Posts for Tag: hard drive

Forget RAM, CPU, etc. The most cost effective way to speed up your Mac is with an SSD

Someone asked me the other day about upgrading to a new laptop.  Specifically they wanted to grab a new MacBook Pro (non-retina) to upgrade from their 2011 MacBook Pro which seemed to be getting slower for them.  Applications loaded slower, startup seemed to take forever, etc.  As I am a current user of a 2011 MacBook Pro, I was a little confused as to what they meant by slower since my machine is still very snappy for a 2 year old machine.  When I showed them what I meant by cold booting my machine from off to login screen in less than 15 seconds, they were floored.  Even when their machine was brand new, it never booted that quickly.  Opening up applications was even faster.  The difference between our machines?  I have an SSD and they have the stock 5400RPM hard drive.  My recommendation to them was to keep their still pristine looking laptop and simply swap out the hard drive for an SSD.  The one I run in my MacBook is a Crucial M4 512GB.  They're relatively cheap - Amazon has this particular model for less than $400 - and it truly is like upgrading to a brand new MacBook.  It's no wonder Apple is starting to move all of their products over to SSD. 

The great thing about the non-retina MacBooks is that it's still relatively easy to do upgrades yourself.  Check out the tutorial from the iFixIt guys.  Remember to back up all of your data before doing any hard drive swap out.  To me, CPU and RAM upgrades haven't provided nearly the same punch as going from a standard hard drive to SSD.  Once you've experienced it, you'll never go back and you can keep that old trusty laptop even longer before needing to upgrade.

Once you go solid state, you'll never have to wait

My hard drive died about a week ago and I've been in limbo. For all that the iPad can do, it is NOT a laptop replacement. It can do about 80% of the things a laptop can do but that other 20% is pretty darn important.

So if you're counting, this is the 2nd hard drive failure I've had in the last 3 months. Each time I was visited by the infamous click of death (hear below). I decided that the aggravation and loss of productivity was not worth the price-to-storage ratio of the standard platter hard drive. I vowed to never again hear the dreaded clicking of my hard drive failing so I upgraded to an solid state drive. Though these things aren't cheap ($400 versus $100 for 500GB of storage), I figured that it was worth it for a more reliable and faster storage solution. Well I can't speak to the reliability since I've only had the drive running for a few hours but the speed is unbelievable. From pressing the power button to being on the desktop took less than 10 seconds. Mac OS X opens all the previous programs I had open before shut down, so that means I'll have anywhere from 6-9 separate programs that need to open before I can really start working. This process usually took about 3 minutes but with this new drive, I'm ready to go in under 30 seconds. Opening Excel or Word would take 20-30 seconds each but now take less than 5 seconds. There is no way I can ever go back and would actually trade off CPU or RAM upgrades in place of an SSD.

So next time you think your computer is slow, the best thing you can do to speed things up is just get an SSD. The performance improvement is dramatic.

Hard drive failures and the importance of a good warranty

Recently, I experienced a hard drive failure on my home media server. Luckily, it was in my Drobo and my data is redundantly stored to protect against a single hard drive failure (I have four drives in the Drobo). I was dreading having to buy another 1TB hard drive to replace this one - prices range from $80-$100 now. On a lark, I went to the Seagate website and punched in my drive's serial number and lo and behold, it has a warranty through 2013. A few minutes later, I'm printing out an RMA form and shipping the drive off to Seagate. Two days later, I get an email that a fresh replacement drive is on its way back to me. Total time from sending my dead drive to receiving a new one... six business days! Not bad at all. Much kudos to Seagate for their excellent warranty and exchange process. I know what brand I'll be buying when I upgrade to 2TB hard drives.

It's a cautionary tale but one most people never really heed. You never realize how important your data is until you lose it. I think most people have an unhealthy sense of security as it relates to their hard drives. People - these things crash more often than you think. Even people who back-up to an external hard drive need to realize that these are still hard drives. They can fail just like the ones in your desktop or laptop. If you can afford it, get a RAID type setup like the Drobo. If you can't, consider paying for Mozy's unlimited backup service. It's only $5 a month or even cheaper if you buy a whole year or two years up front. For the price of one latte every month, you could have complete peace of mind as it relates to your precious data.

The last thing you want to see when installing a new HD in your TiVo

Just got my new hard drive for the TiVo and popped it in immediately. You can imagine what I was feeling when I first saw this. 30 minutes later though, the machine rebooted and everything was right as rain.

 It's so amazing how fast technology moves. In October of last year, I bought a replacement 320GB hard drive for my Series 3 TiVo that cost about $120. After that one crapped out 6 months later, I bought a 1TB replacement drive for $90. At this rate, I'll be getting a 3TB hard drive for $60 in another 6 months.