Geek Stuff

Hard Drive Turned to 11

Ok, I know I have been MIA for a while, I have a bunch of fun stories to tell and the good news is that they are saved as drafts so they will all get out eventually.
One item with a Geek Factor 11 for today. I’ve been working on the same laptop at work for over 3 years, you’d think I’d be the type begging the IS guy to upgrade every 6 months but the truth is that I have so much software, all tweaked for my work that it takes a good 2 to 3 days to build a PC with all the stuff I need (unlike a Mac where you string two machines together with Firewire and in 30 minutes you are done, but that’s another story).
For over a year Kevin, basically my Q, has been asking when will I upgrade and my answer has been consistent – as soon as there is a good tablet or when I can get a 64GB SSD. For those under Yoda level geekdom, an SSD is a solid state disk drive. Instead of the normal spinning platters in a hard drive (or laptop hard drive), the SSD has memory chips not unlike what you’d find in a USB flash drive.
Because there are no moving parts there’s a significant boost in speed, and a decrease in power consumption because you don’t have to keep this mini record player spinning at 7200 RPM.
About 3 weeks ago Q told me that there were some machines open and when I saw how brown and burned out my old monitor screen was compared to the new ones I wanted to change right then.
I went to ebay for price comparison and ended up looking at 3 drives. Once I had a fresh image I found that my windows install lost about 4GB of flabby middle and that I could get by with 32GB at around $180. There was a 64GB that I thought I could get for under $400 and then a wild card I didn’t expect, 80GB (or some other weird number) from Intel for $500. The CEO of WallCorp would serve up a huge helping of whupass if I spent 5 bills on my hot rod project and I knew the 32 would eventually fall short so I took a shot at the 64GB. In what I thought was an incredible win I got it for only $320.
I later learned that I was sort of screwed, this drive was a Samsung and was a microSATA, not a “regular” SATA drive so it would not fit in the standard socket (the drive is even smaller than a standard one). This really sucked because it was now December 23rd and Q wanted to leave at a decent hour on the 24th.
Here I give a shout out to Diane and the folks at Advance Computer Services in Ohio who had the Lenovo adapter and were able to overnight it. So the $70 I “saved” on the drive price was eaten up in the adapter.
Of course the fun didn’t stop there. The parts made it in but know the drive enclosure wouldn’t recognize the SSD Drive, which was probably a power issue since SSDs have some different requirements (for the non-geek: I installed all the programs I use on a regular drive and then wanted to copy that image over to the new SSD drive, this happens by putting the new drive into a box that it can plug into and then attach to the laptop via USB so the info can get copied over. Only there the box didn’t like the SSD.
Thanks to Mahalo Answers, the coolest damn site on the web (and part of another future story), a guy gave me a brilliant solution. The good news is that the PC did recognize the SSD Drive with no problem so I inserted it and booted to CD instead of the new hard drive and ran Acronis to copy the image across. It worked perfectly.
So here are the speed test results:
The test was to boot up, start word, close the doc and shut down.
My old Dell 600M – 2:37
The New Dell D630 with a Western Digital 100GB HD – 2:10
(17% faster, and it is running anti-virus, which was mostly shut off on the 600M)
D630 with Samsung 64GB SSD – 1:14, 1.76x faster than the 7200rpm drive, 2.1x faster than the 600M
Now that I’ve had it running for a couple of weeks a few things that I’ve noticed and that others have asked about:
  1. The drive light still flashes as it normally does, but just not as often
  2. It’s totally silent, if it weren’t for the fan kicking in on the processor now and then there’d be no noise at all. Living without the constant hum and clanking of the drive is very cool.
  3. Battery seems to be only about 10-20% better, I’ve read that there’s no huge gains there and my results appear to track that.
  4. Speed opening apps is the biggest thing – Outlook, Photoshop and Dreamweaver start a good 4x faster or more.

Thus endeth the geek prayer, may the force be with you.

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