As I mentioned a long, long time ago on this site, I upgraded my 17″ MacBook Pro with a Corsair 128GB SSD. The speed was astounding… for the first 5-6 months. Then things started to slow down. It started to get obvious when I was working on numerous video and photo files at the same time – like 30 or 40 files going at once. I chalked it up to a bottleneck in some part of the hardware and hoped that a reboot, a PRAM reset or even some Onyx action would solve the issue and the speeds would go back to normal. This worked a little here and there, but as time went by, the SSD just got slower and slower. A few weeks back, I got fed up with the SSD; it had become just as slow as a standard platter hard drive. That’s sacrilege in the SSD world. My own beloved SSD had become the enemy of my productivity.
To combat my new nemesis, I searched the Google and found the most promising article at this website here. I read with excitement until I clicked on the link for the software – it’s a paid app called DiskTester… and not a cheap one at $40.
The free option…
I believe there’s always a free way to get what you need, so I began racking my brain. It occurred to me – OS X has Disk Utility.app built in. Duh! It can create volumes of very specific sizes, which seems to be the same function DiskTester is performing when it’s running its “recondition” option.
Here’s what I did:
- used CarbonCopyCloner to clone my SSD to a nice 1TB drive on a Firewire 800 dock.
- booted from the external drive into my clone OS.
- opened Disk Utility and selected the SSD.
- ran the “erase” function on the SSD.
- ran the partition function – selecting 1 partition for the volume scheme.
- repeated the partition with 16 partitions
- reduced the drive back to one Mac OS Extended Journaled partition.
- erased free space on the drive (seems unnecessary in retrospect)
- clicked on the “New Image” icon at the top of Disk Utility’s screen. I selected the SSD as the target volume and made a DMG file to the size of the SSD itself, 128.04GB. Disk Utility created the image and the SSD was left with about 21.61MB remaining. I repeated the action with a 21.6MB image file on the SSD. This left the SSD with only a few KB of empty space. Sufficient.
- insterted the OS X Snow Leopard DVD in my MacBook Pro and rebooted to the installation DVD. I ran the OS X setup as a new computer, not using the CarbonCopyCloner image. I figured a fresh installation would eliminate any detritus from tons and tons of use. I was right. The fresh copy was much better.
- during the Snow Leopard installation process, I opted to import settings, apps, emails and documents from the 1TB clone. OS X put everything in perfect order for me. My work environment was back to the way it had started.
The entire process took about 90 minutes. I got it done during two episodes of Castle.
Here are some pics:
So what happened?
The Disk Utility-reconditioned SSD was indeed much faster than before the whole process. Boot times were almost back to day-1 speeds, applications opened super fast and I was able to get back to hard core production.
One caveat - I learned that the SSD should not be used as a target disk for bittorrent files or for other apps that intentionally create highly fragmented files. Literally hundreds or thousands of files downloaded in countless tiny fragments simply screw the SSD sideways. It just can’t handle that kind of intentionally fragmented data, not in that kind of volume. So now I use an external 1TB drive for my bittorrent and other downloads. The SSD seems way better off without that constant pounding.
Hopefully my sharing this with you folks helps a little. You may opt to buy DiskTester for $40 (I’m not saying you shouldn’t – I’m sure it has TONS of useful features and all with shining merit), but if you’re like me, you may want a free option that does a similar, if not nearly identical function. As an old friend used to say, “Free is the best price.”