SSD vs SATA: Should you upgrade?

If you have a computer that is starting to slow down, you may be thinking that it is time for a new one. However, before you make the decision to purchase new, it is worth at least considering an upgrade. The first thing I would look at is the RAM. If you are able to add significant capacity for a low cost, you may be able to get a few more years out of your aging PC. By significant capacity, I am talking at least 1 GB if not more. However, if you aren’t able to add much more RAM, you may want to consider an SSD drive. Also, if you do decide to purchase a new PC, this article can help you decide if you want your new PC to have an SSD drive.

I was reading an article from computer world recently. This article is a bit dated, but proves a good point, that SSD technology is much faster than SATA technology. In this article, computer world is able to show that the SSD started up 100% faster, restarted almost 50% faster, and had read/write times that were double as fast as the SATA drive.  This article was written a few years ago and SSD speeds have only improved in the recent years. By contrast, SATA drives have seen little improvement in recent years.  Also, SSD drive prices are still high, but they have come down quite a bit over the past year or so. Due to all these factors, you may want to consider an upgrade if you think this will bring your computer back up to speed. For me personally, I would consider this if my PC had at least 2GB of RAM and a multi-core processor.  If my current PC specs were below this threshold, I would opt for a new PC. Hopefully this can help you decide if an upgrade is worth the money and effort.

If you do decide for a new PC, I would recommend going for a SSD drive for your primary OS drive and then adding a large, cheap SATA drive for your file storage and non-essential programs. This will really allow Windows to work quickly.

This was a guest post from the authors at Dom’s Tech Blog, feel free to check out 9 free ways to fix a slow computer which may help you further with your aging PC.

Windows ReadyBoost – How to Use It and a Performance Analysis

Windows ReadyBoost is a cool feature that is newer and only available in Windows 7 and Windows Vista. You plug in a USB flash drive and then Windows can use the flash memory to increase its memory size since flash memory is faster than most hard drives. If your computer is running slow, enabling ReadyBoost could be a good thing to try if you have a USB stick sitting around.

How to Enable ReadyBoost

Turning on Windows ReadyBoost is super easy. Just take your flash drive and plug it in to your PC. After you do this, Windows should pop up a message asking how you want to use the flash drive. Click on the option that says “Speed up my system Using Windows ReadyBoost”. That is it. Keep in mind that you will not be able to use any space that you give to ReadyBoost.

If the ReadyBoost popup did not come up automatically for you, then you may have disabled the ReadyBoost service. Click on Start -> Type services.msc into the search box, hit enter, and then check the ReadyBoost service to make sure it is enabled.

Analyzing ReadyBoost Performance

Generally speaking, ReadyBoost helps your computer’s performance a lot more when it comes to tasks that are not CPU intensive. So, application load/close times, application switching times, etc saw the most improvement. AmandTech performed a benchmarking test which can be found here.

In their test, they found that adding 1 GB worth of ReadyBoost flash memory took seconds off of different application load and close tests. For example, using 512 RAM + 1 GB ReadyBoost, they were able to open Adobe Photoshop CS3 13 seconds faster. This is a nice improvement.

More RAM is always Better

Not matter how you look at the performance tests by AmandTech, the bottom line is that adding more memory is the better thing to do. Just by adding another 512 MB of RAM, they were able to cut load times of Photoshop by 26 seconds. Compare this to the 13 seconds cut by using 1 GB of ReadyBoost. So, you if you don’t a flash drive sitting around and you are looking for more performance, upgrading your memory is the way to go. However, if you already have a flash stick sitting around that is not being used, you might as well put it to good use and boost your PC’s performance.

Slow Running PC? Think about Adding Memory

So, your computer has been running really slowly lately and you have been thinking about getting a new one. Before you scrap your old computer, you should give some consideration to upgrading your memory. This is especially true if you mainly use your computer for email, web browsing, and Microsoft Office.

Many of the newer programs use more and more resources, particularly hard drive space and RAM. If you have never upgraded your memory for your current computer, you may be able to bring it back up to speed with a simple memory upgrade.

First, I recommend running the Crucial Memory Adviser. This tool from Crucial will scan your computer and let you know your current memory setup and how much memory you can add. If you have less than 2GB of memory and you are able to bring your system memory up to or greater than 2 GB of memory, then a memory upgrade may really be able to help you regain computer speed.

Installing Memory is Pretty Easy

The great thing about a memory upgrade is that is very easy to execute on your own, even if you don’t feel that comfortable digging inside your computer case. Generally, you just need to unplug the computer, take of the cover, and snap in the new memory.  Here is a full guide on installing memory for more help.

Memory is Inexpensive

Another great thing about a memory upgrade is that generally it is a pretty cheap upgrade when considering the amount of performance you can get out of this upgrade. When I look to upgrade a computer, I usually try to see what kind of upgrade I can get for under $100. If I can’t add that much memory for under $100, then I may think about a new computer. However, if I am able to go from 1 GB to 4GB for $100 or less, for example, then I would do this before buying a new PC. There have been many times when I have been able to help a friend or family memory improve their PC performance significantly for less than $50. I would consider this well worth it when the alternative is a new PC for hundreds of dollars.

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