Size Matters for Computer Performance
Small mechanical hard drives can be a major cause of poor computer performance. We could add small thinking as a cause, too. It may be time to “right-size” your approach. We’re conscious of price and performance, but we tend to think more about the present price when buying a new computer and not looking ahead to future performance issues.
In too many cases, small drives are the result of being penny wise and pound foolish. A small drive, one in the range of 128 GB, may seem like it has a lot of storage capacity, but it’s really not sufficient for today’s use. Word files, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations take up more and more space, and then we have all of those pictures we store. It’s easy to forget that the more megapixels our cameras can use, the bigger the files become. In addition to larger data files, our application files get bigger, too, as we add more capabilities and speed.
We also tend to hold our computers for many years, putting even more pressure on those under-sized hard drives. With less room for the hard drive to move data files around, your computer gets slower as we pack on years of data and apps. The restricted storage space on the hard drive is one factor that shortens a computer’s service life. The other major factor is that it can take 20 to 30 seconds at startup or restart for a computer to be functional, and that’s intolerable for most users.
On new computers, we consider a 256 GB hard drive as the standard unit. It gives most users enough room for the drive to manipulate files. When factory-installed, it’s not that much more money, and it will give you the opportunity to get more life out of your computer.
You can replace a 128 GB with a 256 GB unit, and that will cost $150 to $175 for the hard drive plus the labor to back up and reinstall all of the software – as well as to physically replace the drive. However, it’s still considerably cheaper than replacing a solid business-use computer, which can run $750 to $1,500.
Better still, Windows 10 users can replace a small hard drive with a solid-state drive (SSD). SSDs are electronic, not mechanical. They don’t require space to physically move data, which means they don’t need to be as large to hold and use a similar amount of data. The lack of moving mechanical parts also makes them faster. We don’t consider this a viable option for Windows 7 users because it would take way too much time to get all of the OS updates and prepare the system for the reinstallation of applications and data files.
In practical terms, you don’t need as large a hard drive if you install an SSD on a Windows 10 computer. In fact, you could downsize from a 500 GB mechanical drive and have the same usable capacity on a 256 GB SSD. And, you’ll get better speed. On an older business-grade laptop, such as a Dell Latitude 5550, you could essentially get a machine that’s “like new” for half the price of a new one. Conceivably, it could add three or four years of service life to a two-year-old system.
If you’re running out of room on your hard drive, running out of patience with your computer’s performance, or both, we can help you find the best solution for your specific need. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to talk about it.