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SSD - A Few Questions - A Few Answers

SSD - Solid State Drive

SSD or Solid State Drive has officially passed the 4TB capacity!

Question: "Can I put a Solid State Drive in my laptop?"

Answer: "Yes!"

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I have four of these in four laptops, 2 run 24/7 not one failure in four years...

"Can I put a Solid State Drive in my Desktop?"

Answer: "Yes!"

"Can I put a Solid State Drive in my Server?"

Answer: "Yes!"

"Can I put an Operating System on a Solid State Drive"

Answer: "Yes!"

"Can I use a Solid State Drive to boot my computer?"

Answer: "Yes!"

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Here is a free guide to help you get a new hard drive or  Solid State Drive installed...

"My hard drive has two Operating Systems on it, can I do that with a Solid State Drive?"

Answer: Yes, you can have more than one Operating System (OS) on a Solid State Drive. In fact I have three on a 500 GB SSD in my main computer. If you decide to do this you have two options for getting the multiboot configuration.

  • You can install the operating systems one at a time (be sure to install the oldest OS first!).
  • You can make images of each Operating System then put the images on the SSD in the same configuration you are now using. (With this option you should do a current image first then put them on the  Solid State Drive, this will also give you a good backup.)

"How do I put an OS on my Solid State Drive once I have it installed?"

Answer: The same as a mechanical hard drive, see the 41 DIY Computer Repairs Guides for your particular Operating System install.

"Will a Solid State Drive with an OS make the computer faster?"

Answer: This one is a yes and no.

Yes, it will boot faster (my tower takes a little under a minute to get to the log on screen, my laptop takes a little over fifteen seconds to get to the log on screen).

It all depends on some factors: How much hardware is being initialized by the BIOS, how many drivers for hardware and programs are starting at startup, if the computer is in a Domain, how many (if any) network drives you attaching to, and if the OS is really optimized.

No, the read speed is faster than a mechanical drive but the write speed is slower. I find this a little annoying considering that an Solid State Drive is memory and memory will always be faster than a mechanical hard drive. So I will surmise that the lack of speed is do to the firmware that emulates a hard drive physical characteristics, the interface -  that is the drive controller, and the bus to the processor/memory on the motherboard.

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"How many Solid State Drive's can I install in one computer?"

Answer: For a laptop normally one, although some laptops have two bays for drives. For a desktop it depends on how many bays you have and how the mounting points are set up. My Antec case has room for ten (10!) 3.25 inch hard drives or Solid State Drive's. How ever three bays have other devices in them so if I could afford them I could have seven SSD's in my tower case. Cool! (Need to sell some books...)

"What do I do with my old hard drive if my computer doesn't have room for it?"
(I have been getting this question a lot lately...)

When you upgrade if it is a laptop and the drive is still good (it hasn't failed) then you could get an external hard drive enclosure then use it as a external storage device. Or you could leave it as is; then put it in the anti static container; and store it as a known good spare.

If you are upgrading a desktop you could use it as an extra data storage drive.

If it has failed then do what your normally do with failed computer parts...

"I have installed my Solid State Drive what do I do next?"

Answer: When you change or add an Solid State Drive and you want the SSD to be the start up or "Boot" drive you have two options:

Option # 1: Install your Operating System on the SSD, you will need the Operating System install media.

Note: To get to Windows 8.1 you will have to install the Windows 8 OS first then upgrade the OS once you have network and internet connectivity. I could not find a vendor nor Microsoft web page where you could order and receive a DVD with Windows 8.1 on it. (maybe in the near future but for now it is only available as an upgrade...)

Option # 2: If you read this web site I am a firm believer and advocate of doing backups. This includes a backup of the Operating System partition (drive) in it's entirety. If you have such a back up (called an image) then you boot the computer from an external source such as my Custom ERD or another bootable device, then put the image on the  Solid State Drive.

You will need to do two things once the image is on the drive before it will boot:
  • You need to set the SSD as the boot drive in the BIOS (check your computer owners manual or hand book on how to get into the BIOS setup program).
  • You need to make the SSD bootable, you can do this with either the Operating System install media by booting the computer with the media and select "Repair" for options to make the SSD bootable or you could use my Custom ERD to do the same thing.

"What is the largest Solid State Drive available today?"

Answer: 4 TB, however you could use a "hybrid" solution if you need more. A 'hybrid' is a card that goes in to a PICe slot and has a 100 GB Solid State Drive and a 1 TB mechanical drive (the only one I have found so far). Boot from the Solid State Drive and have the 1 TB for data storage. The best part of this solution is it is in a slot and not in a bay. 

"How much does the 4 TB Solid State Drive cost?"

Answer: Over $900 each! (as of 25  Feb 2020!)

"Can I run a check disk on a Solid State Drive?"

Yes, as a matter of fact I suggest you use the check disk option from the drive properties/tools to schedule a chkdsk about once a month. If the data is becoming corrupt for some reason you will catch it before the data is destroyed. If the data is becoming corrupt consider doing a backup before doing diagnostics!

"Check disk reports bad sectors on my SSD, how do I fix them?"

Check disk will find bad files and entries in the MFT (Master File Table) for one reason or another but will correct them.

However if check disk reports "bad sectors" the drive is failing, you need to do a backup as soon as possible then contact the drive manufacture for a replacement if it is under warranty. One or more of the memory modules are failing, and when one fails the drive is dead.

"Can I use the defragmenter on a Solid State Drive?

Warning! Do NOT use the defragmenter on a SSD - (See this page for troubleshooting)!

Warning! It will corrupt the drive so bad that all partitions need to be deleted and reconstructed. YOU will lose your data!

"What if my SSD fails; can it be repaired?"

Answer: Yes and no, the repair (on of out of warrantee SSD's) will depend on what has failed. If it is under warrantee I will warn you to NOT open the case, get a RMA and send it back to the manufacture for repair/replacement. If you send it back to the manufacture your data will be lost/destroyed so backup often!

"I want to put a Solid State Drive in my computer to increase the physical memory, can I do that?"

Answer: No! A Solid State Drive is a storage device, if you install one it will NOT increase your memory, you can only use it for storage the same as a hard drive. If you need more memory upgrade the memory modules in the computer.

"I have a laptop how would I install the drive in it?"

Answer: All laptops are proprietary, that is each one is different. To install a new Solid State Drive you need to check the manufactures web site for documentation about your laptop if you did not receive a user's manual that shows how to do upgrades.

"I have a new computer, how would if know if a SSD is installed in it?"

Answer: There are a few ways to find out what drive is installed in your computer. You can open the computer and look at the drive the label will identify the drive as Solid State Drive. Another way is to use the Operating System, if you are a Windows user in the Device Manager go to disk drives, write down the drive model then do a search on it.

"What has your experience with a Solid State Drive been like?"

Answer: Having owned SSD's for over eleven years (time flies when yer havin' fun, eh?) and in six computers with both IDE and SATA interfaces, all are boot drives, and Operating Systems from DOS, to XP, to Windows 7 / 8 / 10, to three different brands of Server (Novell [Yup still around], Linux, and Windows). Only one SSD that failed (read about it here) and that was out of the box, no complaints at all!.

Find more tutorials for hardware upgrading steps here.

Update 02/26/20 - The price for a SSD had dropped dramatically [and so has mechanical drives]. That said the most bang for your buck is now the SSD. Why? The MTBF is so much longer for the SSD than a mechanical drive and the SSD is pushing the 4 TB plus range, the cost is higher than a mechanical drive however one SSD will out last a mechanical drive by at least 100 years if not longer...

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