Review: Imation, Kingston SSD kits make disk upgrades easy

With a kit, you get the tools to upgrade as many computers as you like

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Next, plug in the USB-to-SATA adapter cable into your computer's USB port, and attach the SATA end to the SSD drive. Then plug in the power cable and attach that to the SSD as well. (The computer's USB connection will not power the SSD; it only the powers converter on the cable.)

Using the Acronis application, I had to choose to "add another disk" to my system because I found all my drive letters were already in use when I booted my system. The process of adding that additional drive is painless; the app will take care of the task with a single mouse click. If your system has spare drive letters, you won't need to worry about it.

Next, choose "Clone Disk" from the menu. The software automatically discovers your C: drive and the SSD drive connected to the USB port. It will then ask you to choose the source drive and the target drive -- choose the C: drive as the source.

The application then shows the two drives that will be active in the cloning and asks if you want to "proceed." You do. The process of cloning is not the same as a "copying," and it will take a relatively short time to occur, depending on the amount of data on your source drive. The more data, the longer it will take. The computer will automatically shut down once the cloning is completed.

Next, you'll want to power up your computer. You can either remove the CD as the system is booting, or just choose the "Windows" option when the menu comes up and remove the disk after that.

I reboot my computer only to check that the C: drive is still functioning properly and to remove the CD. Otherwise, you can begin the physical change-out of the drives right away.

Installing the SSD

To do that, you'll need to shut down your computer and unplug it from the power source. Follow the instructions from the computer's manufacturer for taking out the drive, then swap in the SSD. With some laptops you'll need to actually plug a SATA and power cable back into the drive, but with most there's a fixed housing the drive plugs into. Boot up. You should notice no difference in your machine's configuration. It should look exactly as it did before you changed drives, but it should be faster.

Imation makes an SSD M-Class upgrade kit for laptops with 2.5-in. drives and an S-Class kit for desktop PCs with 3.5-in. drives. The M-Class SSD has a sequential read rate of 150MB/sec. and a sequential write rate of 90MB/sec., while the S-Class has a read rate of 130MB/sec. and sequential write rate of 120MB/sec.

The M-Class SSD can sustain 9,500 sequential write I/Os per second (IOPS) and the S-Class, 51,000; the M-Class can sustain 71,000 sequential read IOPS and the S-Class 83,000.

Perhaps more important is the random write IOPS. That's because most operating systems and file systems are not able to write sequentially to a drive once it begins to fill with data. The M-Class drive has a write performance of 380 IOPS, and the S-Class 130. The M-Class has a read performance rate of 6,000 IOPS and the S-Class 19,000.

Regardless of the drive, I like these kits for two reasons: They offer an all-inclusive way to upgrade your computer quickly, using pretested tools. And if you ever want to upgrade the same machine again or upgrade another machine, all you need to do is buy the new drive and you can reuse the converter cable and software.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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