I'm planning on buying my dad an SSD for his laptop as a Christmas present.
But I'm worried that he may still need the 750 GB of capacity he has on his hard disk. So I'm wondering: how difficult is it to switch between the two drives?
A SSD will absolutely transform a laptop.
I have installed a ssd in two to good effect.
But, it is not a process that is easily reversed or switched.
The case needs to be taken apart, a task whose difficulty depends on the chassis.
It is also not to be done on anything but a sata drive. Current laptops will have sata drives.
If you mean, how difficult is it to replace the hard drive, then that is different.
There is cloning software that should do the job. Some ssd's include a kit with the software and an external usb adapter to do the job.
The cloning process may not include the hidden recovery partition on some laptops. Do some googling there.
I just installed windows 7 directly to the new SSD, keeping the old hard drive intact as a backup in case anything went wrong.
One possibility is a Seagate Momentus XT STAN500100 500GB 7200 RPM drive.
It is a hybrid that includes a ssd cache.
If you need to hold 750gb, you are in for a big bill. A ssd will cost about $2 pergb.
The current largest would be the Intel 320 600gb unit which costs about $1100.
The procedure I've seen recommended most often is to get an external USB enclosure, put the new drive into it, clone the old drive to the new drive, remove the new drive from the external enclosure and put it into the laptop. Then if you wish future access to the old drive you can put it into the external enclosure and use it just as if you had bought an external drive from a store. The hardest part of this process is the cloning software, because different programs will clone differently, and they may or may not clone all of the partitions on your drive. Plus some cloning such as what I am going through with Norton Ghost will mess up your boot manager to the point that neither drive will boot.
I have 2 laptops and it is easy to get to the hard drives in both of them. In a matter of 2 minutes you can have one drive out and the other drive in.
I have heard good things about Acronis. I've used the version that WD gives out for use with their drives and it worked quickly and easily. The people on the Norton forum that defend Ghost also claim that there are problems with Acronis. I don't know if that is just them complaining or if there are real issues but if I was buying software and didn't receive Ghost free with my drive, I would be looking at Acronis. The external enclosure is good too but I bought on from newegg for $10 that worked perfectly.