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HDD to SSD change

Recently I bought a new system drive. Well, not an average replacement of the original regular hard drive, instead, I decide to jump into the SSD world. After a little research I decided to buy the Samsung 830 series drive with 256Gb capacity.

While I had been going through many reviews, frankly I became more and more confused. One part of the reviews were positive, described the the difference between an average hard disk and a solid state drive incredible, while the others stated exactly the opposite. I knew that this change couldn’t be absolutely bad, but wasn’t sure about the definitive positive side of it. To make the long story short, after a while I bit the bullet and bought the drive.

At this point I still didn’t know the exact truth about SSDs but of course after so many articles and reviews I had some idea.

The procedure

Obviously with a complete system drive change there are multiple options we can choose. First, start from scratch, install a fresh operating system, than the apps we need, etc. The second is (which is the option I chose) to make a bootable “backup” of your system drive onto the new SSD. I’ve used SuperDuper, but there are many alternatives available, use whichever you like. Almost the only thing you have to remember is to make the clone drive bootable. Every backup software offers you this option, and obviously without this your new drive won’t work.

So, os drive cloned to the new SSD, ready to go, let’s do the hardware part of it.

It’s really a very simple and easy process. For safety, I downloaded the iFixit guide to my iPad to keep it as reference during the change. With all the necessary preparation and the actual change does not take longer than a few minutes. If you are not so familiar with computer building it may take 20 minutes top. And it’s really easy.

This is the hardware part of the assembly.

Now we are ready to launch the system with the brand new drive in it!

The results

I was prepared to have some hiccups during the process, but believe me, it’s a completely trouble free experience. Push the power button and enjoy the new drive. As you can guess I was very excited to see the speed change. To be honest there is no night and day difference in the boot/shut down time. It is faster, but not that unbelievably faster. The main advantage is obvious when the system is ready for the daily torture. Different softwares just pops up after launch, almost without any waiting, without any spinning beach ball. Click the icon, and almost immediately you can use the app.

With bigger things like Pro Tools, the difference is amazing. I trashed prefs and databases to force Pro Tools to rescan plugins. While with the older drive it took a good minute or a little more to scan all my plugs and launch Pro Tools, with the new SSD it takes about 15–20 seconds. With all the scanning and launching!

A normal launch would take 45–55 seconds, with the new system drive, it takes 15–18 seconds. But wait, there’s more! Working with Pro Tools is a much faster and snappier experience. Disk cache is amazingly fast, plugin guis just pops up almost immediately. It really feels like a huge Pro Tools upgrade. I wonder what could happen if Avid would really optimise Pro Tools for speed and efficiency.

Here’s a little chart comparing the “before-after” results (not scientific results!):

I admit I have a very bad habit. I always leave applications open, ready to work. Even when I switch off the machine I leave the “reopen apps” option on. Before the SSD, sometimes it was a complete nightmare as booting up the computer took more minutes before every app opened up again. Now, it seems quite natural. Although the normal boot up time is not that much faster, the app load times are so much rapid that I can hardly see the loading. Even when I leave 8–10 apps open before shutdown, after the login screen it takes about 3 seconds to reopen everything from a word processor through the mail to the browser.

So to answer the ultimate question: YES it is worth changing the old HDD. Regarding longevity I have no experience yet, but the 3 year warranty and my regular system backup gives me confidence.

For the real geeks, here’s the first test result: