I know a way to speed up your computer significantly. When you start your workday, you will marvel at how quickly it boots to the desktop. When you open a previously slow-launching program, you will be amazed at how much faster it loads. When you double-click on a spreadsheet, Excel will open almost instantaneously. All that is needed to experience this computing nirvana is a solid-state drive (SSD).
Most likely, Windows, along with all of your programs and data, is stored on a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) deep in your computer. HDDs store their information on spinning metal platters. When loading apps or data, a small arm, reminiscent of a record player’s arm, moves back and forth over the spinning disks reading, or writing, information. How long this takes depends on many things, such as how fast the disks spin and how well organized the data is spread over the platters. Older (slower) or poorly organized (fragmented) disks can significantly and negatively impact your computing experience. The system will appear sluggish, programs will open slowly, and your patience will wear thin. Often, performance decreases gradually over a period of months or years.
SSDs are true game changers. They have no moving parts. Similar to the RAM memory in your computer or the thumb-drive you carry around in your pocket, the data is stored in blocks. There is no need to wait for spinning platters or read-write heads to move around gathering information. The data is always available nearly instantly. Likewise, data fragmentation becomes irrelevant. The SSD can electronically retrieve the information equally quickly regardless of how or where it is stored on your device. Simply put, this makes solid state drives one of the best computer upgrades you can perform.
True, your computer won’t actually think any faster, and if you are pulling data from the Internet or off of a slow business server you will still certainly experience lag time. Also, if you spend most of your day typing in a single program like Microsoft Word, the application will initially load quickly, but a SSD won’t help you to type any faster. That’s what coffee is for.
I typically arrive at work with a calendar loaded with tasks to perform. I walk up to my desk and, first and foremost, turn on the computer. I used to walk to the kitchen for a cup of coffee at this point, waiting for things to load, but not anymore. With my SSD, it loads too quickly. I don’t even mind rebooting my computer when necessary, because it takes so little time. After a recent upgrade, even my wife’s five year old laptop was like a new machine.
So why don’t all computers have solid state drives? First, SSDs are generally much smaller than traditional HDDs. At today’s prices, $100 will buy you about two terabytes (2,024 gigabytes) of traditional HDD space. That same $100 is only good for about 120 gigabytes of SSD.
In most cases, I don’t consider the space issue to be a deterrent. At work, I simply don’t need multiple terabytes of space on my personal computer.
Most data is stored on our servers or in The Cloud. At home, my desktop computer has two drives – a SSD that holds Windows and my core programs (for performance), and a HDD that stores my music, photos and videos (for mass storage). This gives me the best of both worlds!
Just to mix things up a bit, there is a relatively new technology making headway in the market. Manufacturers are combining the SSD and HDD technologies into “hybrid” drives.
These provide lots of space in the form of traditional storage, but the most commonly accessed information is kept on built-in SSD storage. As such, you get pretty good storage for near pure-SSD performance. That previously mentioned $100 will buy you about 500 gigabytes of hybrid storage. So, who should upgrade? If you have a home system and consider life to be too short to wait for computers, consider installing a solid state drive. If you have a business, take a serious look at those people in your company who have computerintensive positions. You can often tell who they are by the number of programs they have opened within the first 15 minutes of their workday. Speeding up their systems will improve their productivity. Indeed, I’d predict that ROI will easily cover the cost of the SSD within weeks, and your employee’s moral will improve as well.
At my company, we also installed one in our conference room. The conference room computer is attached to an overhead projector and is heavily used by everyone. Prior to the upgrade, I noticed there could be two to 10 people sitting around the conference table, waiting for the computer, costing us impressive amounts of money. We also entertain clients there, showing software and giving presentations. The last thing I want is for clients to wait while our computer loads.
Again, a solid state drive is currently one of the best upgrades you can perform on a production computer. Give one a shot, you won’t be disappointed!