Why an SSD upgrade for your PC and/or laptop is a really good idea

First let’s start with what is an SSD and why it is better than an HDD.

You might ask yourself what do HDD and SSD stand for?

HDD stands for Hard Disk Drive and is the technology used for many years now for computers and laptops. A Hard Disk Drive is a set of platters that spin at very high speed (5400 RPM to 15000 RPM). As the platters rotate, an arm with a read/write head moves across the platters and writes/reads data from them. That is the gist of it. Not going to go into more technical detail as it gets more complex. The most basic explanation of it is the record player analogy. They are like record players but of course smaller, faster and different. They come in 2 sizes 3.5 inch (used in PCs) or 2.5 inch (used mostly for laptops). The moving parts make it a mechanical type of storage and more prone to failure (or slowing down to a point of it crawling).

inside an hdd
Inside an HDD

An SSD uses flash memory. This type of memory uses memory chips. In these chips, semiconductors flip arrays into different states of electric charge to store data. Flash memory has been around for a while in the form of thumb drives (memory sticks, USB flash drives, etc). As technology progressed this type of memory became faster and cheaper to manufacture. As nothing moves to be able to store data this type of drive is called Solid State Drive. There are more then 1 type of SSDs on the market. There are 2.5 inch drives (they are the same size as their HDD counter parts), M.2 drives and PCIe SSDs. We will focus only on the first variation as we are focused on the idea of replacing an HDD with an SSD. We will go into further detail in another article.

inside an SSD
Inside an SSD

Terminology aside your laptop or PC most likely have installed and use a normal HDD. Why is that? The answer is simple. Cost, capacity and availability.

Although at the time of writing this article SSDs are priced as low as £20 on amazon for a 120 GB one, this wasn’t the case always. The other consideration is capacity of course. At the time of writing this article a 240 GB SSD costs as low as £30, a 1 TB (1000 GB or 4 times the capacity) HDD is as low as £36 for the 3.5 inch drive or £40 for a 2.5 inch one. The price disparity used to be a lot bigger therefore it makes sense that unless it was a very expensive enthusiast level gaming PC or ultrabook/gaming laptop you most probably don’t have an ssd in your PC or laptop. Availability is one of the major ones as SSDs as they are known now have a relatively short history.

So if they are more expensive why is it a good idea to replace my HDD with an SSD?

SSD vs PC HDD
SSD vs PC HDD

The answer is a bit more complex and there are a few things to consider.

Performance: an SSD is a lot faster than an HDD. It has faster read/write speeds and a better data transfer rate. It also does not need time to spin up to operating specification and optimal speeds. In tangible things immediately visible for a day to day user is loading times. Any operating system (Windows, Linux or MAC OS) loading times get reduced down to under a minute in many cases. It feels almost instant even on older hardware. Of course when it comes to other software such as an antivirus that loads alongside Windows are a lot faster. Web browsers, document processors and any software stored on the SSD will load faster due to it’s increased speed and non dependency to a mechanical system that has to move to access the data.

Durability: As there are no moving parts and there are no exposed electronic parts on the SSD, it is sturdier and more durable than its counterpart. This also relates to portability which make it the ideal part for a laptop.

Lower failure rates: As this technology progressed, the manufacturing process itself evolved and materials are better, SSDs have a lower failure rate than HDDs despite earlier concerns.

The only downside is the price and therefore the capacity of them. Of course you can replace a 500 GB HDD with a 500GB SSD, but it does come at a premium. But with the prices coming down and at their lowest point they have ever been it is worth the price.

Ease of installation

The 2.5 inch SSD is easy to install in any PC or laptop with using the hardware already available.

It fits anywhere in a PC case. The SSD doesn’t have restrictions as of where it needs to be placed. It can be added to older PC cases with no special requirements. You can use the cables that are already available inside the case.

In a laptop it simply goes into the place of the HDD. It is the same size and has the same holes. it is just a matter of pulling out the old hard drive and putting in the new one.

Putting an SSD in an older PC
Putting an SSD in an older PC

Personal experience

We do have personal experience and examples of cases where changing an older laptop’s HDD with an SSD made a massive difference in it’s performance. All load times have been improved in all cases with better web browsing experiences and file transfer times. Of course noise has been reduced as well as an SSD does not make any noise.

Recommendations

In many of the cases our recommendation for laptops has been to buy a 240GB SSD to have Windows, an antivirus, Office, other software needed and personal files. For larger files and long term storage we have always recommended an external drive as they are also more accessible than ever. An external hard drive makes it safer to store your data, as indifferent of what happens to your device your data is on a device separate from it.

Using an external Hard Drive
Using an external Hard Drive

For PCs our recommendation has been to buy an SSD for Windows + 1 of the most played game on the PC as well and either and an HDD for bulk storage. Of course this makes the gaming experience a lot better with faster loading times for the game that is on the SSD whilst movies, photos and other media can be stored on the bigger HDD. We always recommend an external hard drive for the most important files that you have and don’t want to lose. Of course when it comes to PC’s you have the option of just adding the SSD to your build and reinstalling a fresh issue your OS on it whilst still using the HDD already on the machine for bulk storage.

In conclusion it’s faster, more durable, portable and has a low failure rate. It’s easy to install and from our experience we can recommend it as an upgrade.

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