How to in­stall an SSD

Give your PC or lap­top a per­for­mance kick

PC Advisor - - FRONT PAGE -

When in­stalled on a solid-state drive, Win­dows not only boots and shuts down quicker but ap­pli­ca­tions load faster and the com­puter feels more re­spon­sive. Plus, since prices have fallen con­sid­er­ably in re­cent years, an SSD is much more af­ford­able.

If you’re still not con­vinced it’s worth the has­sle, we took an Alien­ware X51 PC that’s a few years old and well used and ran var­i­ous tests be­fore and after in­stalling a 128GB In­te­gral V Se­ries SSD, which costs just £39.99 from Ama­zon. As you can see in our ta­ble, you can ex­pect your PC to boot up sig­nif­i­cantly quicker, in our case more than twice as fast. You’ll also pro­grams and games load quick (look at the dif­fer­ence start­ing Over­watch), files move faster and gen­er­ally more re­spon­sive per­for­mance.

Be­fore you be­gin

Al­most ev­ery PC case has in­ter­nal bays for adding ex­tra hard disks, which are 3.5in wide. SSDs tend to be 2.5in wide though, so you may need a mount­ing bracket to fit one in your com­puter. SSDs have Se­rial ATA (SATA) data con­nec­tors, of which there are three ver­sions (1, 2 or 3), that can trans­fer data at 1.5-, 3- or 6Gb/s, re­spec­tively.

It doesn’t mat­ter if your com­puter doesn’t sup­port SATA 3. SSDs are back­wards com­pat­i­ble, and se­quen­tial trans­fer speed isn’t the only rea­son for their im­proved per­for­mance. More im­por­tant is their much-re­duced la­tency over con­ven­tional hard disks, as it takes far less time to ac­cess data from an SSD’s NAND flash mem­ory than for a hard disk’s me­chan­i­cal arm to move into po­si­tion. There are a few dis­ad­van­tages to be aware of, though. SSDs cost more per GB of stor­age than con­ven­tional hard disks. Plus, their ca­pac­i­ties top out at around 512GB, which is well short of the cur­rent 4TB max­i­mum for hard disks. It makes sense to keep Win­dows and your apps on the SSD, which will ben­e­fit from the im­proved load­ing times, and large media col­lec­tions on a sep­a­rate hard disk. We’ll also ex­plain how to con­fig­ure the BIOS and Win­dows.

For the rest of this tu­to­rial, we’re us­ing a desk­top PC with an Asus P8P67 Pro mother­board and a Frac­tal De­sign De­fine R3 case, which has in­ter­nal space for SSDs, but our ad­vice ap­plies to any desk­top com­puter. You can in­stall a fresh copy of Win­dows or trans­fer your cur­rent op­er­at­ing sys­tem. There are plenty of pro­grams for do­ing this job, such as Acro­nis True Im­age HD.

How to in­stall an SSD in your PC START

Un­screw and re­move the sides of your com­puter’s case. Some have latches hold­ing the sides in place, which must be pushed open. Make sure you have clear ac­cess to the mother­board’s SATA ports and hard disk bays.

2

Place the SSD into its mount­ing bracket or a re­mov­able bay, line it up with the holes un­der­neath, then screw it in. You can buy a 3.5- to 2.5in adap­tor bracket for a few pounds or sim­ply use a sin­gle hole in a 3.5in bay in your PC.

3

Con­nect the L-shaped end of a SATA ca­ble to the SSD, and the other end to a spare SATA port (SATA 6Gb/s ports are blue). Con­nect a SATA power ca­ble to the SSD. For a fresh Win­dows in­stal­la­tion, dis­con­nect any other hard disks in­side your PC.

4

In­sert a USB drive or DVD with Win­dows 10 and turn on the PC. Press F12 to see the boot menu and se­lect the USB or DVD. Fol­low the in­struc­tions to in­stall the op­er­at­ing sys­tem on the SSD. Once the in­stal­la­tion is com­plete, you can put other hard drives back in the PC.

Ob­vi­ously, all your old files and Win­dows in­stal­la­tion will still be on your old disk. You can copy your doc­u­ments, videos, mu­sic and pictures across to their re­spec­tive fold­ers on the SSD, but it’s best to leave most of your files on the hard disk to avoid us­ing up the lim­ited space on your SSD.

There are numer­ous ways to tell your new Win­dows in­stal­la­tion that your doc­u­ments and other files are on a dif­fer­ent hard disk. With Mi­crosoft’s OS, the most el­e­gant method is to use its li­braries fea­ture. Cre­ate a folder on your hard disk: for ex­am­ple, e:/docs. Right-click the folder in Ex­plorer, scroll down to the In­clude in li­brary op­tion, then choose the Doc­u­ments li­brary from the list. Next, copy any doc­u­ments from the My Doc­u­ments folder to the new one. You can do the same for movies, mu­sic and pictures, keep­ing your files close at hand with­out them re­sid­ing on the SSD.

When it comes to soft­ware, it makes sense to in­stall those pro­grams you use most of­ten on the SSD, so that they ben­e­fit from its speed. When space be­comes too tight, or you don’t need the ex­tra speed, in­stall new ap­pli­ca­tions on your old hard disk by spec­i­fy­ing where to store the files dur­ing the in­stal­la­tion process. If you leave the set­tings at their de­faults, pro­grams will al­ways be in­stalled to the same drive as Win­dows.

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