This post seems lengthy because it is. It goes to the heart of modern day computer performance. There is a ton of misinformation floating in, on, and around the Internet.
We start with an abbreviated section outlining the high points. You can stop there knowing what you need to know about the relatively new technology called SSD ( Solid State Drive ), quite possibly the greatest innovation in computing in 20 years.
From there, we get into the nitty-gritty.
I don’t want to read all of this!
- Fair enough. This is what you need to know.
- Upgrading to a Solid State Drive (SSD) will double, triple, or quadruple the performance of your computer. The level of performance increase is determined by your existing hardware and software. However, rest assured you will be very pleased with the improvement.
- Nothing else you do to your computer from a hardware perspective will improve it’s performance nearly as much, assuming your software is working properly.
- Any NEW computer or laptop sold WITHOUT an SSD will be slow right out of the box. Always, always, always require a new computer or laptop use an SSD drive installed. No mechanical or “hybrid” drives – 100% SSD!
- Sauve’s strongly recommends upgrading relatively new or existing computers and laptops to an SSD. The improvement in performance is remarkable.
- Full service and cleanup is included with an upgrade!
There you go. Since performance is the number one reason for upgrades, next to outdated software, a related article about performance can be found here. For more details now, read on.
Repair, Upgrade or Replace the computer?
- Repairing can be worthwhile on computers built in the last 8 years if they are running Windows 7 or later.
- Windows 98, XP and Vista computers are no longer viable unless they are being used specifically to run older, non-upgradable software or equipment. In those cases it can be critical to get the computer running again, such as in manufacturing where an ancient computer runs ancient software connected to ancient machinery.
- A repair may not be possible if computer parts are no longer available. We will often get an old computer working “good enough” in order to gain breathing room to plan a computer replacement at a more convenient time. We may scrounge for old parts in order to get things going. Whatever it takes.
- Repairing or upgrading is typically less expensive that replacement. However, a cost\benefit evaluation is always prudent.
In today’s world, there are typically two reasons to upgrade a computer.
- The hard drive is out of space ( Very rare ).
- The computer is slow ( Very common ).
There are other reasons to upgrade such as a better video card when using design, engineering, or high-end gaming programs, but that’s not as common and outside the scope of this article.
Adding memory is also a possibility, but it’s not as common as you would think. Often times we will find that after testing before and after performance, additional memory offers very little or no performance increase unless the computer started off with a very low amount of installed memory, such as 2 GB of RAM. Using 6 – 8 GB of RAM is more than sufficient for nearly everyone.
Running out of space on the drive may be fixed without a drive upgrade in the event unused programs, data, or temporary files build up. Be aware that running out of space on the drive does NOT typically slow down the computer. Windows may not run with a full hard drive, but drive space has little to do with performance.
DO NOT LISTEN TO PEOPLE WHO SAY THAT REMOVING YOUR DATA FROM THE COMPUTER WILL FIX SLOW PERFORMANCE. THAT IS CATEGORICALLY FALSE AND DANGEROUS TO YOUR DATA UNLESS DONE CORRECTLY.
What to upgrade?
The only performance upgrade that will offer an overall dramatic improvement to most computers built in the last 8 years is the installation of a Solid State Drive (SSD) to replace the classic, mechanical, spinning, crash prone hard drive that hasn’t changed in decades.
For the last 10 years or so, it’s remarkable how overall improvements in computer performance have stalled. Faster memory, processors and storage space did little or nothing to improve performance. Processor have no doubt become faster than ever before, but that speed has been more than offset by modern, bloated software slowing everything down again. Somewhere there is a bottleneck to performance, and it’s the mechanical hard drive.
Contrary to popular belief, the storage capacity of your hard drive has no bearing on it’s performance. Manufacturers sell their computers trying to convince people that one computer is faster than the other because it can store more data. This is false. Chances are almost 100% that you will not use more than 20% of the available hard drive space. The rest is wasted.
So why are computers getting so slow?
It’s the hard drive. It’s mechanical and out of date. Again, the software computers are required to run is getting so massive that the drive cannot keep up with the needs of the processor and memory. Every time the computer boots or starts a program, it must read a ton of files from the hard drive and send them to the processor and memory. The processor is willing and able but it spends a lot of time waiting for the hard drive to deliver the files.
It’s taking forever to read all those files and shove them into memory. Once in memory, your computer may run acceptably, until the computer needs to read even more files from the hard drive. Once again, we wait until the drive satisfies that request.
Wash, rinse, repeat. This applies to brand new computers and 5 year old machines running conventional drives. It’s shocking how slow new, non-SSD equipped computers run. We would be embarrassed to offer them for sale.
Enter the Solid State Drive ( SSD )
Solid state drive are all electronic – no moving parts. SSD drives make computers run 2 – 4 times faster or more when compared to conventionally equipped computers performing day to day functions such as booting and starting programs. The improvement in performance on existing or new computers is stunning after upgrading a mechanical hard drive.
The facts about SSD’s
- The only performance upgrade to computers built in the last 8 years that will make any performance difference is the installation of a Solid State Drive ( SSD ) to replace the classic, mechanical, spinning hard drive.
- An SSD can double, triple, quadruple, or more the overall performance of the computer or laptop.
- Existing computers with an SSD can outrun some brand new computers with conventional, cheap, slow, spinning, mechanical drives.
- Any new computer must come with an SSD or else your performance will be years behind any similar computer running an SSD.
- All Sauve’s products have come with SSD’s pre-installed for nearly three years now. At this time, we have a 100% success rate with the SSD drives we install – no failures. Knock on wood.
- Existing computers in the last 5 years upgraded to an SSD will outperform all non-SSD computers built in the same time period that use similar hardware and software, including some brand new computers with excessively cheap drives and processors.
