Sunday, December 20, 2009

Upgrade your Laptop drive with an SSD

If you have a new (or aging) laptop and won't stand any longer for the hard drive spinning around while you wait for an application to launch: why not replace it for an SSD?

That's what I convinced one more friend to do, and the chosen model was the 80GB Intel X25-M. If cost is an issue, you can find cheaper models (like the new 64GB Kingston SSDs that show around for under 120 euros.)

If you want a detailed analysis, check out this Anandtech article about the X25-M.

... but it's time to get back to work:

Replacing your laptop hard drive is often just a matter of flipping it over and accessing the hard drive compartment. But as always, in my case, my friend's Sony Vaio forced us to dissamble the case and keyboard in order to gain access to it.

He also took the chance to upgrade to Windows 7. Win7 is the first OS from Microsoft that properly recognizes SSD and configures itself accordingly. Unneeded services like automatic defrag and indexing are automatically disabled (if you're using an older Windows version, be sure to disable it yourself.)
There are also some other advanced issues like partition alignment; but you can google around for it - I'll assume that if you're willing to spend money on an SSD, you'll also be running the latest OS version you can get.

Once installed, you can immediately notice the difference. Booting up the OS takes under 20 seconds. All the tiny pauses we grew accustomed to endure are now gone (making us notice just how much time we had to wait before.)
You can actually continue to work on your laptop while a virus scan or other disk intensive operation is running!

The only issue was that his Sony Vaio comes with two graphic cards: one Intel for "low power operation", and one Nvidia Go 7600 for "performance".) Sony doesn't seem to have Windows 7 64bits drivers... and trying to install either drivers results in failure - so, I'm yet to figure out to solve this issue (and once again leaving me with a really bad impression of Sony.)

But, even with just a generica graphic card, the SSD benefits can be seen and felt at every key stroke, at every mouse click. Thing just "happen" without any delays.
This is indeed one of the things everyone should experience to see the difference.

What about your old hard drive? Well... my suggestion is buying an external USB HDD case (around 10 euros) and using it as a backup drive for your data.

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