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How to Speed Up Your Computer by Replacing the Hard Drive with an SSD

08.24.12 @ 8:34PM Tags : , ,

Almost all new video cameras utilize some form of solid state media, like SD, CF, or SxS cards. That’s not necessarily the case with computers, however. Many of us are familiar with the clicking and whirring of traditional hard drives, but in the not-too-distant future, most of our devices will instead be using an SSD (or Solid State Drive) to store information.  The big advantage to using an SSD as your main system drive (where all of your programs and the operating system is installed), is that since there aren’t any moving parts, read times can be much faster. John Hess, over at FilmmakerIQ, recently replaced the main hard drive on his Windows machine with an SSD drive to speed up his system. Watch his process and see some benchmarks in the video below.

Obviously not all speed issues are related to hardware, but by making sure your system is up-to-date and running registry-fixing software (Windows) or repairing permissions (Mac), you can ensure that your system is as fast as possible under the current hardware configuration. SSDs haven’t reached quite the same price/performance ratio as standard HDDs, so you’ll still want to store your media on those. Since the operating system and your programs are the most accessed parts of your system, they benefit the most from being on SSDs where read times are much faster, thereby allowing your software to load faster.

Have any of you noticed significant speed increases by substituting your HDD for an SSD?

Link: How to Upgrade your Boot Drive to SSD – FilmmakerIQ

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  • john jeffreys on 08.24.12 @ 8:49PM

    An SSD is a great way to increase the life of your aging laptop/computer. And the prices for them have been dropping so hard lately, theres no excuse not to get one.

  • I put a 220GB SSD in where the spinning disk drive came built in my specked-out 2012 15″ non-retina Macbook Pro and used an OWC Data Doubler to but the 1TB spinning disk drive where my optical drive used to be. My edits have been significantly faster so much so that I sold my 27in quad core i5 iMac and bought a cinema display, using the MBP as my main computer.

    I know this setup is nothing compared to what I’m sure some of you guys have, but I’m in college working at a lot local area clubs filming and of course, attending class, to which this setup is a dream for.

    I honestly could never go back to a non-ssd computer after making the switch.

    • john jeffreys on 08.24.12 @ 10:49PM

      Hey, I’m about to get a 2012 model MBP as well. Right now I have a late 2008 one, and its fine during editing but it chugs hard during export. Did you get the 1680×1050 screen?

      • You really have to get the higher-res option. Trust me, it makes a significant difference for video editing purposes.

        Also – look into getting a slightly used/refurb MBP 2011 model. You can save a good amount of money, and the standard MBP 2012′s really aren’t that different.

        • john jeffreys on 08.25.12 @ 1:55PM

          NO I WANT IVY BRIDGE AND THE NEW ONES HAVE USB 3.0 which is SUCH a huge plus for external devices, red stations, etc etc

      • I got the hi-res, antiglare screen.

        My suggestion is to budget for an external monitor as well… Being able to come home to a 27in screen is almost a necessity now for me, maybe I just spoiled myself.

        • john jeffreys on 08.25.12 @ 1:59PM

          I use a ghetto ass Acer 20″ 1680×1050 monitor right now with fcp x as a secodary display/viewer, its alright, the colors are kinda off but i keep that in mind and just use it for framing/composition

          • That was my problem haha, I had a decent samsung but i realized the colors were waaay off. That is why I sprung for the cinema display, there is nothing that parallels this for the kind of video work I’m doing without getting into the real high-end matte screened monitors that cost 2-3k a piece. I produced a series of training videos for my school using that rigged to a 2009 Mac Pro and was not very impressed with the monitor…

            Again, I know we’re all on a budget but if you can afford it get a thunderbolt Apple Cinema Display on refurb, you won’t regret it.

          • john jeffreys on 08.26.12 @ 7:07PM

            Yeah I saw them for 850 one time refurbished.

  • repairing permissions won’t make your machine run faster. it may solve some odd crashes because files that should be set to be writable are read only. this also only effects files that are part of the OS.

    disc warrior can rebuild directories for faster access, and it also can fix drives where others fail… but I hardly ever run it these days.

    otherwise yes a SSD can make your machine run a lot faster when it comes to : starting apps, VM, CS6 caching and render file accees, making uncompressed HD possible on a laptop or modest tower

  • Multiple drives, with an SSD for OS & programs, drastically improves one’s video editing experience…here’s a great resource for those using Premiere Pro: http://forums.adobe.com/thread/662972?start=0&tstart=0

  • It’s always wise to separate the program drive and run a separate data and temp drive. With 3 SSDs, speed should be optimal for video editing.

  • marmot_1080 on 08.25.12 @ 2:26PM

    Intel SSD in 2011 MBP (16ram, 1vram, 2.2 i7 quad, tbolt drive, etc.), mountain lion. Still slow on bootup. Not a big deal, I don’t watch bootup. Proponents say lag time in apps is nil (got PPCS6 with GPU acceleration, FCPX, Logic 9, and other 64-bit apps). There’s no lag, and that’s vital, but I don’t feel SSD is supersonic. Smoother operations, though.

  • The prices versus standard drives are ridiculous. I’ll pass for now.

  • This actually isn’t a very expensive upgrade if you just do it for your OS and programs. I have a 2011 27″ iMac with 2GB video card and 16GB of RAM. I just installed a 120GB OWC 6G SSD for about $160 plus the kit I needed to take my iMac apart.

