You probably know that a solid state drive (SSD) is a great upgrade for your computer because it runs much faster than a mechanical hard disk drive (HDD). However, because SSDs are more expensive, you may not be able to afford a large enough SSD to hold all of your data.
In this case, what's the best way to use an SSD and HDD combo? We'll show you how to use an SSD and hard drive together for the best results.
Basics of using SSD and HDD together
Just in case you're unfamiliar, it helps to know the differences between an SSD and a hard drive
How do solid state drives work?
. Because SSDs have no moving parts and use flash memory, they can read and write data much faster than a hard drive with spinning platters and read head.
This results in everything loading faster, including your operating system, app launches, file transfers, game loading times, and the like. So in a perfect world you would have all of your data on an SSD so that everything works smoothly.
However, SSDs are much more expensive than comparable hard drives. At the time of writing, you can buy a decent 1TB SSD for around $ 100 while the same amount can get you a 4TB hard drive.
When you create a desktop, you can choose which drives to store in it, so cost is the only concern. However, some pre-built desktops and laptops have a small SSD and a larger hard drive. Let's look at how you prioritize what data goes where.
Use your SSD as a boot drive
The most important element to keep on your SSD is the Windows operating system itself. Having your operating system on the SSD speeds up all Windows elements including booting, shutting down, and starting programs.
This is the biggest difference in speed, which is why you will sometimes hear "Boot Drive" which is used to describe a small SSD that is mainly used for Windows. From version 1903 (May 2019 update) Windows 10 requires at least 32 GB of storage space.
However, there are a few ways to reduce the Windows installation size
How much space do you need to run Windows 10?
In addition. One of them is turning off hibernation
Should you delete Hiberfil.sys file in Windows 10?
If you don't need it, you can save a few gigabytes.
While 32GB isn't that much, you'll also need to leave additional space to accommodate updates. Windows won't run well if your drive is low on free space.
If Windows is on your SSD, your user profile will also be displayed. This doesn't take up much space unless you add lots of photos, videos, and the like (which we will discuss below).
Decide which apps to install
After installing the Windows operating system, there is (hopefully) room left for apps. But which should you install if the SSD space is limited?
All programs benefit from the speed of an SSD – long loading times become shorter and shorter loading times become almost instantaneous. Hence, the most important apps that you keep on your SSD are the ones that you use the most. Productivity apps like Office, image editing programs and your browser are relatively small and benefit from the speed.
If you use high-performance software such as video editors or IDEs for programming, they will also run much better on an SSD. However, these take up a lot more space so you may not have room for them. Prioritize apps that you use the most and that are small.
Another category of apps that take great advantage of an SSD is video games. SSD speeds drastically reduce loading times. As a result, you may want to install the games you always play on this drive. Since many modern games occupy tens of gigabytes, you may only have room for one or two.
Where are files stored?
When you install most apps, they put some necessary files in the Applications folder that you cannot move. However, many additional files do not need to be stored on your SSD.
While you may have VLC installed on your SSD, there is no need to keep movies and videos there. They'll still load from a hard drive in a reasonable amount of time, and once they are open, an SSD offers no added benefit.
Pictures, documents, and downloads are all other types of content that you can keep off the SSD. Unless you're constantly opening something, the slightly faster file load time isn't worth the space used.
You should change your default download folder in your browser to avoid downloaded files from being constantly saved on your SSD. In Chrome, click the three-dot menu and select the settings. Scroll down and expand the Advanced Section, then find Downloads.
Here either click change Button to select or activate a new folder for download Before downloading, ask where to save each file if you want to choose every time.
Organize your second drive
If you're using a single drive, you probably don't think much about where to install new programs or put files. With two drives, however, you need to be more careful about where you put everything. We talked about general ideas above, but how does that work in practice?
Open File Explorer and navigate to This pc to see all of your drives. Assuming you have Windows installed on the SSD, the regular Windows folders already exist there. However, you can do whatever you want with the secondary drive.
Try to create folders for each type of content you put on the drive. For example, you can create both a Program files and Games Folder in the root directory of your hard drive. Then when you install a program that you want to keep away from your SSD, just select that location during the installation process.
If you've got a lot of files across multiple drives, the Windows library feature can be useful. This allows you to specify specific locations that contain similar file types and see them all in one place.
Libraries are hidden by default in Windows 10. To view them, open File Explorer and go to View> Navigation Area> Show Libraries. You will see then Libraries in the left pane that contains standard collections for file types such as documents and photos.
To edit a library, right click here and select properties. By doing Library locations Click on the field Add and select a folder to include. Repeat this process for as many folders as you want to add to this library. It's also useful to click and select a folder Specify storage location to set it as the default location when you save to this library.
This way you can see all the files distributed on your two drives in one view. That way, you don't have to remember where you put a particular file.
Moving files between drives
It's also easy to move files from your SSD to the hard drive later. Just select the files you want to remove from your SSD in File Explorer and press Ctrl + X. to cut them. Then navigate to a new location on your hard drive and press Ctrl + V. to paste the cut files.
Note that you should only do this with user data such as pictures and videos. Cutting and pasting program data to a new drive usually doesn't work (unless it's a portable app). So, you'd better uninstall and reinstall the new location.
That's really all you need – if you're installing a new program or downloading a large file, consider whether you want it to load quickly and whether it's worth taking advantage of your limited SSD space. This will help you decide where to put it.
Manage your space over time
Depending on how much free space your SSD has, you may occasionally need to check in your free space. Various factors can be taking up space on your SSD without you noticing, including the following:
- User data from programs. Even if you install apps on your secondary drive, a lot of software stores files on yours Application Data User folder and / or the Program data Folder.
- The recycle bin. By default, deleted files are moved to the recycle bin located on your startup drive. If you never empty this, the contents of the trash can occupy several gigabytes.
- Software and Windows updates. Patches for both installed apps and Windows itself can take up more space over time. Because of this, you need to keep a buffer with free space.
Using tools to free up space in Windows, such as You can use the Disk Cleanup tool to manage these remaining bits. Also check out TreeSize Free, which will show you the folders that are taking up the most space on your drive. Uninstalling apps you no longer use frees up space too.
The perfect combination of SSD and HDD
While SSDs are superior to HDDs in most respects, we've seen how they both work in harmony. Hopefully you can upgrade to a larger SSD soon. By then, however, you will know how to manage your files between drives.
If you're moving everything to a new drive, here's how to use Clonezilla to clone your drive. You can also consider partitioning your hard drive
The Pros And Cons Of Partitioning A Hard Drive: What You Need To Know
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