Solid-State Drives

pop it in, then reinstall from scratch or make a clone…

© 2012 by KV5R. Rev. August 5, 2012.

Introduction

In this article, we’ll explore all the fun of upgrading a computer to a solid-state drive, learning and applying the technology, drive cloning, fresh Windows installs, and optimizing Windows 7 for silicon-based life. The author is not an expert on the subject, but strives to provide much better data than the garbage coming out of most forums and web page mills.

In the summer of oh-twelve, I decided to upgrade my system to the latest data storage technology, the Solid-State Drive (SSD). SSDs are typically five to ten times faster than mechanical hard drives. Most of the time that we spend waiting on boot-up and other Windows activities is when Windows is making thousands of little reads, such as reading registry data and various configuration files, so the small file read/write time is the most important benchmark to consider. As an example, many people report their boot-time dropping from ~90 to ~15 seconds when switching to an SSD. Big apps load in a snap, and the SSD is cool and silent. They still cost a lot more per gigabyte than hard drives, so it’s now common to use relatively small SSDs (120-240 GB is common) for the operating system and applications (programs), while retaining a large hard drive for storing large data files such as music and video. SSDs also find eager users of laptops, where the 1-3 watt power consumption and durability are welcomed.

I started by looking at several independent reviews, reading a lot of forum postings, considering my budget, and then ended up ordering a 120 gig Mushkin Chronos SSD, which reads up to 550 megabytes per second (MB/s), writes at up to 515 MB/s, and 90,000 input-output operations per second (IOPS) on SATA-III, and about half those figures on SATA-II. These are very respectable numbers for a 120 gig SSD in the $90-$120 price class, at this time (July 2012). (Don’t you just love all those millions of web articles where writers use “latest” and “current” and “right now,” but never provide a date?)

While waiting for the slow but free Mail Innovations shipping (where FedEx delivers it to a regional post office, then the post office delivers it to you), I decided to study a lot more web articles and devise a plan for the migration that would leave me completely satisfied and somewhat more knowledgeable. Needless to say, the web is brimming with outdated data, unfounded opinions, and just plain bogus info, but occasionally you’ll find an article by someone who’s a professional and expert on the subject, yet still has a little time to write something useful for the rest of us. I decided to learn from them, get some experience, and write a decent web article on the subject of SSD migration. So here it is, FWIW. (Photos of my installation are near the end of this article.)

Update 2014: the Dell Laptop SSD Install!

In the spring of oh-fourteen, I decided it was time to upgrade my Dell D630 laptop, which runs 24/7 serving the TV, to an SSD. Wow—prices are all over the place&hellip After much research, I discovered the Crucial M500, with the 240-gig version being only $110! That’s about $50-$100 less than most of the competition. I did a simple clone on that one, and the installation was very easy, and it works great! I also got the Inateck 2.5 Inch USB 3.0 External Enclosure Case, which worked great to clone the new drive, then turn the old drive into an external backup drive. Please read the article and see the photos at the “SSD: Laptop Install” menu entry in this series.

Microsoft Windows, Mushkin Chronos, Crucial, and a bunch of other commercial hardware and software stuff mentioned in this article are trademarks of their various owners, and are used herein as examples of available products only, and no endorsement is implied—although if any of them want to advertise here, I sho’nuff could use the bread!

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