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Need Recommendations For New 500 GB 2.5 Inch Internal SSD And Cloning Software

Need Recommendations For New 500 GB 2.5 Inch Internal SSD And Cloning Software

Old Aug 15, 13, 12:59 am
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Need Recommendations For New 500 GB 2.5 Inch Internal SSD And Cloning Software

There have been a few threads here that have discussed SSDs, some of them using terms I can barely understand.

I have a 2.5 inch 256 GB internal SSD on my Sony F series i7 laptop. It's a Toshiba OEM model.

There are lots of possibilities on Amazon including this one which seems to be a successor to what I already own. Nevertheless, I have heard of other names like Seagate, Samsung, OCZ, Crucial, Sandisk and even Intel. So many choices with no idea which is better.

Also, I will have to clone the existing SSD before I can put in the new one. I own at least one USB external enclosure and a SATA-to-USB cable. Do I need a specific program? I already own CMS Bounce Back Ultimate 11. Would this work or should I get something else? (I see some SSDs are sold with cloning software.)

Also, are there any special steps that have to be done or once you copy the drive you just install the new one?
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Old Aug 15, 13, 1:48 am
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Originally Posted by Landing Gear View Post
There have been a few threads here that have discussed SSDs, some of them using terms I can barely understand.

I have a 2.5 inch 256 GB internal SSD on my Sony F series i7 laptop. It's a Toshiba OEM model.

There are lots of possibilities on Amazon including this one which seems to be a successor to what I already own. Nevertheless, I have heard of other names like Seagate, Samsung, OCZ, Crucial, Sandisk and even Intel. So many choices with no idea which is better.
First, the tl;dr: there are a lot of choices. For most people, the differences don't matter. Choose on price and warranty length. If the last 32gb matters, perhaps ignore the 480gb drives. $519 a little on the pricy for a 480gb-512gb drive, but not unreasonable

If there is another one you're looking at and would like an opinion on, feel free to drop a few more links.

Longer answer: price, reliability, speed. Which is more important to you? Which is second? Which is least? There is also some impact to battery life differences, although it's less well documented.

The model I'd have recommended first as a good balance of performance and reliablity has been discontinued (Intel 520 series 480gb and when still available in channel is badly overpriced); the replacement (530-series) is not yet available.

At a really high level, virtually every brand sells a "slower" and a "faster" model, using different grades of flash (there are more than two; a few brands sell more than two grades in their line, but most pick two.) This will mainly be visible only if you're writing very large blocks of data at once, where the faster grades will write at least somewhat faster and in some cases, much much faster.

There are differences between controller models. If you're a very heavy user (especially in terms of the write performance you need), you'll want to read up on the differences. Heavy writes means you write out multigigabyte files and the difference between 200MB/second writes and 500MB/second writes sounds like an important thing rather than "OMG, those are both extremely fast" (remember that a wired ethernet cable is 1Gbit or 100-125MB/sec, so there are relatively few ways to copy stuff onto your machine as fast as even the slower drives.)

I've dealt with too many models at work and seen quirks to pretty much ALL of them to have a really emphatic recommendation for any of the others I've worked with. At the same time, the workloads we're dealing with count as "abusive" by most standards, so they're not very instructive of whether most people would notice the difference.

In the absence of an Intel 480gb I can recommend highly, three worth looking at:
Corsair Force GS 480gb -- $420, uses the same Sandforce controller as the Intel, and for one of the second-tier companies Corsair has probably got the best customer service if you do hit a problem. Very fast for "normal" workloads not involving a lot of compressed data, and less prone to the "I'm full" slowdown that Samsung and some others get. This is a very mature controller, with the firmware bugs worked out of it long since.

Samsung 840 Series 500gb -- $319 probably the slowest drive you're likely to look at, but fine for most users, and cheap as anything else... plus Samsung has an excellent reputation for reliability. This is being replaced with a newer model, the 840 EVO, which may be faster but is brand new and slightly faster -- I'd wait a few months for the firmware bugs to be worked out. (There is also the 840 Pro 512gb, which is very fast when new, but suffers badly from slowdown as the drive ages. Still quite fast for most people, but -- only about 6 months into the drive -- I wouldn't pay the premium over the regular 840 again.)

