SSD–The Single Best Investment You can Make In your Computer

I’ve heard for a while how much faster an SSD drive can make your computer run but I’ve had first had experience twice over the last month that proves just how true this is.

The first is on my own computer.  I have an 8 core, 16gig of ram computer.  You’d think that would be fast enough for anyone.  But, because I’m constantly compiling and running the code I’m working on, I’ve been doing a lot more waiting than I’d like.

So, I broke down and purchased an SSD drive.  I configured it so that all of the code I work on, all of my programs, and my swap disk all reside on the SSD drive.  The drive  cost about $150 and gave me 240 gig of space.

Everything else I have on my standard hard drive.  You can do a search to find out how to move the Users directory off your boot drive.

Now, my computer boots up faster in the morning.  If I need to reboot, it reboots faster.  When I load Visual Studio, I barely have to wait for it.  I have a solution with about 20 projects in it, they all load instantly.

The best part is, running my code is nearly as fast as if I were working with a scripting language.  I barely have to wait to test the changes I’ve made.  A huge increase in productivity since prior to this, waiting for my code to run would sometimes take just long enough for me to get distracted and go do something else, which would then cause me to suffer the added time of the dreaded mental “context shift” that is known to steal 15 minutes from your day.

So, when my son started talking to me about getting more memory for his gaming computer, which currently has 2gig of memory, my comment to him was, “you know, if it were me, I’d spend that money on an SSD drive first.”

Keep in mind.  He has 2gig of memory, and the reason he wanted more memory is because his games were starting to lag why they were swapping memory to virtual memory or loading additional code from the DLLs they needed.

Well, he got the drive yesterday and got it installed.  OS, swap drive, and programs on the SSD.  Data on his old drive.  And he reports, “dad was right.”  Games start faster, shutdown faster, and games that he had hesitancy problems with before now all run smoothly.

Your hard drive is the single biggest bottleneck of your computer.  If you are a developer and you think you need a new computer, you probably only really need an SSD drive.

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About Dave Bush

Dave Bush is a .NET programmer and Certified ScrumMaster who is passionate about managing risk as it relates to developing software. When he is not writing or speaking about topics related to Application Lifecycle Risk Management (ALRM), he is an example to his peers as he develops web sites in the ASP.NET environment using industry best practices.

  • David

    I would add caution here – the first priority should always be to reduce swap usage first, and for most people that means adding ram, and will also be the cheaper option.

    I agree that an SSD will give a performance boost for everyone, including swap performance, but here’s the caveat – if you have a high rate of write cycles to your swap then you may run a high risk of degrading your SSD, and especially so if it’s a cheap one.

    On your development machine, it’s likely you have made the right choice already having 16Gb ram, your swap partition has less risk of being stressed, and you get the most benefit from the ssd as you are dealing with thousands of files.

    But for your son, I think it would have been better to add 2GB or even 1GB ram (and make sure his OS can use all of it if it’s 32bit). The cost would have been a small fraction, and although it would not have improved boot/load times it would have likely solved any in-game lag. My concern is now that he will wear out this SSD prematurely and be presented with more cost later down the line which could have been put towards a better graphics card for example. I think for gamers load/save time is not such an issue as in-game performance which is largely ram bound.

  • Dave Bush

    I know there are conflicting opinions about this.

    Here is supporting documentation for saying the swap drive (yes, even on a 2gig system) not only can be, but should be, on the SSD.

    http://forum.crucial.com/t5/Solid-State-Drives-SSD/Should-the-page-file-be-on-the-SSD-or-moved-to-an-HDD/td-p/9131

    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/e7/archive/2009/05/05/support-and-q-a-for-solid-state-drives-and.aspx

    First response here: http://forums.anandtech.com/archive/index.php/t-2187621.html

    The arguments against what seems to be old information convince me that while it MAY have been an issue in the infancy of SSD drives, it no longer seems to be the great concern it was. Since I’m not a tech and don’t have any first hand experience, I’m willing to admit I may be wrong.

  • Esther

    We have the same SSD available in India at a much cheaper price :)

    Its really worth the investment

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