I’d Like To Get The Speed Everyone Says Solid State Drives provide, but I Don’t Want To Spend A Fortune On That! What Do I Do?

It’s no surprise that solid state drives outperform traditional hard drive disks in almost every department. There’s no doubt SSD are the storage we’ll be using almost exclusively in the future. However, the price tag on the SSDs can be a little bit frightening for some. The price per GB ratio generally is 10-20 times higher for SSDs that for traditional hard drives and it’s going down very slowly. Not good!

With prices like that, it’s unlikely we will be moving our MP3, photos, and movie collections to sold state disks anytime soon (unless you’ve got a few grand to spare). However, there’s a special place for SSD where it shines and the price tag seems almost reasonable – a boot drive.

 

Here’s a breakdown of what should go on an SSD and what should be left on HDD for an average computer user.


What you should have on a SSD:

1. Operating System

This makes sure your system boots, shuts down and operates very fast.

Make sure your browser’s cache file and system’s swap file are located on an SSD as well. If you have any heavy files in My Documents folder (images, music, videos)  – move those to HDD. Leave the docs on SSD – they don’t take much space but large excel spreadsheets take less time to open from an SSD.

2. Your apps (with a few exceptions)

To get all the benefits of a solid-state drive you need to install your commonly used apps on a SSD. The only exception will be your GAMES as most modern games require a lot of space (I would leave 1 or 2 games I play most often on the SSD and move the rest to HDD) AND any kind of professional software that has a MULTI-GB LIBRARY, for example, samples library for music creation software, in which case I would leave it on HDD UNLESS you’ve got a lot of money and need the ultimate speed.

3. A special folder for the files you’re currently working on

This is something I’ve found to work wonders for me and I highly recommend you try the same – create a special folder on your solid-state drive for the files you’re currently working on. Call it something like “Current Stuff”. This is where you will be putting the current files you’re working on right now – Photoshop PSD/RAW files, music samples that you’re working within a sequencer, etc. When you want to do some serious work like editing some photos in Photoshop, copy those photos from your HDD to this folder on the SSD.

Once done working with this file, just save the resulting files to your HDD and empty the “Current Stuff” folder (remember, you have copied the original files from your HDD, so they are still intact in their original location).  When you working on a picture in Photoshop for example, having this picture on a SSD disk makes editing and applying effects quite a bit smoother and the whole process becomes more enjoyable as you see the results of your work a lot faster.

 

What should be left on HDD:

1. Music

There’s no noticable difference in speed of opening the music files from SSD or HDD.

2. Videos

Same as music.

3. Games

Most of them, excluding the ones you use daily (see above).

4. Everything else

Of course, if money is not an issue for you, you can create a full-SSD system – drives up to 960Gb are available. But for most of us the questions would be – what size SSD will be enough for my needs? You can learn how to calculate the size you will need here – What Size SSD Do I Need?  Overall, it depends on your usage patterns but in general, a 128GB SSD is enough for most users.

We have compiled a list of three Solid State Drives that we consider to be the best candidates for a boot drive in terms of price and performance – you can see it at Best SSD for a Boot Drive: Top 3 Solid State Drives To Use As A System Drive.