Why and How to Upgrade to SSD: A Small Business Guide

If you’re like most small business owners, you replace aging PCs and laptops with new models every five years or so. Outfitting employees with new computers can help enhance overall productivity, but doing so comes with a down side, too.

Most apparent is the cost of each new PC—a typical mainstream business model (sans monitor) costs $400 to $500. But the true cost of replacing a PC lock, stock, and barrel rises even more when you factor in migrating user applications, settings, and data from old PCs to new, particularly when the latter includes a newer version of Windows.

Even with tools that partially automate such a migration, the process can be time- and labor-intensive. The process often reveals applications or hardware (or both) that no longer work properly or that you must reinstall, re-register, or upgrade. But you can give an existing PC a significant performance boost for less cost, less effort, and less hassle than a total PC replacement it’s called an SSD upgrade.

How to Upgrade to SSD

SSDs are much smaller (and faster) than standard 3.5-inch hard drives.

Why Upgrade to an SSD?

SSD stands for Solid State Disk, and SSDs store and retrieve data on memory chips similar to the kind found in USB Flash drives. In contrast, conventional hard drives use rotating magnetic platters and a mechanical read/write arm. The upshot is that SSDs are a lot faster than hard drives. Exactly how much faster varies depending the specific situation and exactly how you measure performance, but on average an SSD can read and write data at least two or three times faster than a hard drive.

What makes an SSD such a potent upgrade is that that reading and writing data are the cornerstones of virtually everything a PC does, so the performance benefit isn’t just theoretical. It’s immediately perceptible how much less time it takes to perform common tasks such as starting your PC, launching applications, loading and copying files, and so forth.

Upgrading a laptop with an SSD comes with a fringe benefit; since SSDs use a bit less power than hard drives, it may boost battery life slightly. And because SSDs contain no moving parts, dropping an SSD-equipped laptop while it’s running probably won’t affect your data. In the case of a hard disk, such a drop almost certainly would result in data loss.

SSDs aren’t a new technology—they’ve been around for years—what’s new is their affordability relative to hard drives. A few years ago SSDs were so pricey that they appealed only to tech enthusiasts and computer speed freaks. But today you can buy an SSD for about the same price as a conventional hard drive—less than $100 in some cases (though SSDs give you many fewer GBs per dollar than hard drives—more on this in a moment).

Benefits of Upgrading to SSD: OS Stability

Aside from the performance gains, SSD upgrades offer small businesses another important benefit; a way to sidestep Microsoft’s current efforts to push them from Windows 7 to Windows 10. We recently told you how Microsoft is limiting support for Windows 7 on new PCs, and indeed will prohibit sales of new PCs with Windows 7 installed after October 31, 2016.

This effectively means than any future new PC your company buys will almost certainly run Windows 10—not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with Windows 10. But if you’d rather stick with Windows 7 (for reasons of uniformity, familiarity, or anything else), upgrading existing PCs with an SSD lets you do that for almost another four years (until support for that operating system ends on January 14, 2020).

We should add that swapping out a PC’s hard drive for an SSD will not affect Windows’ licensing status—i.e. it won’t cause any problems with Windows activation.

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