So I have this aging Acer Aspire system, a mammoth desktop replacement with a Core i7 processor, lots of RAM, dedicated graphics, and so on.
And you know what? It's slower than molasses in Michigan in January. This was true even after I wiped the hard drive and reinstalled Windows 7. After a couple of months, it was back to taking well over five minutes to finish booting. Ridiculous!
Wondering if the hard drive might be the culprit, I asked SanDisk to let me test one of its new Extreme PRO solid-state drives. I know full well that SSDs blow the doors off mechanical drives, but I wasn't sure what kind of difference it would make on this system. I mean, it was really running slow. Surely this was yet another case of gunked-up Windows, right?
Wrong. In a nutshell: Oh. My. God. After migrating everything from the old drive to the Extreme PRO, I swapped the latter for the former and powered up -- fully expecting some kind of boot error. Instead, Windows loaded and was ready for action in about 30 seconds. Seriously. I clocked it. Not to overstate the difference, but it's like a brand new PC.
Just one wrinkle: SanDisk doesn't provide any migration software, and you won't find it with a lot of other SSDs, either. Although there are freebie utilities out there that can clone one drive to another, few of them take into account some of the complexities of the SSD as your destination -- particularly if that drive has a lower capacity than your current drive, a common scenario. (In my case, I was going from 750GB to 240GB!)
After a lot of fiddling with various cloning and migration tools, I settled on Paragon Migrate OS to SSD 4.0. Needless to say, it's designed expressly for this purpose. And although it normally sells for $19.95, you can get it for $15.96 when you apply coupon code paragonsmartpon at checkout.
The beauty of this tool is its simplicity. It's designed to copy only system and boot partitions, meaning you should have a much easier time moving to a smaller drive. However, in my case, the system partition also had all my data, in which case Migrate OS lets you pick and choose folders to leave out.
I'm only scratching the surface of the whole migration-to-SSD process. If you want to learn more, CNET's Dong Ngo has a great migration tutorial. I'll simply leave you with two facts: SanDisk's Extreme PRO can make a pokey old PC feel amazingly fast and fresh, and Paragon Migrate OS to SSD 4.0 is worth paying for -- especially if you can save a few bucks on it. Thanks to yours truly, you can!
Bonus deal: Starting at 9 a.m. PT today, HTC will have a limited quantity of the Google Nexus 9 (16GB) for $199, a full 50 percent off the regular price. Once that supply is gone (and no doubt it will be quickly), you'll still be able to save $50 on the Nexus 9 (16GB or 32GB). Check out , a premium Android tablet if ever there was one.
Bonus deal No. 2: Need to back up your photos, videos and other phone/tablet media? For new customers only, iDrive is offering unlimited cloud storage for just $4.99 per year, a price that allows for up to five Android and/or iOS devices. You'll actually sign up for this in-app, so just install it wherever you want to get started and create a new account. That's a pretty generous helping of mobile storage for a five-spot!
Bonus deal No. 3: You know how I love Roku boxes, right? And you know how I love contests. Well, here's both wrapped into one! All you have to do is watch at least one episode of Geek Vs. Geek (season two just kicked off; here's my favorite episode from season one), then share it with your Twitter peeps using hashtag #GvG. (Here are the full rules.) Do that and you could win a Roku Streaming Stick (which you can then use to stream more episodes of Geek Vs. Geek, natch).