Making the switch to a solid state drive26 Feb 13 03:04PM EST |
Solid state drives (SSDs), have been around tech circles for a while, but they’ve only entered the consumer vernacular in the last 12 – 18 months. Promising faster boot and data transfer times, improved energy efficiency and greater system stability over hard disk drives (HDD), SSDs are gradually becoming an industry standard.
Even in older machines, replacing an aging HDD with an SSD will usually result in a faster laptop with longer battery life. Although still pricier than an HDD, SSDs are no longer prohibitively expensive – you can expect to pay around $1AUS per gigabyte. With a Windows 7 laptop that was in dire need of a performance boost, I decided it was time to switch to an SSD.
This process isn’t a job for novices, but anyone with a reasonable amount of computer know-how shouldn’t find it too difficult. My laptop was big enough to house two drives, each with a 750GB capacity. Replacing one with the 256GB SSD meant losing nearly 500GB of space. That’s sacrificing a lot of capacity in the name of speed and stability. But I figured it was worth it. Consumer grade SSDs peak at 512GB capacity, so expect to pay a huge premium if you want anything larger.
To get the performance boost I wanted, I had to make the SSD my boot drive, which meant reinstalling my operating system on the new drive. That was fairly easy, thanks to the system restore disk I had made earlier (I recommend you always have one of these handy anyway). It also required changing some of the operating system’s settings. That wasn’t as easy. It turns out I had failed to make a few crucial system changes, so the SSD didn’t perform any better than the old hard drive.
After some more tweaking, and reinstalling my operating system, I finally achieved the kick I was looking for. The boot time dropped from 35 to 22 seconds, and shutdown was almost twice as fast at just six seconds. Large documents saved quickly, while games and software loaded almost instantly. Of course, any task that used the second hard drive still hit a bottleneck, but overall performance was much better than before.
Two years ago, SSDs were far too expensive for me to consider this upgrade, but as hardware prices continue to drop, I felt the time had come. If you’re in the market for a new laptop, or want to give your old one a pick-me-up, I recommend investing in an SSD. Compare its performance to an HDD and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Have you made the switch to an SSD? Was the investment worthwhile? Share your experiences below.