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I've just bought a new SSD to use exclusively for my flight sim software. I was wondering if anyone has any advice for me before I start installing everything.


 


A key characteristic of SSD drives is that they shouldn't be defragged, so the order of installation is probably important to get the fastest sequential drive reads. I know there's no drive head like an HDD but apparently contiguous blocks of data are read a lot faster on an SSD.


 


Obviously I'll install FSX first, but what order should I install everything else? You can see what addons I have in my sig (I'll probably add Australia too). I don't have FTX Global yet. Should I install REX and ASN first, then all the FTX regions, then the freeware airports, then finally the libraries? Then other aircraft and addons later?


 


Does it matter what order I install the scenery regions? I'm guessing the order isn't crucial (pun intended), but I thought I'd ask, just in case. I don't want to find out later that I made a mistake of some kind.


 


Is there anything else I should be aware of regarding using an SSD for flight simming?


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You can't compare SSD's with HDD's, really, so forget about things like "sequential drive reads" and "contiguous blocks of data". From an article about SSD's: "the SSD controller writes data in a scattershot-fashion to multiple NAND chips and locations, using algorithms that only the controller understands". So don't use HDD logic for SSD's. ;)


 


When you said that SSD's shouldn't be defragged, your HDD-logic made you conclude "I better put everything in a perfect order" but you took a wrong turn there: you should have gone the opposite direction! ;) An SSD doesn't need defragging because it doesn't matter at all where things are written! (It also shouldn't be defragged because SSD's have a finite amount of writes and defragging them would use up an enormous amount of totally useless writes!)


 


So you can install everything you want in any order you want and it won't make a difference AT ALL! ;) That actually is one of the benefits of SSD's! :)


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When I installed an SSD I first made an image of C drive where the OS and FSX was installed.


 


I then restored that image to the new SSD and that became the new C drive. There was no need to reinstall anything.


 


It all worked as before except that it was faster. As you would expect.


 


CN


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Take it to heart....the SSD is limited in writes, use them wisely! But, think about all the files that don't need to be on the drive in the first place.  While it is true that you can fill one up with minimal performance loss,  I try not to load any drive much above 50%. So use something else for all those zip files and the bulk scenery files moving what you need into the sim drive, but nothing else.  An AV HDD makes a good place for everything else.  They are a good drive all around, and as a personal note, that's all I use.  They work great, reasonable in price but are only 1T.  Good luck


Henry


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FWIW I would not overthink this.


 


Speaking from personal experience, if you have a stable install of a Flightsim on a standalone (separate) drive - you can simply file copy the contents across to the new drive, drop out the old one and change the drive letters on the SSD to the old drive letter.  I would not reinstall things unless there was a stability problem.


 


A single bulk file copy will give the least writes of any method.


 


You don't need to worry about structuring the install as such, as it will make little, if any, difference to the overall performance.


 




Take it to heart....the SSD is limited in writes, use them wisely! 




 


Much is made of this.  To be honest this is hardly a problem for most applications.  Programs that extensively write/re-write small chunks of data would theoretically be at issue.  In the case of a dedicated Flightsim drive this is a non-issue.  The data is written VERY infrequently (only during updates and installs)


 


If you are using the drive for video editing, or music production then this may be an issue.


 


SSDs make excellent C: drive options (especially in Laptops) which is a task with multiple small writes.  Apart from one computer with a hybrid C: drive, all my computers now use SSD C: drives.  One laptop required a replacement (drive too small).  None of them have displayed performance degradation from wear. (Actually, the first gen JMicron 64Gb in RAID0 failed - but I suspect that is a little like comparing a 1970's Cessna with a modern jetliner)


 


Remember mechanical HDD have a lifespan too ... and I've had many more of these fail than SSDs.


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There is NO SUCH THING as an installation on or for an SSD  . If the OS already has all you FSX on it simply copy and tell the OS where FSX is , boom your done and dusted. Unless your PC is a single drive and your going to reinstall everything which IMHO is completely counter-productive, you MOVE all you flight related stuff to the SSD and run the registry too to sort that part out. , the sad news is you are not going to get any significant increase in your FSX performance. Reading the data from the SSD is just one very small part of the path that various processes take in running FSX and the scenery we are blessed with.

