Laptop and Desktop SSD Update…


I recently wrote about installing SSDs in my Laptop and Desktop. I thought I would write a quick follow up post to mention how things are going.

I’m really happy with the changes to the performance of the desktop. As mentioned previously, it is now much quieter and really fast. A lot of my VMs run from the 1TB internal data drive, but the things I use most frequently are now sitting on the SSD. I’m starting to forget what life was like before SSD, except when I go to work and use the slowest PC that was ever built. :)

The laptop upgrade was a really good move. Just before my first BGOUG presentation the projector seemed to freak out my MacBook and I was forced to reboot. With the old hard drive I would have been filling while waiting for the thing to start up. As it was, it restarted in a similar time it used to take to come out of hibernation and I was moving. :)

Having done the disk swap in the laptop so close to a conference I was a little bit nervous, so in addition to the laptop I had my old 500G external drive, my new 1TB external drive and the oringial internal hard drive in my bag. Unpacking all that, along with my Nexus 7, Nexus 4 and Kindle was very time consuming and a little embarrassing. :)

If you were at all in doubt about making the move to SSD, I can definitely recommend it.



PS. I reserve the right to start moaning about it when it wears out after a few weeks. :)

Desktop SSD…


I wrote a couple of days ago about replacing my MacBook Pro hard drive with SSD. At the same time I bought a little SSD to use as the system drive for my desktop. I fitted that this morning, installed a fresh copy of Fedora 18 and mounted the original 1TB hard drive as a data drive.

Like the MacBook Pro, my desktop is a few years old, but still has plenty of grunt (Quad Core and 8G RAM) for what I need it for. I do run the odd VM on it, but any heavy stuff is run on my server, so there is no incentive to go out an buy the latest kit for what is essentially just a client PC.

The addition of the SSD means the start up time is a much better and it just feels a lot more responsive. Most apps start up almost instantly. Even GIMP, which used to take an age to start, is mega quick. I’ve put a couple of VMs on it and not surprisingly, they are fast to start up too. Overall I’m really pleased with the outcome.

The funny thing is, I never noticed how noisy spinning rust was until I switched to these SSDs. The Mac is silent and runs for a lot longer before the fan kicks in. The desktop is also silent, until I pull something from the data disk, at which point I hear that slight grinding noise. :)

I don’t think I would invest in large capacity SSDs for home until the prices drop considerably, but having witnessed the before and after results on these two old machines, I can’t imagine ever running without an SSD system disk again.



PS. While I was reconfiguring my desktop I tried out Dnsmasq. Much simpler than BIND.

Update: I worked through some of the suggestions here to enable TRIM support and reduce wear.

MacBook Pro Mid 2009 : Replacing hard drive with SSD…


I’ve had my 13″ MacBook Pro since the mid 2009 refresh and it’s been really reliable. Apart from one brief visit to Apple to replace a noisy fan, I’ve had no worries. A few years ago I upgraded from 4G  to 8G RAM, so I’m not stranger to taking the back off it.

Even though it’s quite old by computer geek standards, I really don’t have any performance problems. I do demos with a couple of Linux VMs running Oracle and it works OK. Despite this, I was bored the other night and decided to buy an SSD to replace the internal hard drive. It arrived yesterday, so during last nights insomnia, I decided to fit the hard drive, rather than stare at the ceiling.

The actual hard drive replacement is pretty simple. You can see an example of it here. It takes about 5 minutes.

The transfer of the data proved a little more tricky than I expected though…

Attempt 1:

I use Time Machine for backups, so I slapped in the new hard drive, booted from the CD and expected to just restore from Time Machine. It turns out my Time Machine backups weren’t as complete as I thought. :(

Attempt 2:

No worries. I connected my old hard drive using a USB cable, booted from the CD and used the Disk Utility to restore the old hard drive to the new SSD. That would have been fine, except the new hard drive was fractionally smaller than the old one. That would have been fine for a Time Machine backup, since the old drive was not completely full, but for an image restore it’s a big no-no. Now I was starting to get worried. I could always replace the old drive, but I was starting to think I might have wasted my money.

Attempt 3:

So finally I bit the bullet and re-installed Snow Leopard (the most recent media I had), upgraded to Lion, then Mountain Lion through the App Store. Once that was done I dragged my apps and data from the old drive across to the new drive. Job’s a good’un!

So it got solved in the end, but it wasn’t quite the blissful experience I expected. :)



Update: Thanks to Luis Marques for reminding me about TRIM, with this Twitter comment, “Tim, don’t forget to enable TRIM on SSD (if it supports it) using this  or