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John Mitchell

SSD or HDD?

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With support for Windows 7 ending in January 2020, I'm faced with having to upgrade my ageing PC (it's time) to a Windows 10 machine. Most of the new PC's have SSD's (solid state drives). Are they really that much better than conventional hard drives? I don't have a lot to spend, so I'm currently looking at a refurbished Dell with 16 GB of RAM and a 4-core processor. The price is right ($360 CAN), and it gets very good reviews, but the SSD is only 240 GB, which is not a lot of storage compared to my current HD. Puny storage capacity seems to be the main drawback to SSD's.

Edited by John Mitchell

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Since time immemorial I have had more than one disc in every PC I've used. I normally have one smallish disc for the OS and applications, and one or more much larger discs for data. Last year I added a new PC to my line-up which for the first time was an up-to-date model, built around a Ryzen processor - in the past I have always been behind the curve because it was so much cheaper to buy yesteryear's technology. The reason for the change was my recently-acquired enthusiasm for video and music production and I needed a fast modern computer on which to do all my creative work while keeping the old ones for more mundane tasks.

 

It was recommended that I have an SSD for my OS/application drive (I didn't need much persuading) which is actually 500GB but is less than half full, and I added a 3TB hard drive for data. As well as the OS and all my applications the SSD has nearly 100GB of music samples but the disc still has less than 200GB on it so if you're not doing the same intensive work that I'm doing 240GB should be enough. I would imagine that it would be easy enough for you to add another drive - I can't imagine any PC not having that capability (though of course I might be wrong).

 

Alan

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29 minutes ago, Inchiquin said:

Since time immemorial I have had more than one disc in every PC I've used. I normally have one smallish disc for the OS and applications, and one or more much larger discs for data. Last year I added a new PC to my line-up which for the first time was an up-to-date model, built around a Ryzen processor - in the past I have always been behind the curve because it was so much cheaper to buy yesteryear's technology. The reason for the change was my recently-acquired enthusiasm for video and music production and I needed a fast modern computer on which to do all my creative work while keeping the old ones for more mundane tasks.

 

It was recommended that I have an SSD for my OS/application drive (I didn't need much persuading) which is actually 500GB but is less than half full, and I added a 3TB hard drive for data. As well as the OS and all my applications the SSD has nearly 100GB of music samples but the disc still has less than 200GB on it so if you're not doing the same intensive work that I'm doing 240GB should be enough. I would imagine that it would be easy enough for you to add another drive - I can't imagine any PC not having that capability (though of course I might be wrong).

 

Alan

 

Thanks, Alan. I'm noticing now that some of the refurbished Dell's (and other makes) come with both SSD and HDD drives (1 or 2 TB). That would seem to be the way to go, or add a conventional HDD as you suggest. I agree, it's much cheaper to stay on the receding edge of technology.

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My Mac has what they call a fusion drive which is a SSD and HDD that work together. I have 128GB of SSD and 3TB of HDD. Its smart  enough to put the files you are using on the SSD for rapid access and it works a treat. Its very unusual for me to get the beach ball (equivalent of the Windows sand timer). My mac is 2013 so there must be something similar for Windows. Wikipedia tells me that fusion drive is Macspeak for hybrid drive.

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3 hours ago, Colin Woods said:

My Mac has what they call a fusion drive which is a SSD and HDD that work together. I have 128GB of SSD and 3TB of HDD. Its smart  enough to put the files you are using on the SSD for rapid access and it works a treat. Its very unusual for me to get the beach ball (equivalent of the Windows sand timer). My mac is 2013 so there must be something similar for Windows. Wikipedia tells me that fusion drive is Macspeak for hybrid drive.

 

Wasn't familiar with the terms "hybrid drive" and "sand timer". Thanks. I'll have to do some more research before the January sales (which seem to be here already).

 

P.S. I found this article on hybrid drives. I wonder if I really need one, though. It sounds as if they might be designed primarily for "gamers", and the only game I play these days is the Alamy game. B)

 

P.P.S. A refurbished PC with a traditional 1 TB is considerably cheaper than one with both drives.

