SSD hard drive technology is extremely fast in terms of reading data. It can either optimise a PC that is usually dedicated to video games with premium features, such as 4K or 3D, or revitalise an old PC or Mac. Most importantly, the computer can be adapted to accommodate a standard 3.5″ desktop or a 2.5″ laptop hard drive.
What is the procedure to be followed?
Changing a hard drive requires several steps. It can be done by yourself or by a professional. There are several things you should know before having a go at this task, in particular, including software that allows copying from one hard drive to another if you want to keep your regular working environment. In addition, you may need more specific software if you intend to copy a Macintosh hard drive (a PC can copy Macintosh hard drives) because the purpose of the drive-to-drive copy is that the software knows how to copy correctly the so-called partitions.
In the case of Macintosh, these are partitions of the HFS+ type, while Windows partitions are of the NTFS type. Generally, it is best to have a desktop PC running Windows (7, 8 or 10) to perform the operation because you may actually use the original PC drive to work with the copying software. This is then used to copy to the replacement drive or to copy the laptop drive to the SSD that will replace it.
The choice of copying software is important
There are several choices of copying software. In practice, to replace the internal drive of a PC or a PC-type laptop, you can find solid state hard drives including a special kit with the right software and the adequate small cable to be used in the operation. But this is generally a little more expensive. To copy a Macintosh drive, after several attempts made by professionals, Paragon Drive Copy Professional and Acronis True Image turned out to be the only ones able to successfully copy the partition. Indeed, they allowed starting the Mac with the new hard drive in place of the old drive without any problem at all, doing nothing else than replacing one with the other after copying.
What is left now is to choose the appropriate hard drive and install it in place of the old one.
Selecting the hard drive
- In most cases, no matter whether desktop or laptop, Serial-ATA or “SATA” connection interfaces are found, so that it is easy to use a desktop PC for the copying procedure, because they usually have at least 4 SATA ports.
- You can also use an SSD memory of MLC or TLC type. An MLC memory is generally much more reliable even if it is more expensive (some manufacturers warranty their MLC drives for up to 10 years).
- Please note that in the case of kits for laptops or PCs, there are hard drives delivered with an USB cable that can be used to connect the new hard drive. A “bootable CD” performs the copying operations. This option exists for both PC and Mac, but it is worthwhile checking before purchasing.
Replacing the hard drive
- In all cases, the replacement of the hard drive requires the use of a screwdriver. You should start by opening the case after turning off the PC, having disconnected it from the mains or removing the battery, if it is a laptop.
- To connect the hard drive, see the information about connection and precautions, usually contained in the booklet included in the hard drive box.
- Regarding the replacement kits, the documentation should be sufficiently complete to allow you to understand how to perform the operation.
Olivier Pavie is a French technologist, journalist and writer, expert in High Tech and information systems. He has been published in German, Italian and English. On Ontrack’s blog, he shares news related to data recovery and hard drives.