SSD (Solid State Drive) is becoming increasingly popular and may soon become an integral part of future PC’s, Laptops, Ultrabooks and maybe other mobile devices as well. SSD’s are storage devices which are faster compared to traditional hard disk. The logic is to save operating system files, applications, games and other frequently used files inside SSD rather than on a hard disk drive (HDD). The remaining files can be saved inside the hard disk. In case of Windows 8, some users were able to achieve reaching desktop in just 6 secs using SSD. The real advantage is for users who use high end graphic software such as Photoshop. The program which usually takes almost 30 secs to load completely got it opened fully in 9 secs. The real beneficiaries are the hardcore gamers who are addicted to some of the modern high end games. SSD’s are a must for achieving the level of speed they always crave for.
What makes SSD drives faster than hard disk drives (HDD)?
Hard disks store data in one or more magnetic rapidly rotating discs called platters. The data stored inside these discs are read by a magnetic heads which physically moves to and fro on top of the discs separated by a very thin layer of space.
SSD stores data inside flash memory which stores data electronically using transistors. This is the same flash memory which is seen on USB storage devices. There are no physical moving parts involved. All the data storage is done electronically. Hence the data storage and transfer is incredibly fast using SSD. They are also impressively shock and vibration resistant as there are no physical moving parts inside SSD.
Limitation of using SSD drive
- SSD drives are costly compared to hard disks, atleast at the time of this writing.
- The maximum available drive space for SSD driver is 500 GB at the time of writing.
- (MLC) Multi level cells which are used for storing data in SSD’s can only be written up to 10,000 times. This is why hard disk is compulsory. Data which are periodically changed and written is stored inside the hard disk, while data which don’t undergo many changes such as operating system files are stored inside SSD.
What are the basic requirements for using SSD?
- Your computer should support SATA connection. If your computer is around 4yrs old, most probably you have a computer which support SATA drive. However it’s better to confirm with the vendor or from product details website whether your motherboard supports SATA
- This is just for your information. The latest motherboard comes with SATA 3 connection. It gives the maximum performance that you can get from SSD. Upgrading to SATA 3 is not easy as it require you to change motherboard and most probably processor as well.
- SSD works well in XP. But it works better in latest OS such as Win 7 and Win 8 because of its support for TRIM command. TRIM helps in maintaining optimum write performance, prevent fragmentation by organizing data and erase junk files which are removed.
- Make sure Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) is turned on in the BIOS. Enabling this will ensure that all features needed for SSD is enabled.
- Under the boot priority, SSD should be set as the primary boot device. All the OS files are stored inside SSD for getting the maximum performance benefit. So naturally SSD needs to be the primary boot device.
How to Install Windows in SSD?
- Assume that you are using SSD on a computer which already have OS and applications installed. In this case, you can use the drive’s cloning software to clone and transfer all the OS and application files to the new SSD drive. There are other third party software that can do the job for you. The major disadvantage of this method is that cloning might transfer the junk files as well which quickly fills up the SSD drive. (Remember, drive space inside SSD may not be as big as your hard disk)
- Install Windows from scratch. This might be time consuming as you have to install everything from scratch. But it’s worth it, considering this method creates fewer problems and create a more stable PC.
- Once Windows OS is up and running, you need to redirect folders inside windows libraries such as Documents, Pictures, Music and Videos to your secondary drive which is HDD. The files in these folders undergo changes constantly and so it is not advisable to save it inside SSD. This tutorial explain how to change the default file saving location for windows libraries.
Never defragment an SSD drive
SSD drive does not require defragmentation unlike HDD. Defragmenting an SSD drive reduce it’s life span (Remember Multi level cells(MLC)). By default, windows disable its defragmentation tool for SSD drive. If you are using any third party tools for disk optimization you need to be careful as it might accidentally try to defragment SSD.
Hopefully this article is helpful in understanding more about why and how to install SSD drive. There are many different brands available now, but my top recommendations will be to go for Corsair or Crucial.