- SSD’s are lighter and run silent – no moving parts.
- SSD’s are shock resistant. You can drop a laptop or run the vacuum cleaner into the computer and they will probably remain undamaged.
- An SSD upgrade requires no software changes. Your existing setup is transferred intact to the Solid State Drive.
- An SSD upgrade is far less costly than computer replacement.
There are two disadvantages to SSD compared to conventional drives.
- They cost more than similar capacity hard drives.
- When they fail, they tend to fail completely with less chance of data recovery.
Since very few are using anywhere near the storage capacity of current mechanical drives, you can dramatically reduce the cost of an SSD upgrade by simply choosing one with less storage capacity.
Most people use 75 – 125 Gigabytes of space. A 1 Terabyte hard drive is 1000 Gigabytes. We have found that a 250 Gigbabyte SSD drive can easily accommodate 90% of the population. Some can may get by with even less storage capacity.
That means that someone with a 500 GB or more, conventionally equipped computer or laptop can double or triple or more the overall, day-to-day performance of their computer with a 250 GB SSD upgrade.
By “day t0 day”, we mean booting and starting programs, updating, scanning, etc. Some computers may take several minutes just to get going, then minutes more to get all your background programs running, assuming no updates or scans are running the same time.
SSD’s are devices just like anything else and can fail also. However, using the brand of SSD we use has resulted in 100% success, no failures, in nearly three years.
We have seen other brands fail and every one resulted in no data recovered. Conventional, mechanical drives can also fail with no data recoverable, of course, but SSD’s appear to be more susceptible.
No matter what you are or will use, might a recommend a backup system, perhaps?
Where does an SSD NOT help?
- Video performance in programs such as design, 3d modeling, CAD work or high-end gaming. However, it helps programs like these start and run much faster. It does not aid in video performance where you are viewing or rotating objects in space. It does get you there much faster. All that is highly dependent on the video card being used, often times requiring high end, expensive video cards.
- Internet download speed is not helped. Your internet provider, such as ATT, Comcast, Charter, etc are responsible for how quickly websites appear on your screen. Where an SSD comes into play is that it greatly speeds up the programs that are used to view the Internet, such as Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Edge. Your Internet will seem to run much faster because your computer can “render” the pages faster, which simply means showing you the complete web page. Your actual download speed will remain unchanged.
A Longer Conversation
Feel free to skip this if you get the drift of how awesome SSD drives are.
The headline grabbers have always been:
- How fast is the processor? Bigger numbers! Higher! Faster! More! MORE!
- How much memory? The more, the better! Right? RIGHT?
- You need a terabyte drive. More storage. More storage is faster. Always!
- Oh yeah, move all those pictures to an external drive. They’re slowing down everything!!!
For most computer users, all of that is wrong. Terribly wrong. Computer hardware does not get slower over time. It runs the same speed as always, excluding the occasional, rare type of failure. What slows down computers is the constant software upgrades and the installation of more and more programs where some secretly run in the background all the time. The computer has to deal with more and more programs running at the same time. The storage location of all those programs is the hard drive.
Contrary to popular belief, storing documents and pictures on your computer does not slow it down. A computer with 1000 pictures and a computer with 100,000 pictures will run the same speed, all else being equal. Data stored on a hard drive is not active in any way. It just sits there until called.
People are told that to make a computer run faster buy or upgrade to the fastest processor, the most memory, or the largest capacity hard drive available. Reality, for most people, says differently:
- The CPU (Processor) is mostly running at idle or slightly above, except for occasion, short-lived activity spikes. Assuming the software is working properly.
- Your RAM (Memory) may only be half used during typical day to day use.
- You are, perhaps, using barely 10-20% of your hard drive capacity.
The slowdown, be it on a new computer or a system that has been in service for a while, is mostly due to the mechanical hard drive found in nearly every computer ever made up to present day, except those offered by Sauve’s. The drive is processing more file requests than ever and taking longer to complete them.
The Reason Old Style Drives Are Still Used
It’s about cost and misleading advertising.
The mechanical drives are less expensive compared to an SSD of equal capacity, often by quite a bit. However, since no one uses anywhere near the capacity of a typical mechanical drive, you can choose an SSD with lower capacity and reduce the cost significantly.
The misleading issue comes from the belief that a computer with a hard drive capacity of 1000 Gigabyte (1 Terabyte) will run faster than a computer with a hard drive of 250 Gigabytes.
That’s wrong. Storage capacity has no bearing on performance. It’s how the drive is constructed, not how much it can store. Very few people need 500 GB of storage. Nearly all computers we see use between 75 and 125 Gigabyte of space.
Upgrading your CPU, RAM, or hard drive to a larger capacity will do little or nothing to improve the day to day performance of a computer or laptop. As long as you have what we consider the minimum requirements, significant performance increases can be obtained through the use of an SSD.
Minimum SSD Upgrade Specifications
- 8 year old or newer computer.
- 4 GB of RAM (8 GB is the sweet spot, but 4 still works)
- AMD “A” Series processors or Intel Pentium, i3, i5 and i7 processors
- Celeron and Atom based computers are very poor performers
- Windows 7, 8, or 10.
If your machine satisfies these specifications, which most do, you are a candidate for an SSD upgrade. If you’re not sure, we can evaluate it for you.
SSD’s are a viable way to extend the life of your computer. It’s the greatest hardware computing development in years that dramatically improves the overall performance in nearly every aspect of computing.
An SSD upgrade can be a far less expensive and time consuming than buying a replacement computer. We have installed SSD’s in computers as far back as 8 years with remarkable improvement.
- No reloading software.
- No data transfer.
- No digging up license keys, passwords, accounts and install media. Nothing.
- The computer will “look” just like always except it will run much faster.