What’s a cheap upgrade to extend my PC’s useful life and make it run faster?

May 06, 2016 at 5:12 PM

Have you ever had a moment when you’ve turned up to work in the morning and pressed the ‘on’ button on your PC and sat there for five to ten minutes waiting for the start-up process to complete, while slowly coming to the realisation that you’ll never get those minutes back as you get up to make your morning coffee? Or have you clicked into a folder and had to watch a progress bar crawl across the screen before you could continue? If the answer is ‘yes’ then your PC is likely running off a Hard Drive.

Hard drives are a technology that date back to the 1950’s, with the first computer containing a Hard Drive being shipped by IBM in 1956. This hard drive was the size of 2 refrigerators and could only store 5 megabytes of information (equivalent to 1 short song/mp3 file today) and cost $50,000 US dollars to produce.


Hard-drives have reduced in physical size and improved dramatically in efficiency and capacity since then. The core technology is still the same with a motorised arm reading/writing data to a series of spinning magnetic disks. The speed and performance of these Hard Drives, however, is limited by the need for moving parts, and its method of reading and writing data.


This is where the Solid State drive comes in. While they’ve been in the consumer market for a few years, only recently have they become an affordable upgrade with a viable capacity to replace Hard Drives in most Desktop PC’s and laptops.

So what makes Solid State drives better than hard drives?

An average Hard Drive has a read/ write speed of around 80mb - 100mb per second and gradually gets worse over time as the Hard Drive fills up (sometimes by 50% or more). This is due to the way data is being recorded on the spinning disk.

A standard Solid State drive operates at around 500mb-600mb per second, with some of the top end consumer drives reaching speeds of 2.5gb per second.

On Paper this is already 5 to 6 times an improvement over the Hard Drive. In reality however, it gives your PC a boot time of around 30 seconds vs the 5 minutes or so minutes of a conventional hard drive and as soon as your desktop appears you can start using the PC.

This improvement is due to the lack of moving parts, and that data is now being recorded on fast memory chips, rather than a slower spinning disk.


The other advantages include a lighter carry weight, better shock resistance to falls (though still not advisable), and a smaller size, meaning they can fit in more devices.

In terms of cheap upgrades that will have a noticeable effect, a solid state drive is one of the best upgrades you can make today. It will breathe new life into older computers, and ensure that more recent computers perform at their peak.

Consult our friendly team at McDonald’s IT if you wish to make any inquiries into upgrading your PC’s or laptops, or would like more information about the options available to best suit your needs. 

Tags: Storage Hard Drive Solid State Drive


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