Release Your Computer From Its Shackles and Speed Things Up
An upgrade to your computers memory (RAM) and/or swapping out the hard disk drive for an SSD (Solid state drive) are quick and simple ways to make your old machine a lot faster and more responsive. If done properly it will make your exising computer quicker than nearly all of the brand new sub £350 computers you can purchase - You will get a "better than" new computer performance for a fraction of the cost. It will also be faster and more responsive than it was even on the first day you bought it.
This does assume that the computer is generally operating normally (apart from being slow) and I would always suggest a cleanup of redundant and potentially unwated programs as part of the process (as these nasties can also slow down your machine and hamstring it - even with a shiny new SSD or extra RAM).
You would likely need to spend in excess of £600 to get an off the shelf computer that will be as quick as your old computer with a quality SSD and a bit of extra RAM (if you have less than 4Gb).
What's an SSD and Why Do I want one?
Well, put simply, it is a modern replacement for the traditional hard drives in both laptops and desktops. Up until fairly recently they have been pretty expensive and really only suitable for big companies or very high end users but the prices have come down and reliability improved to levels where normal folk can start to really benefit.
The hard drive is the place where your files are stored and also (more importantly) the place where the Windows operating system itself loads from and all your programs run from. This means that a slow hard drive will always mean a slower than desirable Windows and longer delays than you would like when launching programs.
The slowest part of nearly any computer (i.e. its bottleneck) is the hard drive. An SSD can be read from and written to many times faster than any mechanical hard drive and if you have one in your system you will notice that Windows will boot much more quickly. You will also get to the point of being able to use your computer in a matter of several seconds rather than the current wait of probably a few minutes (depending on operating system). All of the programs that you run (like your antivirus, web browser, Word for Windows etc.) will also load 3x-10x faster than they do with the existing hard drive.
in 90% of cases, an SSD is the single most important upgrade you can make to improve the performance of your machine.
SSD’s do have a couple of negatives:–
1. They can only be written to a certain number of times before they start to wear out. The average home user will never likely hit this limit but if you are a very heavy “power” user (>20Gb of data writes per day) then you should bear this in mind.
2. They are also a lot more expensive per Gb of space than a traditional hard drive (so tend to be smaller in capacity for an equivalent price). This means that if you are storing a lot of data then you will need a larger SSD and this can become quite expensive. The average user will not have a problem but remember that you will most likely be migrating from a larger hard drive to a smaller SSD. If your exisiting hard drive is already quite full then we need to look carefully at whether an SSD on its own is the right solution. it may be that you can have an SSD for the core of your system and a second traditional hard drive (either internal or external) to store some of the less frequently accessed files and data.
The icing on the cake with an SSD is that they are silent, very light, use very little power compared to a traditional hard drive (and so can extend a laptop battery life) and finally, for those people prone to occasionally drop or roughly handle their computer while its switched on, SSD's are not as badly affected by knocks and drops like a traditional hard drive is.
A new SSD (the Samsung EVO 850 is my recommended SSD make) will cost around £70 for the 120Gb model or around £90 for the larger 250Gb model. You then need to add the cost of my expertise and time to migrate everything across from the old hard drive. This would be in the region of 1 to 2 hours (depending on the state of the computer operating system and what additional work might need to be done to ensure you have the best upgrade).
There are cheaper SSD's out there but you should be cautious as the really cheap ones tend to wear out a lot more quickly and most only have a 1 or 3 year warranty. For those of a technical mind - the Samsung 850 EVO 120Gb & 250Gb have a wear limit of 75TBW (Terabytes Written) and an industry leading 5 year warranty (for a consumer grade SSD). 75TB is 78.6 million Megabytes!! To put it another way - about 15 Million average sized photos from your camera - you can see that this is a very large number and nothing to be worried about!
RAM (Memory) upgrade
It's worth mentioning RAM at this point. Many machines (when originally sold) were sold with too little RAM from day one. This would have been to keep the laptop or desktop at a more attractive price point to shift as many units as possible.
Sadly - many people have been running their computer with 2Gb or 3Gb of RAM and this means that the computer will always struggle as soon as you run things like and antivirus alongside a web browser etc. Add to this a few other items that typically get installed (and load at system startup) then you will soon run into problems.
I always recommend 4Gb of RAM (3Gb as an absolute minimum if your machine is not capable of taking 4Gb or if it is running 32bit Windows) and this needs to be increased prior to being able to see any major benefits of the other upgrades and clean-ups that I can do.
The cost to upgrade 2 or 3Gb of RAM to 4Gb is very reasonable so I would recommend this (usually between £10 and £20).
I personally use an ancient old Dell laptop (originally shipped with Windows XP and now running 64bit Windows 7) and recently upgraded it to an SSD. It now boots, launches my internet browser and gets to my home page in around 40 seconds (it used to take about 2 ½ minutes). Running other programs is also way faster than they used to be. I was going to bite the bullet and replace it but the new SSD has extended its life for a good few years! I also know that if the laptop finally packs in I can simply remove the SSD and use it in a replacement machine.
If you would like me to evaluate your laptop / desktop and upgrade the RAM or migrate you over to an SSD then I’d be more than happy to help. Please give me a call to discuss.