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CF-Card=Only Hard Drive - Flag as SSD?

    Question

  • Using a Zif-to-CF_Adapter I got a 300X Compact Flash Card to run in Ultra-DMA5 mode, and so it's now my one and only hard drive running Windows 7.  It is working great, and even faster then the one it replaced.  My question is, I heard Windows 7 treats SSDs(Solid State Drives) differentely in aspects such as erasing data and partitioning.  Since my CF-Card is flash based too, is there any way to tell Windows 7 to treat it as an SSD?  Or do you know of anything I can change in the registry to make Windows 7 treat it better?  I looked around to see if I could find a driver that is more appropriate for it, but no luck. 

    Thanks in advance,
       Brandon
    Tuesday, February 24, 2009 6:04 AM

Answers

All replies

  • Windows treats solid state and magnetic disks the same. Storage is storage, plain and simple.

    IT/Developer, Windows/Linux/Whatever I need a new web server, the antique IBM 300GL has a 137GB disk limit, for my chess site. I wanted to post many more downloadable files, the existing 30GB disk is insufficient.
    Thursday, April 09, 2009 4:27 AM
  • Windows treats solid state and magnetic disks the same. Storage is storage, plain and simple.

    I don't think it is that simple - Windows 7 does include enhancements for solid state storage; however, unfortunately for Brandon, who originally posted this question, I don't know how it will see a CF card installed as an SSD via an adapter.

    There are a few links to WinHEC presentations in the blog post at http://www.markwilson.co.uk/blog/2008/12/netbooks-solid-state-drives-and-file-systems.htm (full disclosure: it's one of mine!)

    Mark Wilson (MVP Virtual Machine) - http://www.markwilson.co.uk/blog/
    Thursday, April 09, 2009 9:11 AM
    Answerer
  • I'm running Win7 beta on a mini ITX form factor with a 32 GB SSD.  There shouldn't be a difference.  However, I'm noticing some problems in seeing devices during restarts (rebooting).  These problems don't occur if I shut down completely and then boot up. CF's have a finite number of write cycles, which may affect their reliability as a hard drive. 
    Friday, April 10, 2009 12:00 AM
  • Windows treats solid state and magnetic disks the same. Storage is storage, plain and simple.

    Storage is storage, yes.  But there is different types.  Windows 7 is suppose to treat SSD's differently because of the finite writes and limitation on multi-transfers.  These are just some of the implimentation I've read about:  Windows 7 will partition the SSDs more efficiently to lessen the redundant read-write cycles... it will disable defragmentation since defragmenting can reduce the lifespan of SSDs (read times are faster when drives are defragmented,however flash memory already has a high read rate and slow write rate)... a feature called “trim” will cut down on the amount of data to be deleted, increasing the SSD’s lifespan and allowing it to delete garbage data in advance... using ATA commands to increase the SSD write speeds...
    Monday, April 13, 2009 7:17 AM
  • ...I don't know how it will see a CF card installed as an SSD via an adapter.
    I believe it sends a call for the rotation speed via ATA, and when it returns zero it assumes it is an SSD.  But I don't know when it retrieves this information, where it stores this variable/flag indicating a drive is flash-based, and whether this is even implimented in the current build of Windows 7.  I hope there is or will be a value in the registry I can change to indicate a drive is flash-based/Solid-State.  (and of course that I find this value soon)
    Monday, April 13, 2009 8:50 AM
  • CF's have a finite number of write cycles, which may affect their reliability as a hard drive. 

    10,000 in this case (MLC)  Fortunately transcend has a lifetime warranty on thier cards and Windows 7 can be completely backed up into an image in less the 20 minutes (which I do once or twice a week).  And any documents I'm working on which are important I have back up onto another medium automatically. 

