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The blazing speed of an SSD without the huge cost

November 10th, 2015

Martin

You’ll know all about the amazing speed boost of a Solid State Disk if you’ve read this blog for a while. The technology in this box of wonders means that, compared to the hard drives they replace, they’re an unbelievable turbo charge for your PC, Mac or laptop.

But you might also know that, in pennies per gigabyte, a Solid State Disk (SSD) is hugely more expensive. Compare the common Seagate 500GB hard drive for £33 to the Samsung 500GB SSD for £116 (at time of writing). That’s nearly four times the price!

Prices are coming down all the time, but at the same time your photo and video collections are getting bigger and your cameras are capturing ever larger images. A 500GB SSD is just not big enough any more!

There are two solutions to this conundrum.

Solid State Drive

Save money on SSD speed

If you’ve got space in your PC for two hard drives, then the easiest solution is to pay for a small SSD (like the Kingston 120GB SSD for just £36), install – or move – Windows onto that, and keep all your documents, music, photos and videos on your original, large hard drive.

This is only really an option for desktop computers, which is why I still prefer them over laptops. However, some laptops do have that extra space.

At Ship Shape Computers, I’m doing this upgrade all the time, and with prices starting at £65 plus the cost of the SSD it’s all the speed of the new technology but less of the cost

Hybrid Drives, or SSHDs

A second option, which can be even cheaper, and available to laptops too, is the Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD). This looks exactly like a normal hard drive, and your computer will think it’s one, but it has a secret!

There’s a small SSD built in to the hard drive. It might only be 8GB or so, but it’s used in a clever way. The hard disk itself works out which files you use most often, and moves them to the SSD portion, completely automatically, and invisibly to you, the user.

This means that, sometimes, parts of Windows are on there, while at other times your most-used documents are. As your computer habits change, the SSHD adapts.

In practice this means that not all your computer use will be at SSD speeds, but over time, as the commonly-used files are moved over the to the fast SSD, your computer becomes quicker, noticeably. It’s true that SSHDs are not as fast as pure SSDs, but when 500GB SSHDs like this Seagate are only £15 more than a normal hard drive, you can’t argue with that!

New PC

I’ve been using one on my 2010 Windows 7 laptop, which was starting to run extremely sluggishly. The SSHD means I still have the 500GB storage capacity, which is enough for that laptop, while enjoying a laptop which runs even faster than when I bought it. That’s even after all the Windows 7 updates which have come along in the last 5 years!

Get an SSD speed boost across all your computers

The best thing about SSHDs is that they’re compatible with all modern computers. You can add one to a desktop, or replace the hard drive in a laptop. You can even put one in many Macs, like Macbooks and the iMac.

Hard Drive

Best of all, you can simply clone your current system onto the new SSHD and do a straight swap – no need to reinstall Windows or Mac OS X and all your programs!

Computers are always being put under more and more pressure by the software we want to run on them. But splashing out £60 for a limited upgrade is not what we want to do. SSHDs let you get the best of both worlds, giving your ailing computer a speed boost without sacrificing your hard-earned cash nor your precious digital storage space.

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