 

I keep hearing stories about Platter HDD failing, so have no fear they do and can, and the very worst thing you can do is keep shutting the PC down. A HDD that is constantly running is more stable and sufferes less thermal stress which is know to cause failures and rebooting works the read Write head hard in some cases, BUT remember the read write heads DO NOT contact the Platter (or shouldn't ) but during reboot and other high load times they can simply because they are being asked to reposition themselves violently, this burns the copper platter surface and will eventually cause surface degradation and failure to either read or write, BUT most drives are SMART and recognise this happening and will reposition data away from a failed sector. I have had a 1 Tb backup drive fail hence my hatred of USB external backup drives. BUT I also have HDD that are 30 Years Old and still functioning (Not currently used but they still function) 

I have HDD's currently in service that are in excess of 15 Years old and are used primarily as caddy backups for various programs and they are still operating as if they are new.  To be honest people who have built their entire systems around SSD's are going to be very disappointed eventually and yes an SSD is like an electronic storage bucket just plug the sucker in and forget about it. don't defrag and all the other stuff normally done with conventional Platter drives. 

 

I am thinking maybe it is time I put together a PDF of my regular system builds along with screen captures of editing etc .  For what it is worth I have not reformatted nor reinstalled anything on my systems since they were commissioned as upgrades from XP back in about 2010 and that system was migrated from Win 95 . preserving all my original programs and so on.

A lot of course has been removed as it was not compatible with later editions of Windows. 

 

In the not too distant future I am going to build a dedicated FSX Race Sim PC and will go through all the processes I use to preserve the OS the User Profile and a host of things that are lost in a reformat that should be preserved so that you do not loose personal data and registry entries etc.  You should be able to reformat your "C\:'  shut down the PC restore you registry and user files and reboot back to where you currently are. 

Oh IMHO NEVER use RAID in ANY form on SSD's OR on a Home or Gaming PC it simply does not give you any advantage OR protection from data loss as is evidenced by the many simmer's on this forum alone that have had serious issues with RAID and honestly unless your prepared to go RAID5 you are wasting your time. 

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Oh IMHO NEVER use RAID in ANY form on SSD's OR on a Home or Gaming PC it simply does not give you any advantage OR protection from data loss as is evidenced by the many simmer's on this forum alone that have had serious issues with RAID and honestly unless your prepared to go RAID5 you are wasting your time.

 

My single experience with a RAID5 HDD array on an Intel ICHRx  chipset was that it was (much) much slower than RAID1.  Never again.  Needless to say, it was slower than RAID0 too.  Very long parity recovery process with performance degradation if the computer is shut off badly.  In short .. unless you have a proper standalone card - it is a dog.

 

With current gen SSDs, for most users RAID0 is an unnecessary extravagance, and may defeat the drives wear-levelling / TRIM function.  RAID1 is difficult to recover onto any board other than the one that it came off, and not required for a Flightsim install that can be backed up.

 

With regard to HDD failure (mechanical HDD), it is quite common, and brand specific (although Google have not published the results by brand)

Google's 2007 study found, based on a large field sample of drives, that actual annualized failure rates (AFRs) for individual drives ranged from 1.7% for first year drives to over 8.6% for three-year old drives

....

According to a study performed by Carnegie Mellon University for both consumer and enterprise-grade HDDs, their average failure rate is 6 years, and life expectancy is 9–11 years.[116] Leading SSDs have overtaken hard disks for reliability,[85] however the risk of a sudden, catastrophic data loss can be lower for mechanical disks

 

Intriguingly the HDD failure-rate is higher for those that report lower operating temperatures .. but again this could be the stop-start phenomenon that Maurice alluded to.

