It’s always been my opinion that the hard disk is really the crux of your computer because it’s the only mechanical part that affects the speed.

So I understand why it’s tempting to opt for a solid state disk (SSD) over a mechanical one.

Is it failing?

You’ll find that if you swap out an old (5+ years) or audibly noisy (loud ticking and such) disk with a new one of any kind, it usually performs a lot better as it’s probably on it’s way out.

I always use gsmartcontrol to see if the disk is failing, if it is, it’s an instant swap out. There’s a windows installer or portable version, or you can even download the PartedMagic boot disc ISO.

Once I’ve discovered there’s a fault and have sourced a replacement disk, I generally use Easus DiskCopy to clone the disk. I’ve tried lots of cloning solutions, including Norton Ghost and the free Clonezilla, but I’ve found they don’t always work as expected, unlike the Easus solution, which hasn’t failed me yet.

Is your memory holding you back?

If the hard disk isn’t failing or noisy then it might be worth upgrading your RAM first.

Sticking a bit more RAM in the machine will help because then it won’t need to use the virtual memory (page file) on the hard disk as much.

I usually use Crucial to buy my RAM as their System Scanner is ideal and delivery is reliable and fast.

Slow to start?

If you’ve maxed out your RAM and replaced your faulty hard disk, but your system still has a slow boot time, there’s a few tweaks you can do to get things going a bit faster.

I’ve tried plenty of tools over the years to help with startup problems, but I’ve finally settled on one I like, Soluto.

Are SSD hard disks actually better?

In theory, they should be, because they aren’t a mechanical device, you would expect them to be. However, they don’t always perform in the way you might expect.

Not too long ago, we had a Windows Server, serving a file system with an access database. I had maxed out the RAM and tweaked everything already, so when SSD hard disks started to become a bit more viable we opted to swap out the hard disks with shiny new SSD disks.

However, as it turns out, it didn’t make the database access any quicker and I was left disappointed. At that point, I’d had enough of Access and advised that a web based solution should be implemented as a replacement.

My current laptop has an SSD. I take it everywhere with me, so I wanted it to be as reliable as possible, that’s why I chose an SSD over mechanical disk which are more prone to knocks and drops.

I figured I’d not keep much on the actual laptop itself and opted for a 128GB hard disk, however, you find yourself running out of disk space quite quickly. 200MB for a SYSTEM partition, 16GB for a “Recovery” partition, 100MB for a HP_TOOLS partition and 4GB for the “Hibernation” partition, leaving under 100GB for your boot partition. By this point my Windows directory is now taking up 22GB leaving not a lot for everything else.

You certainly don’t get “bang for buck” with an SSD hard disk.

So what should I buy?

Unless you know a solid state disk will vastly improve performance or your hard disk is susceptible to damage, I would opt for a regular hard disk.

There’s plenty of information coming out all the time about what hard disks people are currently using in production environments and which you should buy, so keep your eye out, but don’t forget to do your own research too.