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Upgrading your laptop to a Solid State Drive

Solid State Drive

Solid State Drive

Have you ever been intrigued by the idea of opening up your laptop, taking the hard drive out, and replacing it with something else entirely?  In today’s post, I’m going to talk about the process I used to replace the hard drive that came with the laptop when I bought it — a 5400RPM 1 TB hard drive — with a new 1TB Solid State Drive (SSD).  Hopefully these steps will help you decide if it’s worth it to you to upgrade your hard drive to a new Solid State Drive.

What is a Solid State Drive?

In a traditional hard drive, the drive itself contains metal disks, known as platters, that spin at a certain RPM speed.  For most hard drives, they’ll spin at 5400RPM, some spin at 7200RPM, and some even spin at 10K RPM.  As they platters spin, there are parts known as drive heads that read and write data to the hard drive so it can be used or recalled later.  All of this generates heat, as well as takes time, so often the hard drive is the slowest component for why your computer runs slower.  Also, with the heat generating aspect, eventually that heat will cause degradation of the hard drive, which leads to disk crashes and loss of data.

In a Solid State Drive, or SSD, though, the hard drive is composed of memory chips instead of platters.  Since memory can be read from and written to at a much faster rate than a hard drive can be, a SSD is much faster than a hard drive, thereby improving the performance of your computer instantly for only a small investment of time and money.  The rub with SSD drives had always been that you paid more for them because of the newer technology, and that you didn’t get as much storage space with an SSD as you did with a traditional hard drive.

Replacement Steps Overview

Here is an overview of the steps I performed to replace the hard drive in my Toshiba Satellite L55D-C laptop:

  1. Research the size of the drive required and the steps to open up the laptop.
  2. Purchase the SSD drive.
  3. Clone the existing hard drive to the new SSD drive
  4. Install the new SSD drive
  5. Boot up the computer with the new drive

Most laptops have space reserved for a 2.5″ laptop hard drive.  A standard hard drive for a desktop system is bigger, usually 3.5″, but for laptops usually they are 2.5″ form factors.  A quick Google search for my laptop pointed me to all sorts of information on how to disassemble the laptop.  For the Toshiba, there are 12 Phillips screws that need to be removed and set aside. They are all the same length, but this isn’t always the case, so I suggest keeping them aligned to where the screw came out from so you can put it back in later in the same location.

The Mushkin 1TB SSD can be purchased through NewEgg or NewEgg Business.  I bought it through their Business line, for home consumers, you may need to purchase it from NewEgg.  The price on NewEgg is $259.99 for the 1TB drive.

Cloning your existing drive

There are probably a million and one ways to clone a drive, for me, the easiest way was to keep the original hard drive in the computer and connect the new SSD to the computer using an external USB -> SATA enclosure.  They make a ton of different ones, the one I have I like because you just plug the drive into it like you are putting an 8-Track tape into a player and it sits while it works.  Once you have done this and turned it on, you should be able to format the new drive so it can be read in Windows.

At this point in the operation, you’ll have your existing hard drive appearing, most often as drive C in Windows, and your new SSD showing up as a different drive letter.  At this point, download and install the program EaseUS Todo Backup Free 10.0, I’ve linked to it for you so you can grab it easily.  They have versions for Windows or Mac, I am running Windows 10 so that’s what I downloaded.

Solid State Drive

The process is fairly simple, here’s what you do:

  1. Run the program if it isn’t already running.  If prompted by User Account Control, click yes to allow the program to run.
  2. Click on the icon labeled “Clone”.
  3. The Source disk is the existing hard drive, click on that checkbox and then click next.
  4. The Target disk is the new SSD, click on the checkbox that relates to that disk and click next.
  5. You’ll see a summary of what you are doing, click Proceed.
  6. Lastly, click OK to the warning message “The data on the destination disk will be lost.  Do you want to continue?” to start the process.  Click cancel if you change your mind.

The time required will vary depending on how much data there is and the size of the disks, but it appears to work well.

After the cloning is completed, power down the laptop, open it up to get to the hard drive, and replace it with the new drive.  After that is complete, close it all back up and put the screws back in place, and lastly, boot up the system with the new solid state drive.

I have seen an incredible performance boost on my laptop by doing this, and I think it will help anyone looking to get more life and usability out of their system.  I did this specifically for my laptop, but this process also works for desktop systems with just a few variations.

If you want to discuss with me getting this done with your system, reach out to me, I’m here to help!  Call me at 919-606-6725, email me at, leave me a comment on this post, send us a Tweet, or message us on our Facebook page, whatever is easiest for you!  Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

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