    This drive has made my computer insanely fast. I left the original HDD alone incase something ever goes wring with this drive. Every once and a while I’ll boot up the original drive to compare speed and it’s just painful. Aside from the SSD making FCPX just amazingly fast, everything else I do on my computer is instant.

    If you can spend $200 to do this upgrade, do it. But I warn you, you won’t be able to use any other computer again so you’ll probably have to upgrade every computer.

  • Lord Bronco on 08.27.12 @ 9:52PM

    Yes SSD is totally awesome-just be warned at the end of their servicable life-when they crash-the data is *unrecoverable*. So clips audio and premiere or FCP projects belong in your Raid Array where they are safe with redundancy. I’m curious what the rated hours are on SSDs-are they 10,000 like most of the Seagates and Western Digital platter drives?

  • SSD’S Summary: Yes!

    Before building my present Workstation, (which is now outdated somewhat with an i930 OC’d to 4.0 Ghtz., and 24 GB RAM, Quadro FX, NEC 241PAW), I used my older Q6600 Intel Machine to test run some hardware. Namely an SSD and two different video Cards. I installed CS4 Prod.Premium to gage it all. What I found was that overall the SSD’s made my computer perform better than even my $1k Quadro. In fact a $250 ATi card and an SSD was better in the Windows rating ANd performed near same in Ae. Of course we all know now Cards don’t mean much in AE unless you get into the 6GB-DDR5 range ($6K!) cards, so when it came time to build this present workstation, two SSD’s for programs and temp and HDD’s for storage space. I have also found that rendering to an HDD from a file located on the SSD seems to work about as fast as I can render.

    The SSD”s I chose were new from Intel at the time, (2.5 years ago), and I felt they gave the best reliability. All of them use the Intel tool box for keeping clean and optimized. They’ve dropped nicely from the $450 each I paid for them, but they were worth it then, as they are now at their price point.

    I will stay with SSD’s onboard any machine I build in the future. Mine have been reliable, fast, pain free and overall good performers. All of mine are the 160GB variety.

  • I was an early adopter of SSD drives, paying well over $400 for my 80GB when release 3 years ago. It is great for boot up time and snappy response. It is NOT great to have as your only drive. The problem lies in the fact that installing and running apps from the same drive as where your USer data is stored will run you dry very quickly as far as storage space is concerned. There is a great resource for Windows users to remap the Users folder and the default Profile location:

    http://www.windows7hacker.com/index.php/2009/05/how-to-change-user-profile-default-location-in-windows-7/

    This might only be an opinion, but an editing rig should ALWAYS have a separate drive for video storage and video rendering. A separate drive/partition for audio and even another for a scratch-disk.

    Another option to SSD is the Western Digital Velocirpator, which now comes in a 1TB flavor, some tests have suggested that the Velociraptor exceeds an SSD for rendering. The cost is much lower per GB, so having one as your applications drive and storage of your user profiles works really well, that’s how I roll.

    Just my 1 and 3/4 cents.

  • Hi, I’ve bought a SSD today and I did some tests. Windows boot much faster, the programs start also much faster but the render time in premiere and AE is exactly the same as before. I put the OS in the new SSD and also all the video files and the projects into the SSD… So the SSD is no worthy for the render?? We have to spend a lot of money just for windows to boot faster?

    • re: Luca

      Rendering is primarily up to the processor -either CPU or GPU.

      Making a computer run better largely involves finding the biggest performance bottleneck and improving it. With DDR3 ram, i7′s, and all the other bells and whistles in modern computers, HDD’s have become (by far) the biggest performance bottleneck for most of what might be done on a computer.

      If the processor renders faster than it can write the file to the hard drive, it waits.
      If the hard drive is able to keep up with the processor, the machine will run optimally.
      But having an SSD that can write files far faster than the processor can render them wont speeds thing up. It wont encourage the process to ‘work faster’.

      If you run on a laptop, an SSD should give you a fair amount of extra battery life*. my netbook went from 8 to 9 hours.

      *SSDs are far more power efficient when reading, but writing to an SSD takes more power than a HDD. But most of what you do on a computer is reading data from disk, not writing to disk, so overall, battery life is usually extened.

  • I have a Retina MBP with a solid state drive. It’s awesome. At first, it was the deciding factor between going the non-retina route and getting a 750gb hard drive, or going the retina route and getting a (by my standards) small solid state drive. I couldn’t be happier. I can restart and log back in in under 30 seconds, programs open quickly, everything runs very smooth. I only worry that if my computer were to die, the information would be unrecoverable. I back up bimonthly so it isn’t a huge concern to me. With the Airport Extreme, I can access any size hard drive wirelessly and print wirelessly as well, so the SSD’s size never really affects me. Not to mention, the retina display is more than worth it (I could never go back to a standard definition screen).

  • Just a warning, I bought a 240gb Mercury 3G SSD, and it died 1.5 months after putting it in my Macbook Pro. It was an AMAZING speed upgrade, but sadly from what I understand, because I did a “hard restart” when it froze, the drive died completely. The SSD is currently in data recovery specialists hands, and we’ll see if I’m able to get any of my data back. $2200 at the most to recover 70 gigs of photos and videos…it’s really weird to have a price on priceless~

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