If your computer doesn't have a Solid State Drive, you're missing out.
You may have heard about Solid State Drives, also known as SSDs, or Flash Drives, but most people don't know what the big difference is between an SSD vs a Hard Disk Drive or HDD.
Let me explain.A hard drive is like a sophisticated record player. It's a spinning platter with a needle that reads and writes data. The faster the platter spins, the faster your data is read and written, resulting in your apps, documents and music opening faster. A Solid State Drive is a memory chip that retrieves your data almost instantly. Apple claims their SSDs are up to 9x faster than a hard drive. This translates to your computer getting a HUGE bump in speed. You'd think you need more powerful processors to increase your speed, but if you have a Macbook or a Macbook Pro (not retina), usually the real bottleneck holding you back is your hard drive. The second generation and later Macbook Air's all have SSDs. Check out more details about your computer at everymac.com. (Hold the Command key down and click on any link to open that page in a new tab so you can keep reading).
Geeky Many people need more Memory (RAM) as well, but my preference is a new drive before more memory if you can only afford one or the other. The reason? When you have a bunch of stuff open at once, you're using up memory also known as Random Access Memory (RAM). This is like your counter top space. When you fill this memory up and want to open something else, your computer writes what was on the memory chip to your hard drive. Or, your computer is having to pack up something on your countertop and put it back in your cabinet before it can open something else. If your hard drive is slow, it has to spin up, and go find a free space to save that stuff. If you have a fast SSD, that movement of stuff takes WAY less time.
Story I had a Macbook Air and my wife had a 3 year old 15" Macbook Pro. She wanted a new computer because her's was getting slow and she really likes the retina display on the Macbook Pro. She rarely ever wants stuff so I sold my Macbook Air and bought her a Pro with Retina Display and I took her old 15". Her old Macbook Pro had fast processors and a great graphics card and plenty of memory (8GB) but was still slow. I ordered an SSD, installed the latest operating system and transferred my files from my backup drive. It made all the difference! I was working at the Apple Store in Nashville at the time and was always using the fastest computers there. My upgraded 3 year old machine kept up with the best of them for all my regular tasks. It still isn't quite as fast for rendering video as the newer generations of MBP's, but I rarely ever edit video so why upgrade? The only reason I would at this point is to have a machine with USB 3 and I'd get one that was lighter for when I go on location to help clients.
Advice My advice to you if you have an older machine (2-4 years), is to get a Solid State Drive and more memory. I order everything exclusively from Crucial. There are many other companies out there but Crucial has great prices and customer service. You can find a little faster SSDs out there but Crucial is still my preference.
If you are looking for a new Mac, right now Apple has 3 different laptops they offer:
Macbook Air: This machine has the best battery life and for the stuff most of us do every day, it's just as fast as the top end MBP with Retina.
Macbook Pro: This machine is "pro" but on a budget. It is also the only one that has a DVD drive built in and an HDD (vs SSD). It can be configured with an SSD online, but the with the cost difference you might as well just get the Retina.
Macbook Pro with Retina Display: This is the "bad boy" of the laptop lineup. You have fast processors and graphics cards, an incredible display that once you experience it you may be spoiled from here one out, and of course a fast SSD. This means you've got the fast opening and closing and saving speed of an SSD, and the processors to handle difficult tasks quickly. If you don't have a tight budget and/or don't need the the absolute lightest laptop, this is my choice. Michael Hyatt has a great post on why he just switched to a Macbook Pro with Retina.
Downsides to SSD The only big downside I consider is that SSDs are more expensive than an HDD especially in larger capacities. But the trade off to me is not having to buy a new computer. I'd rather spend a couple hundred dollars on an SSD and some more memory when on a budget. SSDs are also have a life expectancy. They only write data so many times, but for almost all of us out there, we won't end up running into this issue.
Upsides to SSD These drives don't having moving parts, so it's very rare they go bad. They consume much less energy so you won't have to charge your laptop quite as much. They are considerably faster than a standard hard drive as mentioned above. This list goes on but that should be enough to convince you.
Get Help Are you curious how hard it would be to do this upgrade? This is pretty easy to do, you can find instructions at ifixit.com. Here is the guide I used for my 15" Macbook Pro. Alternatively you could find an Apple Authorized Service Center. Keep in mind the Apple Store will not do this upgrade for you. They only replace hard drives with the same one that came from the factory. They would recommend an Authorized Service Center or you buy a new Mac.
I offer a service where I install your choice of SSD into your Mac preinstalled with the latest software and then we transfer your data from your old drive and organize everything in an easy to use system that is optimized for you to get the most out of your computer and STAY organized. I'm so passionate about this, and it's the most requested service I offer.
There are so many arguments for why you might want one laptop over another, please feel free to discuss in the comments, I'll join the the conversation. If you want to speak directly to me please check out the Contact Me page!