Add SSD to very old laptop, worth it?

Discussion in 'hardware' started by roark37, Oct 1, 2015.

  1. roark37

    roark37 Registered Member

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    Hi,

    I have been reading about SSD drives and the huge speed benefits they bring and had some questions. I have an old 2006 Toshiba laptop with XP on it. Even when new it was far from state of the art with celeron and 512k ram but it has been super reliable for me and until a year ago I used it at least once a week to work from home and never had a problem. A switch in company VPN somewhat forced me to a newer 2012 Windows laptop so the old Toshiba has basically been gathering dust. So a couple of weeks ago for the first time in nearly a year I turned it on curious if it would still run and much to my surprise performance is not that bad considering the age & specs. So I was thinking of adding a small(64 or 128g) ssd drive to it but wondered if that would give a huge speed benefit or is the laptop simply too old? If I did add ssd I would also try to add ram if that is fairly easy & inexpensive to do. The idea was for maybe $100 to give me a better backup laptop to mainly use for web browsing and for experimenting with linux. And that brings me to my other questions, this laptop has a dvd/cd tray and I read you can swap that out and install ssd in that spot, but is that fairly easy to do? And are the speed benefits the same from there? Lastly if it can be done is it possible to then install linux on the new ssd without touching the old hard drive with XP at all?

    Thanks in advance for any advice or recommendations.
     
  2. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Yes, the speed gains would be significant - but really only if you replaced the existing boot drive (your hard drive) with an SSD and put the operating system on the SSD - if you could. And that is the problem. Does that notebook support SATA drives? If not, you would need an EIDE to SATA adapter and not sure you could find one that will physically fit inside your notebook.

    As for DVD tray, again, getting it to physically fit is the issue because notebooks are so proprietary - unlike PCs which must conform to ATX Form Factor standards.

    Then there's the problem with XP itself. It is not safe anymore. And the problem is not that it is just unsafe for you, but if you plan on connecting that notebook to the Internet, it becomes unsafe for the rest of us as it is more vulnerable to compromise and then used to distribute malware or spam, or participate in DDoS attacks without you even knowing it. So if you can get the necessary hardware to work, I would not advise it unless you install Linux or upgrade to at least Windows 7 - or you use it as a stand alone system only.

    Finally, the thing is 9 years old. That's pretty darn good and says a lot for the Toshiba's design and quality. But that is still pretty old and if you invest in a SSD and RAM, there's a good chance something else will fail before too long to get any returns on your investment. And note too the RAM is most likely not current technology RAM so it may be expensive and hard to find, then surely will not be compatible with a new computer down the road.

    It's a nice idea, but not a practical one. Sorry.
     
  3. RJK3

    RJK3 Registered Member

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    Does the 2012 laptop have an SSD? You could always test that on the 2006 laptop, then restore the image when you're done.

    Firstly it's worth checking if the 2006 laptop even supports AHCI and SATA. Without AHCI, the benefits of an SSD can be noticably bluntened. e.g. I put an SSD into a Vista-era HP laptop that had arbitrary BIOS restrictions on using AHCI, this way forcing the SSD to run in IDE mode and thus giving disappointing results.

    Realistically, even a 32gb SSD will be more than large enough for multibooting XP and a few Linux distros, although generally a smaller SSD will have reduced performance. I'd consider a 128gb+ SSD an investment that at worst you can take with you to your next laptop.

    Swapping CD/DVD trays for HDD caddies is very simple: normally just a single screw holds it in place, then you just slide the tray out. There's no guarantee that it will work though, e.g. some Dell Inspirons arbitrarily don't support them. HDD caddies for CD/DVD slots are normally pretty cheap on eBay, but need to be bought to match a particular model.

    I have an old Atom XP netbook, and ultimately I decided not to upgrade it to an SSD after considering the practical issues (which would have involved solder). If you do upgrade yours, then I'd be very interested in how you go :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2015
  4. roark37

    roark37 Registered Member

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    Thank you both for your replies as I figured it was a long shot and likely not worth it. And I was only going to consider it if it was pretty easy and it does not sound like it with many potential issues so I am not going to bother.

    I have a related question though; for something like a backup pc often I see new cheap desktops for sale for like $250 and sometimes even $200. Wouldn't it make some sense to get a cheap one like that and then immediately add SSD drive? It would seem like for $300 or maybe even less it would be a pretty decent machine. Or are the benefits of SSD compared to a new hard drive like that not as large? And if that would maybe be a decent idea my same question about linux being installed only on the SSD is the same as before. Can that be done without touching the original hard drive and if so is adding SSD into a desktop not very difficult? Or do some of those compatibility issues you mentioned above still come into play? Thanks again.
     
  5. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    On a new computer, the compatibility issues in terms of SATA and AHCI are not an issue so adding an SSD is easy. And physically, it is an easy task to do in a PC too. Notebooks are still often proprietary but they too use SATA and should be easy to replace an existing HD, then reinstall Windows on that.

    But you say "without touching the original hard drive" and that is where my concerns are. A SSD as a secondary drive provides barely any advantage. It is when the operating system is installed on the SSD that performance really shines. As a secondary drive, you can install your added programs and they will load faster, but the over all performance of your computer will not improve as it would if the OS was on the SSD.

    As for those $200 - $300 computers you find at Walmart and else - you get what you pay for and that is to say, not much. Many provide little to no upgrade potentials and come with very cheap power supplies (and I'm a strong advocate of quality power for stable performance). You could most likely add a SSD, or swap the HD for a SSD. But adding RAM or upgrading the graphics can be more challenging.
     
  6. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    USAAlone,

    TeraByte Unlimited has a script, usbboot.tbs. It does this...

     
  7. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    I don't see where the OP was asking about an external HD. He clearly said, "adding SSD into a desktop".

    That said, yes you can boot Windows to an external drive as a simple Google search shows. It is not always easy and some older motherboards don't support it either. It is not something I would recommend for everyday purposes.
     
  8. Gullible Jones

    Gullible Jones Registered Member

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    IMO, an extra gigabyte of RAM would be a better investment. That would provide a huge performance and usability boost, especially given the laptop hard disk (probably 5400 RPM rather than the desktop standard 7200). It'd also make it easier to dual boot Linux, if you wanted that at some point.

    As far as SSDs - I have an SSD (Kingston SSDNow, 120 GB) on my circa-2007 Presario C700. From what I've seen, it improves boot and initial program launch times, but not much else. Modern OSes are very good at caching stuff in RAM, and with an 8 year old laptop there are probably bottlenecks elsewhere too... Large programs, such as current Firefox and Chromium versions, are really not very friendly on old machines. They will be slow, even if the OS itself is fast.

    However, said laptop is still very usable for browsing/email/video/etc. provided one doesn't expect miracles. I still use it as my main computer.
     
  9. RJK3

    RJK3 Registered Member

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    I would still use the XP machine as a backup since it's in working order and usable.

    The security risks of using XP are often overstated. It's very true that a vulnerable XP machine without a hardware firewall can be attacked and infected within minutes of going on the internet, but it's more than possible to secure it well even without an antivirus. My XP machine has only one real-time tool: a monitoring tool to watch for dropped executables. I was very curious to see how well it would fare with just passive protections, and it's not had a single challenge to its security. No MBAE alerts, no dropped executables, no sign of infection.

    The key aspects of security on mine: behind a hardware firewall; hardened network and rationalised services (all ports closed); low attack surface (particularly browser). I also added MBAE and Software Policy (http://iwrconsultancy.co.uk/softwarepolicy) for a secondary layer. I don't have any typically vulnerable software except FF and Adobe Flash, but I mitigate the risk of these with the usual: Flash "Ask To Activate", uBlock with malware lists, and NoScript. Lastly I use StripMyRights (part of Software Policy) to limit the privileges of Firefox and other programs so they don't automatically have full admin rights (I'm not a fan of LUA).

