Hybrid Laptop Drives

A long long time ago - I tried out Vista. Piece of godawful crap that it was, it forced me to confront my natural MS bias and choose to start owning Macs. And I've never regretted this.

Around this time, in order to make Vista more responsive, hard drive manufacturers started talking about Hybrid drives - drives with normal hard drives, and SSD caches. 

And now - Years after this - we finally get the first example of one. Darren Duke reviewed and benchmarked a Seagate Momentus XT drive back in June - and I immediately placed an order. 

So. Does a hybrid drive really deliver near SSD speeds ? Last night, I thought I'd give it a whirl in a one-year old Macbook Pro 13" unibody machine. My main travelling laptop. Its been bounced around, abused and is as reliable a laptop as I've ever owned. However, I do development on this machine, and the wee hard drive - a seagate 7200rpm 500gb one - has trouble keeping up. (Normal users - or 'Muggles' - shouldnt have this issue).

So - I backed up the machine using Super Duper (Highly recommended. I use this alongside Time Machine to ensure that I always have a bootable external-USB drive with me at all times), and swapped it over.

Has it helped? Yes. Boot time for the machine went down from 1 minute 10 seconds to 44 seconds (after four restarts), and the post-login load time went from 5:30 to 1:22. I load a *lot* of stuff on startup, including Notes.

I also tested the Notes load time - and it went from 41 seconds to 11. 

And - a huge bonus - I no longer see the beachball mouse icon! (The one that indicates the O/S is waiting on hard drive). 

So. Around £100. 5 hours to back up, 15 minutes to swap. Worth it ? 

Ohhh yeah.