Tips ‘n Tricks

This page contains some helpful ICT tips and tricks and links to useful online resources.

Information and Tutorials for various software applications

  • TOI-Pedia – Online library for applications such as Maya, AutoCAD, Rhino, Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator)

Information to keep your Windows in good condition

Using Endnote to manage your references

TUD Library information on Endnote

When you use Endnote, make sure you download and install the link information (TU Delft.enz) for the TU Delft Library catalog.

Ins and outs of Solid State Drives (SSD)

An SSD – short for ‘Solid State Drive’ – is a storage device using memory chips. You can think of it as having a really fast and large memory-stick inside of your computer, in place of your hard drive. Classic hard drives, especially in laptops, are pretty slow because they are mechanical devices. SSD’s have no moving parts: they are completely electronic, which is a reason why they are much faster than mechanical hard drives (HDD).

So should you get one? Well, the answer depends entirely on your situation. SSD’s are more expensive and offer less storage space compared to mechanical hard drives. A fast 128GB SSD costs about €60, 256GB costs around €90-110 and 512GB is currently going for €180 and up (July 2015). Prices continue to drop gradually though. As such we reckon that an SSD is a worthwhile upgrade in most cases.

Nowadays laptops have several varieties of storage configurations. We’ve detailed the most common ones below so you can decide which one might be right for you.

Using an SSD as your main system drive

Having only a single 128GB drive in your system will be insufficient: a typical student Windows installation with applications requires approximately 90GB, so that doesn’t leave any breathing room for your data.

A dual drive configuration is a good solution: this means you’ll have an additional ‘normal’ hard disk for your bulk data (for example a 128GB SSD + 500GB hard drive). For a desktop computer this is definitely a way to go, but it may be tricky for your laptop: most laptops can only house a single drive. In some cases you can get a special bracket to replace your optical drive with a hard disk  (like this one for various HP Elitebooks).

In case your laptop has no optical drive, or you don’t want to replace it, you should go for an SSD with 256GB or 512GB storage capacity depending on your budget and needs. Alternatively you could opt for a WD Black2, which combines a 128GB SSD with a 1TB HDD in the form factor of a standard 2,5” hard drive, so it fits in most laptops.

Hybrid solutions (caching)

Another option is to use a hybrid HDD / SSD solution. These mostly come in two flavors: a hybrid hard disk or a ‘flash cache’ module. In both cases a small SSD is used for ‘caching’: a process in which frequently used files are moved from your slow hard drive to the fast SSD memory to speed up access to those files. Overall performance should improve, but the gain in speed won’t be nearly as drastic as having an SSD as your system drive. On the other hand new laptops with these configurations tend to be more affordable. It thus could be a good choice when a full-sized SSD is beyond your budget.

A hybrid hard disk is a regular hard disk (with the same storage capacities) that is outfitted with a small SSD to automatically speed up the access to frequently used files. An example is the Seagate Laptop SSHD series. The benefit is that it will fit in any 2,5″ hard drive bay, so you can use it in any laptop to replace your normal hard disk.

A flash cache module is a small SSD on a circuit board that can be fitted to the system board of your laptop or computer directly. This is a feature that must be available on your system board. Its availability is largely limited to newer laptops (late 2012 onwards). The previous HP Elitebook 8570w student laptop supports this option. The module acts as a fast cache for the regular hard drive in your system. You can recognize laptops with support for flash cache going by the specifications: these will list two hard drives, one of them being a small SSD (for example “1TB + 24GB SSD”). Otherwise try to find out if the system board has an M.2 or mSATA slot. As a rule of thumb SSD’s with a capacity of 32GB or smaller are used for caching.

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