Two SSD kits make disk upgrades easy

By , Computerworld |  Storage, disk drive, Imation

Be forewarned: The Acronis software is for Windows only. If you're using a Mac, the best way to do the upgrade is to make a backup of your hard drive with Time Machine -- Apple's built-in backup app. Then swap out the old hard drive for the new SSD. You'll need to start up the computer using your OS installation disk. (Just hold down the C key while restarting your Mac after you put in the DVD.) Once you've started up from the DVD, use Disk Utility to format the SSD, reinstall the OS, and when asked whether you want to restore data from a Time Machine backup, do so.

You can create your own upgrade kit a la cart by purchasing a USB-to-SATA cable separately for about $25 and then either purchasing imaging software or downloading a freeware version. Acronis' True Image software can be had for about $40. That method affords flexibility in which type of SSD you choose. However, if you're the type of person who likes pancake mix in a box, an SSD upgrade kit is a good way to go.

How to make the swap

To start the process of swapping out your old HDD for a shiny, new SSD, you need to boot your computer with the Acronis imaging CD in the drive. This brings up a main menu, allowing you to either continue on to Acronis' True Copy application or boot into your OS. Once you choose Acronis, you get a menu of items that includes Backup, Recovery, Clone Disk or "pick another tool" such as validating a backup or adding a new disk to your system.

Next, plug in the USB-to-SATA adapter cable into your computer's USB port, and attach the SATA end to the SSD drive. Then plug in the power cable and attach that to the SSD as well. (The computer's USB connection will not power the SSD; it only the powers converter on the cable.)

Using the Acronis application, I had to choose to "add another disk" to my system because I found all my drive letters were already in use when I booted my system. The process of adding that additional drive is painless; the app will take care of the task with a single mouse click. If your system has spare drive letters, you won't need to worry about it.

Next, choose "Clone Disk" from the menu. The software automatically discovers your C: drive and the SSD drive connected to the USB port. It will then ask you to choose the source drive and the target drive -- choose the C: drive as the source.

The application then shows the two drives that will be active in the cloning and asks if you want to "proceed." You do. The process of cloning is not the same as a "copying," and it will take a relatively short time to occur, depending on the amount of data on your source drive. The more data, the longer it will take. The computer will automatically shut down once the cloning is completed.

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