Also, I will have to clone the existing SSD before I can put in the new one. I own at least one USB external enclosure and a SATA-to-USB cable. Do I need a specific program? I already own CMS Bounce Back Ultimate 11. Would this work or should I get something else? (I see some SSDs are sold with cloning software.)
Assuming the drive is not encrypted using Microsoft Bitlocker, I recommend a free and open-source program called CloneZilla. It's about a 100MB ISO file, burns to CD or can be copied to a USB key, boots, and it's pretty easy.

Also, are there any special steps that have to be done or once you copy the drive you just install the new one?
Depends on the software, but in general, it's just boot from the duplicator software, copy it, and swap the new drive in physically (or do that first; there's no real advantage to either order.)
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Old Aug 17, 13, 9:54 am
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I'm also looking at replacing a SSD and it seems the Crucial m500 (successor to the very well respected m4) has great specs and an even better storage:$ ratio.
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Old Aug 17, 13, 12:53 pm
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Originally Posted by Braindrain View Post
I'm also looking at replacing a SSD and it seems the Crucial m500 (successor to the very well respected m4) has great specs and an even better storage:$ ratio.
I had repeated data loss problems with both the m4 (although it was a relatively early firmware), and with a couple of other older Marvell-controller drives. It put me off Marvell controllers, and I can't recommend them, although I'd really hope the issues I saw with data loss/corruption have been fixed in newer firmware updates.

The m500 is a slow-ish drive, by current standards -- appears to be us-- although that is very unlikely to matter to most people, and the availability of a halfway-affordable 960gb drive is a huge plus.

At the smaller sizes, they don't seem particularly compelling to me -- the Sandforce-based drives are not much more expensive and are faster on most workloads, and the Samsung 840 (non-Pro is still quite a bit cheaper) with a better reputation for reliability.

That said, the plural of anecdote isn't data, and my own bad experiences with the m4 (and Marvell controllers in general) don't seem to be commonly reported.
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Old Aug 17, 13, 1:38 pm
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Originally Posted by nkedel View Post
At the smaller sizes, they don't seem particularly compelling to me -- the Sandforce-based drives are not much more expensive and are faster on most workloads, and the Samsung 840 (non-Pro is still quite a bit cheaper) with a better reputation for reliability.

That said, the plural of anecdote isn't data, and my own bad experiences with the m4 (and Marvell controllers in general) don't seem to be commonly reported.
Thanks for your great contributions as usual, nkedel. Unfortunately for me, some of the material, like about "controllers," has gone over my head.

Here is a page showing the results of 500 GB 2.5 inch SSD sold by amazon.com with 20 drives shown. Is there any one you would suggest? My OEM drive is a Toshiba.
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Old Aug 17, 13, 2:31 pm
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Originally Posted by Landing Gear View Post
Thanks for your great contributions as usual, nkedel. Unfortunately for me, some of the material, like about "controllers," has gone over my head.
It really is worth understanding, since what you're really buying in many cases is not an "Intel" or "Sandisk" or "Corsair" or "Crucial" SSD but rather those brands reselling a "LAMD" or "Marvell" or "Sandforce" SSD, and several of those brands sell drives based on more than one controller.

Here is a page showing the results of 500 GB 2.5 inch SSD sold by amazon.com with 20 drives shown. Is there any one you would suggest? My OEM drive is a Toshiba.
I can't make a one-size-fits all recommendation, except maybe "wait a couple of months, then buy an Intel 530 480gb when those become available."

That said, for the thrifty, the prices on the Samsung 840 (non-Pro) 500gb ($319) and SanDisk Extreme SSD 480 GB ($330) are so good right now it's hard not to point out that for most people out there there's no reason to consider paying for a $400+ drive.

Much longer answer blogged here: CubicleHermit: Grumpy-sysadmin SSD recommendations, including a bunch of the questions I'd ask to figure out what to recommend.

If you can say more about your workload, I can refine the recommendations.

