Dual-drive configuration provides unique benefits

by CrucialWords on ‎09-09-2011 02:05 PM


For most computer owners, the idea of purchasing a solid state drive is a mouthwatering possibility - it offers an enormous performance boost, but seems too costly to be attainable. As a result, hard disk drives still hold a place in many new PCs because they offer such high capacities for a low price.

In a recent PC World report, a reader asks why he cannot simply deploy an HDD and SSD at the same time. According to the news source, this is among the best ways to combine the performance benefits of an SSD while enjoying the storage capacity of HDDs. The report explains that users can optimize a dual-drive configuration by putting all of the data and files, which Windows categorizes in Libraries in newer versions, in the HDD, while leaving the operating system and applications in the SSD to leverage performance gains.

How much can users gain with a dual-drive configuration?

On its own, an SSD gives users a huge boost to overall device performance. However, it would fall to logic that many of those gains would be lost in a dual-drive setup. To understand just how far these limitations go when using two drives, the report put one such configuration into action and performed a basic benchmark test to evaluate how much the new SSD impacts performance.

To begin, the test ran eight tasks using just an HDD. Doing so took approximately 220 seconds. Performing the same tasks using just an SSD took just 129 seconds. That represents a 41 percent improvement when using an SSD instead of an HDD, according to the news source.

It would not be surprising if running the dual-drive configuration created only a small improvement from an HDD. However, the news source found the dual-drive configuration took just 134 seconds, a 39 percent increase that was only 4 seconds slower than using an SSD on its own. The report's author goes out of his way to point out that even he was surprised by just how much was gained using the dual-drive setup, as the HDD only marginally slowed the SSD down when applications and the operating system were stored on the solid state drive.

Getting the right SSD

Once you have decided to go with a dual-drive configuration, the report points out that it is important to set the system up properly. The first step is to identify how large of an SSD you will need to make the configuration work well. According to the news source, a 64 GB drive was good enough to handle the applications and files for the benchmark test. However, users need to look at how large their applications and operating system are and make sure the SSD can hold as many of them as possible. For those who already have their programs on an HDD and are adding an SSD, there are applications available to help move data around between the two drives.

Installing the two drives

Typically, installing a dual-drive setup is not too difficult. Most desktops have a few ports designed to hold SSD- and HDD-sized drives, and you simply need to add the SDD in one of the ports near the HDD that is already in place. Then you simply find the correct type of plug from your power supply and attach it to the back of the drive. You then take the connector that came with your SSD to the appropriate port on your motherboard. Matching the cords correctly can often be done visually, as the types of cables are used are fairly distinctive. However, if no solution seems clear you can usually find the correct instructions in a manual or online.