DIY: SSD & Headlights
Today’s post is about two of my recent DIY projects (or, rather, DIM-Do It Myself). As a general rule, I endeavor to do as much myself as possible. First, I do this to save money and time. I work cheap and I do things quickly-plus I know I am always available when I need something done. Being sensible, I do consider the value of my time and will pay other people to do stuff if they can do it as good for less (in terms of the dollar value of my time). Second, I do this because I believe that people should be as self-sufficient as possible. I hold to this on both moral and practical grounds. Morally, a person is acting wrongly when he is an unwarranted burden on others-that is, he expects others to do for him what he could reasonably do for himself. Naturally, if a person cannot do it herself, hiring others is morally acceptable (in general). Also, being a competent human being is very useful. Third, I often find such things satisfying-it is nice to work with actual physical objects since I spend most of my time working with words.
Recently I repaired my door, my sink, added an SSD to my PC and “de-yellowed” the plastic headlight covers on my truck. I thought I’d share how to install an SSD and get the yellow out.
After reading an article in PC World about upgrading to a SSD (Solid State Drive) I decided to give it a shot. As I noted in an earlier post, this was an experience in blue screens-but it was ultimately worth it.
Now, as far as why you might want to do this upgrade to a desktop, the main answer is speed-an SDD is much faster than a traditional hard drive so you’ll enjoy faster boot times and your programs will be snappier. A secondary answer is that SSDs do not have moving parts (well, on the macro level) so they tend to break less than traditional mechanical drives. For laptops,an SSD is lighter and is vastly less susceptible to problems caused by motion relative to a traditional drive.
If you plan to upgrade a laptop, make sure that 1) you have the right (SATA) interface for the drive and that 2) you have the right sized SSD. While SSDs are generally laptop sized drives, they do not fit all laptops. In general, you’d want to get a 7 mm drive with an adapter unless you are sure of the size of your existing drive.
If you plan to upgrade a desktop, you will probably want to get an adapter so the SSD will fit into the normal drive bay-as noted above, the typical SSD is a laptop style drive and will not mount as is in a desktop bay. Fortunately, the adapter is cheap. If you are using a card (see below) that allow you to mount the drive on it, then you would not need an adapter.
Before spending any money, you will want to check to see what your options are and a rather important factor to consider is what sort of hard drive connectors your computer supports. Really old PCs have IDE connectors. If you have that, you should just get a new computer rather than spending money to try to stick in a SSD. If you have SATA connectors, check to see what version you have. My aging PC has SATA II. New PCs should have SATA III.
If you have SATA II connectors and want the most speed, check to see if your PC has a free PCI Express slot. These come in various sizes-such as the PCI Express x16 slot that is commonly used for video cards. Since my PC only has SATA II, I got a the Apricorn Velocity PCI Express card Solo X1. It will fit in a PCI Express x1 slot (or larger). This card (and others like it) add SATA III support and have a mount for attaching an SSD. The one I bought also has another SATA connector (internal) that can be used to speed up another internal drive.
Once the drive is on the card and the card is installed, be sure to format the drive. Once it is formatted, then clone your boot drive to the SSD. Since I was using the Apricorn card, I used the EZ Gig IV software. Since SSDs tend to smaller than traditional hard drives (my SSD is 256 GB) you’ll need to clean up your drive and will want to use what are probably the advanced options in the cloning software to only copy Windows and your programs. Cloning software tends to default to just copying everything-including any data or recovery partitions on the drive. Of course, you can also just do a new install on the SSD.
After you have your boot drive cloned (or Windows installed), reboot and set your BIOS so that the SSD is the boot drive. If you don’t get any blue screens, then you can enjoy the new speed.
Turning now to headlights, yesterday I decided to replace the headlight bulbs in my 2001 Tacoma. I noticed that the plastic covers over the lights were foggy and yellowed. I had seen various kits for de-yellowing headlights, but had also heard that Scratch Out (or similar products) would also do the trick. Since I had some Scratch Out, I put some on a paper towel and rubbed the plastic. Turns out that it does work. Of course, I suspect that even toothpaste would work. So, if you have yellowed/foggy headlights and some Scratch Out (or maybe toothpaste) give it a try