Give your laptop new life by upgrading to SSD

SATA Solid State Drive

Solid State Drives

Replace your hard disk with a solid-state drive (SSD) to enhance existing computers. Extend the life of slow machines without reinstalling all your software.

People are increasingly reliant on their mobile computers and are always striving for better performance. One of the most significant issues with mobile computing is the time it takes to boot up and shuts down. Battery life is also very important. Reducing weight and noise is an additional benefit.

Most laptops have an electro-mechanical hard disk that spins at relatively high speed and uses a read/write head on the end of a movable arm to access the data. The time it takes for the parts to move is the main limitation of computer performance.

Over the past few years, Solid State Drives have improved and use memory chips rather than revolving magnetic disks to store data. Solid State Drives are much faster, lighter, use less power, and are silent.

Initially, Solid-state drives were costly, had a small capacity, were not very reliable, and had numerous compatibility issues with existing computers. Most modern machines will work with an SSD and combined with larger sizes, higher reliability, and lower cost; they are an excellent means of improving laptop performance.

Is the computer compatible? Due to the way, data is handled in the physical drive, installing an SSD is not recommended on machines before Windows 7. The laptop manufacturer might not list SSD compatibility on older computers, so to give the best chance of success, upgrading to the latest BIOS is recommended.

SSD Upgrade

Most laptops have hard disks much larger than required so you can choose a smaller drive to reduce costs. Typically a 256GB SSD will be sufficient and is more cost-effective than fitting a larger drive. Many standard laptops have a removable panel, which gives easy access to the hard drive. Changing to an SSD involves removing the existing drive and replacing the drive and putting the cover back. Some BIOS settings might need adjusting. Laptops without easy drive access can be challenging to dismantle to access the disk drive, which adds some risk and more time to replace the drive.

NVMe M.2 drives

NVMe M.2 SSD high speed storage

NVMe M.2 Drive

The original solid-state drives look similar to mechanical drives and are a direct replacement for them. They are the same size, have the same screw holes and share the same connections. More modern machines have NVMe M.2 drives. NVMe stands for Non-volatile Memory Express and is a small card that plugs into a slot that accesses the PCIe data bus. Some machines have the slot but were fitted with either a mechanical drive or an old-style SSD. Upgrading to an NVMe M.2 drive will improve performance over an old-style SSD. The biggest problem with this upgrade can be finding a suitable screw to fix the NVMe M.2 card.

Rebuild or Mirror the old disk

An empty drive is entirely useless, so getting back to a working machine means either rebuilding the computer from scratch and restoring the data or copying the old drive precisely to the new one. Assuming the machine had no problems doing a drive copy is the preferred option as it is much quicker. Once fitted, the device should work as before but much faster.

If the machine was not running the required versions of the operating system or it has some problems, a rebuild would be the best option. A rebuild takes several hours and means all the software must be available along with any required license details. We will recover data from the old drive or a backup.

Over the next few years, new machines will increasingly have Solid State Drives as standard. In the meantime, upgrading existing devices will improve performance in every way.

Replacing a failed drive

If replacing a failed drive then fit an SSD. An SSD might cost a bit more to buy, but you have to rebuild it anyway, and this will take less time due to the faster drive.

Hi Mark – and just wanted to congratulate you (!) on the performance improvement in my laptop, which I have been using today – as driving into the West End was impossible (!!!) this morning. We had the closure of Regents Park (the Trump visit grrr!!) so I turned back and went home – and have been working from here.

Much, much quicker – and better on the energy consumption as well. It has been switched on for hours, and the battery indicator still reports 2 hrs of consumption available. Prior to your work on it, I would have had to plug it in to recharge it a long time ago.

So thanks very much for that – well done.

Mr Victor Aptaker BSc FRICS

Managing Director, Aptaker & Partners Ltd

To upgrade your computers to SSD

Telephone: 01525 540041 or 020 33271747