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Replacing a HDD with an SSD

Discussion in 'How to: Building a PC, Modding, Overclocking' started by Johanus, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. Johanus

    Johanus Established Techie7 Member

    Own build PC, Win 7 Ultimate 64bit, 4GB ram, 350GB HDD, the motherboard is an Asus M3A78-EM.

    My PC is a low power, home use PC and while its getting on now it chugs away quite happily, it is not used for editing video or gaming.

    I have put together a small budget to upgrade the machine, a SSD, Blu-Ray drive and a couple of other bits and pieces.

    I need advice on what SSD to get and what the above MB will accept Sata 1,2,3,?

    Originally I was going to install a Samsung 256GB, 840 pro and I'm still not against that but am wondering if it's over kill for what I want,--can I install such an SSD for the age/spec' of my machine?

    I am not adverse to using my existing HDD along side a new SDD but what size GB of SSD should I go for and brand?

    We are a Samsung family but I also like San-disk but not adverse to installing any other reliable brand name.

    I can buy a 60GB San-Disk Ultra SSD for about £55,-- if that will run on my PC, I would load the OS onto the SSD and access all existing programmes and files from the existing HDD,---can I do it that way,--or do I need to uninstall the OS off the existing HDD?

    Would 60GB do it or do I need to buy larger capacity SDD and install the OS and re-install all my programmes on to it and just use the existing HDD to access programme files?

    And the SSD, what are my Sata requirements?
  2. Digerati

    Digerati Super Moderator Techie7 Moderator

    I have the Samsung 256Gb 840 Pro as my W8.1 boot drive and am very happy with it. Not sure what you mean by overkill. The drive (whether HD or SSD) will always be a bottleneck compared to CPU and RAM speeds. How much disk space are you currently consuming?

    I always recommend getting the latest technologies so you can then carry the product over during upgrades - to a new motherboard, for example. In most cases, including SATA, they are backwards compatible to older versions.

    Most SSDs, including the Samsung, come with migration software so you can move your OS, applications and data to the new SSD. But you would be wise to perform a complete backup of your data first - and be ready to perform a fresh install with the new drive in case the migration does not go as planned. In fact, I generally just do a fresh install anyway to ensure it is setup the way I want, and avoid worrying about migration issues. It takes a lot longer but I don't have a problem with that.

    That said, what version of Windows do you have? While I certainly think upgrading to SSD from HD is a good idea, I personally would look at boosting your RAM first. According to your motherboard specs, your motherboard supports dual-channel memory architecture and has 4 slots. If me, I would add another 4 for 8Gb total. However, that assumes you have 64-bit Windows. Adding more RAM will provide a significant performance boost across the board - certainly more bang for your money, compared to an SSD.

    While SSDs boost performance too, it is important to note they only come into play when reading and writing to the disk. So when running programs (including Windows) it takes a little longer to load programs from an HD, but once loaded into memory (RAM) the drives step out of the picture, for the most part - especially if there is enough RAM that the system does not need to use the Page File on the drive as much.

    Before adding any new hardware, however, it is important your current power supply will support the increase in demands. Adding a SSD or more RAM likely will not overtax your current PSU, but it is still important to verify that. Here's my canned text to help with that:

    Use the eXtreme PSU Calculator Lite to determine your minimum and recommended power supply unit (PSU) requirements. Plan ahead and plug in all the hardware you think you might have in 2 or 3 years (extra drives, bigger or 2nd video card, more RAM, etc.). Be sure to read and heed the notes at the bottom of the calculator page. I recommend setting Capacitor Aging to 10% and setting both TDP and system load to 100%. These steps ensure the recommended supply has adequate head room for stress free (and perhaps quieter) operation, as well as future hardware demands. Setting Capacitor Aging to 30% will provide an even nicer amount of headroom. And remember, the computer’s components will only draw what they need, not what the PSU is capable of delivering. And the PSU will only draw from the wall what the computer demands, plus another 15 - 30% due to PSU inefficiencies. Buying way too big hurts only the budget. Make sure you buy a supply from a reputable maker and that it is 80 PLUS certified. I prefer Corsair and Antec PSUs.​
  3. Johanus

    Johanus Established Techie7 Member

    Hi Digerati,

    Apologies for my late reply.

