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The Agony and Ecstasy of an SSD

Published by on Jan 18th, 2013, 5 Comments

I usually replace my laptop every three years as things tend to start getting a little long in the tooth around this time. Everything starts slowing down, there almost always seems to be dust everywhere and productivity starts to falter. As the proud owner of a 15-inch Macbook Pro I run my life/business(sometimes very little difference) on it so productivity levels need to be high. April would mark the three year anniversary of owning my machine and since I’ve been lusting after a Macbook Air or some cool new Windows 8 Ultrabook it was a perfect time to upgrade. I’d had ideas about getting an SSD for my laptop in order to speed things up but couldn’t really quantify whether somewhere between R1000 and R2000 was worth spending to get essentially very little benefit and I could have rather spent that money on buying a new machine. On a whim I decided to buy a Samsung 830 128Gig SSD drive and swap out my old hard drive.

For those not in the know, an SSD is basically a large flash drive that replaces your hard drive. A traditional hard drive uses a spinning platter to store data while an SSD (Solid State Drive) has no moving parts meaning less chance of failure as well as the benefit of speed and battery life. I was the most skeptical, how could this really speed up my computer so substantially?

To get a little technical, an SSD operates at transfer speeds anywhere between 200MB/s and 500MB/s for the top end drives. What this means is fairly irrelevant but to compare to a traditional drive you’re looking at the top end, server grade hard drives hitting 200MB/s at absolute best.

I backed up everything on my old drive, performed open heart surgery to remove the old drive and installed the SSD; the whole process took me about 20 minutes. If you’re looking for a great resource on disassembling your devices take a look at iFixit.

My computer would previously take around 2-3 minutes to restart, even longer if I had an insane amount of tabs open like I usually do. Take a look at the speed in this video:

Also notice how quickly Excel (which is probably the slowest piece of software I have on my computer) loads; it’s immediate. Photoshop and Adobe Audition load within 5 seconds.

Now for the downsides: it’s a simple issue of space. Since I wasn’t that keen to spend money if I was going to be buying a whole new laptop I cheaped out and bought a small drive compared to the 320 gig hard drive my computer came with. As someone with 20 gigs of pictures and about 50 gigs of music this is a terrible idea. Bear in mind the likes of Dropbox and your iDevices backups also get stored on your laptop and you’ll quickly run out of space. I’m going to have to get a new, larger SSD already in order to solve this problem but since I’m not going to have to buy a whole new computer the price almost seems irrelevant. Do yourself a favour and get the biggest drive you can afford in order to not have to spend more money later on.

If you’re looking to extend the life of your old computer, want to make sure your new computer is super speedy or are in the market for a new computer then make sure there is an SSD running your machine. I’ve saved countless amounts of time as well as money on buying a new machine by replacing one part; I couldn’t recommend it more.

As a final comment: I usually buy my tech gear from Takealot and they’ve got a great range here: http://www.takealot.com/computers/all?qsearch=sata+iii+2.5+inch+ssd&gclid=CMPZ0q-P5bQCFWbKtAoda2kAWw

Comments

  • dax

    Any recommendations on particular brands that may be better/faster?

  • http://twitter.com/allankent Allan Kent

    I’ve done this with all of our Mac’s at home, oldest being a 2008 MacBook, and they fly on SSD. I also buy a USB external case and put the old (large) drive into that so that I still have relatively easy access to a decent sized drive.

  • http://www.bandwidthblog.com Minnaar Pieters

    I have also steadily switched all my machines to SSD, and it is the best upgrade you can do to any computer. Biggest holdup right now is the capacity/price ratio – the moment 500GB SSD drives become cheaper we will see much better adoption.

  • http://www.bandwidthblog.com Minnaar Pieters

    Also switched a 2009 Macbook Pro to SSD, feels like new again!

  • datenrettungfestplatte.de

    kewl!

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