Edited by John Mitchell

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If within your budget aim for for a PC with an SSD. Once you've used an SSD you will never want to return to the older spinning platter HD. There are 2 types of SSD's used in PC's, SATA 2.5" and smaller and slightly faster M2 types. I suspect a refurb would typically have a SATA 2.5" SSD. SSD prices have dropped considerably, so it's more likely that current PC models would have larger SSD's fitted than a refurb. Personally I use Mac's, my 'desk' Mac is a 2012 15" i7 quad core MacBook Pro with 16GB memory and 1TB + 500GB SSD's and hi-res AG display. Quite adequate for my use. BTW, I have previously been disappointed with the performance of hybrid HD's, they never seemed to live up to the manufactures claims.

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5 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

 

P.P.S. A refurbished PC with a traditional 1 TB is considerably cheaper than one with both drives.

 

 

My photography drive is already using well over 1TB.

 

Alan

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9 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

I wonder if I really need one, though.

 

8 hours ago, sb photos said:

I have previously been disappointed with the performance of hybrid HD's, they never seemed to live up to the manufactures claims.

I am not sure what the claims were but I know that here I can have Photoshop open along with various internet tabs, Excel or Word. Itunes, etc and the whole thing just buzzes along with never a pause,

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19 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

With support for Windows 7 ending in January 2020, I'm faced with having to upgrade my ageing PC (it's time) to a Windows 10 machine. Most of the new PC's have SSD's (solid state drives). Are they really that much better than conventional hard drives? I don't have a lot to spend, so I'm currently looking at a refurbished Dell with 16 GB of RAM and a 4-core processor. The price is right ($360 CAN), and it gets very good reviews, but the SSD is only 240 GB, which is not a lot of storage compared to my current HD. Puny storage capacity seems to be the main drawback to SSD's.

 

My desktop Mac has a fast 500GB SSD which serves as a working drive but all my data (approaching 16TB now) is on external drives. Because of the speed of external desktop drives there is no real need nowadays for big internal drives. The 240GB would be sufficient as long as you are prepared to invest in an external drive. What type of external drive would depend on the technology of the computer but USB3 drives are more than fast enough for rapid storage and retrieval and not very expensive for a 4 or 8TB. I did some tests a few years ago comparing speeds of SSD, Thunderbolt 2 (Mac only I think) and USB 3 for opening and saving sets of raw files into Photoshop and the surprising finding was that the only major difference was in the time saving the files where SSD was the fastest. So assuming the machine is in decent condition and the 16GB of RAM is upgradeable if required at some point, then that might be a good buy.

 

4 hours ago, Colin Woods said:

 

I am not sure what the claims were but I know that here I can have Photoshop open along with various internet tabs, Excel or Word. Itunes, etc and the whole thing just buzzes along with never a pause,

 

The number of apps you can have open at any one time is determined mainly by the RAM and not the drive speed or capacity. Adequate amounts of RAM is also very important for smooth running of Photoshop.

 

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11 hours ago, Inchiquin said:

 

My photography drive is already using well over 1TB.

 

Alan

 

My current PC has a 500 MB  GB (Whoops!) drive . I transfer my images to external drives, keeping only recent-ish ones on my internal HD. Still it can start to fill up quite quickly.

Edited by John Mitchell

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Thanks for all the very helpful feedback. I've pretty much decided on getting something with a hybrid drive. There seem to be lots of refurbished PC's out there in my price range. Most of them seem to be made by Dell, HP, or Lenovo, which I suppose are all fairly similar quality-wise.  The Dell's seem to have the best warranties.

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Space is a factor also, I prefer the tower design as opposed to the desktop as they are much easier to access and generally have more room inside for extra drives, installing memory etc. Mine is from HP and really nicely made, but Windows 7 64-bit. I'm going to have to think about what to do also though I don't relish Windows 10.

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Hello forum!

 

It is good to have (at least) two disks: fast SSD for operation system and applications  and slow, but high capacity HDD for multimedia and other data. You can buy these days SSD up to 4TB (in 2.5" format enclosure), but they cost about 400 Euro. For that price you can get 12 TB HDD.

