SOLID STATE DRIVES
I’m pretty quick on a computer. I should be – I’m on one most of my waking life and run an IT Support company! I joke that computers can’t keep up with me, but this is no longer the case and it’s down to the fact that I’m now using something called a Solid State Drive (SSD).
Traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) have moving parts: a mechanical arm with a read/write head to move around and read information from the right location on a storage platter. Even on very fast computers with the latest processor and oozings of RAM memory, you can still find yourself waiting for Windows to boot up, or programs to load, and the HDD is often the culprit.
Enter Solid State Drives (SSDs). With no moving parts, SSDs are MUCH faster, quieter, and more power efficient. I’m not talking about a little bit faster; I’m talking MASSIVELY faster.
SSDs are basically a more sophisticated version of a USB memory stick, storing information in microchips. They have been around for some time but have been very expensive. Their price has been dropping quickly over the past 12 months and now you can get your hands on a 120GB SSD for under £50, or a 256GB SSD for under £90, or a £480GB SSD for under £165.
These drive capacities are fairly small compared to spending the same money for an HDD, but what you get is so much better. Most people still only use less than 100GB of their hard drive anyway, and those who don’t can complement the SSD with an HDD (if your machine has the space for two drives, which most desktop do). Windows and the other programs are installed on the SSD giving you the speed, and the files and folders are stored on the HDD giving you the storage space.
If you want to give a new lease of life to your existing desktop, consider adding an SSD to it. It will require a fresh Windows install, but the beauty is that you can leave all your data on your existing drive, then tell Windows (once it’s installed on the SSD) that your files are located on the HDD.
If you’re using a laptop and wish to switch to an SSD from an HDD, then you most likely need to replace the drive since very few laptops can house two drives. In this case, it is often better simply to make an exact copy (or ghost) of the HDD to the SSD to avoid reinstalling all your programs.
If you’re purchasing a new desktop, most don’t include an SSD unless you buy a custom-built spec. High end laptops (called Ultrabooks) typically have an SSD drive now, but it can be much cheaper to buy a standard £400 laptop and fit an SSD yourself.