Solid State Drive - Upgrade to SSD and the installation

A "how to" for a SSD installation and use of a Solid State Drive, will it make your computer faster?

  1. Question: "Can I use a Solid State Drive as my startup or boot drive?"
    • Answer: Yes indeed!
  2. Question: "What computers will a Solid State Drive work in?"
    • Answer: Any, desktop, laptop, netbook, or server!
  3. Question: "How many can I install in my computer?"
    • Answer:  As many as you have bays and connections for.
  4. Question: Can I use a Solid State Drive as a RAM drive?
    • Answer: No, a Solid State Drive is a physical drive, it is memory but in a drive configuration (more ram is cheaper...)

Notes:

See this page SSD - Solid State Drive for troubleshooting procedures if you already have the drive installed.

See this page Repair a Solid State Drive for your repair options if you have a failure.

To keep from killing your SSD before you can use it I suggest you read the complete article.

Solid State Drive installation Introduction:

Solid State Drive's are IDE or SATA interface connection. So if you have an older computer that is IDE you can install a SSD in the computer.

A Solid State Drive is an all memory electronic device, as a storage device I have found:

  1. They are easy to install (fit as the Brits say), same as any other storage device like a hard drive or CD ROM drive. With computers you can also use the smaller condensed "Check list" to accomplish a single repair task.

  2. You can use them in any type/make/model computer laptop, desktop, or server!

  3. They are faster in some respects slower in others (read the rest of the article).

  4. The have a super low failure rate compared to mechanical hard drives.

  5. The only drawbacks to the Solid State Drive over mechanical drives are the price and the capacity.

This article will help you install a Solid State Drive, if you want to use it for extra removable storage or if you want to use it for your boot  or startup drive.

Note: Before you begin if the old drive hasn't failed do you have a backup image of the Operating System? If you don't you will have to install it again. One way to make a backup image is to use an ERD (Emergency Repair Disk) to start the computer and make the image, if you don't have an ERD you can make your own, for more information click here.

The first  drive I picked was the Solid State Drive 64G  OCZ OCZSSD2-1C64G R. I bought the 64 Gig from Newegg.com because the reviews were good and OCZ backs their products.

Solid State Drive upgrade installation how to:

Question: "How do I install an SSD in my computer?"

Answer: To install your new Solid State Drive treat the task the same as you would if you were installing a new mechanical hard drive.

First let me say that a Solid State Drive Upgrade installation is not a cheap upgrade.

So I am trading some money and capacity for speed and reliability, for the same cost I could have bought a 1 TB mechanical hard drive but the read speed would be somewhat lower. The SSD read speed is higher but the write speed is lower than a mechanical drive. This will not bother anyone that optimizes their OS and moves the swap file off the startup drive to a second drive.

(note - place you mouse pointer over the image to view a larger image).

Manufacture image # 1

Manufacture Image # 2

Box and SSD image # 1

Box and SSD image # 2


OCZ Core Series OCZSSD2-1C64G 2.5" 64GB SATA II Internal Solid State Disk
  • Width: 3.95"
  • Depth: 2.76"
  • Height: 0.38"
  • Weight: 0.17 lbs.
  • Features: RAID Support
  • Max Shock Resistance: 1500G
  • Sequential Access - Read: 120-143 MB/se
  • Sequential Access - Write: 80-93 MB/se

Solid State Drive Upgrade installation instructions:

When you receive your new drive it may or may not be formatted, the OCZ drive was formatted. That was irrelevant for my use, I am going to over write the drive with a ghost image of my system. (You may want to make an image of your current startup drive, this will save you hours of work).

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The drive is very compact and from my observation will create less heat than a mechanical drive because of no moving parts thus drawing less power.

Installing the drive is very straight forward. Secure the drive in the computer, connect your power and the drive interface cable.

(If it is IDE be sure to set the M/S/CS jumpers the same as the old mechanical hard drive, if you need help with the actual installation see this page: Installing a Hard Drive).

Start the computer and go in to your BIOS setup, check the BIOS to insure that the drive is recognized by the computer.

Note: You may have to pick either Legacy or IDE type in the BIOS settings to have some motherboards recognize the Solid State Drive, some of the AIHC or OIHC BIOS settings for older SATA version drives will not see a SSD, this is not a problem for drives that are SATA II or III.

When I installed the drive I set it up as the third SATA drive in my computer. Through the BIOS setup I made it the boot drive. After installing the ghost image (see notes) I restarted the system and received a non-system boot drive error.

Duh - I didn't set the new partition as Active, therefore the BIOS couldn't find the boot sector of the drive.

Next I started up my computer and checked the drive for functionality, very nice. Very fast. The image I used is about five months old and nothing is missing.

Note: Because I didn't remove the drive that was the startup drive, a 300 gig that has three partitions, C: , D: , and E: I had to delete the partition of the old C: drive before the system would boot properly. I didn't have any qualms about deleting it because I had a good ghost image of the partition with a current backup.

Once I started the computer again all I had to do is up date my image to the current backup.

From my observations this makes my computer faster, I have the program Desktops (this program allows me to have four individual desktops. I have been using this program for over a year, I open programs I use frequently each in a different desktop. The programs open faster than with a mechanical drive. Actually when you click on the short cut it opens before you can move your mouse pointer. Very nice.

