hard drive - Should I install my operating system on my SSD or HDD?

18
2014-04
  • Tom Squires

    I'm currently deciding whether to install my Operating System on my SSD (solid state drive) or HD (hard drive). Will I be having programs on the HDD and the OS on the SSD or vice verca? Which will have the greatest affect on performance?

    My current thinking is that installing the OS on the SSD would only increase load speed but not the running speed since the OS is loaded into memory.

    Any thoughts?

  • Answers
  • Breakthrough

    You are correct, your OS will only boot up faster with a solid-state drive. That being said, if you perform any operating system related task that needs to retrieve data from the drive, it will be much faster then if your OS was on the HDD.

    The whole point of a solid-state drive is to decrease application loading times, and that's it for most users. This is more due to the lower seek time rather then the faster transfer rate, which makes it more like RAM (good sustained and random transfer rates). In fact, some users would be better off getting more RAM then a solid-state drive - but that always depends on your needs as the user.

    That being said, the main storage device (SSD or HDD) is always the bottleneck of any computer system. While SSDs help to alleviate this bottleneck, new ones are still only ~1/40th the speed of RAM. For example, some memory bandwidth in newer computers has reached over 20,000 MB/s versus some new SSDs which top out at just over 500 MB/s.

    You can also use it for the increased sustained transfer speed, but that only applies if you deal with very large file transfers with, for example, video encoding.


    For the fastest experience with your computer, install your OS on the solid-state drive, but do remember to make frequent backups. Yes, it will mostly affect just your load times, but again, that's why you put data on a solid-state drive in the first place. They are not meant for storage of large amounts of data, just your OS/programs/games only.

    Finally, since most SSDs have a smaller capacity then hard drives, you may wish to "lighten" your OS install by not installing as many packages (if you use a package-based Linux distro), or using a utility to remove components from the installation media (if you use Windows).

  • sblair

    While it's true that an SSD will significantly help boot speeds compared to a HDD, the radically faster random read and write speeds will also make a noticeable improvement to general computer use, such as when loading programs (if they are installed on the SSD), general multitasking, and writing to the page file (if enabled).

    As for what programs to install on the SSD or HDD, this is covered by some existing questions:


  • Related Question

    hard drive - 10,000 RPM HDD (WD VelociRaptor) vs SSD for OS?
  • GiH

    I currently have a 10,00RPM 150GB Raptor that I use for Vista. I'm about to upgrade to Windows 7, and while doing that I thought I'd buy another drive and install Ubuntu 9.10 on it. I don't want to partition the current drive I have, but I don't need 150GB for another OS.

    So, I'm having trouble deciding whether its worth it to buy a 64 GB SSD at the same price point as the 150GB WD VelociRaptor? Or should I just get a 7,200 RPM drive for really cheap (around $50)?

    Would it be better to use an SSD for the OS than a mechanical drive? I could always get a 32GB SSD too...

    Oh, and I don't want to virtualize Ubuntu because I'm going to be testing to see the differences in networking and overall performance.


  • Related Answers
  • sblair

    You should definitely use an SSD for the OS(s) you use the most, if you can afford to. As Drake mentions, the various drives differ in speeds, so it's worth checking the reviews to make sure you are getting decent value for money. Also, smaller SSDs will tend to be slower because there is less free space for the controller to manage the drive.

  • th3dude

    Look, these types of questions are very general and hard to answer.

    First, that's great that you're running Vista on your Raptor and upgrading it to Win7.

    As for a second OS HDD, if you like your Raptor, stick with it and grab another.

    Having said that, many of the higher-end SDD's are fantastic and lightning fast. However, the lower-end ones may leave you wanting a lot more. You just need to do your research on different drives and see what fits your needs/budget the best.

    Check out newegg reviews and tomshardware for starters.

  • osij2is

    So, I'm having trouble deciding whether its worth it to buy a 64 GB SSD at the same price point as the 150GB WD VelociRaptor? Or should I just get a 7,200 RPM drive for really cheap (around $50)?

    Would it be better to use an SSD for the OS than a mechanical drive? I could always get a 32GB SSD too...

    Well, since you really didn't supply us with intent or how you plan to use the drive, SSD is far superior than mechanical drives. But these days, unless you're in dire need of some serious I/O, I'd stay away from SSD as the technology isn't quite as mature as good ol' spinning plate hard drives. From micro controller issues to write heavy wearing, there are numerous stories of issues with SSDs, granted they could be in the minority of all SSD owners.

    So storage size seems less important to you so I'd say if money is no object, another Raptor wouldn't hurt. If money is a factor, any 7200rpm drive with 16/32MB cache should do just fine.