    Even though I've read vast concerns on the limited write life of flash-cards(which SSDs also have), I have yet to read one post about a flash card reaching this stage and becoming inaccessible.  On the other hand, I have had many hard disk drives reach their limit, becoming very ugly paper weights. Although I haven't had a flash card as long as these drives, I swear I have written to them more often.
    Monday, April 13, 2009 9:07 AM
  • I have been using for 2 years a CF with an IDE adaptor as a hard drive to run Puppy Linux from RAM when booted, and have not had problems with it.  Many folks call this setup the poor man's SSD.  I agree that overall CF or SSD when properly installed and configured are very reliable.  My Win7 beta (7000) is running well although I'm starting to suspect that hardware problems I mentioned previously are not related to Win7 nor the SSD.
    Thursday, April 16, 2009 2:36 AM
  • Poor man's SSD indeed.  That's the sole reason I chose a CF over a SSD. Well, that and the hassle of getting Fujitsu to sell me a hard drive cable they don't normally sell.  But the money was the kicker.  I do have problems sometimes with my devices not working properly after a reboot in contrast to a 10 second shutdown.  But I'm pretty sure that was a problem before I used a CF Card, and when I was still using Vista.  But despite the many bugs that are apparent in Windows 7, it still has less bugs then Vista in my opinion.  And more feature rich (gui-friendly) then XP and Vista, in fact, I can't go back now.  I'm using a tablet and couldn't live without the features new to Windows 7.  Like Touch panning (Kinetic scrolling, window thumbnail previews, taskbar on left side, biometrics built in, superbars, etc...  (but mainly the touch panning).  I just hope there's a way to trick it into treating my Compact-Flash as Solid-State.
    Monday, April 20, 2009 6:43 AM
  • Poor man's SSD indeed.  That's the sole reason I chose a CF over a SSD. Well, that and the hassle of getting Fujitsu to sell me a hard drive cable they don't normally sell.  But the money was the kicker.   I do have problems sometimes with my devices not working properly after a reboot in contrast to a 10 second shutdown.  But I'm pretty sure that was a problem before I used a CF Card, and when I was still using Vista.  But despite the many bugs that are apparent in Windows 7, it still has less bugs then Vista in my opinion.  And more feature rich (gui-friendly) then XP and Vista, in fact, I can't go back now.  I'm using a tablet and couldn't live without the features new to Windows 7.  Like Touch panning (Kinetic scrolling, window thumbnail previews, taskbar on left side, biometrics built in, superbars, etc...  (but mainly the touch panning).  I just hope there's a way to trick it into treating my Compact-Flash as Solid-State.
    You can start with the hardware by using a CF to SATA adapter like the one from Addonics (http://www.addonics.com/products/flash_memory_reader/adsacf.asp), this may work.
    • Marked as answer by Nick FV Monday, June 01, 2009 2:23 PM
    • Unmarked as answer by Brandon Ouellette Friday, June 05, 2009 12:17 AM
    Saturday, April 25, 2009 7:46 PM
  • Sorry _irobot_, I'm not sure why your post was marked as the answer by Nick FV since I've been using the type of hardware adapter you mentioned long before I started this thread.  I thought this would be obvious in my first sentence, in my first post:

    Using a Zif-to-CF_Adapter I got a 300X Compact Flash Card to run in Ultra-DMA5 mode, and so it's now my one and only hard drive running Windows 7.

    So my guess is that either an answer is automatically marked after so may days with no replies; Nick NV is lacking some major computer skills; or he didn't bother to read the thread, assuming the last reply was the best one.

    Again, sorry _irobot_.  I do appreciate your reply since it may help others interested in using a cheaper SSD solution, however it doesn't answer my initial question so I had to unmark it.
    Friday, June 05, 2009 12:38 AM
  • Using a Zif-to-CF_Adapter I got a 300X Compact Flash Card to run in Ultra-DMA5 mode, and so it's now my one and only hard drive running Windows 7.  It is working great, and even faster then the one it replaced.  My question is, I heard Windows 7 treats SSDs(Solid State Drives) differentely in aspects such as erasing data and partitioning.  Since my CF-Card is flash based too, is there any way to tell Windows 7 to treat it as an SSD?  Or do you know of anything I can change in the registry to make Windows 7 treat it better?  I looked around to see if I could find a driver that is more appropriate for it, but no luck. 

    Thanks in advance,
       Brandon

    Around a year or more ago they were asking people to sign up to test "ex fat", and all this time I just assumed if I could ever afford an SSD that I would use exfat. Now I'm not so sure, maybe I've been reading biased articles, but all I've been able to gather is that it's new, and a little slower than NTFS, but it might align more correctly on an SSD. I do not actually want to format any of my partitions at this time, but it doesn't look like I could use it if I wanted to right this second anyway (It's only allowing NTFS).
       Your post was very interesting and I hope when you find out a little more, you post some of it here, thanks.
    Friday, June 05, 2009 2:08 AM
  • I have a bunch of SD cards, none bigger than 2GB as my Canon IXUS i5 (SD 20) cannot see anything bigger.

    I use the USB port on the camera but I have a USB general adapter too.

    Flash generally has been designed to have things like wear leveling to avoid a shorten life due to cameras taking pics and then deleting them over and over.

    While Windows is claimed to be flash friendly, as I said the functionality is built in to achieve the best outcomes.

    The main problems for flash are the swap file that Windows has used for years as many systems had far less RAM that needed.

    If I was able to, I would dump the swap file. I cannot as some programs I use demand it.

    Vote if helpful, I am running for Office (joke), also mark questions answered. IT/Developer, Windows/Linux/Whatever I need a new web server, the antique IBM 300GL has a 137GB disk limit, for my chess site. My server's disk finally croaked, I am out of work, I need to get a new server as the old IBM is past its prime.
    Friday, June 05, 2009 2:18 AM
  • Again, sorry _irobot_.  I do appreciate your reply since it may help others interested in using a cheaper SSD solution, however it doesn't answer my initial question so I had to unmark it.

    No problem, my possible answer to your original question is to check HDD optimised services and disable these, which will improve SSD performance.  
    You can start by disabling:
    system restore
    defragging
    page file
    indexing
    write caching
    short file names

    Depending on your system you may find these tweaks may work or not, remember to backup your files to return to your current state if you need to.
     
    Saturday, June 06, 2009 7:09 PM
  • Windows treats solid state and magnetic disks the same. Storage is storage, plain and simple.