Because I have optimized my computer and the swap file is on a RAM Drive thus the write speed to the Solid State Drive is not a factor for the swapping of programs in and out of the swap file when the physical memory has been exceeded.

This video will assist you with your installation, IDE or SATA, hard drive or SSD.

SSD - Solid State Drive upgrade installation of drive details:

Observer ESD!  Your new drive is prone to ESD (Electro Magnetic Discharge) take precautions outlined here to keep from destroying your new drive!

  1. Backup your data! If you have an imaging program make an image of the OS partition.

  2. Open case.

  3. Disconnect power and interface cable from the drive you are replacing.

  4. Remove old drive.

  5. Install new drive, secure it with the screws some manufactures provide (use care, don't use a screw long enough that it will go in to the PCB [Printed Circuit Board] and crack it.

  6. Connect the power and interface cables.

  7. Close case.

  8. Have BIOS setup key press.

  9. Power up.

  10. Go in to the BIOS and check the mass storage page to insure the BIOS sees and initializes the drive.

  11. If the drive is there you are ready to:

    1. Install an operating system.

    2. Install an image you made of the operating system from the old drive (read below about making it a bootable drive).

    3. Partition and format if it is a second or third drive and not the boot drive.

What the drive looks like inside: (note - place you mouse pointer over the image to view a larger image).

Top of case

Open case

8 Memory modules

Back of PCB

PCB out of case

The PCB fits in the case very tightly, how ever there is not any shock absorbent material between the case and the PCB. (Printed Circuit Board )

Looking at the top side of the PCB you have eight memory IC's of 8 gig each, this gives you 64 gig of Flash memory. On the back you have the connection points for eight more IC's, this leads me to believe that the Case and PCB for the 64 Gig and 128 Gig are the same.

KISS - Keep It Simple Stxxxd very nice, compact and low power usage, low heat producing.

After Solid State Drive upgrade installation; Did it make my computer faster?

A) The boot speed is a little faster than a mechanical hard drive.

B) The reaction time for a program to execute from a short cut is extremely fast.

C) Programs run much faster, such as web browser changes pages faster,

D) You can add more than one Solid State Drive to a desktop, however most laptops only have one bay for a SSD or mechanical hard drive.

So for an overall experience the computer is faster, opening a 65 Meg spread sheet before upgrade would take a couple of minutes, now three seconds! Yes it is faster.

The test computer has a Core 2 2.8 GHz Quad processor, 8 Gig of memory, and video card with 1 GB of memory. My main test was a couple of games I like, one of the games I play is graphics intensive and will drag between scenes while the images are loaded, sometimes the change is noticeable up to a second or two. With the drive there isn't any noticeable drag.

Unless your hard drive is failing or you need to upgrade then the cost is prohibitive for  those on a budget, as I noted at the top of the article I traded speed for money, as your primary boot drive the cost of the 64 Gig Solid State Drive is comparable to a 500 Gig mechanical Hard Drive. I was under the impression that the computer would boot faster (a few reviews I have read suggested that) but my tests tells me it is not significantly faster to load the OS. Now if the SSD was integrated in to the motherboard on the main bus this may hold true. But using the SATA interface and a cable will cause a bottle neck, thus prohibiting the higher transfer rate that pure physical memory on the motherboard has. In a laptop and the Solid State Drive being the only drive it may prove to be significantly faster. Defiantly a weight and power saving for the laptop owner.

SSD upgrade installation Notes:

You can use any Operating System with a Solid State Drive if the BIOS sees the drive. When you install the drive if you are going to use it as your startup drive you have to use a program such as the DOS FDISK or Windows CD install disk to set the MBR as Active otherwise the system will not start from the drive.

Update -

Since I wrote this article I have added Solid State Drive's to all my laptops and have one newer Solid State Drive that I use as an external storage device. Some of the latest versions of SSD have a USB connector along with the SATA connector. Very nice.

Myth: A SSD or Solid State Drive is a hard disk.

Fact: A Solid State Drive is all electronic (memory), it does not have any mechanical parts, it emulates the older mechanical hard drive only.

Myth: A Solid State Drive is hard to install.

Fact: Nothing could be farther from the truth! A SSD is as easy to install as the older hard drive.

Myth: A Solid State Drive will not work in my Mac, nor can you use any Linux Operating Systems.

Fact: A SSD can be installed in any computer (or gaming system) that had a hard drive. You can load any operating system on a SSD that will run the computer it is installed in.

Myth: A Solid State Drive will cause more problems than it cures, you see people having issues with them on all the blogs and forums.

Fact: The issue or problem is not the SSD it is either the installer or the BIOS, the people having problems with their new drive did not research the product before they bought it.

See my SSD: A few questions and A few answers page if you are having doubts about your Solid State Drive.

Something that server admins / owners may want to consider:

You could use two Solid State Drive's in the place of the two RAID 1 hard drives in your server, set them up the same way as the old mechanical drives were (i.e.: make an image of one, then break the mirror, removed the old mechanical hard drives, install the two new SSD's then put the image on the primary drive, set the mirror and voile' in about fifty minutes or so you will have a RAID 1 on your server that will last about 1.5 MILLION hours. Now that is cool ...

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Emergency Repair Disk

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