Some guys from Samsung recently dropped by and left me one of the firm's 32GB Flash solid state disk (SSD) modules to test out.
This has so far proved to be more problematic than I had anticipated. The Samsung drive is supposed to be a drop-in replacement for a standard 2.5in laptop hard disk.
Unfortunately, the key word here is 'standard'. Samsung has designed the drive with a trusty ATA connector, but most of the laptops we have access to for testing purposes turn out to be relatively new models, all boasting the latest Serial ATA drives instead.
In desperation, I hunted around for any laptop that might have an ATA hard drive (and whose owner wouldn't mind me performing the equivalent of heart surgery on it to swap in the Samsung module).
Eventually, an ancient Dell Latitude was found lying forgotten at the back of a dusty cupboard. The reason for its abandonment soon became clear – the screen was no longer working. Never mind, I just plugged in a VGA cable and connected it to a spare monitor.
The Latitude is so old it is still running Windows 2000 Professional. That's no problem – I still have an install disk for this, so I can compare performance before and after the hard disk upgrade.
But wait – I'd better make sure that both Windows 2000 installs end up patched to the same level, so I decided to check for downloads on Microsoft's Windows Update site....oh dear, the Latitude is so old that it doesn't have a built-in Ethernet port.
Another rummage through the Labs store cupboards throws up a PC Card LAN adapter. Inevitably, Windows asks for the driver disk, which is missing, of course. Eventually, I find an ageing Xircom RealPort PC Card that is so old that even Windows 2000 shipped with drivers for it.
The Windows Update site finds no fewer than 52 patches that need applying, and these are just the critical ones. Oh, but before I can install them, Windows Update needs to download and install an update for the Windows Update service, of course.
Feeling slightly like I may be wasting a great deal of my precious time, I now have a fully patched Windows 2000 laptop. In the near future, I intend to test out its performance and battery life in its current state, then repeat the process with the new SSD in place and see if it really does boost performance and extend battery life, as Samsung claims.
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