My Date With Solid State Storage

The demand for storage is endless, but the demand for speed of access may be even greater. Even when you have the cloud storing your music/photos/books and movies, it’s still slow going. If it is speed you’re looking for, there’s only one way to go – that’s an SSD. While they hold less in capacity, they are incredibly fast and incredibly long lasting.

Traditional hard drives are the Grade B horror movie of laptop components.  If something breaks, it’s likely to the drive. And even when they’re not broken, they can be noisy, hot, and slow.

Unlike a traditional hard drive, an SSD – which stands for Solid State Drive – has no moving parts. No spinning platters, no noise, and blazing fast start up times. They have their own CPUs on board to manage data storage, and hence, they are a lot faster than conventional hard disks.

Your iPad and most tablets use solid state drives. The drives are more durable and shock absorbent, and are generally better for things you lug around all day, every day. The biggest problem with them has been the expense.

So obviously I was pretty psyched when Samsung lent me their new 830 Series SSD drive upgrade kit. The idea is to replace my hard drive in my SONY VAIO notebook (which is noisy) with a shapely SSD drive.

I hit my first “second thought” when I read about needing a small Phillips-head screwdriver to remove my existing drive.  My next “second thought” came when they suggested that I have my computer manual available and be prepared to set up the new drive’s BIOS.  The third snag: I needed to use Norton Ghost to make a copy of everything on my existing hard drive on the new SSD drive. Other little items in the Samsung manual like “be sure you remove any static electricity before handling your SSD drive” did not leave me any more reassured.

The good news is that Samsung has made as easy as possible to prepare your new SSD drive.  It connects via a special cable to the USB on your laptop. You run Norton Ghost to move the files you need. And then you simply remove your current drive and replace it with the new SSD.

Did I do it?  Well, I came close…I ghosted the new drive, but have to admit I lost my nerve for a number of reasons.

Norton Ghost is not directly supported by Samsung, or in this process by Symantec since its part of a bundled system. And SONY – well since I had to give the SSD drive back to Samsung after my little experiment, I was nervous about relying on them for technical support in the event that I had trouble restoring my settings.

PC Magazine gave high marks to the Samsung drive and loved the demure 2.5-inch form factor drive, which measures only 7mm in height.

But calling it a consumer product is a bit of stretch. It’s the kind of installation only someone at PC Mag would call a consumer product. Most of us aren’t pros like them.

As for me… my next notebook will definitely have a solid state drive, and I’m willing to pay the premium for it. But for now, I’ll deal with noise, heat, and sluggishness.

Prices ranges from $134.99 ($104.99 on the street) for a 64GB drive to $1,009.99 ($779.99) for a 512GB drive, with 128 and 256BG drives falling in the middle, which compares most favorably to other SSD drives with the same capacities.

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