Disc drive speeds and PC component availability

The SSD failed in a laptop I was using when contesting (and camping) over the weekend. I’m away again next weekend so for quickness I threw and old “spinning rust” disk into the laptop to get it working again. Luckily there’s space in the case for a 7mm 2.5in disc, the original SSD was an mSATA SSD in an adapter.

What comes as a rude surprise is just how slow old style rotating discs are. All my computers, my XYL’s laptop are SSD based and you forget how fast they are compared to real discs. For example from cold start to the log in screen when the SSD was working was about 10secs (Linux). The same thing now on a 5400rpm disc is just over 1minute. :frowning:

I became acutely aware I was succumbing to disc space inflation by buying ever bigger and bigger discs and then wondering how to back them up. So I have replaced this one with a similar sized 256GB disc, no need for bigger when there was 195GB free on the old one. That was a frightening £15 :slight_smile:

What it has shown is that I can buy NOS valves/tubes from the 50s for not much money. I can buy new transistors from the 60s for not much money. But semiconductors from 1990 onwards that were mainstream can be hard to find now. It’s worse with computer technology. So much stuff had a market lifetime of only a few years that you just can’t buy it any more. Most of the mSATA SSD on sale are from no-name Chinese companies, very few Crucial/Kingston/Samsung are on offer. I gave up trying to find 2TB 3.5in PATA discs for my NAS a while back.

I have a few 3.5in 1TB SATA discs that would ideal in an external caddy. But finding USB 3 3.5in caddies that are not a silly price is now hard. Probably worth scrapping the discs and buy a new 4TB 2.5in disc in a caddy.

It just shows that it only needs a fault in one component and that perfect older laptop that works fine and is more than big/fast enough for what you need may become obsolete and need scrapping. The price of continuous improvement is more and more scrap!


I’ve upgraded a few friends/family by going the other way. The results are spectacular as of course you would expect.

It is very very annoying and something I have encountered recently too.

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The more modern laptops have their firmware adjusted to operate with SSD drives, so although they “may” support older optical drives, they will not perform as well in one of the newer laptops as they will in an older one.

The SSD’s that were brought out to upgrade the optical drives in laptops seem slow when compared to today’s drives in modern laptops with similar processor/RAM configuration as the upgrade SSDs were designed to work with slower controllers. That’s progress.

For data backup I have 2 x 2TB 5.25" 10k RPM SATA drives in a dual drive USB-3 bay and accessing those from the laptop with it’s 1TB SSD drive (upgraded from the 256GB that it came with) - seems slow.

I use a free tool called FreeFileSync along with RealTimeSync from the same authors to take care of backup without me needing to worry about it. The most important directories, I also back up to some secure web storage.

So the old 3-2-1 principal,
Three backups
on at least Two different media types
and One copy off-site.

It’s a crime that PCs and radios from the last 10 years are becoming non-repairable when something breaks, while even older models can (sometimes) be brought back to full running condition and even improved in some cases.

73 Ed.


Andy, It is interesting what you say.

I have recently up-marketed my home computer to all SSD drives on W11.
The basis was a kit of bits from SCAM. It has the 1T C drive on mother board, to that I have added a Samsung 2T A drive, a 2T B drive Samsung BU drive, a 500G Kingston E Image drive, and a 500G F drive Kingston copy of the C drive.

It is very fast compared to rust drives. I monitor SSD wear regularly. If the C drive is corrupted, time to recover is about 10 minutes. And yes I have an external BU. My middle name is Backup.

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and you cant just back everything up on a little pile of floppy disks anymore!


Floppy discs? … luxury :grinning:

I have piles of cassette tapes for my various 8-bit machine collection.

I do have a 30mb hard drive for my atari-st. Wouldnt part with that just for the fact that the cable connectors are worth more than the whole system.



yeah i remember our family got a PC for christmas, as a family present, we were warned we wouldnt get much else as it was so expensive. It was a windows 3.1, 486 sx25 with 2mb of ram and 340MB had drive. must have been around 1994 as windows and pentiums came out the next year. I think it must have cost over £2k at the time!

I also knew someone who would punch holes into the top corner of single density disks to make them double density and increase their size to 1.44mb as it was purely a mechanism in the disk drives to figure out if it was 720 or 144mb disk.

The drives and media are becoming more valuable. There are plenty of machine tools etc. that use a 3.5in disc to hold the data. As machine tools are often in dirty environments, the drives and media don’t last forever. Companies are buying them as spares as there are no practical upgrade opportunities for some machine tools.

Mine was a 20MB version. It was such an improvement after floppies :wink:

I am annoyed the SSD just failed in that laptop. There was no indication of an issue other than twice before it would not boot when cold. The PC wouldn’t start never mind boot. The other SSDs I’ve seen fail on work PCs did start giving errors so you had enough warning to get a new disc and clone it.

When I bought this SSD for my main PC, I was worried I’d bought one with too short a life. This one is a 1TB Samsung with a 300TBW endurance. CrystalDisk tells me it has been on for 2.34years since 2020 and has done 15.3TBW. This is Windows10 which never stops bashing the disc. At this rate it should last another 45 years before it is worn out. I’ll be well over 100 in 45 years time so I’m not worried.

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In the good old spinning iron days it was quite possible to make a cup of coffee in the time it took to get to the logon screen. When Durham CC upgraded to SSD some time ago they probably didn’t expect to see a drop in mains load at 8-30 AM as the kettle demand dropped….

Getting older is a bit scary, my first workplace was Marconi Research and I remember them experimenting with some network that only had Cambridge, Hirst, Imperial and ourselves on it…. it would be fair to say it was probably a very important development……

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yeah ssds come in lots of different levels of quality. samsung evo and evo pro are probably some of the best. At my old place we used them exclusively and over 700 of them, i dont think we had a single failure. sometimes with SSD you dont skimp on cheap makes, the chips dont has as many layers of storage on them so dont last as long.
Same as sd cards, the more extreme and extreme pro sandisk ones and ones designed for cctv cameras etc are designed for long life and have many many layers in the storage chips to handle the constant rewrites etc.

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