    No. Here's a link to how Windows 7 treats SSD / extremely fast HDDs differently than slow SSD / regular HDDs. It is a performance metric and the linked article does speak to other types of flash drives.

    http://blogs.msdn.com/e7/archive/2009/05/05/support-and-q-a-for-solid-state-drives-and.aspx
    Saturday, June 06, 2009 8:42 PM
  • Good link PNutts.

    The article describes that Windows 7 will treat your drive accordingly if it scores well enough in the Windows Experience Index. So to answer the original question, if it scores high enough, it will mark it automatically.
    Saturday, June 06, 2009 11:33 PM
    Answerer
  • One thing to note... Do not use a slow CF card with the RC1 OS. I have a Kingston 32GB card that only runs 133x (20+MBps reads/20MBps writes) and it does not work well at all with RC1 (but worked well with the beta). Works just fine with XP though.

    Not sure how to embed images here so this is the link to what I did:
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v329/Greg_E/u810CF.jpg

    Monday, June 08, 2009 2:37 PM

  •  Sweet article! ln one of the comments I found this useful info on Trim:

    Trim is enabled by default but can be turned off.  You can use the "fsutil behavior query|set DisableDeleteNotify" command to query or set Trim.
       I haven't looked too thoroughly at the article yet, or tried that command; but I'll be sure to post anything  useful I find in this thread after I do. Thanks for posting everyone, I know people will discover this thread and the information everyone has been kind enough to post will make a lot of people very happy! =)

       I unmarked your post as an answer so I could officially mark it as one. This is just because Microsoft MVP's tend to mark any random post as an answer and I'm assuming that other people (like myself) don't take posts marked as an answer seriously unless the original person who posted the question marks it as one.


     In response to
    PNutts' post:
    "Windows treats solid state and magnetic disks the same. Storage is storage, plain and simple."

    No. Here's a link to how Windows 7 treats SSD / extremely fast HDDs differently than slow SSD / regular HDDs. It is a performance metric and the linked article does speak to other types of flash drives.

    http://blogs.msdn.com/e7/archive/2009/05/05/support-and-q-a-for-solid-state-drives-and.aspx
    Friday, August 07, 2009 9:03 PM
  •    It looks like trim is enabled by default, and to my surprise the fsutil command returned 0 (zero meaning, it is sending the trim command). 

       One thing I am still confused about is the partition alignment.  From what I understand, Solid State Drives work more efficiently when they are formatted/partitioned with the proper alignment.  Window's 7 probably formatted my drive when I installed it with set SSD alignment since it wouldn't receive a command that my drive is spinning.  So my question is, do Compact Flash Cards have different alignment characteristics for optimal performance, or is the default alignment Windows 7 uses for partitioning a SSD work in the same way for a CF card?

       I read about the diskpart command "create partition primary align xx", where "create partition primary align 64" seems to be the most popular one flying around the Net for SSD partitioning.  Does anyone know what xx value would be the most efficient for a 16GB (MLC) CF card?  My system could always use more optimizing. :)

       Brandon
        MyMVP
    Saturday, August 08, 2009 4:02 AM
  • Alignment is not an issue as the partitions are all with 512 byte sectors. Clusters are made of 2 or more sectors. This is how all file systems work.

    Vote if answered or helpful, I am running for Office (joke)! IT/Developer, Windows/Linux/Whatever I need a new web server, the old IBM 300GL has a 137GB disk limit, for my chess site as the hard disk finally bit the dust. The Windows box is a RaidMax Smilodon chassis, Asus M2NBP-VM CSM motherboard, AMD 4200+ 65W CPU, 2GB RAM, ATI x600, over 1TB storage, Windows 7 RC.
    Saturday, August 08, 2009 2:37 PM
  • I wish I had a better understanding of this, but from what I've read, I'd have to disagree that alignment is not an issue.  There seems to be more evidence suggesting otherwise.  Take a look at:
    http://thunk.org/tytso/blog/2009/02/20/aligning-filesystems-to-an-ssds-erase-block-size/

    Saturday, August 08, 2009 6:53 PM
  • Tht article is garbage, there are so many inconsistancies and outright mistakes that the author needs to do some research. Go checkout Intel's site, they make the hardware.

    SSD drives are manufactured to work with existing disk controllers. Disks all have 512 byte sectors even though Windows has supported other sizes for a long time.

    Camera memory is made the same way, as most cameras act like a disk so that images can be imported into a PC. The chip itself can also be placed in a USB reader and used the same way.

    They are designed to be like disk storage to maintain compatibility.

    Vote if answered or helpful, I am running for Office (joke)! IT/Developer, Windows/Linux/Whatever I need a new web server, the old IBM 300GL has a 137GB disk limit, for my chess site as the hard disk finally bit the dust. The Windows box is a RaidMax Smilodon chassis, Asus M2NBP-VM CSM motherboard, AMD 4200+ 65W CPU, 2GB RAM, ATI x600, over 1TB storage, Windows 7 RC.
    Saturday, August 08, 2009 7:38 PM