    I agree if your PC set up allows, go for the newest technology as one day you may wish to " carry things over" to a newer more modern PC.

    Mine is a low spec' machine and purposely so, my PC was never intended to play games/edit video, it main use is, web/word processing/homework and the odd play of a DVD and has been extremely reliable to that end since I built it.

    I've modded the PC a bit since, the most recent, ( two years ago ), was adding 4 port, USB 3 capability.

    I should add having lost a couple PC MBs to external power surges, at the time of the build I purchased a seconded Asus M3A78-EM as a back up should the first suffer the same fate,--its never been out of its box, so I kind of future proofed the PC but not technology.

    While you can never have enough ram for a powerful machine, originally I installed 8GB in this machine, I removed 4GB to use in another PC and frankly I couldn't see a decrease in my PCs performance.

    I wrote overkill,--- I meant buying the best when the best may not be necessary.

    I am seeking help and advise from another angle, kind of living within my PCs constraints, coupled with some confusion on my part.

    As I wrote at the top of my first post the PC is a Win 7, 64 bit, Ultimate affair .

    Desire/itch--- tempts me go for the 840 Pro but mine is such a low spec’ machine,-- my only reason for installing an SSD, --it’s about time and a faster boot,-- that’s it.

    My existing HDD is 350GB of which 175GB is free, most of the used space is taken by installed programs, all data files are kept on two external back up HDDs, very little in the way of data files are kept on the PCs HDD.

    Until a few days ago the PCs HDD was chocker with programs, I had about 15 GB free of the 350GB,--- boot time was at a crawl so I made a note of what programs I actually needed and did a fresh install of Windows, it’s helped greatly but boot time is still like watching paint dry.

    So taking into account what my PC spec’s are and what it is used for, is it worth spending the money on the 840 Pro or go for an Evo, SanDisk, Kingston or Crucial.

    Also, I keep reading advise on installing a much smaller GB SSD to run alongside an existing HDD,---- install Windows/OS only on the SSD-- and programs and their files on the HDD, but you can’t do that can you, actual programs have to go on to the primary SSD drive??
  4. Digerati

    Digerati Super Moderator Techie7 Moderator

    The only real reason to do that is money. Smaller SSDs cost less. So if the budget does not allow a large enough SSD to support the OS and your applications, then a small SSD for the OS and an HD for the apps will stretch the budget.

    My thought is the computer will be expected to last 3, 4, 5 years or more. So if funds today allow for SSDs at the start, it will wash out over the years. And if me, if my budget does not allow for an extra $200 or so today, I would wait a couple months until I have saved up - assuming I didn't "need" it "now".

    No. You can install programs on any drive (SSD or HD), primary, secondary, or even tertiary (if the programmer was not lazy). The OS does not care. The install program will make the necessary entries in the Registry during the install pointing to the correct drive.

    Any SSD will provide MUCH BETTER performance (and amazing boot times) than any HD. So, no, you don't have to go with the Samsung 840 Pro. It is just that the Samsung 840 Pro series has received many excellent reviews.
  5. Johanus

    Johanus Established Techie7 Member

    Thanks for your reply,

    Can I just confirm Application and Programs are one of the same?

    I disagree that it is the only reason especially with a non-gaming/video editing machine.

    Does not logic dictate for such a low spec machine such as mine, where I will see no real improvement in read/write performance when opening say word files, listening to MP£s/ surfing the net/web trawling that kind of thing, that as I have a perfectly good HD, treat that as the secondary drive and buy/install a 60GB primary SSD for a faster boot Win 7 OS?

    Do I need to uninstall Win 7 off what will be the secondary drive before installing Win 7 on a new SSD?

    Would the 840 Pro or the SanDisk be plug and play or do I need to alter anything in the MBs bios?
  6. Digerati

    Digerati Super Moderator Techie7 Moderator

    Yeah, kinda sorta. From a normal user standpoint, they are pretty much the same; they are both "software." Applications are programs, but not all programs are applications. Technically a program is a set of instructions that can be executed on a computer, and may not involve user interaction at all. For example, a hardware driver is a program. An application is software that directly helps a user perform tasks. A program with a user-interface is an application. Microsoft Word is a program, but it is also an application.

