SSD PC upgrade

Some time ago, I noticed that our family PC was running really slowly. It only has 4GB of RAM and sometimes the boys leave their flash-based websites open when they switch users (which can be a resource hog), but it was more than that (4GB should have been enough really).  I dug a little deeper and found that the disk was running at a constant 100% – clearly that was the bottleneck!

I adjusted the virtual disk settings (away from the Windows defaults, which were pitifully small, to something I found recommended on the ‘net) and, whilst it helped with the system responsiveness, the disk queue was still sitting a little higher than I expected (in Resource Monitor) and Task Manager still said the disk was running at 100%.

Fast forward a few weeks and I’d been busy, the machine had been upgraded to Windows 10 and it seemed to be behaving itself. That was until, one Saturday morning, when I was just rushing out of the door to take the kids to football, I spotted the PC sitting on the kitchen counter with a boot error, followed by a failed attempt to boot from the network. “That’s great!”, I thought (actually it was some rather more grumpy words than that), “another job to fit into an already-packed weekend…”.

As it happened, I’d already been considering a solid state disk (SSD) upgrade after a customer had told me about the unit he had bought, the performance difference it had made, and how low the prices were. Our hard disk drive (HDD) failure just forced the point and I bought a 120GB Samsung EVO 850 SSD for only marginally more than the cost of a replacement 500GB Seagate Momentum Thin HDD (we don’t really need that much space anyway).

Why the EVO 850? Well, my customer had already done his homework, but the 256GB version was recently rated as a best budget SSD buy on Tom’s Hardware – and that was enough for me to buy its baby cousin.

I didn’t have time to fit the drive this week, but I set to work this afternoon, following the advice in the video below to take our laptop apart and swap the drive:

I’ll come back to the activation issue in a future post, but the SSD is awesome. Incredibly fast! And disk queues are a thing of the past (as is OEM-supplied crapware as I now have a clean PC build).

As for the old HDD, it still works… sort of. At least, I may be able to get some data off it if the spinning rust stays spinning for long enough. I bought an Anker USB 3.0 2.5″ HDD/SSD external enclosure and am very impressed. It’s so easy to use that my son fitted the old disk in seconds (no screws, just the SATA connection and slide the cover on) – perfect if you are going to clone from one disk to another (I didn’t, because I didn’t have a bootable system).

Further reading

How to upgrade your laptop hard disk to an SSD.

Samsung 850 EVO SSD review.

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