. Click on it.
    Make sure the folder you want to move it to is selected (if you only have one other steam library location besides default, then it will be your only choice).
    Click the "MOVE FOLDER" button. The file copy process should begin, and after that, the game should be successfully moved to the new location.

    Not sure about Origin or Ubisoft but I would imagine it's possible.


    You can't manually access the SSD cache, it's totally transparent to the end user. Written data will remain in the SSD cache until it is pushed out of cache to make room for new data, but never before it is first copied to the mechanical drive. If you do have a BSOD or similar before data written to the SSD cache is written to the mechanical drive, there is a built-in cleanup process that will run automatically on the next reboot, before windows even loads. That will usually fix any potential data loss but the slight risk is still there.
     
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  13. SamirD

    SamirD 2[H]4U

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    Very interesting on the ssd cache--sounds just like the sas controllers that have a battery backed up cache, except that is on the bit/block level and the Intel solution is at the file level (and is software vs hardware).