Solid State Drives (SSDs) have become extremely popular due to their speed, low power use, and reliability. However, they are typically contain much less space than equivalently priced hard-disk drives (HDDs). Windows users can use symbolic links to move some data onto cheaper HDDs. This helps to prolong the useful life of SSDs, since unnecessary data does not take up limited space and since this greater free space on SSDs should result in better write management.

Windows Vista and up supports symbolic links, which can be created using the “mklink” command in cmd.exe. Be sure to run it in Administrator mode, which can be accessed by typing “cmd.exe” into the Start Menu Search bar and right clicking on the “cmd.exe” shortcut.

Some useful things to take off of your SSD are:

  • Microsoft Office’s MSOCache
  • The Windows Installer folder
  • Unnecessary Windows driver DLLs

The MSOCache is generally only useful for updating Office using Microsoft Update, and unnecessary driver DLLs are generally never accessed.

The Windows Installer folder is necessary for installing and uninstalling updates, but it can be offloaded to another drive, as it is not often used.

The MSOCache optimization is easily done, but the DLL optimization requires another program: DLLArchive.

To work with the MSOCache, first copy the MSOCache folder onto another drive and note the location. Then, open cmd.exe in Administrator mode. Input this mklink command:

mklink /D “C:\MSOCache” “D:\New\Folder\For\MSOCache”

The /D option creates a symbolic link joining the two folders and is necessary for working with folders. mklink with no operators only modifies files.

To work with DLL Archive, first download the program here. Next, create a DLLArchive folder on another drive. After you open cmd.exe, run this mklink command:

mklink /D “C:\Windows\DLLArchive” “D:\New\Folder\For\DLLArchive”

When you run DLL Archive, your unnecessary driver DLLs should then be placed on the separate drive. Users may want to run DLL Archive regularly, as Windows updates replace some of the removed DLL files.

By using these two tweaks, users could realize several GBs worth of space savings. I’m sure others will find other creative ways to save space as well. However, be aware that the greater interdependencies between different data volumes results in more complicated data recovery if a drive fails. In essence, don’t go overboard.

For more information on mklink and the /D, /J, and /H options, please visit these sites: MSDN Blog, MSDN, Wikipedia. Credits to this site for the MSOCache tip.

A few years ago, I wrote about how to offload data from size-limited but speedy SSDs to HDDs using mklink. I wrote that:

Some useful things to take off of your SSD are:
● Microsoft Office's MSOCache
● The Windows Installer folder
● Unnecessary Windows driver DLLs

There are a couple of new tools that can also be used.

SteamMover

Once you have installed a program, Steam Mover can be used to move it to another hard drive or permanently attached flash storage. It moves a program and creates symbolic links so that references to the old location point to the new location seamlessly.

CubicExplorer

Cubic Explorer is an alternative to the Windows default file explorer, offering tabs, a simplified right-click menu, and several other features. It also has a built in symbolic link generator, so files can be moved, a link can be generated, and the link can be cut and pasted to the original location.

 

How to Combine Symbolic Links with the Cloud

Symbolic links can be used for an easier cloud-syncing experience. With so many tools, it can be difficult to keep track of data, and having multiple copies of data everywhere wastes space and can be confusing.

In my case, I have at least 30 GBs of storage from OneDrive and Google Drive. OneDrive is built into Windows 8, and Google Drive is useful for syncing files to the internet. I have my GDrive set as a folder inside OneDrive, which provides both data security and data availability. Note that this setup requires that the GDrive folder be stored offline using the appropriate OneDrive setting, or GDrive cannot find or sync any data.

I store my teaching materials on a flash drive for using at work. I need a copy at home, but I also store them online for my teaching website. To simplify all this, I set my website to pull files directly from GDrive. I store my teaching files on a folder stored locally in GDrive (and nested in OneDrive), and I use symbolic links to put this folder in an easy to access location, such as my desktop. Then, I use FreeFileSync to sync files between the desktop link and my flash drive.

There’s some redundancy there, for sure, but it’s a solution that reduces the amount of necessary management.

 

SSDs have limited lifespans due to their write limits. However, some operating systems are better adjusted for SSDs than others, and some tweaks can help. Here are two sites that offer some advice:

Tweakhound advises users not to adjust any settings under Windows 8, as the OS is optimized for SSDs. However, users may need to run the Windows System Assessment Tool to force the OS to recognize the SSD.

For users under Windows 7, it may help to extend the life of the drive by disabling SuperFetch and PreFetch. These may be unnecessary, but definitely disable defragmentation and enable TRIM.

Some more tips can be found at Speedguide.