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You can't compare SSD's with HDD's, really, so forget about things like "sequential drive reads" and "contiguous blocks of data". From an article about SSD's: "the SSD controller writes data in a scattershot-fashion to multiple NAND chips and locations, using algorithms that only the controller understands". So don't use HDD logic for SSD's. ;)

 

When you said that SSD's shouldn't be defragged, your HDD-logic made you conclude "I better put everything in a perfect order" but you took a wrong turn there: you should have gone the opposite direction! ;) An SSD doesn't need defragging because it doesn't matter at all where things are written! (It also shouldn't be defragged because SSD's have a finite amount of writes and defragging them would use up an enormous amount of totally useless writes!)

 

So you can install everything you want in any order you want and it won't make a difference AT ALL! ;) That actually is one of the benefits of SSD's! :)

 

A few days ago I would have agreed with everything you wrote, but when I ordered my new SSD I read a bit more into it and discovered that sequential read speed is faster than random read speed. Okay, not by a massive amount and I'm probably obsessing too much over this, but this website has done some tests on the drive I bought...

 

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/storage/2014/06/02/crucial-mx100-512gb-review/4

 

... and if I'm reading that right (pun intended 8)), the sequential read speed is 517 MB/s, while the random read speed (5th graph down) is 339 MB/s.

 

Also, since the website tested sequential writes, I have to assume that is is possible to write sequentially. I'm aware of the SSD writing data "in a scattershot-fashion", but as I understand it, it does that in order to minimise wear on the drive by writing to the different sectors evenly, in which case, this would only need to happen after many files have been written and deleted over time. According to my logic (which may be wrong), when data is first written to an SSD, there's no wear, and therefore no need to spread out the writes. So I'm assuming that the very first writes to the drive will be sequential. Also, that if subsequent data is written to the drive with no previous files being deleted, they will be sequential too. That's why I want to install everything correctly first time with no deleted files.

 

Again, I'm probably getting a bit too obsessed with this, but that's my thinking anyway.

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Here is the plan I would offer (assuming we are talking a stand-alone non-system drive)


 


Get your current drive in order, fully patched, fully installed (defragged if you wish)


 


Directly copy the drives entire folder structure across to the SSD.


 


Change the drive letter.  Done.


 


(Note that any subsequent patches / updates / changes will create fragmentation.  There is precisely nothing you can do about that, however the theoretical read/write seeds will not be evident in FSX/P3D)


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Get your current drive in order, fully patched, fully installed (defragged if you wish)

Directly copy the drives entire folder structure across to the SSD.

Change the drive letter.  Done.

 

That's a very interesting suggestion. I don't think it would be practical for me though. For a start, my current drive has a lot of other software on it, and I don't want to move it all to the SSD, just the FSX stuff, so changing the drive letter wouldn't work. I don't think FSX would work if moved to a different drive without changing the drive letter, would it? (I tried that recently with my old FS9 installation and it didn't.)

 

Secondly, most of my FSX software isn't installed yet, only two regions, and I think I messed something up during my installs so I want to reinstall it all anyway. I figure I might as well just install everything fresh on the new drive. Thanks for the suggestion though.

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Take it to heart....the SSD is limited in writes, use them wisely! But, think about all the files that don't need to be on the drive in the first place.  While it is true that you can fill one up with minimal performance loss,  I try not to load any drive much above 50%. So use something else for all those zip files and the bulk scenery files moving what you need into the sim drive, but nothing else.  An AV HDD makes a good place for everything else.  They are a good drive all around, and as a personal note, that's all I use.  They work great, reasonable in price but are only 1T.  Good luck

Henry

 

Yeah, I know about the writes thing. My plan is to write everything once and just leave it there, so there'll be almost zero wear on the drive.

 

I read some reports about testing the efficiency of SS drives and they reckoned that 75-80% is an ideal practical maximum, the best compromise between storage space and efficiency.

 

Anyone know how large the entire Orbx collection of sceneries is?

 

Don't worry about zip files and unzipping files before install, I'll be using a conventional HDD for that. I've got a 128GB SSD for my OS and any speed critical applications (like music editing software), a 3TB HDD for general storage and the new 512GB SSD for FSX.

