Solid-State Drive Performance

Dropped laptop

A customer recently telephoned me to say that after dropping their laptop, it wouldn’t start up properly when they tried to switch it on, but just produced a message saying ‘No Bootable Device’. I explained that the hard disk drive probably got damaged when the laptop hit the ground, because even though modern hard disk drives could detect when they were in ‘free fall’ and take action to protect themselves, this mechanism didn’t always work. However, the problem could be caused by something else, so it was best for me to take a look at the laptop before recommending the purchase of any new equipment.

Broken hard disk drive

When examining the laptop I could see that the hard disk drive had been significantly damaged, so critical data required for Windows to start up couldn’t be accessed because of read failures. The damaged hard disk drive was a 2.5" model spinning at 5,400 RPM with a capacity of 640 GB. Although it would’ve been possible to get a similar replacement hard disk drive, I explained to the customer that he might be better off with a solid-state drive instead. Solid-state drives were tougher, faster, quieter, and lighter than hard disk drives, and much more energy-efficient. They cost more per GB, and like most things would not last forever, but were tolerant of physical shocks because they had no moving parts.

Choosing a replacement

After advising the customer about possible replacement hard disk drives and solid-state drives, he decided to go for a Crucial MX500 250 GB solid-state drive, which cost about £65. The capacity was far less than that of the damaged hard disk drive, but I reckoned that 250 GB would be enough for ordinary domestic use. If the customer eventually ran short of space, he could always move things like photographs and videos onto external storage, but I guessed that it’d be a long time before anything like that became necessary.

A good decision

When the new solid-state drive arrived I installed it in the laptop then set up Windows 10 and all available system updates. Then it was time to install a good selection of application programs. First was a package called LibreOffice that included a word processor, a spreadsheet program, a drawing program, and so on. Next came two good web browsers called Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, which were good alternatives to the Microsoft Edge browser built into Windows 10. After that came an e-mail program called Mozilla Thunderbird, and a few other programs that might occasionally be useful. The only important thing that I didn’t do was install a free anti-virus program, because the customer said that he already had a favourite product that he preferred. When I switched on the laptop, it started up from cold within fifteen seconds, which was the kind of performance that you could only dream about when booting from a traditional hard disk drive. The system ran like lightning, and that was before using any of the clever performance-boosting options that are possible with a good solid-state drive.

Why wait for a crash?

If you’re fed up with running a sluggish system, why wait for the hard disk drive to fail before upgrading to a solid-state drive? Upgrading before you’re forced into it is less traumatic than recovering from a failed hard disk drive, because you can simply copy the entire contents of the old hard disk drive onto the new solid-state drive without having to start again from scratch. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like some advice about solid-state drives, or some help to choose one.