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37 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

Space is a factor also, I prefer the tower design as opposed to the desktop as they are much easier to access and generally have more room inside for extra drives, installing memory etc. Mine is from HP and really nicely made, but Windows 7 64-bit. I'm going to have to think about what to do also though I don't relish Windows 10.

 

Yes, I prefer the tower format for the same reasons. I had an HP tower that fried (literally) about 15 years ago. Have they improved? I bought a new HP inkjet printer this year and and am impressed at how much better it is than the last one (also an HP) I owned.

 

I'm not too freaked about Windows 10, although I'd happily stick with 7 Pro. It's all the headaches that inevitably come with setting up a new computer that I don't look forward to.

Edited by John Mitchell

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Our current Win7 laptop is an HP, but I wouldn't get another HP--it has a lot of bloatware that seems to really slow it down (esp startup). My plan is to get a Win10 laptop (Dell, Lenovo or Cyberpower). Then I'll try to install Win10 on my well-spec'd 2012 Cyberpower desktop--should work.

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23 minutes ago, Bill Kuta said:

Our current Win7 laptop is an HP, but I wouldn't get another HP--it has a lot of bloatware that seems to really slow it down (esp startup). My plan is to get a Win10 laptop (Dell, Lenovo or Cyberpower). Then I'll try to install Win10 on my well-spec'd 2012 Cyberpower desktop--should work.

 

The last HP desktop tower that I bought came with masses of bloatware that I never used and had trouble getting rid of, discouraging me from ever buying another HP. I wonder if Dell or Lenovo is any better, though. My current bare bones PC was assembled locally, and it's the best computer I've ever owned. No bloatware at all when I picked it up used.

Edited by John Mitchell

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31 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

The last HP desktop tower that I bought came with masses of bloatware

Odd, mine had none of that, just a straight business machine with no frills, a Z400, but it was secondhand and I did a fresh install so maybe I stripped away the rubbish, I can't remember.

 

47 minutes ago, Bill Kuta said:

Our current Win7 laptop is an HP, but I wouldn't get another HP--it has a lot of bloatware that seems to really slow it down

 

Yes, now you come to mention it my wife's old HP Vista laptop was almost unusable, but a lot of that was probably down to Vista. I've always liked Lenovo for laptops, business models, T21p and T61p, but I've lost track of what they are like now, I don't use a laptop for images though, except if I'm away from home. I think I'd get a Mac laptop now, though not a current model.

 

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1 hour ago, Harry Harrison said:

Odd, mine had none of that, just a straight business machine with no frills, a Z400, but it was secondhand and I did a fresh install so maybe I stripped away the rubbish, I can't remember.

 

 

Yes, now you come to mention it my wife's old HP Vista laptop was almost unusable, but a lot of that was probably down to Vista. I've always liked Lenovo for laptops, business models, T21p and T61p, but I've lost track of what they are like now, I don't use a laptop for images though, except if I'm away from home. I think I'd get a Mac laptop now, though not a current model.

 

 

Vista was a total disaster. I didn't even know what all the junk on my HP (bought new) was. I wonder what Lenovo desktop towers are like. I believe they're made in China, but what isn't these days...

 

 

Edited by John Mitchell
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I use a desktop PC as my main computer.  I try to keep everything on local drives, backed up to removable drives.  I currently have 10 internal hard drives, of which 4 are SSDs.  My images (now over 600,000) are on the normal hard drives.  The main OS and programmes are on one of the SSD drives, as is my Lightroom catalogue (it has its own dedicated SSD drive).  This is pushing internal drive capacity and power supply to the limit, but it works for me.  

