Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

We need to focus in on what is causing your machine to be overloaded and see what we can do about that before we start throwing hardware at the problem.

Hi Leo. I'm thinking of buying a 120 GB Solid State drive to speed up my machine. Have you tried them yet? And if you have, is it possible to restore a disk image to that type of SSD from my latest disk image and obtain greater speed of my PC? I have tried everything else, but my machine is so overloaded that I'm thinking of buying one of these SSDs.

In this excerpt from Answercast #63, I look at swapping out a hard drive for an SSD and whether or not that will speed up the system.

Reinstalling to SSD

So the short answer to the question you're asking is, yes... usually. If what you have in your backup image is smaller than the size of the SSD you're installing, you should be able to restore an image to the SSD - and more or less have it work.

So, what that really means is:

  • You've taken a backup image of your hard drive (of your C: for example, where Windows is installed);

  • You then move that drive;

  • And replace it with a Solid State Drive (that becomes the new C:);

  • Then you perform a restore of your backup image on to that drive.

It should work, actually. It should work just fine.

Drive size

Typically, when people are having problems with this, it's because the Solid State Drive is probably smaller than the original C. Then what you end up having to do first before you take that backup image is move your data around so that the C drive actually fits within whatever size of solid-state drive you're about to get.

Overloaded machine

Now, what I really want to point out is that if your machine is that "overloaded" as you put it, I'm not convinced that a solid-state drive is going to help you.

Yea, it's gonna make some things faster. I mean that part's easy. But, depending on exactly how it's overloaded, the solid state drive may actually have little to no effect. If for example your CPU is in constant use... well, that solid state drive is not going to do anything for that.

There are just so many different things that could be affecting your overall machine's performance that I would strongly suggest (strongly suggest!) that before you go around swapping hardware and trying to make things faster by installing a solid state drive, that you first take a look at exactly why your machine is so overloaded, as you put it.

See, if you can't solve some of those problems first, then having solved those problems and gotten a faster machine as a result, you can then decide if you want to take the additional step of installing an SSD and make the machine a little faster on top of that.

A solid state drive is probably going to be most noticeable in terms of speed improvements when you boot up your machine. The rest of the time so much of what we do really isn't that disk intensive.

So, like I said, we really need to focus in on exactly what is causing your machine to be "overloaded" and see what we can do about that before we start throwing hardware at the problem.

Article C5939 - October 21, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?


October 21, 2012 7:20 PM

Since a lot of folks are moving to SSDs, just thought I'd mention that Paragon has a really sweet migration tool. It's not free (currently costs $19.95 for a single license) but it can conveniently move data from a HDD to a smaller SSD. That alone could make the price very appealing.

Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with Paragon in any way and I offer this for informational purposes only.

Steve Gledhill (PC Resolver)
October 22, 2012 1:13 AM

I did this a few weeks ago and I love it. I recommend installing Windows from scratch on the new SSD and leave all your data on the old disk.
Office applications open instantly, I can restart Windows in just over a minute and even browsing the Internet is quicker.
Be careful with utilities that defrag and otherwise 'optimize' hard disks - if you use them on your SSD you can reduce the life of them and they aren't needed.

October 23, 2012 10:56 AM

Agree with Steve Gledhill about installing from scratch. I wouldn't recommend restoring a disk-image because the underlying technologies of hard disk (electromechanical, spinning disks with moving read-write heads) and SSD (integrated circuits like RAM) are different.

Another thing to note is that there are differing opinions about the longevity (persistance) of data on SSDs, which is apparently undesirable for critical data. So, you could have the SSD for OS, swap space and application software while retaining the hard disk for data. This should give you substantial performance improvement.

Dan Lauber
October 23, 2012 1:57 PM

Good advice Leo. I've performed this switch for about a dozen computers and have not had to reinstall Windows 7 on any of them. Also, if your current C drive is larger than the SSD, you can use Paragon Backup & Recovery 2011 (Advanced) Free which has "Restore with Shrink" to restore a backup image into a smaller disk, taking into account only the amount of actual data of the image.

A few additional suggestions:
Be sure to save the image of your C drive on your D drive. You will need to restore the image to the SSD -- and before you can do that you must format the new SSD. Once you've restored the image to the SSD, remove your old C drive. BEFORE doing any of this, you may need to deactivate some applications like Adobe Acrobat (not the reader, but the full program) on your old C drive (before imaging) and then reactivate it when your new SSD C drive is running. Once the new SSD is operational, you may also have to reactivate Windows and Microsoft Office programs and other programs that require activation.

October 24, 2012 7:59 AM

I seems to remember reading somewhere that a SSD will not transfer any faster than a HDD from an external enclosure (or external dock p;resumably) unless both the enclosue and pc have USB 3.0 sockets. Is that correct I wonder?

You'd have to compare all the transfer rates involved, and I don't know them specifically off the top of my head, but I would definitely assume that a USB 2.0 interface transfer rate would be the limiting factor for an external SSD/flash memory drive.

October 24, 2012 8:04 AM

Sorry, I didn't mean to be "anonymous" ! - I seem to remember reading somewhere that a SSD will not transfer any faster than a HDD from an external enclosure (or external dock presumably) unless both the enclosue and pc have USB 3.0 sockets. Is that correct I wonder?

Frank K.
October 24, 2012 8:23 PM

I installed a Samsung 830 128 gig. SSD and did a new install of Win7 Pro, as Steve noted. I am using the SSD for sys and virtual memory since I have 8 gig RAM. My data is on a 1TB WD HDD and my backup is on a 2TB. Overall the system flies right along and I want to build another box just to do it'll love it!

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