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SSD Upgrade – best way to speed up your computer

Very often I am being asked, “what is the best thing to do to make my computer run faster”? Usually, those users have computers that are few years old, and have been fitted with the still standard mechanical hard drive, which is based on a design that’s been around for over 60 years now! In recent years, SSD drives have become more popular due to their falling prices, and the increased speed they offer. In the post I’ll show you how they work and what’s their advantage over mechanical drives, we’ll take a look at why they’re a much better upgrade than other ideas, and I’ll show you a typical process I would do for you as part of an upgrade service.

How do mechanical and SSD drives work?

The standard mechanical drive is a modern iteration of a design from 1957, which features a stack of round platters spinning at high speed, with a magnetic header suspended at a fraction of a millimetre above its surface. The header is mounted on a mechanical arm, moving back and forth to find the track where the requested data is stored while the disc is spinning. This happens very quickly with seek times in milliseconds, but as the number of requests the system can make is also very large, those times do add up. You can ofter hear your mechanical hard drive working hard as it starts to growl at you from withing your computer. Also, with the proximity of the header and the spinning platters, impacts such as dropping the laptop or even moving it more vigorously, can be potentially damaging to the platters’ surface, resulting in damage and data loss. When you look at those drives in this light, you will see why those have been destined to go away at some point, and after serving us reasonably well for the last 60 years, we should look at newer technologies.

This is where the SSD drive comes in. Although the concept for those drives existed since 1978, they weren’t produced until 1991. With the technology still being developed, the costs were astronomical and their use was largely limited. It wasn’t until the beginning of the current decade that they have started to enter the mainstream market and their price made them available to those customers looking to upgrade to the latest technology at a small premium. Today, their price has dropped significantly, and although still more expensive than a mechanical drive of the same capacity, they are the best choice because of what they offer.

No mechanical parts mean less wear and no risk of mechanical failure. The data doesn’t have to be ‘searched for’ on the platters, it’s retrieved instantaneously from the non-volatile flash memory used in them. They are much lighter, reducing the weight of small factor laptops, and are completely silent in operation. And the best part? They’re compatible with any PC using a standard mechanical drive, so even older machines can be upgraded!

Let’s compare the speeds

The fastest mechanical drive today, the 12TB Western Digital Gold, has reached speeds of 201/202 MB/s (read/write) in benchmark tests. While it offers enormous capacity, it lacks speed compared to an SSD. And you won’t find that model in any home computer. You’ll more likely achieve a result around 150MB/s on anything available on the market that doesn’t already come with an SSD.

The very popular SATA model from Samsung’s range, 500GB EVO 860, reaches 484/425 MB/s (read/write). Those SATA models can be easily fitted into any laptop or desktop computer, greatly increasing your loading speed, with Windows loading within even 10 seconds from when the laptop is switched on!

But that’s not everything SSD has to offer. For modern machines where an M.2 connector is available, another format of SSD drives exist. Those benefit from being connected directly to the main component of your computer, the motherboard, with speeds reaching 2355/2118 MB/s (read/write) for the 500GB EVO 870 model! Those are 10 times faster than the fastest mechanical drive!

The upgrade process

Starts with choosing the right SSD drive in terms of capacity (250GB, 500GB, 1TB, etc) and form factor (2.5″ SATA or M.2). Once the selection is made, I order the part in, or the customer can shop around and purchase it themselves.

We then decide whether the migration of a current operating system is possible and required. Most of the times a complete OS reinstallation guarantees better results as the client will benefit from a fresh and SSD-optimised operating system.

Then a backup of any data to be transferred from the old drive is made. This can often be skipped if the client maintains their backups either locally or in the cloud.

Next is the system reinstallation or migration, along with driver updates and Windows patches. Any software where the licence is valid and presented can also be reinstalled.

Finally, any backups made are transferred back on to the SSD.

Want to get your system loading in seconds, not minutes?

Get in touch with me to discuss your options and get a quote. If you’d like to shop around for a drive yourself, use the links below to get started.

Samsung 860 EVO 500 GB SATA 2.5″ Internal SSD

Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500 GB NVMe M.2 Internal SSD