Thursday, December 19, 2013

Livin' La Vida SSD

The other day, I upgraded my laptop's hard drive from a 500GB 7200rpm drive to a 500GB Samsung 840 EVO solid-state drive.  I purchased the SSD from Newegg.com for $290.00 (which is probably the most I've paid for a drive since 2007), and after taking about a week to get packaged by their warehouse and UPS taking their sweet time to get it over here, it finally came time for me to clone the contents of my HDD over to my SSD.

The performance of my HDD had been dismal, especially as it became more full of Heaven knows what.  (This is still an issue, hence why I recently downloaded Mark Russinovich's "du" program for Windows, so I could analyze which directories contained the biggest wastes of space.)  As you'll see if you watch the video, it took over seven minutes for my computer to become responsive enough to be useful after a cold boot.  Windows itself took a real long time to spin up, then it took even longer for my desktop icons to come up so I could actually click on and run anything.  As such, I would reboot maybe once every month or two, and opt to put my computer to sleep instead.  Hibernation wasn't a very good deal either, since I have 12GB of RAM in here and it would take a few minutes to do that too.

After cloning my HDD to the SSD with EaseUS Todo Backup Free Edition, I attempted to boot my SSD straight-up without any modifications afterward.  Unfortunately, Windows couldn't handle itself when it's been cloned to different hardware, so I had to straighten it out with some techniques.  I dusted off my Windows 7 installation disc and proceeded to run several of the automatic repair methods to no avail.  Eventually I ran across these instructions on fixing your boot record from Tom's Hardware.  Turns out I got myself pretty close, but just needed to select the "Command Prompt" option from the Windows 7 Repair/Recovery menu, and type:

bootrec.exe /FixMbr

This is, luckily, all it took to restore my Windows 7 to working order.  If you don't have such good luck, the Tom's Hardware article I just linked to has some more suggestions.  Once I got that squared away, my computer rebooted and, from POST to "Scan your fingerprint now", my computer booted up in around 50 seconds, as compared with about two and a half minutes with the HDD.  In under two minutes since hitting the power button, I was able to open, click around in, and close two programs very smoothly.  The SSD has made a substantial difference in my 3-year-old laptop's performance.

I currently have another SSD running Windows 8 in my desktop, and gave one to my wife for  use in her HP Envy laptop.  Between these and my new NAS box, I plan to rid myself of all the old IDE drives lying around collecting dust, plus any SATA HDD under 1TB.  My nasty old plastic bin of hard drives will, someday soon, be recycled itself.

Wait, I missed something... where's this video you spoke of?  I haven't had a chance to edit it yet, so I'll update this post later on and hopefully embed it.

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