Have you ever had one of those days when everything just goes completely wrong for you? Yes. Me too. Many of those days in fact, with one of those really annoying days being when one of my hard drives on a laptop I was using suddenly went into melt down with absolutely no warning at all. The first I knew about any trouble was when the HDD suddenly started making the dreaded 'click of death' then, leaving me no time to shut the system down or to try and save what I was working on, there was a loud 'screech', 'thump', 'sizzle' and other 'not so pleasant' noises, before the HDD decided to give up the ghost.
Luckily I have gotten into the habit of saving my work as I go along so I only lost what I was working on at the time, which was annoying but could have been worse.
I was left with a laptop which, apart from the hard drive, was a cracking little laptop. So what should I do? I asked myself. Simple, came the answer, I will get another hard drive and slot it into the laptop. Then, try and recover any data from the 'broken' hard drive' that I could get too, maybe using the old 'freezer' trick to get things off it... but I won't go into that.
Then I went through the usual questions when it comes to buying a new hard drive, asking myself what sort of hard drive do I want to put into the laptop, what brand and more importantly, what size. But then another question popped into my head, a question that I had asked myself before, and answered it to the best I could. That question being whether I wanted a normal Hard Disk Drive, (HDD) or a more 'futuristic' one that goes under the guise of a Solid State Drive, (SSD)?
After a few minutes, and a quick look through the internet, I opted for an SSD as, (A) I have had previous experience with them which turned out to be a positive thing, and (B), I spotted a rather well known branded one that was on offer at the time.
That SSD on offer being the Samsung 840 Series MZ-7TD250 with an internal storage space of 250 GB.
There are other sizes of this particular SSD, such as 120GB and 500GB, but they are all basically the same to use.
Before we begin, let me give you a bit of an idea of what an SSD is compared to your usual HDD..?
An SSD, or Solid State Drive is exactly what its name says, it's a solid drive which houses integrated circuits that are used for storage, where as your standard Hard Disk Drive has discs, (platters), spinning about inside it which are read by 'magnetic head' which are on a constantly moving 'arm', (actuator).
The big differences are, well, we'll call it the three 'S's shall we... Speed, silence and strength... and performance, yes, there's a 'P' in there too, so it's three 'S's and a 'P'.
Speed... as I have explained, is what most people using a PC want, and the SSD will give you more than triple the speed of the HDD. This is basically due to the fact that on an HDD the 'heads' have to find the data that is somewhere in the disk.
Silence... as there are not moving parts this SSD runs as silent as a cat burglar at work.
Strength... unlike the damage that can be caused if you 'accidentally' drop a HDD, which can cause havoc to the spindles, arm and anything else that moves inside, this SSD has no moving parts and therefore there is less to break away if it is dropped. Although that doesn't make it indestructible so don't be throwing it at the wall whilst you are talking to the not so helpful chap on the phone line who is supposed to be trying to get you back on line.
And now for the 'P', (toilet time then..?)
Performance... well, it's an all rounder for performance as it out performs the HDD in all aspects, except for the price of course.
In other words, instead of the HDD, using spinning disc that store your data on, that are then read by a floating 'arm' the SDD uses 'circuit chips' to store the same memory which eliminates the need for any spinning disks and moving arms.
The SSD drive can find your data a lot quicker at it basically knows exactly where it put it rather that the HDD that know it put your data somewhere it just can't remember exactly where, so it has to spend a bit of time having a look for it, going through many files, folder and programs in order to locate what it knows is there somewhere.
* So what does this SSD look like..?
It looks a little like your average internal HDD, and for those that have never seen one it is really just a rectangular plastic box that houses all its workings.
That's what it looks like, a plastic box, with this one being about 70mm wide, 100mm long and a mere 7mm thick, weighing in at no more than 65grams.
* And now for a few of the specs...
It's your standard 2.5 inch, or 7mm in thickness and should fit snugly into you laptop, or even a desktop with an kit.
This one is a 250GB storage space, but, as I said, there are other size storage spaces to choose from, such as a 120GB and a 500GB, so you can have more space of less, it's all up to you.
It has a read speed of up to 530MB/s and a write speed of up to 240MB/s
It can run on windows XP, Vista or later, so do be aware that it may struggle if you are running anything prior to XP, although there's always a way.
Plus, it can be run using MAC OS X and even Linux, which widens the market I suppose.
* Do you get anything else in the package..?
Apart from the actual SSD itself you also get other things in the box that the drive comes in, such as a CD with all the software and drivers that you need to get this into your PC. There's also a quick start manual and the required cable that you may need.
I also got the mounting spacer which may be needed if the one in your PC doesn't fit the little holes on this drive, although that would be very rare as most are pre drilled to fit several different drives.
Plus, if you are going to slot this into a desk top PC, then there's also a handy 3.5inch bracket so you can go ahead and fit it.
Some of the software that came on the disc is what Samsung like to call 'Magician', which, to be honest, isn't as magical as it sounds, which is why I don't really use it.
