Dragging Myself Into 2014 — SSD Upgrade

So my primary work machine, now three years old, started to get really, really cranky. I’d previously given up on Chrome (slow-slow-slow and lock-ups), did IE for a while, but even that pooped out. Uninstalled everything I could, and it helped, but not much. So, time for a rebuild.

Of course, this all happened at the busiest time of the year for me.

I don’t do much heavy lifting with my PC, so it seemed a shame to scrap it and get a new one.  I didn’t want to just re-format the hard drive, as then I’d surely come across something that I didn’t have backed up. (And yes, I do use CrashPlan and have all my data on an external drive. It’s mostly just software on the OS drive. Though I get sloppy sometimes.)

Luckily, being way behind technology, SSD — those nifty solid state “hard drives” — have come down greatly in price. So I snagged a Samsung 120 GB drive for about $75. Since they are meant for laptops, I spent a whopping $7 on a drive tray / converter (to put the 2.5″ laptop drive into the 3.5″ desktop drive bay). With tax, about $85 instead of shelling out hundreds for a new desktop PC.

Being a cheap HP Slimline form factor, it’s a pain to get at the hard drive. But, the on-line instructions we’re too bad. And in a little while I got the old drive out and slid the new SSD in there. Fit like a charm. And it was a good opportunity to vac and blow out all that dust that’s been building up.

After that, it was the usual re-install everything routine. And patch. And patch. And patch.

I could have used the software that Samsung includes to image the old drive onto the new, but my whole problem was a screwed up OS environment, so it was best for me to crush and rebuild. You can also get a kit version from them which includes a dongle to connect the SSD via USB. Probably not bad for USB 3, but my older machine only has USB 2, so that would have taken ages anyway.

Once I got everything patched and installed (at least, the 90% of stuff I need to get going), I used the handy Windows 7 image creator to save off a clean image to my external drive.  It also creates an emergency boot CD. At least next time I won’t have to do too much re-installing (but at that point, it will probably be time for a new PC anyway).

For any stuff that I didn’t have on my external hard drive (like the Desktop and My Documents crap), I used CrashPlan to restore. Worked like a charm. I was able to restore from my local server, so got 50 MB/sec restore speeds. Not too bad. (Server has gigabit, but PC doesn’t.)

Between a clean OS and the SSD drive, the PC is working pretty darn well. Well worth the investment in time and a little money. Plus, since the SSD has no moving parts, and is tiny, the PC is running cooler and has better air flow. A nice bonus.

So, if you’re looking at rebuilding an older PC, I’d highly recommend going to SSD. Between SSD for the OS and Apps, and an external HD for the data files, it’s a pretty decent setup for those on a budget.