Thursday, November 17, 2011

New SSD for Laptop

I installed an SSD (solid state drive) in my laptop on Tuesday night. An SSD is exactly like a hard drive except that instead of a spinning magnetic disc holding all of your data, it's stored on flash memory - like iPods and cell phones use.

The blue drive is the new one. 

In modern computers one of the main speed bottlenecks is hard drives - physically spinning a disc to find some information will always take longer than transmitting some electrons through wires. By upgrading to an SSD, my  laptop boots to Windows in 40 seconds - and by that I mean after 40 seconds, there is no lag whatsoever, nothing is still loading. Previously it took about 3 minutes (2:57 to be precise) to start up to a usable state (for the geeks, I'm running Windows 7 on a one-year-old ThinkPad L412: Intel Core i3 M330 dual core @ 2.13 GHz, 4GB RAM). 

Another advantage to SSDs is that data can't be damage by bumps and jolts, whereas if you drop a laptop with a spinning hard drive you could easily wreck the drive. The main downside to SSDs is that they're still expensive per gigabyte - mine was $289 for 120GB. 

If you're thinking about upgrading, I recommend this kit from NewEgg Canada, as long as 120GB is enough for you. The kit comes with all of the cables you need to copy your existing hard drive to your new one (when you're done, everything will be EXACTLY the same, except faster). And it comes with an enclosure so that you can connect your old drive as a USB storage drive when you're done.

The whole process took just over an hour - 5 minutes to skim instructions, 10 minutes to pull out the old drive, install the new one, and connect the old one with USB, 50 minutes of data copying (I read a book), then it was done! I booted up and everything was just how I left it.