As I type this, Microsoft is preparing one of the biggest product launches in their history—the latest version of the most widespread operating system in the world: Windows 10.
Probably the most talked about feature in the new OS is the return of the Start menu. While this is a very high-profile change and very welcome in many quarters, there are a lot of “under-the-hood” improvements that will also be welcomed.
Importantly, because the Start menu is back, adoption of Windows 10 may be leaps ahead of its predecessor, which means many computer users will now be able to take advantage of new advanced storage features. And of course, at Micron, we build storage devices, so let’s focus on important storage features available in Windows 10.
Getting Ready for Windows 10
To be honest, between Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, there are no major new requirements for SATA storage devices, particularly for SSDs. That said, Micron has worked very closely with Microsoft to ensure that our SSDs are fully compatible and ready for the Windows 10 deployment. We have had beta versions of Windows 10 in our labs for many months, and we have sent our SSDs to Microsoft’s engineering teams for their testing. We have no outstanding issues we need to work through for Windows 10! Many of our currently shipping SSD configurations have already completed their Windows 10 certifications, and the rest will be complete in the coming days.
This is the good news. The even better news comes for those users who are still using Windows 7 and hesitated to adopt Windows 8. Windows 8, and now Windows 10, brought a number of improvements for SSDs.
Improved Usability and Clarity of SSD Management Features
Trim is more readily available. Trim is an operating system function that helps an SSD manage space containing data that has been deleted or invalidated by the operating system. Trim has been available since Windows 7, but was somewhat invisible to the end user. This is fine in most cases, but some end users may want a bit more control. Now, trim is available in the drive Tools menu, in a feature called Optimize. Optimize will allow a user to execute trim on a predetermined schedule and run it on a point-and-click basis. This point-and-click option can be a very handy feature; if you’ve done a large file delete (and emptied your Recycle Bin), you can immediately reclaim that deleted space and improve the SSD’s performance, particularly if the drive was nearly full. As this optimize function occurs, the locations where these files were stored are invalidated and permanently erased. Those files will then be unrecoverable, which can be quite useful from a data security standpoint.
Defragmentation causes a lot of controversy and consternation. Generally, defrag should not be run on SSDs, and it’s probably best to disable any regularly scheduled defrag in Windows 7. Don’t worry too much if you’ve run defrag on your SSD a few times, though. It will cause a bit of extra wear, but probably not so much that you’d notice it over the lifetime of your SSD. The good news is that in the newer Windows versions, defrag for SSDs is completely removed so you don’t need to worry about this anymore.
|Figure: New Drive Tools Options
(NOTE: "Optimize" is new and "defrag" is now unavailable for SSDs.)
Security and Encryption
If there is any single watchword ahead of the Windows 10 launch (besides “Start Menu”!) it would have to be “Security.” Windows 10 is bringing new levels of security to both business and home computing. Micron is trying to help in this effort from the data storage side, too. We have been shipping hardware-based self-encrypting drives (SEDs) for many years now. At the operating system level, Windows 10 carries forward a feature introduced in Windows 8 called Microsoft eDrive, and our Micron and Crucial SEDs are fully compatible with eDrive. If you are making the leap from Windows 7 to Windows 10, you’ll find that in the Professional and Enterprise versions of Windows 10, BitLocker will be able to take advantage of our hardware-encrypted SEDs and will deliver all the protection of full disk encryption, without compromising performance. Windows 7 BitLocker was only capable of software encryption, which may result in a noticeable performance loss.
Storage Executive is Micron’s SSD management tool, designed to help you get the most out of your Micron SSD (available for Crucial SSDs, too!). We have been rigorously testing our tools in Windows 10, including testing in the new Edge web browser. And of course, Storage Executive will continue to support your favorite old browsers under Windows 10, like Google Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.
The Bottom Line: Micron is Ready!
If you’re excited for the new operating system, so are we. Your Micron SSD is good to go with Windows 10. We hope that you’ll enjoy all the great features of Windows 10, without any concern about your SSD. We’re ready!