Last edited by nkedel; Aug 17, 13 at 2:40 pm
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Old Aug 17, 13, 4:11 pm
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Originally Posted by nkedel View Post
Much longer answer blogged here: CubicleHermit: Grumpy-sysadmin SSD recommendations, including a bunch of the questions I'd ask to figure out what to recommend.
I'll read that over the weekend.


Originally Posted by nkedel View Post
If you can say more about your workload, I can refine the recommendations.
I'm a lawyer. If I am awake, Outlook 2010 is running. About to switch to the latest version. Also use Word regularly, have numerous IE and FF tabs and Windows always open. I am a big user of both Windows Search and Outlook Search (at least I think these are separate functions, ). Also Acrobat and Photoshop Elements.

A photographer friend of mine suggested the Crucial m4 512GB 2.5-Inch (9.5mm) SATA 6Gb/s Solid State Drive CT512M4SSD2 but I doubt he knows what a controller is.

Thanks again!
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Old Aug 17, 13, 6:18 pm
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Originally Posted by Landing Gear View Post
I'm a lawyer. If I am awake, Outlook 2010 is running. About to switch to the latest version. Also use Word regularly, have numerous IE and FF tabs and Windows always open. I am a big user of both Windows Search and Outlook Search (at least I think these are separate functions, ). Also Acrobat and Photoshop Elements.
Most of those will be indistinguishable between the slowest and fastest drive, as long as you don't use encryption heavily. If I had to regularly have privileged legal documents on a laptop I traveled with, I would use full disk encryption.

My guess is from what you've said, unless you're producing gigabytes of photos or new Acrobat documents daily, you should probably focus on price/reliablity, which would suggest the Samsung 840 (non-Pro.)

That said, since you're already on an SSD and are looking to move up from a 256gb model, what's your drive mainly filled with? Documents? Photos? Movies/music?

A photographer friend of mine suggested the Crucial m4 512GB 2.5-Inch (9.5mm) SATA 6Gb/s Solid State Drive CT512M4SSD2 but I doubt he knows what a controller is.
The Crucial m4 uses the Marvell controller (a generation back compared to the newer m500 Braindrain was looking at.) It's a middling performer; it will be in between the Samsung 840 (non-Pro) and other drives I recommended on write speed. Maybe a little slower than any of those on reads, but in practice all of these are so ridiculously fast on reads-only workloads that it doesn't matter.

The price is pretty good at about $360.

The down side is that it's the same same drive (although I had the 256gb version) that crapped out on me twice. This was with the version of the firmware which was current in Jan 2012, so we're talking quite a while back, but it put me off Marvell controllers and Crucial (and among other things, took out the local copy of my Outlook mailbox file, twice.)

Performance-wise, the newer Crucial m500 480gb is probably worth the ~$20 difference in price, although you're also losing 32gb of space.
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Old Aug 17, 13, 9:12 pm
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500mb SSD? They don't exist!
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Old Aug 17, 13, 9:29 pm
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Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
500mb SSD? They don't exist!
*LOL* Well, not SATA ones. A 512MB CompactFlash card IS really a (mod 12mb) very slow 500MB-ish PATA SSD. I'm pretty sure I've got a couple kicking around in drawers somewhere, although they might be 256MB or 128MB

(My first SSD was an 8GB CF card, in an adapter*. It proved too slow for the application I was hoping it would be good for, and I ended up biting the bullet for a then-super-expensive 80gb 1st-generation Intel drive. Haven't looked back to disk since.)

(* passive one, kind of like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822998002 )
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Old Aug 18, 13, 9:58 am
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Originally Posted by nkedel View Post
*LOL* Well, not SATA ones. A 512MB CompactFlash card IS really a (mod 12mb) very slow 500MB-ish PATA SSD. I'm pretty sure I've got a couple kicking around in drawers somewhere, although they might be 256MB or 128MB
Except they weren't usable as a system drive.

(My first SSD was an 8GB CF card, in an adapter*. It proved too slow for the application I was hoping it would be good for, and I ended up biting the bullet for a then-super-expensive 80gb 1st-generation Intel drive. Haven't looked back to disk since.)
Ok, I'll retract my statement. A card in an adapter could be a SSD and 500mb cards did exist.
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Old Aug 18, 13, 12:54 pm
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Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
Ok, I'll retract my statement. A card in an adapter could be a SSD and 500mb cards did exist.
Yup. Mind you, it's an obscurity and not what most people think of with SSDs.

