Posted on 23/2/11 by Felix Geisendörfer
If you are a developer, and you have not switched to a SSD yet, what is your excuse?
Let me explain. I've switched to an SSD a little over a week ago, and it's a different world. You know that feeling of having just bought & setup a new machine and everything still runs very fast? Well, a SSD will make every single day feel just like that, except much faster.
But I already knew that, so why has it taken me, and apparently you who is reading this, so long?
Well, my main problem was that I have a few big things on my hard disk, namely music, photos and virtual machine images. This means that I need a hard disk of ~300 GB to work comfortably. However, the SSD I was interested in only comes in 40, 60, 120, 240 and 480 GB. The 480 GB costs ~$1.580 right now.
A 240 GB SSD costs ~$520 which seems much less outrageous, but unfortunately that's still too small if it was my only disk.
So for a while, I thought I'd have to wait another 1 - 2 years before enjoying the SSD experience. That was until I came across this article which explained that you could replace your MacBook Pro's optical drive with an SSD. This means I could add an SSD to my machine without giving up the luxury of cheap mass storage.
With this in mind, I decided to get a 120 GB SSD, which is plenty of space for my core system and applications. I followed a few youtube videos for swapping out the disks, and I also placed my previous hdd in the optical bay slot since I've heard reports of hibernation problems if you put your primary disk there.
Making the new SSD my primary hard disk was easy as well. My initial attempt using time machine failed, so I simply booted up my system from the old primary hdd, and used carbon copy cloner to copy all data (excluding my music, images and vms) to my new SSD. After that I made the SSD my primary boot disk using the "Startup Disk Preference Pane" and rebooted. The whole operation took about 1-2 hours.
So how has this changed my life? First of all, boot time is incredible. Compared to Tim's mac (which is now scheduled for an upgrade ASAP as well), my machine goes from 0 to starting Photoshop in 48 seconds. Tim's machine takes 2 minutes and 50 seconds. Note: It takes about the same time for both machines to boot the kernel, but my machine is instantly ready at that point now.
Starting programs is either instant or 2-3 times faster than before. Recursive grep (using ack) is insanely fast / instant, even on big project. And git - it's a different world. If you've ever waited for minutes while running 'git gc' on a big project, an SSD turns this to seconds. Everything feels just incredibly fast.
With this in mind, what's your excuse for not treating yourself to a SSD now?
PS: If you think you would miss your optical drive: You can get an external USB one for ~$40 on Amazon. If you really need the internal one back, I guess it would take you about ~10-15 minutes to put it back in once you know the procedure.
PPS: If you're worried about the difficulty of replacing the disk: It's very easy, all you need to know is how to operate a screw driver. However, make sure you've got the right tools. The OWC disk I'm recommending comes with a set of tools if you order it with the data doubler for the optical bay.
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