A Look at Storage Executive - Crucial's SSD Toolbox

One of the areas where Crucial has been lacking is the software. Nearly every SSD vendor provides some sort of software/toolbox for its SSDs nowadays, but until January Crucial had been the exception to the rule. I discussed this with Crucial/Micron last year and they understood their weakness on the software front, and also disclosed that there's a toolbox in the works. At CES the curtain was finally lifted when Crucial released its own toolbox called the Storage Executive.

Unlike the other toolboxes we've seen, the Storage Executive runs in the default browser. However, it still comes as an installer (which is quite large at 147MB for the 64-bit version) and has to be installed, but instead of running as its own window the Storage Executive utilizes the default browser for the interface. Since I'm not a software developer, I'm not sure if this is easier to implement versus a separate window, but honestly it doesn't really matter because a toolbox isn't something you need to keep open at all times, so Crucial's implementation works just fine for when it's needed.

The welcoming screen that's shown above shows the common tidbits of data that nearly all toolboxes show. This includes general information about the system such as the operating system and the amount of memory, along with slightly more detailed information about the installed drives (serial number, firmware version, temperature and used capacity). 

The 'Drive Details' section shows more details about the drives, including the interface and driver version, but honestly it could use some additional details (e.g. life remaining). The drop-down button next to the refresh icon includes a 'Get Debug Data' feature that saves the drive's and system's data to a ZIP file that can then be sent to Crucial's support team for remote analysis of the drive and its potential issues. 

The SMART tab includes the usual SMART data that can be read by numerous utilities.

The ability to easily upgrade the firmware is probably the most important feature in a toolbox and the Storage Executive is pretty straightforward with that. It automatically checks for updates and also features the release notes, so the end-user will know what has been changed in the newer firmware.

Drive sanitation is Crucial's code name for secure erase command, which will return the drive back to its factory state (i.e. all blocks are erased). There's also a PSID revert function that can be used to revert a TCG Opal encrypted drive back to unencrypted state using the physical security ID (i.e. PSID) that's printed on the SSD's label, which is very handy if you're dealing with encrypted drives because in case you lose the encryption key the drive will essentially become a brick as there's no way to access it. Obviously, PSID revert will erase all data in the drive, but the drive can then be repurposed. I did confirm that the PSID revert works and it doesn't require anything else but the PSID on the label. 

All in all, from a functionality perspective, the Storage Executive is Crucial's first attempt at a software package, and it shows. It lacks features compared to what Samsung and Intel have at the moment, but it does offer the necessary features that one needs for troubleshooting and maintenance. That said, since this is the 1.0 version, there will be more features added in the future that should bring the Storage Executive closer to what the competitors are offering today.

Introduction, The Drives & The Test Performance Consistency
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  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, April 11, 2015 - link

    We've run some basic tests, but nothing too in-depth for the review. Testing an internal drive is a bit more complicated, but hopefully we'll be able to follow up with more thorough testing once we get the initial review out.
  • repoman27 - Saturday, April 11, 2015 - link

    Especially when it's not just internal but full on embedded. We may need to wait for an iFixit or Chipworks teardown to get a better picture of how this is implemented.
  • zodiacfml - Saturday, April 11, 2015 - link

    I'd take the Samsung with longer warranty and fat pixels... i mean, NAND. The 250GB version has more DRAM compared to the BX100 if that is any useful.

    Random read/write is what differentiates these great products.
  • zodiacfml - Saturday, April 11, 2015 - link

    Speaking of random performance, isn't the random read results swapped with the random write chart?
  • digiguy - Friday, April 10, 2015 - link

    Agree with Christian, the limitations of SATA 6GB hardly justify an SSD like the 850 pro or the Extreme pro (which I have), especially with PCIe virtually here (tough still rare in laptops). Something like this SSD (or the MX100 which I also have is perfectly adequate even for enthusiasts). I even wonder how many years the SATA interface will survive... I suspect that in 10 years SATA SSDs might well be a thing of the past... (especially in the 2.5 inches format...).
  • CaedenV - Friday, April 10, 2015 - link

    I think it depends on the use. I would imagine that SSDs are going to transition to M.2 or embedded options as the primary interface. However, I think that SATA, even SATA3, has a very long life ahead as a traditional HDD interface for bulk storage. My bet is that we will see 1-2 M.2 connectors for system drive SSDs, and continue to see 2-4 SATA connectors with RAID support for HDD installs for a very long time. They simply do not cost much, and they don't take a lot of space, so it will sort of be like how PS/2 ports keep showing up even though practically nobody uses them, or how parallel ports hung on a good 10 years after they were useful.
  • Murloc - Saturday, April 11, 2015 - link

    kb-0133s never die, and so neither does PS/2.
  • lordken - Sunday, April 12, 2015 - link

    I do use PS/2, as long as my old M$ multimedia keyboard is going to live...no reason to buy new usb keyboard only because this one is like 10y old :)
    Also using good old mx518 (which is usb ofc)
  • Jaybus - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    I don't think multiple M.2 connections will be likely. A single M.2 is great for small form factors, but it takes up too much board space.
  • Pissedoffyouth - Friday, April 10, 2015 - link

    Awesoem stuff. I have an mSata m500 and its been flawless, unlike the bad performance I've had with samsung 840's.

    Looks like this is the drive to recommend to people, I might even get myself one of the 250gb as portable drive

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