(There are a lot of servers these days which can boot off of embedded SD card slot, and you could probably find a 512mb SD card to put in there. Still not what most people think of as SSDs, quite possibly even slower than the CF card, but perhaps a more common case than using CF with a passive adapter...)
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Old Aug 18, 13, 2:33 pm
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Originally Posted by nkedel View Post
Most of those will be indistinguishable between the slowest and fastest drive, as long as you don't use encryption heavily. If I had to regularly have privileged legal documents on a laptop I traveled with, I would use full disk encryption.
How would that work exactly in terms of when you turn on the computer? Should this question be a separate thread?

Originally Posted by nkedel View Post
My guess is from what you've said, unless you're producing gigabytes of photos or new Acrobat documents daily, you should probably focus on price/reliablity, which would suggest the Samsung 840 (non-Pro.)
This one? And why "non-Pro?"


Originally Posted by nkedel View Post
That said, since you're already on an SSD and are looking to move up from a 256gb model, what's your drive mainly filled with? Documents? Photos? Movies/music?
Single largest file is a PST. After that, documents (a few thousand DOC and PDF) and JPEGs (also a few thousand but taking less space).


I think I would spend up to $500 for this. Since you mentioned going down to 480 GB, what about the Seagate?
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Old Aug 18, 13, 5:05 pm
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Originally Posted by Landing Gear View Post
How would that work exactly in terms of when you turn on the computer? Should this question be a separate thread?
Yes, arguably it should be a separate thread. There are a number of different ways to handle full-disk encryption depending on your level of paranoia. Windows Bitlocker is the easiest, if not the most secure, and until/unless you need to recover a lost password or a malfunctioning Windows installation*, it is very much transparent if you have a TPM chip in your computer.

(* both of which are a very great deal harder and require a recovery key, since they simulate how someone would get at your data if your laptop was stolen.)

This one? And why "non-Pro?"
Yes, that one.

Why not the 840 Pro? Because it's ~$120 more expensive, and the main difference is performance... but once you're in that price range, unless you're buying for the Samsung brand name, there are options out there which will actually stay fast when you use them heavily.

Single largest file is a PST. After that, documents (a few thousand DOC and PDF) and JPEGs (also a few thousand but taking less space).
Sounds like very little highly-compressed files; I'm not 100% sure how you manage to fill 256gb with that, but *lol* I guess some very big documents or a really, really big PST (the biggest I've seen was in the low tens of GB but I'm sure there are bigger out there.)

I think I would spend up to $500 for this. Since you mentioned going down to 480 GB, what about the Seagate?
Shorter answer: if you want to pay a bit more for higher performance, that Seagate (the base model 600) is a more interesting choice for a faster drive than the Samsung 840 Pro.

Longer answer: I don't have any track record with Seagate consumer SSDs -- those are the first ones out there and we haven't sampled them at work yet -- but they're very well-regarded in the enterprise SSD space. Those Seagate 600 drives (there's also a "Pro" model using a faster grade of flash, although not sold directly by Amazon) use the same LAMD controller as the Corsair Neutron drives we've standardized on for database use at work and have been very pleased with. The published benchmarks have been very good, and the controller is definitely not prone to the same really severe slowdown with age that the Samsung is.

Review here: http://www.anandtech.com/show/6935/s...0-ssd-review/5

--

As for paying "up to $500," the question is, what's the incremental benefit to paying more? Of course, if you want to go all the way out to about $570 you can get that Crucial 960gb.

Last edited by nkedel; Aug 18, 13 at 5:17 pm
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Old Aug 18, 13, 5:24 pm
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Originally Posted by nkedel View Post
Assuming the drive is not encrypted using Microsoft Bitlocker, I recommend a free and open-source program called CloneZilla. It's about a 100MB ISO file, burns to CD or can be copied to a USB key, boots, and it's pretty easy.
Add another vote for Clonezilla.
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