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Solid State Drive Gives New Life to Old Computer


An solid state drive has no moving disk (Creative Commons).

An solid state drive has no moving disk (Creative Commons).


Within the past few weeks, many updates to operating systems have been released: Windows 10 for PCs and OS X El Capitan for Mac.

These new operating systems are designed to make your computer more functional.

But new operating systems can put a strain on older computers. If your computer is more than a few years old, the new updates might make your computer sluggish.

Turning on your computer and waiting for it to start may take longer. Programs may open more slowly.

Buying a new computer may seem like the only way to get a faster computer. But replacing your computer's hard drive with a solid state drive (SSD) may save you money and make your computer run more quickly.

Why Use an SSD?

Hard Drive

Hard Drive

If your computer runs slowly, you may want to replace your hard drive with an SSD.

Hard drives have spinning discs that slow down or wear out. They can cause your computer to "crash" or stop working. SSDs use chips and have no moving parts.

When your computer uses an SSD it will start, open programs and turn off faster than with a standard hard drive.

According to Bruce Berls of BruceBNews:

"Replacing a conventional hard drive with a solid state hard drive (SSD) will improve the day-to-day experience more than the processor, memory or other components. It works so well, you may feel the computer has been strapped to a rocket."

SSDs used to cost more money and have less storage than traditional hard drives. But today you can buy SSDs with 512GB of storage for under $200.

Should You Upgrade to an SSD?

First, make sure that your computer is worth upgrading to an SSD. If your computer was an inexpensive model when you bought it many years ago, then spending money on an SSD probably doesn't make sense.

But if you invested in a decent computer within the past couple of years, adding an SSD may make a big difference in speed. It will delay buying a new computer for a while.

How to Upgrade to an SSD

You have two choices in upgrading to an SSD: Do it yourself or ask someone else to do it.

If you're not sure which to choose, check out YouTube tutorials.

Search YouTube for a video of someone upgrading your model of computer to an SSD. YouTube is filled with videos, many by helpful computer experts who will walk you through the process of upgrading.

Watch the video and see if upgrading your computer to an SSD is a job you want to try.

Let Someone Else Do the Upgrade

If taking apart your computer isn't something you want to try, then ask around to find someone who has done it. Check with people who may actually enjoy the task.

If asking a friend isn't possible, hire a professional.

Do the Upgrade Yourself

You can upgrade to an SSD if you are good with tech or brave, or both. Upgrading isn't difficult. You could have a speedy computer in a few minutes and save the cost of buying a new computer.

Thumb Drive

Thumb Drive

What You'll Need

  • Screwdrivers
  • SSD*
  • Bootable operating system
  • Thumb drive
  • Backup copy of the data on your hard drive
  • Time to restore the data onto your SSD from your Hard Drive
  • Courage not to panic

* Many companies that make SSD drives have a website to help you see which SSD drive would work with your computer.

First Steps

Important: Be sure to back up your data to an external hard drive or to cloud computing. You will restore that data to the SSD after installation.

You will also need to make a copy of your operating system (Windows 10, Windows 8, OS X, for example) that you can put on your new SSD. This is called a "bootable copy of your operating system."

YouTube or Google will lead you to a site that shows how to make a bootable copy of your operating system.

Search "bootable copy of Windows 10" or "bootable copy of El Capitan" or whatever operating system that's on your computer now.

Doing the Upgrade

Taking apart the computer and replacing the hard drive with an SSD should only take a few minutes.

If you haven't done so already, find a YouTube video of someone upgrading your model computer to an SSD.

Computer models are very different, especially laptops and desktops. Make sure you find a video of your model computer or one very close to yours

Watch the video a couple of times and then follow the steps. (Make sure you have a second computer, a phone or a tablet to watch the video while you're taking your computer apart.)

Here is a sample video showing how to replace a hard drive with an SSD that I used when I upgraded my 2011 MacBook Pro last week:

When I upgraded my computer to an SSD, I followed these steps. Your steps may be different, depending on the computer you have.

I unscrewed the screws that held my laptop computer together, then I opened the back of the computer. I found the hard drive and unscrewed the bracket that holds it in place.

I removed the hard drive carefully and unplugged the cable connecting the hard drive to my computer.

I unscrewed the screws on the side of my old hard drive and screwed them into the sides of the new SSD.

I plugged the cable into my SSD drive and put it in the place where the old hard drive was. I screwed the bracket in to hold it in place.

I closed my computer and put the screws back in place.

I was then ready to reload my operating system and data.

Note that ​restoring the operating system and your data could take quite a while, depending on how much data you had on your old hard drive.

Also note that your hard drive still has your data on it. You can turn it into an external hard drive or destroy it.

Your Computer Feels Like New

When you turn on your computer with the new SSD, it will respond very quickly.

No more waiting for programs to load. Opening them should seem instant. If you put the SSD into your laptop computer, you may find that the battery lasts much longer now.

For Carolyn Nicander Mohr, I'm Mario Ritter.

Your Thoughts

Has your computer been running slowly? Have you ever upgraded your computer to an SSD? Have you ever opened your computer? Would you be willing to try this yourself?

Share your thoughts in the Comments section below or on our Facebook page!

Carolyn Nicander Mohr wrote this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

update - n. a change or addition to computer software that includes the most recent information

operating system - n. the main program in a computer that controls the way the computer works and makes it possible for other programs to function

functional - adj. designed to have a practical use

strain - n. something that is very difficult to deal with and that causes harm or trouble

sluggish - adj. moving slowly or lazily​

solid state drive - n. an all-electronic storage device that is an alternative to a hard disk.

replace - v. to put someone or something new in the place or position of (someone or something)

strap - v. to fasten (someone or something) by using a strap

rocket - n. a type of very powerful engine that is powered by gases that are released from burning fuel

install - v. to make (a machine, a service, etc.) ready to be used in a certain place

upgrade - v. to make (something) better by including the most recent information or improvements

professional - n. someone who does a job that requires special training, education, or skill

boot - v. to start a computer

external hard drive - n. a hard drive that is outside of the computer case in its own case

restore - v. to put or bring (something) back into existence or use

inexpensive - adj. low in price

screwdriver - n. tool that is used for turning screws

* Hard drive image courtesy of Praisaeng via Freedigitalphotos.net

* Red thumb drive image (edited) courtesy of bplanet via Freedigitalphotos.net

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