Making the ‘Solid’ Switch

by Rusty Keighron, Field Sales Account Executive, Agency Markets, Vertafore on September 5, 2012 · 5 comments

One of the computer upgrades I’ve eyed for several years is the Solid State drive for my laptop. As you probably know, the hard drive is a (very sophisticated) mechanical device. As such, every time you need a piece of information the drive spins around to find the place or places where it is stored and provides it to your program. Drives can spin faster than used to (from 5,400 rpm to more than 10,000), but there will be always be a lag time for retrieving information. This results in your having to wait for a response.
Boy with Hard Drive


As memory prices have fallen, manufacturers are now producing storage devices that do not use a hard drive. These devices, called Solid State Drives (SSD) can store information on memory chips rather than on disk drive platters. Unlike the working storage memory on your computer, they are non-volatile in that they don’t lose data when the computer is turned off. Retrieval of information is near-instantaneous and, as a bonus, they are very lightweight and require MUCH less power than the motors in a disk drive. 

I took this on as a Saturday project and purchased a drive with just a bit less capacity than my mechanical drive (about $200). The web site for your computer or laptop will help make sure you order the right drive. It also included software to “clone” my existing drive and a cable to connect the two drives during the cloning. The process was very simple; I just connected the new drive to the USB port and ran the cloning software. In my particular case, the hard drive was encrypted and required an extra step, but for most users that would be not an issue. Once complete, I removed the old drive and slid in the new drive. 
The software moves your operating system and all programs and data. The system now boots up in half the time, and any program I start kicks off instantaneously. I get an extra hour of battery life and a lighter computer. As a bonus, I can now use the cloning software to make an exact backup to the mechnical drive weekly so it is a disaster recovery backup. 

A highly recommended upgrade, now that the prices had fallen to affordable levels. It’s a great time and frustration saver not having to wait on my drive!

What upgrade do you want to do and why? Or what upgrade have you done? Are you pleased or disappointed.

  • http://www.patalexander.com PatAlexander

    Rusty, I have an inquiry about the brand of drive that you have purchased and are describing here. Can you please share?

  • Jim Greco

    I agree with this 100%. I added an SSD drive to my personal laptop a little over a year ago. Not only does it allow the system to boot faster, but all of the applications run faster…Since most computers are replaced due to their lackluster speed, this upgrade can extend the life of an older PC!

    I would also like to point out the SSD Hybrid drives for those who still require a large amount of storage space. Hybrid drives are a combination of a standard drive with and an amount of SSD memmory built in. (usually 6-8GB) These drives won't give the same performance as the SSD, but is usually 50-60% faster than the old style hard drive…They work by caching the most commonly used files on the SSD portion of the drive and using them when needed.

    I picked up a 750GB hybrid for my work laptop as I needed the storage space, for about $140…

    As always when you decide to do something like this prepare for the worst…Backup first!

    • http://www.patalexander.com PatAlexander

      Jim, thanks for adding your valuable information to this discussion. I especially like your final reminder. Backup first!
      My recent post Blogging for Engagement Not for Numbers

Previous post:

Next post: