This weekend I bought a SanDisk Ultra II 960GB SSD hoping for a quick and easy way to significantly improve my PC’s performance. Well, I can’t say it was quick or particularly easy, but in the end it was definitely worth it.
I didn’t do a lot of research going into the weekend, but I didn’t think it would be a complicated process. I’ve never upgraded hard drives (or any hardware) before, but figured it should be a simple plug and play process. That didn’t quite turn out to be true. I picked up the 960GB SSD at Best Buy for $250 on Saturday and drove home hoping to slap it in and start the process of transferring all of my files. Well after I got home I realized that the SSD was a 2.5″ drive and I would need a bracket or enclosure in order to properly install the drive. I also found out that I didn’t have any extra SATA cables (I assumed there would be as there were several extra power cables inside my PC.
I then went back to Best Buy to look for a bracket or enclosure, but it turned out that they didn’t sell any. With no RadioShack’s, Circuit City’s or other electronic stores around I figured Best Buy would have more of a PC component selection, but in reality they have very little. They at least had a SATA cable, so I picked that up and a USB 3.0 enclosure just in case that became my last resort.
When I got home I stared at my PC case and decided I would just rig something up for the SSD. I connected the drive and used some zip ties to secure the drive. It may not be pretty, but it did the job!
Then came the process of cloning my hard drive to the SSD. This was the worst part of the entire day. I spent hours trying to figure out how to do it, trying to use several programs with little luck. I initially tried using Macrium Reflect, however it kept telling me that there wasn’t enough space on the SSD to complete the clone. My hard drive is 2TB, however I only had about 850GB of data on it, so I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working. I kept deleting games from my Steam library one at a time until I got down to about 600GB and it still wasn’t working. I came to the conclusion that it must be trying to clone 2TB onto the 960GB drive, and after searching the web it seemed like the easiest solution would be to use a program that could automatically downsize a drive while cloning.
I ended up shelling out $32 for Aomei Partition Assistant Pro which seemed like the most promising program to do the job. I had read that Clonezilla would work, but I didn’t feel like fooling around with running it from a USB drive or anything like that. Once I downloaded Partition Assistant Pro and told it to start the clone everything seemed like it would work out. The program said it needed to restart my computer to start the clone process in “preos mode”.
The computer restarted, however I was greeted with nothing but a black screen. I freaked out a bit and let it sit there thinking it might do something, but nothing ever happened. I eventually turned off my computer and turned it back on, and this time it launched into the clone process without any further hiccups.
After about an hour the process completed and I switched switched the boot priority in BIOS and was finally ready to see the SSD in action. I was impressed with how fast my PC booted using the SSD, and felt that the pain in the neck was finally worth it.
Unfortunately, there was one more headache to deal with. For whatever reason Steam would not work properly on the SSD, even though the SSD was now my C: drive. I could launch games, however when I tried to download any game or update I would get an error saying “disk write error”. I tried changing the permissions of my Steam folder, but still had no luck. Ultimately I copied my Steam apps folder over to my newly formatted 2TB drive and uninstalled and reinstalled Steam. After the fresh install I copied the Steam apps folder back and everything was finally back to working normally!
I’m glad the process is over with, and am happy with the results for sure, I’m just annoyed that it took so long to complete a simple upgrade. Part of it was my fault for being uninformed, but overall I wish things could have been easier. I’ve used a MacBook for the past four years and have done all of my gaming on an Xbox One, iPad and 3DS so I’m not used to all of the inconveniences that come alongside PC gaming. I’m not saying it’s not worth it, but it seems like this is only the first of many headaches that lie ahead as a new PC gamer.