Yesterday evening I increased the performance of my Lenovo T500 laptop with just a few steps. The laptop is now booting up in roughly 23 seconds and after logging in (I have setup profiles and password protection) it roughly takes another 7 seconds before everything is fully operational. In the past it took roughly 3 minutes for the laptop to become operational. Also, if it took 30-45 seconds for Photoshop or Dreamweaver to load, it now takes maybe 10 seconds or so.
So, how did I do that?
Well, the answer is easy – I replaced my existing SATA hard drive with a SSD hard drive. But the step that I liked most – I did not have to reinstall Windows or any of my applications going through the process.
Here is a step by step plan of how you can do this, too.
I ordered a “Crucial 128 GB m4 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive” from Amazon. I also ordered another 500 GB SATA laptop hard drive (Western Digital WD Scorpio Black 500 GB SATA II 7200 RPM 16 MB Cache) and a frame to place this hard drive in the DVD drive bay on my laptop. The reason why I am using a second hard drive is to store the data on this hard drive only. The SSD hard drives are still very expensive and so I went from a 320 GB hard drive down to a 128 GB SSD. The SSD drive will only host actual applications and operating system.
Next step is to install a software to clone your hard drive. I am using Paragon Backup & Recovery for this. It allows me to clone the entire hard drive and it will automatically resize partitions to match a smaller target hard drive. Some cleanup might be required before the next step depending on how much data you already have on your hard drive. In my case I had to move roughly 25 GB of data off my main hard drive so that the resize process had enough room. This is not needed to install the cloning software, but needs to be done before you start the actual cloning.
Now as the next step I hooked up the SSD hard drive in an external USB enclosure and then started the Paragon Backup & Recovery software. The clone job is easy to setup and a Wizard will walk you through the steps. You pick the source and target hard drives and partitions, select a checkbox to shut down the system upon completion of the clone process and off it goes. You can continue using your computer while this process is under way, but I recommend only light usage and not to change any real data as it might not get cloned over. So, I stuck to web browsing and working in the cloud. After about 100-120 minutes my clone process was complete and the system shut down.
I swapped the hard drives, hit the power button and my laptop booted up from the SSD with no issues. Upon login Windows searched and found the driver for the Crucial 128 GB SSD hard drive and then asked for one more reboot. I rebooted and the system came up fine. I powered off and then powered it on again and checked the boot time and the time to be fully operational after logging in. I was very happy with the outcome.
Then I mounted the second hard drive in the drive bay frame I had ordered and swapped it with the DVD drive. This is plug and play – meaning you can do this with the system running. From here on it is all about moving some data over from the SSD and to restore other data I had moved off earlier.
Conclusion: I loved the new SSD hard drive and how fast it performs. The steps involved are easy to follow and you do not really need to be a Geek to do this. As long as you have a basic understanding of how the clone process works and feel comfortable with swapping a laptop hard drive you are good to. I paid roughly $300 for this setup, but it will extend the time I can use my laptop for quite a while in my opinion. It also increases my productivity a lot since everything that involves the hard drive is much faster.