Case of slow notebook

Sometime ago, my relative asked me what it is possible to do with her notebook to make it faster. This notebook was relatively old as it is about 5 years old and my first reaction was to say: “buy new one” but I am trying to be professional, so I decided to check it first. Even notebook was old, it was not bad. It has 4K monitor, secondary graphics card and relatively fast CPU. So, I asked what exactly a problem is. And after short discussion I realized that there are small operations that takes time, like opening new tab in the browser, opening some project file etc. Also, starting it will take quite some time and in general feels unresponsive.

After playing with notebook I did realize that that it is mostly disk bound and not a CPU bound. That notebook has 1 Tb HDD because 5 years ago SSDs were expensive and one of the requirements was plenty of space. I did try to remove applications from auto start, but there were mostly applications that have to be there. And even quite some time after start, notebook still feels slow and non-responsive.

And as result I decided to buy SSD and replace internal HDD. This was Dell notebook and I was able to find quite good instruction on how replace different parts of that notebook and requires just remove back plate and battery. Then I decided to buy Samsung 860 EVO 1TB because this would be way simpler to transfer all data and there will be plenty space for further growth.

But there was important decision to be made. I personally in this case always reinstall windows on new disk. It is good opportunity to have fresh start and it usually speeds up computer because very often programs fail to uninstall correctly and sometime some bits are still running somewhere. Or some installer changed some file associations and fail to remove them. Or something else. It always the case. But in this case, I got clear signal from my relative that it would be quite painful and will disrupt a lot of work.

So, I have to clone disk to disk. I did some research and I found application called Clonezilla (https://clonezilla.org). I did remember that I saw Clonezilla used by some IT guys. And I decided to give it a try. It turns out it is really simple to use. All you need is to download zip file, extract to USB flash drive, and then make it bootable. Then boot from it, select to clone device to device and it will boot you to custom Linux. Then select source disk and destination and in less than two hours disk was cloned.

And I have to say, difference was amazing. With HDD, notebook takes about 90 seconds to start and even then, it will feel very slow and not responsive for like 10 minutes. Now it boots in less than 10 seconds and everything works really snappy. All applications start very quickly, and it looks like notebook got whole new life.

And then I did realize that probably nobody really testing Windows 10 on hard drives anymore. I meant Microsoft make sure that Windows 10 will still work on them, but I believe that their “typical computer” has SSD these days. And I believe other companies did the same choice. After all, SSDs are way cheaper now and thanks to clouds space is not that big issue anymore. And as result nobody cares about performance on HDD anymore.

So, if you have similar case try to replace HDD to SSD and perhaps your notebook will get new life too. But before you doing that make sure that it has HDD and then check that SSD will fit and check that it is easy to replace. I had Dell notebook that requires disassembly pretty much everything to replace disk.

I hope it helps someone.

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