Q: I’ve seen you talking about how hybrid hard drives can boost the performance of an older laptop, but what about getting one in a new laptop? I’ve been looking for a new laptop with a hybrid hard drive and I can’t find any. — Clint

A: Hybrid hard drives have become one of the most popular upgrades we install because it offers a performance boost over traditional hard drives for a small difference in price (a video that shows the performance differences is posted at evtnow.com/5o5)

The real speed demon in the hard drive world is the Solid State Drive (SSD) but they are substantially more expensive than traditional or hybrid hard drives.

The cost per GB is currently about 6 times the price for SSDs, so unless you are prepared to spend $500-$600 on just a hard drive, a hybrid hard drive is the best bang for the buck.

A hybrid hard drive combines a small SSD circuit with a traditional mechanical hard drive with special circuitry that monitors how you use your computer to improve performance.

The programs and data that you use frequently get moved to the SSD circuit and the less used files and programs get stored on the standard hard drive.

Think of it like running in a marathon; they put all of the faster runners at the front of the pack so that slower runners don’t get in the way.

A traditional hard drive stores and accesses data with no recognition of the “faster runners” so everyone lines up wherever they line up and the average times are slower.

The best bet for finding a new laptop that will come with a hybrid hard drive is to find a company that will custom-build the laptop for you. The downside is that your options are limited and it becomes a more complicated process for you if you aren’t very comfortable with all the technical specs.

A better way to approach it is to do what we’ve been doing for our customers: Buy whatever laptop you like from whichever manufacturer you prefer and then swap the drives out afterwards.

This may seem like an unnecessary additional expense, however, if you take the hard drive that came with the computer and put it into an external enclosure, you now have a solid back-up drive to go with your new, faster computer.

Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the Data Doctors Radio Program, noon Saturdays on KTAR 92.3 FM or at www.datadoctors.com/radio. Readers may send questions to evtrib@datadoctors.com.

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