Article 2: Solid State Drives

Welcome back to The Modern Nerd.
Doing computer improvements can be a fun and rewarding puzzle, and the challenge is not as daunting as you might think. Let’s look at one of the latest products available at the consumer level, the Solid State Drive, or SSD.

It’s new, and new is better right?

Solid state drives are new technology, available in new PC’s and separately from hardware suppliers. But what are they? And will you benefit from installing one? Let’s explore the subject a little further. The first thing you should look at is your computer as a total package. Are you trying to infuse new life into a 10 year old machine? It’s been my experience that without a processor and memory capable of handling the increased speed, you won’t see much difference, so your money would be better spent elsewhere.

But if your machine is relatively new, has a dual core or better processor and more than 2 GB of RAM then an SSD might be the performance boost you are looking for. Without getting super-technical I’ll say that SSD’s access information stored on your hard drive about 5 times faster than a traditional hard drive. They don’t have any mechanical parts or spinning pieces so accessing data from them is fast and efficient. They have the same input/output system as HDD’s (abbreviation for Hard Drive Disk) so conversions are fairly simple. The drawback is in their price right now.

Getting an internal drive will cost around $100 as a starter price. The higher capacity variants can get expensive quickly. If you try to replace your 500 GB HDD with a 500 GB SSD, you could be looking at an $800 price tag. For that price you could get a new computer with some spare cash left over.

So why upgrade at all?

Operating systems run lightning fast on an SSD. I personally recently upgraded my desktop machine to store the vast majority of my data on my old HDD, and run all of my main programs and Windows 7 on the SSD. My personal SSD is 120 GB, and cost around $140. The HDD I store files on is 750 GB. When you have a desktop, installing more drives is much easier, but certain larger laptops have multiple drive bays for installing supplemental drives. 

So, if you are going to REPLACE your standard hard drive, you will sacrifice storage capacity. If you use your laptop for primarily work and internet access, and don’t want to store a lot of music or files on it, you will fall in love with an SSD immediately. Everything you bring up will be super-fast, and your laptop will immediately become more power-efficient.

You can shut down and start up operating systems running from a solid-state in only a few seconds, compared to the minute and a half that it usually takes to get going, and a solid state will do wonders to get rid of that 2 minutes in between seeing your desktop screen to being able to use your computer due to the programs that start up and run in the background. So in summary, you can’t use a solid state to put lipstick on a pig. At some point you’ll have to replace your old laptop. However, if you have a newer laptop or desktop, and you want a performance booster, an SSD will be a purchase you will not regret.

Setting up this drive is a large project, so look out for my blog where I’ll break it all down for you. But if you are going to take it on sooner rather than later, remember one of the cardinal rules of computer maintenance. Back up your data. If you screw anything up, you can restore it without any permanent losses.  

I hope this gives you some more insights on the possibility of turning up the speed on your machine. If you have any questions, your local tech support guys are there to help you. Check out the rest of the blogs on our site, and happy upgrading. 


Aaron Krick
Blog Contributor at The Computer Fixer

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