SSD Performance tuning guide for MacBook Pro

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Last year I upgraded from a HDD to SSD on my ~5 year old macbook pro. I must admit, it was money well spent. It skyrocketed the performance of my old laptop and has made the laptop usable for next few years. However recently I ran tests on the SSD and was shocked to notice a sharp drop in read/write speeds. From 250MB/s, the read/write speed had dropped to under 50MB/s. While applications were loading fine and boot time was still acceptable, I was concerned about the disk reliability. Here are some steps I took to tune the SSD and get back to original performance. These tips are mac os specific.

  1. Install and enable Trim. Apple does not enable Trim for third party SSDs. You can download the Trim Enabler App and follow the instructions inside to enable Trim.
  2. Upgrade SSD Firmware to latest version. I have a Samsung 840 series SSD and Samsung does not have a software for Mac OS. They, however, provide an ISO utility that creates a bootable CD to update the firmware of your SSD. I couldn’t get the ISO working, however this guide helped me boot a FreeDOS OS through a USB drive and update the firmware.
  3. Some Mac specific tweaks are listed in the following SSD performance tuning guide. Significant amongst those are disabling local snapshots in Time machine, disabling hibernation and disabling the Apple sudden motion sensor.
  4. Freeing up space on the SSD also helps increase its lifespan. My SSD only had about 5-8% free space. So I decided to install a 128GB SD MiniDrive that sits flush in the SD card slot and moved all the less frequently accessible files to the SD Card. I also move all my VMs to the SD card. Now have approximately 30% free space on the SSD.

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