    If you're interested, you can get some ideas for securing your XP machine in this 6 page thread:
    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/threads/are-you-still-using-windows-xp.374090/
     
  10. MisterB

    MisterB Registered Member

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    With older laptops with PATA drives, I've been using compact flash or secure digital card IDE adapters. They are very a cheap and easy solution to replace drives that are no longer manufactured. If it is new enough to have SATA, there are lots of options. You can either opt for massive amounts of storage for a very low price with a mechanical drive or an SSD that will be quiet and fast. It will also use much less power and the laptop will go longer on a battery charge.

    Xp is no more or less secure than it ever was. For those of us who know how to secure it, the problem of continuing to use it is growing incompatibilities, not security. Drive size and memory limits are more my concern with Xp, not security.
     
  11. Rolo42

    Rolo42 Registered Member

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    Don't throw good money after bad, especially with tech, which ages rapidly.

    For a backup PC, either get a new decent laptop (if you could use the portability and wouldn't cost much more than an old desktop) or wait until you need/want to upgrade (replace) your desktop and relegate it as a backup (trickle-down).

    Really, though, if it's that important, follow the entire advice here:
     
  12. Reality

    Reality Registered Member

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    Thanks for posting. XP plainly is a thorn in M$'s flesh.
     
  13. Reality

    Reality Registered Member

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    Yes.
    For anyone interested, there is another thread with real quality input in regards to securing XP.
    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/threads/building-your-own-privacy-package.366847/
     
  14. RJK3

    RJK3 Registered Member

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  15. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    Maybe just use it for a router? Or a web-server? Using Linux or *BSD, of course.
     
  16. MisterB

    MisterB Registered Member

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    I haven't taken it to that extreme. The security I'm using for Xp now is the same as I used when it was still supported. It is based on hardening the OS rather than third party products, but there is still a lot of modern security software that is compatible with Xp.

    In regards to another question in the original post, I've installed both Linux--Ubuntu 14 LTS--and hackintoshed OS X Snow Leopard on 16gb thumb drives recently. There are options other than the internal disk or CD tray. The beauty of this is that you can run a full install of Linux and not have to mess with your main drive at all or try complicated multibooting partition schemes.
     
  17. Reality

    Reality Registered Member

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    @MisterB not sure which "extreme" you're referring to, as there are a number of points of view in that thread. I have to agree that anything that can be achieved within the OS itself, is better, but sometimes the learning curve for that can be more complex than a 3rd party option, which can suffice in the meantime. Getting OT so I'll leave it there.
     
  18. MisterB

    MisterB Registered Member

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    I was referring to stripping down Xp and removing parts of the OS. I am using a standard Xp installation.
     
  19. USAAlone

    USAAlone Registered Member

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    That said, yes you can boot Windows to an external drive as a simple Google search shows. It is not always easy and some older motherboards don't support it either. It is not something I would recommend for everyday purposes.[/QUOTE]


     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015
  20. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    "Often", yes - but that does not mean very significant risks do not exist. Just because you can secure yours today with your advanced skillsets and "hardware" based firewall - things the typical XP users does not posses - that in no way suggests the majority of other XP hold-outs can too.

    I too still have my trusty old XP system running and I use it as a NAS for my other systems. But I have blocked Internet access to and from that system in my router.

    The problem is, many of the 100 million or so XP users don't have those skills and while many can afford new computers, they refuse to buy them because their XP system is still running just fine. And I don't blame them for that. No one likes to retire perfectly good electronics while it still works. But that is just a fact of life. We retired our perfectly good cassette players, 8-tracks, VCRs and CRT monitors and TVs - not to mention tiny disk drives and 486 CPUs and countless sticks of old RAM.

    The problem with XP is it is basically an accident waiting to happen because if, or I should say when an exploitable vulnerability is discovered, Microsoft will not patch it and the security program makers may not be able to either. Then, as I noted above, the system is compromised and used to attack the rest of us.

    If the compromised XP system would not be used against the rest of us to distribute malware, illegal porn, or spam, or turned into a zombie in a bot army participating in DDoS attacks, I would not care. But because these system can become a threat to the rest of us, I say XP needs to go away - or at least stay off the Internet. Or be replaced with Linux.
     
