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Gadget Zone: Rejuvenate your Computer for under £75 – WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSD Solid State Drive

22nd Feb 2018
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If your computer is running slowly, then there is a potential solution that won’t cost the earth but will definitely put a smile on your face.

My PC is close to seven years old and although there is more than adequate RAM, it has been grinding to a standstill. After turning it on in the morning, by the time that all of the programs had opened, there was literally enough time to make and eat a cereal breakfast. Similarly, opening any new program was painful.

According to the manufacturers, the only possible improvement, other than laying out £500 or more on a new model, lay in purchasing an SSD hard drive.

From past research, the main issue seemed to be price. These tiny little units cost several times more than a standard hard disk and a 2TB version will set you back around £350. However, on discovering that it would be possible to leave the old hard drive in place for storage and use the new one to run Windows (or equivalent) and all other programs without storing significant amounts of data, an economical compromise was available.

Currently, the top of the range models are retailing at around £75 or £125 for 500 GB. As a result, I have been trialling a WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSD Solid State Drive and it is truly awesome. In part, that is because the specification is far better than the old hard drive, with read/write speeds significantly higher. As a bonus, it also uses less power.

Booting up takes seconds rather than minutes, while loading even the hungriest program, such as speech recognition software, happens almost instantaneously. Where the old hard drive used to grind its teeth noisily, the new one is practically silent.

At the moment, it seems as if a 250 GB Solid-State Hard Drive is more than adequate. In fact, loading all of the programs that I expect to use and some associated data only takes up around 40 GB.

Amazingly, the drive itself is tiny. It is a square measuring 2½ inches with hardly any depth, weighs nothing and looks something like a CD card case only considerably smaller.

The other question was whether to call in professional help for fitting. I decided on a DIY approach. This involved a great deal of research and a little bit of prayer. However, opening up the computer case, cleaning out the dust and inserting the new drive was simple enough, just requiring an additional £3 investment in a cable.

The tricky part, which turned out not to be all that tricky, was to ensure that I didn’t screw up anything on the original hard drive and managed to set up the new one with either Ubuntu or Windows 10. I tried using both and each was equally easy. The key is to create a boot disk, which is explained liberally on the internet.

While it would have been possible to create a mirror image of the old hard drive using the provided software and load that, it made more sense to start from scratch, reloading every program, since this would automatically remove many of the bugs that were slowing down the system. The whole process didn’t take all that long and achieved the desired result.

As a result of this new acquisition, my computer is running better than it did on the day that it was purchased. Admittedly, having managed the clean install, there may be a slight diminution of performance in the fullness of time.

Equivalent products and methodology would work just as well with laptops too.

In any event, I can wholeheartedly recommend this approach as cost-effective and a remarkable eye-opener.


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By Michael C Feltham
23rd Feb 2018 14:05

All depends on the application software you are running.

Our Tax Processing software was not happy; the new laptop which is dedicated just to the new system (64 bit) and runs the latest iteration of Adobe Reader is now reasonably stable.

The core problem is a combination of the WinTel Duopoly (i.e. Microsoft and Intel) who keep upgrading perfectly good products, to boost sales and encourage hardware (and software) obsolescence and the common software refuses to run on retrograde systems: as does hardware; printers etc.

The seek speeds of most recent HDDs are pretty fast:

The best investment I made was for a Seagate external 1TB package.

I use three HDDs in my main workstation: one is dedicated to the Boot Sector and the MS Operating system, only. All application software is hosted on the main HDD.

I always purchase a "Bare Bones", with copious external ports and plenty of expansion slots and build up the system from there.

Most proprietary named PCs are very limited in terms of expansion.

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