But for the record Magician software is supposed to help the user get the most out of the SSD, giving you all sorts of information as you run the drive, such as the state of the drive, performance, space used and space remaining. It also has features that help you keep the system up to date and keeping the entire thing running like a top athlete in the Olympics by optimising everything at the click of a button.
It's not a bad software, and it does what it is supposed to do, but as I always use other software to do what this does I tend to stick with what I know... you know the saying "better the devil you know".
* What about fitting it..?
If you've ever changed an internal HDD before then this is done in exactly the same way. Take out your old and slide in the new, remembering to make sure that you 'de-staticlifyificationalise' yourself first.
But for those that aren't in the know then, if you have to confidence, you simply unscrew the screws in the bottom of your laptop, the ones that release the HDD. Then slide the HDD out. After that you unscrew the smaller screws on any covers on the HDD so that you can then put the covers onto the new SSD. Once done you then slide the SSD into the gap where you took out the HDD until it clicks into place, then you replace the screws, locking the freshly fitted SSD into place.
Job done, you're now ready to re-install all you stuff, starting with the OS, drivers, programs and what ever else you have to put onto it.
As I said, it's as easy as swapping over a DVD in the player, only you don't have a remote control to do it from afar.
* Is this SSD any good..?
Yes it is. It is as good as the other SSD's that I have used and it leaves the HDD's far behind when it comes to the three 'S's and the 'P'.
For example, and all for the good of the consumer, I ran two of the same laptops, running basically the same start up programs, just so that I could test the speed difference, these are the basic results... (estimated).
'Boot' up took about 20 seconds on the SSD whilst I had to wait another 63 seconds for the HDD to get to the same state, (total HDD time from boot up being 1 minute 23 seconds)
After that I decided to see how fast I could open programs, documents, images, music, videos and what ever else I could think of opening, just to see if there was a difference. And there was a vast difference.
On opening basic programs as a web browser, media player, movie maker and others, the SSD managed to out pace the HDD by at least half the time taken. For example, opening Firefox on the SSD took less than 9 seconds to become fully active, whilst on the HDD it took nearly 30 seconds.
Opening the media player took a mere 6 seconds on the SSD whilst the HDD took four times that at 26 seconds.
Basically, everything opened so much quicker using the SSD than the HDD
Then, I transferred the same amount of data, images, documents and videos, from the laptops to a removable memory stick, with some interesting results.
The SSD moved 1GB of data in about 35 seconds, (USB 2) whilst the HDD struggled along until it finally finished after 4 minutes and 12 seconds, (average).
I continued with a few more tasks on both laptops over time and in all aspects the SSD came out on top.
* What do I think..?
Quite a lot actually. I think about the weather. I think about what I am going to cook for tea. I think about which way is best to drive home... I think a lot really.
But I guess you want to know what I think about this SSD...? Well, in a word, Super, Smashing, Delightful... or three words, but SSD it is.
In fact I have a few SSD's and find them all to be a lot better, faster and stronger than the HDD's that I have, and this one is no different.
It is fast, and I mean fast, compared to the old fashioned hard drives that can just blow up in your face, so to speak, as I well know as I'm looking at my broken disk drive now, wondering how much info I can get off it before it goes into the big disk drive bin in the sky. (which means a massive lump hammer and a few good swings in order to make sure that no unscrupulous people can take any more information from the disk... a lump hammer is better than erasing data as nothing is ever erased properly on a disk drive)
The main thing that you will notice about this SSD, and all of them in fact, is that they run silently. This is due to the fact that there are no moving parts unlike the spinning noises of the HDD.
Then there's the heat which you tend to get a lot of on the old HDDs. Well, you don't get anywhere as much heat with this SSD as it runs along doing what it's designed to do. This is down to the fact that there are absolutely no moving parts inside the SSD unlike the constantly spinning discs and moving arms in the HDD.
Plus, with no moving parts, this SSD does not vibrate at all, which is nice on the old lap.
Slotting it into the laptop was simple, taking a matter of minutes, and even installing all the software seemed to take no time at all as the system worked faster than even I'm used too. So now it's a matter of getting what I can off the broken HDD, which I'm probably half way through now.
There is one downside to this SSD, and others of its kind, and that is that the price of SSD's these days is a lot more than you pay for your standard HDD, so it is a matter of choosing between cost and speed.
* So now for the price.
This Solid state drive, or SSD, sells for about £125, which sounds a whopping amount considering that a standard HDD of the same storage size sells for a mere £40 but this SSD, and all SSD's are not only designed to out live a HDD but also to out pace them without hesitation.
* Would I recommend this SSD..?
If you have a laptop that seems to be stalling every time you want to open a program, or maybe your transfer speeds are really getting you down, being so slow that you end up having a four course meal in the time your laptop has sent 500MB of data across to your memory card, then you need one of these, and this one is well worth starting off with.
But, if you're not that bothered about speed, preferring to keep the extra money in your pocket, then I'd stick with the HDD's for now, until these SDD's come down in price a little bit, which may take a couple of years or so.