    No, logic does not dictate that at all. Because with an SSD you WILL see real improvement when opening Word files. Even very large Word files will "pop" open. MP3 performance will not improve because you don't want them to "play faster". But surfing the web may improve and things like spell check and reformatting documents may be much faster - depending on how much RAM you have which dictates how often the system needs to access the page file on the slow hard drive.

    All your "applications", data downloads from the Internet, print jobs, etc. use, open, close, spool many files temporarily on your drive during normal use. These actions are all much faster, and affect perceived performance with an SSD.

    NO DOUBT having the OS on the SSD and everything else on the HD will offer better performance than HDs alone. But still, if budget allows, SSDs are worth it if performance weighs in as a higher factor than costs.

    It still boils down to money. The price per gigabyte of storage is still considerably higher with SSDs.

    SSDs offer better over all performance for ANY disk related task. Plus, they consume less power and generate less heat. Also, long term reliability is a factor too. Though HDs are very reliable, note the cheapest 256Gb SSD from Newegg has a MTBF rate of 1,000,000 hours. That's more than 114 years!

    No. When you install W7 on the new SSD, the new Registry will be used and old W7 will be ignored. The drive will show the files and the space used, but as long as you don't execute (run) the old Windows (by intentionally clicking on the exe files), you will have no problem. But you might want to eventually delete those files and folders to free up the disk space.

    That said, I would urge and recommend you disconnect the HD while installing Windows on the new SSD. This will insure the installation process does not detect the HD and "see" the old installation of Windows. If it sees this old installation, it may set up the new as a "dual boot" system. And you don't normally want that unless running Windows on one drive and Linux, for example, on the other drive.

    Modern motherboards and operating systems already know how to communicate with SSDs. You should not have to do anything special.
  7. Johanus

    Johanus Established Techie7 Member

    My reason for asking about programs/applications was you wrote application/s in one of your reply's and I wrote program/s, I wanted to be clear we were writing of the same thing.

    I have always-always-always believed you can't download --- and/or install from a disk a programme/application to a secondary drive, it/these always had to be installed to the primary drive, I sit here writing this with a red face for never exploring further.

    And while dealing with that discomfort you have also blown my logic out of the water too,-----time for me to regroup methinks.

    I will purchase a 250 GB SSD via Amazon, I have yet to make up my mind if that will be the 840 Pro, Evo or a SanDisk, I was wondering how they compared against each other?

    At the moment I have my existing HDD mounted in one if these, this is a necessity for me, is it possible to convert this caddy to accept the new SSD?

    Mine will be a clean install of Win 7 but it is the windows update that fills me with dread,, the amount of time it takes, I was wondering if there was a way to quicken this procedure up?

    What is over provisioning and should/do I need to do this on the new SSD?
  8. Digerati

    Digerati Super Moderator Techie7 Moderator

    Yeah - my bad. I use the terms interchangeably which can be confusing.

    And that has always-always-always been untrue! ;) Although it is typical the programmers code the install routines to install in the default locations (typically under c:\Program Files or c:\Program Files (x86)), the OS does not care. It only needs to know where to go look for the files.

    See Toms Hardware, Best SSD for the Money: October 2013).

    Every SSD I have seen comes with an adapter to mount it in 3 1/2 inch bay. So you should be able to use that to install in your caddy.

    If you use the migration software that comes with SSD, you will not have to worry about all the updates. But if you have broadband, it should still go pretty quick with a fresh install.

    You might also check out Transfer OS to new SSD.

    You don't need to worry about TRIM or over provisioning. Windows 7 knows how to best use SSDs natively.
  9. Johanus

    Johanus Established Techie7 Member

    I have just received my SSD, a Samsung Evo 250GB.

    I am staggeringly amazed how light the SSD is.

    The SSD came with a disk called "one stop install navigator", I assume I do not need this as I am going to do a new install of Win 7?
  10. Digerati

    Digerati Super Moderator Techie7 Moderator

    The disk may contain some "nice-to-have" monitoring tools, but no, you don't need anything from the disk to fully use the SSD with a clean install and a modern (W7 or later) version of Windows.
  11. Johanus

    Johanus Established Techie7 Member

    Thank you Digerati' for your advise and help.

    I wish you, your family a Happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year.
  12. Digerati

    Digerati Super Moderator Techie7 Moderator

    You are welcome! And Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours too.