With the low price of Netbooks, forking out on an SSD is going to cost anywhere between one-quarter to half the price of the Netbook. Regardless of how often the Netbook is used, this article will aim to show many of the advantages of replacing its hard disk with an SSD.
While Netbooks seem to perform fine while browsing most websites and editing documents, they are rather sluggish at booting up, launching applications and installing updates. From experience, during most of the sluggish periods, the hard disk LED is either on solid of flashing a lot during this period, which is fairly clear that the hard disk is holding it back.
Unlike a desktop PC, where the difference between an SSD and HDD may be just a few seconds, the 2.5” HDD in Netbooks are generally very slow performing, so an SSD will give a much more significant boost over replacing a desktop HDD and even get rid of most of the sluggish feel that some users falsely blame on the Atom CPU. In fact, most SSDs on sale are 2.5” SATA, making them ideal HDD replacements, unlike high performance desktop HDDs such as the Raptor, which obviously cannot fit in a laptop or Netbook.
Despite what most would assume, those who just use a Netbook on occasion would get the biggest benefit. For example, if a Netbook is put away for a month or two, the next time it is powered up, the user will be faced with updates such as for Adobe Reader, Flash, Java and Firefox depending on the software they use, not to mention a string of Windows updates. This can be quite annoying if the user just opens up the e-mail to quickly look something up! While updates will still been to be installed with an SSD, the SSD will potentially cut the installation times to like or better than that on a high end desktop PC, due to must of the disk-intensive installations consuming very little CPU usage.
For the size, we would suggest a 32GB or 40GB, especially for a Netbook that is mainly used for web browsing or document viewing/editing. A clean installation of Windows XP, with the swap and hibernation files takes around 4GB. Add another 1GB for an office package. This leaves 25GB to 30GB of free space for carrying documents, photos and even a few movies. My Samsung NC120 had just under 10GB of HDD space used when bought new, which would easily fit on a 32GB SSD. A clean installation of Windows 7 32-bit uses under 10GB.
Consider an SSD laptop kit that comes with partition cloning software, as this will make it straight forward to transfer the existing content to the SSD, without having to do a clean installation. For example the Kingston SSDNow V kit comes with an external USB case to place the laptop HDD into to allow the transfer and also includes the cloning software.
The existing 160GB+ HDD could be placed/kept in a USB HDD and used to carry bulky content that does not need to be accessed often, such as backing up memory cards or carrying a selection of movies while away from home.
If 32GB seems too tiny, please have a think about all the content that will be used while travelling. For example, only take with content that will be used, rather than trying to bring a bulky full or partial collection to decide later.
Personally, I had a 4GB EEE for my first year of travelling and got on fine with the tiny storage. I mainly used it for web browsing and document editing and when I got to sit down somewhere to watch TV, I plugged in an external USB HDD and watched my recordings from it. What eventually made me upgrade to a newer laptop was the low resolution screen, limited speed and cramped keyboard.