SSD’s – some tips


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If you want to take the plunge to Solid State Drives, here are some comments from our experience.

Mostly for portable computers

SSD’s are usually installed on portable computers to take advantage of the lower power usage. That means your laptop can run longer on the same battery charge.

ALWAYS get Solid State Drives on a portable computer.  Some cheaper models try to cut costs by offering older hard drives or ‘hybrid’ drives.  Avoid those options, it’s a false economy.

In our experience the power savings are not as spectacular as the early promises. Maybe 10% or 20% more at best in our trials. If you’re hoping for many hours of extra use, you may be disappointed.

SSD’s in desktop computers is also important. Power use isn’t the issue but the far greater speed makes SSD’s a significant difference to performance.

Smaller capacity

Solid State Drives come in smaller sizes and with higher prices than standard drives.  Though the gap between price and capacity is narrowing.

Even in 2020, you’re trading size for speed. If you’re accustomed to a 500GB drive it can be hard to squeeze your digital life into a ‘mere’ 256GB.

Thankfully Microsoft Office doesn’t take up a lot of space (relatively speaking). It’s best to go with a full installation as recommended in Office 365 for Windows: Straight Talk

Finding more space

You might want to look through your documents, images and videos to see if there’s any large folders or files that are taking up too much space. Those extra files can be left in the home / office or stored in the ‘cloud’ if you’re sure of your Internet access options.

On a desktop machine, consider getting a second, larger but slower hard drive.  Drive C can be a fast SSD with Drive D the slower storage drive for images, videos etc.

Laptop machines:

One choice is a fast USB memory stick. A 256GB or 512GB ‘stick’ can be plugged in to supply additional space when needed. Another option is the new and faster USB 3.0 connections.  That gives fast access to an external Seagate 1TB USB 3.0 drive or USB 3.0 portable ‘sticks’.

On the external storage we put less used files and applications. For example music files don’t need to be on the main hard drive, images, videos and less used virtual machines.

Migration

Make sure the SSD is compatible with your computer. You don’t have to buy the SSD from the original computer maker, in fact you’ll pay more buying from them. But you can check the brand and specifications of the SSD’s available from the computer maker then find the same thing for a better price elsewhere.

There are SSD packages that include migration tools to help you transfer data from your old drive to the new one, but they might not be worth the extra money. We prefer to install Windows again on the new drive, install only the programs and data you need. This will give you a more efficient setup without the ‘baggage’ from the old drive and using less disk space.

Windows 7 and later are all OK with Solid State Drives.

Update firmware

Before installing the new drive, check for any BIOS/firmware updates to the computer. SSD’s are relatively new and there are often updates relevant to full compatibility with SSD’s.

CrystalDiskInfo is a good free tool to check the setup of your new drive. In short, make sure the supported features include ‘NCQ’ and ‘TRIM’ (which is almost certain these days, but worth checking).

Turn Defrag Off

It’s widely reported that Windows 7 will adjust its settings to deal with a Solid State Drive. For the most part that seems true. For example, ReadyBoost is disabled because the SSD is much faster than any external drive.

Windows is supposed to disable Disk Defragmentation for SSD’s. But in all our trials Defrag was still scheduled. Defrag isn’t necessary with an SSD, in fact it can reduce the life of the drive.

You should ensure that Disk Defragmentation is disabled from Control Panel | Administrative Tools | Task Scheduler | Task Scheduler Library | Microsoft | Windows | Defrag.

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