The Wiper Tool

The only Microsoft OS with TRIM support is Windows 7. Windows XP and Vista users are out of luck when it comes to TRIM, even if your drive supports it, the OS will never send it the command. Luckily there’s a workaround, one first popularized by Indilinx - not Intel. Kudos to the Indilinx guys.

It’s called the Indilinx Wiper Tool.

The tool asks the OS for all available LBAs (free space as far as the OS is concerned), then feeds the list to the SSD and tells the drive to TRIM those LBAs - prioritizing them for cleaning. It shouldn’t touch valid data, the key word being shouldn’t. Once cleaned, with no existing data in those blocks, performance goes back to its new state.

It’s a very simple solution actually. TRIM works because the OS knows when a file is deleted and it uses the TRIM command to inform the SSD of the deletion. Don’t have OS level TRIM support? Well, just run a tool that asks the OS what locations aren’t in use any longer. You get the same result, it just takes one extra step: running the wiper tool.


See wiper.dat? It's eating up all available LBAs then telling the controller to TRIM those blocks. Clever.

I tested the Wiper Tool to make sure it worked as promised and indeed it did, I actually showed you the results at the beginning of this story. One pass of the tool and the drive went from used to new performance:

PCMark Vantage HDD Score New "Used" After TRIM/Idle GC % of New Perf
OCZ Vertex Turbo (Indilinx MLC) 26157 25035 26038 99.5%

 

You’ll need to get the tool from your drive vendor and it currently works under both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows OSes (XP through 7). I found that it works best in IDE mode; with your controller set to RAID or AHCI I’ve seen issues where the manual trim process can easily take more than several hours. When running properly it takes a couple of minutes to trim an entire drive.

You don’t need to run the tool that often (Indilinx drives don’t drop significantly in real world performance anyway) and once we get official TRIM support, Windows 7 users won’t need to do anything at all. But until then it does provide a nice way to keep your drive fresh.

All Indilinx Drives Are Built Alike Impact of Idle Garbage Collection
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  • sotoa - Friday, September 04, 2009 - link

    Another great article. You making me drool over these SSD's!
    I can't wait till Win7 comes to my door so I can finally get an SSD for my laptop.
    Hopefully prices will drop some more by then and Trim firmware will be available.
    Reply
  • lordmetroid - Thursday, September 03, 2009 - link

    I use them both because they are damn good and explanatory suffixes. It is 2009, soon 2010 I think we can at least get the suffixes correct, if someone doesn't know what they mean, wikipedia has answers. Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Saturday, September 05, 2009 - link

    As someone who's particular about using SI and being correct, I think it's better to stick to GB for the sake of simplicity and consistency. The tiny inaccuracy is almost always irrelevant, and as long as all storage products advertise in GB, it wouldn't make sense to speak in terms of GiB. Reply
  • Touche - Thursday, September 03, 2009 - link

    Both articles emphasize Intel's performance lead, but, looking at real world tests, the difference between it and Vertex is really small. Not hardly enough to justify the price difference. I feel like the articles are giving an impression that Intel is in a league of its own when in fact it's only marginally faster. Reply
  • smjohns - Tuesday, September 08, 2009 - link

    This is where I struggle. It is all very well quoting lots of stats about all these drives but what I really want to know is if I went for Intel over the OCZ Vertex (non-turbo) where would I really notice the difference in performance on a laptop?

    Would it be slower start up / shut down?
    Slower application response times?
    Speed at opening large zipped files?
    Copying / processing large video files?

    If the difference is that slim then I guess it is down to just a personal preference....
    Reply
  • morrie - Thursday, September 03, 2009 - link

    I've made it a habit of securely deleting files by using "shred" like this: shred -fuvz, and accepting the default number of passes, 25. Looks like this security practice is now out, as the "wear" on the drive would be at least 25x faster, bringing the stated life cycles closer to having an impact on drive longevity. So what's the alternative solution for securely deleting a file? Got to "delete" and forget about security? Or "shred" with a lower number of passes, say 7 or 10, and be sure to purchase a non-Intel drive with the ten year warranty and hope that the company is still in business, and in the hard drive business, should you need warranty service in the outer years... Reply
  • Rasterman - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    watching too much CSI, there is an article somewhere i read by a data repair tech who works in one of the multi-million dollar data recovery labs, basically he said writing over it once is all you should do and even that is overkill 99% of the time. theoretically it is possible to even recover that _sometimes_, but the expense required is so high that unless you are committing a billion dollar fraud or are the secretary to osama bin laden no one will ever try to recover such data. chances are if you are in such circles you can afford a new drive 25x more often. and if you have such information or knowledge wouldn't be far easier and cheaper to simply beat it out of you than trying to recover a deleted drive? Reply
  • iamezza - Friday, September 04, 2009 - link

    1 pass should be sufficient for most purposes. Unless you happen to be working on some _extremely_ sensitive/important data. Reply
  • derkurt - Thursday, September 03, 2009 - link

    quote:

    So what's the alternative solution for securely deleting a file?


    I may be wrong on this, but I'd assume that once TRIM is enabled, a file is securely deleted if it has been deleted on the filesystem level. However, it might depend on the firmware when exactly the drive is going to actually delete the flash blocks which are marked as deletable by TRIM. For performance reasons the drive should do that as soon as possible after a TRIM command, but also preferably at a time when there is not much "action" going on - after all, the whole point of TRIM is to change the time of block erasing flash cells to a point where the drive is idle.
    Reply
  • morrie - Thursday, September 03, 2009 - link

    That's on a Linux system btw

    As to aligning drives...how about an update to the article on what needs to be done/ensured, if anything, for using the drives with a Linux OS?
    Reply

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