  21. RJK3

    RJK3 Registered Member

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    We're writing in the context of a specific user in a security forum who has expressed a willingness to learn and experiment. Very little of your rant against "100 million or so XP users" amounts to useful, practical advice that empowers individuals with strategies to deal with these significant risks.

    If we have properly secured our own machines, then none of the threats from that XP botnet you mentioned are likely to affect any of us personally.

    Just don't look at the illegal porn it distributes, or read any of the illegal poetry it writes once it achieves sentience.
     
  22. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Rant? Gee whiz. :( This is Wilders "Security" Forums, BTW. The fact of the matter is, there is very little individuals can do against these significant risks. That is exactly my point. So while you bury your head in the sand and pretend the threat is not "likely to affect" any us personally, I will do my part in encouraging XP hold-outs to move to a more secure platform and I will heed major anti-malware program makers like Norton who say,
    or McAfee when they say,
    Note that other anti-malware solution providers no longer support XP too. For example Avira no longer supports XP and others report they will follow at some undetermined point.
     
  23. Reality

    Reality Registered Member

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    Bill, FWIW, Wilders also has a Privacy section. The point being, Security and Privacy are linked and for some of us, actually go hand in hand, so I'd have to ask you -- secure from what or who? If it's just ~ Snipped as per TOS ~ lowlife opportunists then that's not all there is to be concerned about. HOw about TLA's? After all the uproar about the nightmare that is Windows 10, no thanks. Clearly our privacy is being eroded the further on we get and from so-called respectable companies harvesting all our data AND passing it on. I agree that people should be warned NOT to use XP if they are not willing to learn to lock it down but you will find that has been emphasized by those who are also strong proponents of XP. I'm talking specifically about the "Building your own privacy package" thread. The alternative if you don't tweak XP is you lose more of your privacy post XP. It's not a given that Linux is safe either. Staying ahead of Security and privacy issues is a constantly moving target. As for AVs Nortons is the last AV company I would trust. The very nature of AV's gives them free access to whats on your computer. Unless you're very proficient in traffic analysis who's to say what info they gather off your system.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 2, 2015
  24. RJK3

    RJK3 Registered Member

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    @Bill_Bright Is any of that relevant or constructive when there are solutions, strategies and products remaining that allow us to effectively secure Windows XP?

    If you can a describe a scenario in which a member of Wilders still using Windows XP is likely to be infected, or a specific mechanism of infection for which they are vulnerable - then that would be constructive and add to our collective knowledge.

    I think we have very different philosophies: your posts promote insecurity, an external locus of control, and continue to make the logical fallacy of an appeal to authority in opposition to external reality. I'd rather encourage people to learn for themselves - especially when they've identified a willingness to experiment - and provide the tools and knowledge for them to take responsibility for their machines. Do you also jump into threads telling people off for using Windows without an antivirus, while providing quotes from major AV firms about why everyone using Windows needs one?
     
  25. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    :( So you believe the unethical IT press? How sad. And worse is you perpetuating the hype. See No, Microsoft is not spying on us and this where Ed Bott, an awarded member of the IT press talks about,
    Yes! As I noted and as Norton noted and as noted in the other links I provided but you seem to refuse to accept! XP is no longer being supported by Microsoft and the anti-malware community has indicated that they will not support XP indefinitely, with some popular Antimalware makers having already discontinued support. I specifically quoted McAfee who said when MS does not fix a vulnerability, they will stop supporting XP. What don't you understand about that, or the fact that two leading anti-malware makers recommend users upgrade? They have no financial incentive to make such recommendations so I recommend you and others heed it. And with zero-day exploits commonplace, it is not like they can give users 12 months warning. It will be a zero day event, just as the zero-day exploit will be.

    If you want continue to use your legacy hardware, I say great to that. But instead of using XP, which was released 14 years and 4 generations of Windows back, switch to Linux if budgets are tight. Or upgrade to a newer version of Windows.

    There is a reason the Model T Ford is not allowed on interstate highways and it because they are a threat to others. Same with XP.

    You want me to explain how to make XP safe - I already did. But once again, you ignore it. Take it off-line and block its Internet access. That's what I did with my XP system I did not want to retire.
     
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