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The wonder of Solid State Disks

October 10th, 2012


I’ve just upgraded my Windows 7 desktop computer with a Solid State Drive, or SSD. These hard drives are the equivalent of the storage that your computer already has, but they have no moving parts. This brings many advantages, one of which is the blistering speed upgrade I’m experiencing.

Solid State Drives look like normal laptop hard drives, but can be used in both laptops and desktops. They use a form of memory similar to that in an MP3 player or digital camera, in the form of computer chips rather than a spinning disk (which is in all normal hard drives made since… well, ever).

Because the have no moving parts they have the following advantages:

  1. They are silent
  2. They do not get as hot
  3. They are slightly more damage-proof
  4. They consume less battery power when used in a laptop

However, as they’re new on the tech scene, relatively speaking, they are more expensive per megabyte than a traditional hard drive. But as prices are always coming down, there are ways to get these into your computer, affordably, today.

I’ve had my SSD for a while, trying it out in several different computers. I could only afford a 40GB drive at the time, and so it was little use on its own in a laptop. As soon as Windows was installed, it was full, and it didn’t seem to agree with some of the versions of Linux I installed on it (openSuse being an honourable exception).

But after resurrecting my desktop for everyday use, I decided to install Windows onto the SSD, and use my large, traditional hard drive for documents, music and photos. And this is where a small, affordable SSD comes into its own. My system is extremely fast and responsive in all tasks (booting in less than 20 seconds) and I can keep my data separate from the system, so if the system crashes and burns, then the data is less likely to disappear with it (of course, everything’s backed up with SpiderOak.

The difference in noise is not so clear on this PC, because I still have the older hard drive in use. But this shuts down after 15 minutes if I’m not using it, and the drop in volume is quite astounding. I can’t wait til I can replace the larger drive with a second SSD.

SSDs for all?

So, should you get yourself a Solid State Drive? If you’d like to speed up your PC or laptop, reduce the noise or improve your laptop’s ability to withstand the odd bump and drop, then certainly. If you’re building a new PC or laptop, then it’s easy just to put the blank drive in and install your Operating System, but if you want to upgrade an existing system without starting from scratch, things are a little more complicated.

There are ways to clone your system and move it to another drive, such as with Partition Magic if you know what you’re doing. But remember to back up everything first, or get a professional to do it for you.

There are SSDs available at places like Amazon, if you want to have a go yourself. Here at Ship Shape PC Repair, I can offer the full package: SSD and the job of transferring everything to the new system, plus free pickup and drop-off of the computer if you choose, and are in the Bristol area. £80 will get you an entry-level upgrade, where you’ll need a second hard drive for all your documents (an external USB drive if you’re on a laptop); £100 gives you a bit more space if you’ve got a moderate amount of data stored, and £140 gives you an SSD which should satisfy all but the most megabyte hungry of downloaders.

Get in touch if you’d like to see how an SSD can rejuvenate your machine!

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