Following your suggestions, I replaced my laptop’s hard drive with a solid state drive, and as you said, the computer now runs so much faster. It bothers me to have this old hard drive lying around, however. Is there something I can do to use it for some purpose, so it’s not just wasted?
Congratulations on speeding up your laptop! Installing a solid state drive (SSD) can make a huge difference in the performance of the computer. (The other step you can take to improve a laptop’s performance is to increase the amount of random access memory, or RAM, in the computer. There is a reasonable limit to how much you need: 8 gigabytes, or 8GB) is enough for most people, we think, but 16GB is even better. More than that, for most users, is overkill. Not all computers allow you to replace the RAM. Check with your manufacturer’s Web site before upgrading.)
If you are able to replace the hard drive in your computer with a faster SSD, you’re left with the old hard drive just sitting around, doing nothing for you. Assuming that your laptop was built within the last 10 years or so, you can usually buy an inexpensive enclosure for the hard drive, insert your hard drive into the enclosure, connect it to your computer using a USB port, and use it as a backup drive. The enclosure should come with a USB cable, but if you have a USB cable that matches the standard port connector you’ll find on the enclosure, you can use that as well.
Note that the USB specification took a major upgrade a few years back: USB 3 is a much faster connection than USB 2, in terms of data throughput. If your computer provides any USB 3 ports, you’ll definitely want to make sure that the drive enclosure you find supports USB 3—the connection speed between the drive and your computer will be around ten times as fast than it would be with USB 2. Using a USB 3 drive enclosure and port, you’ll find that you can even boot your computer from the external drive with reasonable success, as long as your computer supports this (and most do).
We’ve had good luck with USB 3 drive enclosures from Orico (search on Amazon.com for more information). Don’t let that replaced hard drive languish in the “dead hardware” drawer—give it some new life by plopping it into an external drive enclosure and back up, store audio/video media, and more using the spare drive.