 

I hadn't heard of AV drives before, thanks for mentioning that. Sounds ideal for music and video recording. I've got one free drive slot left so I'll look into that.

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1. FWIW I would not overthink this.

 

2. Speaking from personal experience, if you have a stable install of a Flightsim on a standalone (separate) drive - you can simply file copy the contents across to the new drive, drop out the old one and change the drive letters on the SSD to the old drive letter.  A single bulk file copy will give the least writes of any method.

 

3. You don't need to worry about structuring the install as such, as it will make little, if any, difference to the overall performance.

 

Windquest said: "Take it to heart....the SSD is limited in writes, use them wisely!"

 

4. If you are using the drive for video editing, or music production then this may be an issue.

5. Remember mechanical HDD have a lifespan too ... and I've had many more of these fail than SSDs.

 

1. I would. I really must stop doing this! :banghead:

 

2. I don't. My current installation really hasn't got much installed, only a couple of scenery areas. Most of the stuff in my sig hasn't been installed yet. I don't see much point in installing in on an HDD first then moving it. Besides, I'm not happy with my current installation (I may have messed a few things up) and it's not on a standalone drive anyway, there's a lot of other programs on there, so I can't just change the drive letter.

 

3. Thanks. I thought it might not but I thought I'd ask anyway just to be sure.

 

4. I will be doing music and video editing. I'd wondered about getting an SSD for that because of the speed but the likely wear and tear put me off. Fortunately Windquest mentioned AV drives which I hadn't heard of.

 

Tell me about it! I've had three major HDD failures. The first a lot of data but it wasn't anything critical. The other two had a lot of important stuff on them, but I managed to recover practically all of it using an excellent program called GetDataBack, which I highly recommend. Now I'm really paranoid and I back up all vital data on at least two other drives.

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Unless your PC is a single drive and your going to reinstall everything which IMHO is completely counter-productive, you MOVE all you flight related stuff to the SSD and run the registry too to sort that part out. , the sad news is you are not going to get any significant increase in your FSX performance. Reading the data from the SSD is just one very small part of the path that various processes take in running FSX and the scenery we are blessed with.

Oh IMHO NEVER use RAID in ANY form on SSD's OR on a Home or Gaming PC it simply does not give you any advantage OR protection from data loss as is evidenced by the many simmer's on this forum alone that have had serious issues with RAID and honestly unless your prepared to go RAID5 you are wasting your time. 

 

Very little is installed at the moment so it won't take long to reinstall it.

 

I'm not expecting a significant increase. As you say, reading the data is just one part of the process, so I'm trying to optimise every part of the process. Thing is, a system is only as powerful as its weakest link. I think that reading scenery data from the drive is quite a critical part of that process, a potential bottleneck, often seen when low fast flying outpaces the hard disk's ability to keep up with the aircraft, resulting in the well known "blurries" (a problem I often suffered from back in the mid-noughties on my old computer.

 

I'm pleased to say that it's hardly happened at all with my new computer, even when flying along a river valley at 1300 knots in the F-18 (yes I know it was overspeed, but I had the "aircraft disintegration" option switched off) and it barely blurred at all, but I have seen it a few times.

 

I'm guessing that faster load times from the hard drive will help to eliminate that problem. More importantly, the stuttering problem, which I really hate, typically tends to happen when I turn the plane to face new complex scenery (like turning to Vancouver after taking off from the airport). Surely this must be due to having to load a large amount of complex scenery very quickly? If so, then surely loading it faster from an SSD drive would help? Unless there's more to it than that, which may well be the case...

 

As for RAID, I've never liked the sound of it.

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Honestly I would put the OS on the SSD with the Pagefile there too and the TEMP dir  everything else on a regular Platter Drive. 


 


As a retired techo I have had to sort out and rebuild so many systems where the RAID Array's have screwed up, and even the striped and mirror'd sections were un-recoverable. Redundant Array of Independent Drives, but they must be properly configured and run by a RAID controller and NOT Software from the MoBo if you EVER want it to work properly. 


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