 

Everywhere one hears that SSD drives are a panacea for speed of performance, particularly Lightroom, which even in the best set up system often seems to limp along at the pace of a lethargic snail.  Despite the OS and catalogue being on SSDs and there being plenty of free disk space (performance of SSDs degrades if they are allowed to become too full), Lightroom's performance over the last couple of weeks has dropped from the barely acceptable to the totally intolerable.  I therefore checked my system (which is a high end i9 Windows 10 build with plenty of RAM optimised for graphics uses and a good graphics card with 4GB VRAM), and found that the SSD TRIM command had been turned off, I do not know how.  Having downloaded a couple of small SSD optimisation utilities and forced TRIM to run, I have found that Lightroom is now much faster, approaching the heady heights of more or less acceptable levels of speeds most of the time (or at least not too intolerable).

 

The moral of all this is yes, do use SSDs if you can for your OS and catalogues, but do remember that they need TLC and performance can degrade over time for no immediately obvious apparent reason.  It can well repay your time if occasionally you check to see that performance continues to be optimised.

 

Graham

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13 minutes ago, Graham said:

I currently have 10 internal hard drives, of which 4 are SSDs. 

 

Respect! I didn't even know that was possible.

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1 hour ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Vista was a total disaster. I didn't even know what all the junk on my HP (bought new) was. I wonder what Lenovo desktop towers are like. I believe they're made in China, but what isn't these days...

 

 

 

MacPros are made in Texas. The latest ones are unbelievably expensive. 

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5 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

My current bare bones PC was assembled locally, and it's the best computer I've ever owned. No bloatware at all when I picked it up used.

 

That's why I have a Cyberpower desktop pc--they don't put any junk on their systems.

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On 23/12/2019 at 17:13, John Mitchell said:

 

Thanks, Alan. I'm noticing now that some of the refurbished Dell's (and other makes) come with both SSD and HDD drives (1 or 2 TB). That would seem to be the way to go, or add a conventional HDD as you suggest. I agree, it's much cheaper to stay on the receding edge of technology.

 

I have a Dell Inspiron 5570 and added a M.2 SSD 500GB.  It boots much much faster.  The data files on are a 2 TB slow spinning drive that came with the machine.   Also added more memory.   It's a bit faster than my Late 2015 iMac.   If you've got a good external display, then use the laptop's screen for tools and the better display for editing photographs. 

SSD drive should be between 250 GB and 1 TB (prices have come down, but 500 GB is probably the sweet spot).  Only problem with my Dell Aspire 5570  is the screen, which can be upgraded though a site that ships replacement screens and necessary tools, but mheh, get a model with a decent display if you don't have a display you can use.   

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7 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

 

The last HP desktop tower that I bought came with masses of bloatware that I never used and had trouble getting rid of, discouraging me from ever buying another HP. I wonder if Dell or Lenovo is any better, though. My current bare bones PC was assembled locally, and it's the best computer I've ever owned. No bloatware at all when I picked it up used.

 

I suspect that most all mid-size/major PC builders of W10 systems come loaded with bloatware.  I purchased a new Dell small slimline desktop W10 PC some months ago for running amateur radio applications. It ran OK but was loaded with bloatware.  But I removed it without much effort and its been flawless  YouTube has many helpful debloating technique videos and there's even a script tool on GitHub to download for debloating W10 systems.

 

https://github.com/Sycnex/Windows10Debloater

 

In the future any new systems here will have no internal HDDs even for our modest data storage need if possible.  SSD prices are coming down and are becoming attractive for mass storage use - especially when the SSDs long life is factored in.   It can be expected for SSD's to last decades even with continuous data writing - or until a newer cheaper technology obsoletes them.  With the removal of the most failure prone component in small systems - the electro-mechanical HDDs -  a major failure point in small systems is removed.

 

https://www.ontrack.com/blog/2018/02/07/how-long-do-ssds-really-last/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Phil

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5 hours ago, Phil said:

 

 I purchased a new Dell small slimline desktop W10 PC some months ago for running amateur radio applications.

 

 

Been a Mac user since around 1991, I have a bootcamp partition running W10, also used for amateur radio, SDR transceiver control, a USB oscilloscope, logging and a few other uses. Re photography, all my applications run under macOS. It is also useful keeping familiar with Windows. My last Windows box was an old Dell tower running XP, dumped some time back, now the same is starting to happen with W7 PC's

Edited by sb photos

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