If you have an older laptop with a failing hard drive, or just an old fashioned standard SATA hard drive, you can speed up your laptop tremendously by replacing the hard drive with an SSD drive, (AKA Solid State Drive). However, it is not as simple as just switching the hard drive. First, let’s understand why this simple change will result in a huge speed boost.
Whatever you do on a computer, whether it is loading windows, or writing and saving a word document, it requires data, which is primarily read from the hard drive installed on the computer. A standard hard drive has a series of metallic disks, and a head on either side of each disk. The head has to go to the position of the data and then wait till it revolves to the spot the data is written on. Much like the needle on an old fashioned record player. (I know, some people reading this have no idea what a record player is. Sorry for the ancient reference.)
A new SSD drive doesn’t have to move anything. It is made from what is basically memory chips. So it just reads from that part of the memory. Now, with speeds of the old style hard drive being super fast, you would think that the milliseconds saved wouldn’t amount to much, but it does. This is due to the sheer amount of data reads and writes to do every little thing on the computer. Armed with this knowledge we can now go ahead and speed up your laptop with a fairly simple hard drive change.
First, let’s check what hard drive is installed in your system. You want to order a hard drive with at least the same amount of space, and you want to be sure you don’t already have an SSD drive installed. In most versions of Windows you can get to device manager by right clicking on this computer, or it may be called My computer. This icon is usually on the desktop or in the start menu. After right clicking you will get a menu, click on properties. On the next screen click on the link to device manager. On the next screen, click the + sign next to disk drives. Your hard drive will be listed there, (As well as any usb drives). Look up the description listed for your hard drive and you should figure out if it is an SSD drive and also the hard drive capacity. After that you should check how much free space you have on your existing drive. Do this by clicking on This PC, (or My Computer, or file explorer.) When you have that page open showing your main C drive, Right click on it and click on properties. If your hard drive has less than 25% free space, you should purchase a new drive with more space. If you have more than 25% free space and don’t anticipate adding alot of data, you can purchase a drive of the same size.
Now, let’s get into replacing that drive. On many laptops, there is a panel on the bottom that can give you easy access to the hard drive. Others you will have to take the back completely off, or it may located under the keyboard. You should look up a tutorial on how to access the hard drive for your specific laptop. This tutorial is more geared toward the actual data transfer part. Once you can access the hard drive, you need to purchase a new SSD drive, and a USB hard drive enclosure. (They can be ordered from ebay or amazon, and are very simple and inexpensive.)
Before removing the old drive, we have to copy all your data to the new drive. Assemble the new hard drive into the usb hard drive enclosure. be sur e the drive is firmly plugged into the connector on the HD enclosure. Next, plug in the usb HD enclosure to the laptop and ensure that the computer recognizes it. You can skip formatting the drive if it asks you do that. Once verified that your computer recognizes it, we need to copy the data. For that, we will use a program called AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard Edition. <-That’s the official download link. There are plenty of programs out there, you can choose a different one if you like. I only recommend this because it’s free for a simple clone. If you want a more professional program, I use Paragon HD manager, but it’s not free. After downloading and installing AOMEI, plug in the USB HD enclosure, and run the program. Click on disk copy wizard. Follow the prompts through the process, but be absolutely sure the drive that is in your computer is the source disk, and the USB drive is the destination disk. Also, check optimize for SSD drives when you see that option. Once completed, click Apply, it will ask to reboot. Click ok. It will do it’s thing, it will take come time. Once it’s done and it goes back wo windows, open This PC or My computer to verify you have more drives listed now. You will likely have an extra windows drive, and a new system reserved drive. At this point, shut down the computer. Unplug the battery. Access the hard drive on the laptop, (again, so many different options), replace the existing hard drive with the new drive you just copied your data to. Be sure to mount the drive in the existing caddy or holder, etc. exactly as the original drive was installed. It’s easy to install it upside down and then the connector won’t line up. Install the new drive in the laptop, and close the panel. Put the battery back in and start it up, if all went right, it should boot up pretty quick. It should give you a message that it installed new hardware and needs to restart. After restarting it you can use your computer again, put a label with the date on the old hard drive and save it as a backup.
IMPORTANT NOTE: To do this upgrade you will need a very small screwdriver set. I don’t get into how many of which screws you have to remove because every laptop is different. To perform this upgrade you need to be able to work with tiny screws. This is also not limited to laptops. You can do this on your desktop PC as well. If you have a standard desktop, the hard drive will be a 3.5″ hard drive, you will probably need to add a 3.5″ to 2.5″ adapter to mount the hard drive properly.