Laptops are difficult to update sensibly. In many cases, the processor, motherboard and graphics card are installed as a one-package setup. If a component fails, you cannot simply replace it. You have to replace the entire trio. This can be timely and expensive. As a rule, you can only update RAM and memory manually.
A good way to improve your laptop's performance is to replace the mechanical hard drive (HDD) with a solid-state drive (SSD). It doesn't change how fast software runs – that's all on the CPU. Instead, the speed at which software is loaded and the speed at which software juggles data is improved. This makes a PC feel much faster.
Even better, an SSD is not difficult to install. You can upgrade most laptops on a kitchen table with just a screwdriver. When you have both objects ready to roll, you can start.
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How to choose the right solid state drive
Since this is not a buying guide, we do not recommend special SSDs here. You can find more information about buying an SSD in our buying guide and in our comparison between SSDs and conventional hard drives. Just make sure you buy an SSD that actually fits in your laptop.
There are two standard formats for laptop SSDs: 2.5-inch and 1.8-inch formats.
Of the two, the 2.5-inch drive is by far the most common. Smaller 1.8-inch drives are included in some new laptops that offer an SSD as standard. However, they can be adapted to 2.5-inch bays if desired. Since this is an upgrade guide, this is probably not what you have. In most cases, you'll need a 2.5-inch drive.
Some ultrabooks have extremely thin drive bays that are not suitable for a standard 2.5-inch drive. In these cases, you need an SSD with a maximum thickness of 7 millimeters. Be ready to look for these leaner drives as retailers are bad at promoting these products. You may need to call the dealer or check the specifications on the manufacturer's website.
How to prepare for installation
There are two ways to process the data on your existing hard drive.
First, you can back up important files and start a new operating system installation. Just make sure you have an installation CD or external hard drive. These methods are simple solutions, but can be time consuming. Once you've installed the new drive, you'll need to reinstall the operating system and then restore your backed up files.
The second option is to clone your drive and copy all data from your existing drive to the new operating system. It is fast, but requires more technical knowledge and will only work if the new drive has the same or greater capacity than the old one. In this case, just install the cloned drive in your laptop and start as usual.
However, to clone your current drive you need a SATA to USB adapter. Connect your new solid-state drive to the SATA / USB adapter and plug the adapter into a USB port on your laptop. Your laptop should recognize your new SSD as an external hard drive.
Cloning is not as easy as dragging and dropping files. Everything needs to be copied, including parts of the drive that Windows can use it as a boot device. More and more SSD manufacturers are bundling clone software with their devices. However, if you are alone, check out Norton Ghost, Acronis True Image and Paragon Drive Copy.
If you don't want to pay, try MiniTool, Clonezilla and Acronis. Keep in mind that free software may not provide customer support if you are unsure of the software or how it works.
When cloning your drive, make sure you back up important data anyway, as cloning is not 100% reliable.
How to do the installation
Find a flat, well-lit area that you can work on without distractions. If possible, turn your laptop upside down with the power plug and the battery.
In the lower area there should be a plastic cut-out plate that is covered by several screws. Some laptops have two control panels. In this case, you should remove the one marked with the hard drive icon, an engraving that looks like three stacked discs.
Some laptops have no recess, which means that you have to remove the entire bottom and need a lot more screws. Also, be sure to keep an overview – a Ziploc bag works best because it holds the screws together so they don't roll off the table.
When you have removed the screws, carefully pry off the cut plate with a sharp object. You are on a stream without a paddle when this panel breaks. So don't be energetic – just lift it up carefully. If a section appears stubborn, try solving another side instead.
When the control panel is switched off, the hard disk is exposed. In a modern laptop, hard drives are usually covered by metal clips or metal foil with a tab attached to them. Gently pull the tab out and up to remove the drive. Some laptops have a loose connection. In this case, the cable and the SATA connector are connected to the drive. Take it off.
If your laptop uses a bracket, you will notice that the drive is attached to the bracket with screws (usually four). Remove it to remove the drive, then insert your new SSD into the bracket and secure it with the same screws that you removed. If your laptop doesn't use a holder, just discard any wraps used by the previous drive.
Now slide the drive back into the bay and insert it into the SATA connector of the old drive. Keep in mind that SATA connectors have a straight or L-shaped connector, which makes incorrect installation very difficult. You shouldn't have to use a lot of force if you install the new drive correctly.
Put the panel back in, put the screws back in and you're done.
How to use your new drive
If you've decided to reinstall your operating system, the next step is simple: insert your installation or recovery disk and reinstall it. There is nothing special to do. Just follow the steps suggested by the installation wizard.
What if you don't have an optical drive? You can usually reinstall the operating system from a USB stick, external hard drive or other storage methods. For Windows you need another PC to download the Microsoft operating system. As soon as you start the installation, Windows will point to the license key that is embedded in the motherboard of your laptop.
If you have a different version of Windows, you can use BurnAware Free to create a boot CD from your existing Windows hard drive. You can use the same software to convert a drive clone software to a bootable USB stick file.
Those who have cloned their drive usually don't have to do anything extra – just boot and get started. However, you may see an interface to finalize the clone that makes it bootable for your PC.
After all, your new hard drive doesn't need any additional driver installation to work. However, a CD with software tools for easy drive management may be included. If no CD was shipped, as might be the case if you bought a bare drive, you can download the software from the manufacturer's support site.
That was & # 39; s – your new SSD was installed to give you lightning-fast software loading times. Enjoy!