Rebuilding the home PC

Good news on the hard drive replacement project — I got Windows 7 installed on the new SSD, and most of the applications installed. I was conscious this time around to make a checklist of every app that I needed to reinstall, plus saved files, exported profiles and settings, and wrote down the registration / product keys that I would need. There are a few games that I have not reinstalled yet, but that’s okay. I rarely ever have time to play the few PC games that I have. It wasn’t an easy set up, but I learned quite a few things.

  1. You can use IDE, RAID, or ACHI interface, but all the so-called experts on Tom’s Hardware firmly believe ACHI is the way to go. It’s a newer interface standard. Friends of mine, however, swear that they’ve never switched to AHCI, and are fine with IDE. The jury is still out. This has to be selected prior to Windows OS installation — you can’t switch it later.
  2. Although your motherboards may have SATA, you can have SATA2 (3 Gbps throughput) and SATA3 (6 Gbps throughput.) If you don’t connect your drive to the appropriate SATA port on the motherboard, you may not benefit from the right speeds. I have two SATA3 drives, and I had initially connected the new SSD drive to more accessible SATA port, but it was SATA3. I had to do some finagling and use some fancy footwork to reach an available  SATA3 port.
  3. A number of old Windows utilities and tools, such as disk defragmenters, are not useful to an SSD, and may actually reduce the lifetime usefulness of the drive. As a matter of fact, repeated writes (writing, deleting) will reduce life of the drive, so I’m doing my best to limit installing and uninstalling software.
  4. On an unrelated note, a lot of software installations now try to sneak in bloatware during the installation process. My advice? Always select the Custom Installation route, and read each screen. At any time, you may see a hard-to-notice option that some new toolbar, software, or other crap, is about to install by default, unless you uncheck the option. Very annoying. Be careful.

So what’s the verdict on the SSD? I purchased it for the extra storage space, but I also wanted the benefits of the potential or presumed performance increase. I didn’t buy any low-end SSD. I bought a drive that has really good performance read and write specs. Are there flames spitting out of the PC case, because of the high speeds? Blinding light? The songs of angels singing during the POST boot up process?

Um, no.

Boot-up is faster. It now takes about 30 seconds the beginning of the POST test to the Windows login screen. My applications open almost instantaneously, especially MS Office. I believe that writing lots of data to my SSD would be very fast, but I save my data to my original HDD. Also, I don’t want to do this and reduce the life of the drive. I’ll give it a few more weeks to really judge it. As for reclaiming storage space, I haven’t blown away the old Windows OS partition. If I have an issue, I want to have a backup plan. In a few weeks, if everything is good, I’ll wipe it out.

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