hp pavilion ssd upgrade

I recently purchased a new laptop to replace my old HP Pavilion, which had been on the go for 10+ years. For the most part, it was still in working order, but just quite slow and the screen was badly damaged. The laptop originally came with a SATA II hard disk drive (HDD), and reading online, an upgrade to a solid state drive (SSD) would majorly benefit the performance. Installing a lightweight linux distribution afterwards would mean I could easily run it headless, solving both major problems.

Since throughput would be limited by the SATA II connection, I wasn't in the market for a top of the line SSD model. I picked up a PNY 1TB SSD from Amazon and a USB drive to create a bootable image on. I decided on Debian as the operating system (OS) to install, mostly because I run Raspbian on my personal Raspberry Pi. At the time, Debian 12.5 was the latest version. (Debian distributions requiring an internet connection are available here.) Once I had the image, I installed and used Rufus to create the bootable USB. This was a very painless experience.

Replacing the physical drive was no big deal, and once the laptop was started up with the bootable USB inserted, the Debian installation started automatically. The first install attempt failed at installing the GRUB boot loader - this was due to incorrectly selecting to install in UEFI mode. Debian installed correctly once the right option was selected. On removing the USB and rebooting, the machine did not report the existence of any bootable media though. After retrying the installation procedure, some internet research and head-scratching, the answer was that the original HP BIOS settings had Legacy Support turned off. This booted from UEFI only, and the laptop drive wasn't listed as an option here. I had originally believed that the OS was stored on the drive and loaded into RAM on start-up, but this must not be case. Perhaps the original HP HDD is listed under UEFI when it's installed. Once the Legacy Support option was enabled, the machine automatically booted Debian from the SSD.

There were no further issues at this point, and Debian started up quite happily. I haven't put it through any strenuous testing by any means, but it is certainly a lot more responsive than the old HDD and Windows install. All that's left now is to decide what to use it for.