Speed up your computer with a hard disk upgrade
Most modern computers come with hard disks for long-term storage of the operating system, programs, documents and other files.
A relatively new storage technology called the solid-state disk (SSD) is designed to replace the hard disk, using the same memory technology found in camera memory cards. While memory cards are cheap, though, this Crucial SSD is relatively expensive.
Hard disks are cheap at the moment with a 2.5in 250GB model (suitable for laptops) costing as little as £35. This device has the same physical dimensions and amount of space, but costs over 10 times that, so can it be good value?
The main advantage of an SSD is speed, though there are others: because an SSD has no moving parts, it's likely to be much more reliable than a hard disk. We replaced the hard disk in our two-year-old test PC with the Crucial disk. Initially we used some software to copy Windows over to the new disk, but this didn't work well, and some investigation resulted in the conclusion that it's better to start afresh, installing Windows from the disc.
Once we did that, and reinstalled all our programs, things really started to fly. Windows started up in a matter of seconds, and slow software such as Adobe Indesign, which used to take over a minute to load, flashed up on screen moments after clicking the icon.
It's not just loading times that are improved: because Windows uses the computer's hard disk to store what's called virtual memory, storing that on an SSD speeds up general use as well. There are other things to watch out for. SSDs should never be defragmented and, while Windows 7 recognises SSDs and prevents this, older versions of Windows don't and this must be managed manually.
This is not an upgrade for everyone. The computer recognised the disk automatically and setting it up was fairly easy, but it's easy to make a mistake that will cause problems. More importantly, it's extremely expensive.
We were hugely impressed with the speed boost but the price would have to be around half its current price to be good value.
Read more reviews
A superb upgrade, but too expensive to recommend for now
Super-fast in use; easy to set up
Some caution required on installation; still very expensive
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