Solid State Drives (SSD) are said to be the future of storage. They are mostly in premium laptops and servers and can cost quite a bundle. Samsung seems to lead the pack with their 256GB SSD drives for roughly $800-1000. Now with Tera-byte hard drives running less than $100 these days, can an SSD be worth the premium? How fast are they really? This is part 1 of a series where I’ll try it out on my laptop and report the results. I wasn’t willing to pay $1000 for a SSD, but a new entry in to the 256GB fray appeared and caught my interest. It was about half the price of the Samsung and seemed to have avoided a lot of the issues that had been reported regarding the “lower” priced drives. You see, a drive controller from JMicron seems to be very common in value priced SSD drives and has various issues with “stuttering”. Basically the data bus of the controller is overwhelmed and everything will freeze for a moment. This can become very annoying. Along comes G.Skill. G.SKILL 256GB SSD A Taiwanese company claimed to have solved the stuttering issue with a drive which utilized 2 drive controllers running in a RAID configuration with two 128GB SSD drives. Combining them together gave 256GB. I did some digging and came up with a drive for well under $500, so I thought I’d give it a go.
The drive arrived very well packaged and looking tiny and discrete. It’s a 2.5″ drive and weighs so little that you wonder if there’s anything in it. Installation on my DELL laptop was a snap. It was literally 3 screws. Two screws to unfasten the the drive from the laptop. Then another screw to fasten the holder onto the drive so that I could slide it into the laptop. DELL get high marks for easy accessibility with their E6400 series. But we are getting ahead of ourselves here. I had to prepare the drive before putting it into the laptop. Again, that was remarkable easy. I bought an external USB enclosure for the drive. Then using a free program called XXClone I made a bootable image of my notebook drive. Commercial break here, XXClone is wonderful. I’ve paid for Norton Ghost and and Acronis, etc. and none of them workes as well as this FREE program. Highly recommended.
So it basically took me three hours to backup my laptop drive, clone it onto the SSD, and then install the SSD into the laptop and reboot. The longest part was backing up my entire drive to another USB drive. It was actually a pretty painless process. It was as easy as upgrading my MacBook Pro to a faster and larger drive, but that’s a story for another day. OK, Part 2 of this series will be all about optimizing your system for an SSD. There are quite a few steps here. Check back in a few days.