If you’ve never heard of an SSD, you’re in for a treat. First, here’s a definition of what an SSD is: a super fast hard drive. Ok, well the real definition is a Solid State Drive, hence the short name SSD. Well, that didn’t answer much. What does it do? And How is it better?
A Solid State Drive is exactly what the name implies. A hard drive that is entirely made up of solid state components. There is no rotating platter nor moving heads. It is entirely made up of NAND-flash memory. It’s kind of like computer DRAM memory that retains the data even without power. Wow! Even that is a loaded answer.
Here is the most concise, non-technical answer that I can muster. An SSD hard drive is a “super fast hard drive with no moving parts.” Well, that’s fine and dandy, but what does that mean to me?
If you replace a hard drive in a computer (in my case, a laptop), with an SSD type drive, you’ll get a HUGE improvement in the speed of your computer. Let me state that again. You’ll get a TREMENDOUS boost in the speed of your computer. Once again, your computer will run SUPER FAST. Why is this? The traditional hard drive, with spinning platters and moving heads is one of the slowest components in a computer. This hard drive is where all temporary files are written, the paging memory is located, and all of your data files. With the reliance on the hard drive for almost anything you do (move the mouse, see the blinking hard drive light), it’s no wonder that replacing it with a faster version will speed up your computer. And in this case, an SSD drive is somewhere in the neighborhood of 4x faster, depending on what you are actually measuring.
What this really means for you is that your computer will boot faster, applications will launch faster, you can shut down faster, get the idea? Everything is faster. Quite a bit faster.
So I replaced one of my 500GB drives in my laptop with a 480GB. I had 2 500GB drives in my computer, one Seagate Momentus XT 500GB as my primary drive, and one Hitachi 500GB drive for secondary data. My wife needed a larger hard drive in her computer (it was 160GB). My plan was to take the 500GB hitachi drive and migrate it into her computer. Then I would take the 500GB XT drive and make that my secondary storage drive, and the new 480GB SSD would be my primary drive.
I started by cleaning up the 500GB XT drive so that I had enough room for my secondary data storage requirements. Then I migrated (duplicated) the XT drive to the SSD using Partition Wizard Home Edition, which is a great free tool for home use.This allows me to change drives without re-installing anything. For 400GB of data, it took a few hours. Once that was done, I just swapped drives and rebooted the computer.
What’s the price difference?
The Corsair Force 3 480GB drive is what I purchased. I bought the drive from newegg.com and it was $329 with free shipping. There was also a $30 MIR rebate. My end cost was $300. This is compared to $80 for the Momentus XT drive. That’s a big price difference, but to me it’s worth it. I am a heavy user of my computer and don’t mind paying for speed.