For comparison purposes I’ll show the older PATA / IDE drives, SATA-I, SATA-II, SATA-III and Solid State Drives (SSD). As you will see later, Solid State Drives are not only faster but have no performance drop off from the beginning to the end of the drive.
Notice the transfer rate starts out at about 57MB/s and drops off to about 30MB/s at the end of the drive. All hard drives (PATA or SATA) have the fastest data transfer rates at the beginning of the drive and the slowest near the end of the drive. You can for all practical purposes divide a hard drive into 4 segments; the first 25%, 25 to 50%, 50 to 75% and the final 25%.
This Western Digital (WD) SATA-I “Raptor” drive has on significant advantage over other early SATA-I drives. Mainly the “Access Time” is only 7.7 ms (Milliseconds) due to its drive motor's 10,000 RPM rotational speed. Most older drive use a slower 5400 RPM spindle (drive platter rotation speed) resulting in great access times, or in other word the average time it take the platter to rotate to the point where the read head can access your data.
The data transfer rate is also slightly better than the PATA drive.
This WD Black 640GB SATA-II drive (now discontinued) has a 7600 RPM drive motor resulting in access times more typical of today’s commercial drives for consumers. Notice the improved data transfer rates, especially at the beginning of the drive which are 100 MB/s or greater, which is about twice as fast s the PATA drive.
The transfer rate for the last 50% of the drive drops off rapidly. A two partition arrangement with Windows on the first 300GB and your less often accessed data files located on the second and slower partition. You can use an Image Backup of your old drive and when restoring the image to this or a newer drive specify the partition size for Windows.
Western Digital’s 3rd generation WD Black transfer rates are significantly better at the beginning of the drive (more than 185 MB/s) and almost as good (88 MB/s) at the end of the drive when compared to the beginning or front of a SATA-II drive.
Drive transfer rates are not quite as good for some unexplainable reason.
So for a new 1 Terabyte (1TB) SATA hard drive you could create 4 partitions; the first 250GB partition for installing Windows XP and the other 3 for applications for data storage. Alternately a 3 partition layout, where the first 350GB is for Windows XP with one or two additional partitions created after Windows is installed or restored from an Image Backup of your old drive. Since the first partition is created is at the beginning or fastest part of the drive, Windows XP performs at its best.
Solid State Drives:
If you are fortunate enough to have one or more SATA ports (preferably SATA-II or SATA-III) on your motherboard you can speed up that old XP computer noticeably. Not only will installing a Sold State Drive (SSD) make Windows XP boot faster but applications will load almost instantly.
SSD connected to a SATA-II port:
As you can see the transfer rate is flat from the beginning to the end of the drive. About 70% faster at the beginning of most SATA-II hard drives and 200 to 400% faster than a typical hard drive from the middle to the end of the drive storage area.
SSD connected to a SATA-III port:
If your computer has SATA-III ports then the use of a SSD can improve Windows XP performance even more as transfer rates are about 4 times faster than a typical hard drive.
Notes of caution about using a Solid State Drive with Windows XP:
1) Unlike Windows 7 which supports a function called TRIM, Windows XP does not. Simply put, when you delete a file on a hard drive the disk space the file occupied is free to use again. With a SSD when you delete a file the page or block is marked as not in use but in reality still needs to be erased. TRIM does the house cleaning on an SSD in the background when the computer is idle. Since XP does not support TRIM eventually the performance of the SSD will slow down dramatically.
So what you need to do is choose a Solid State Drive manufacture that includes a software utility designed to do the house keeping necessary to keep the SSD at peak performance levels. So call the Technical Support team of the SSD manufacture or go to their web site and verify that such a utility is available. If so after you move XP from your hard drive (Some SSD manufactures provide software to clone XP from a hard drive to an SDD) to the SSD then you need to install the software and periodically run the performance tune up option at least once a month or when you begin to notice a slowdown in performance.
2) Not all SSD manufactures support SATA-I mode, so call their support to see if SATA-I is supported.
3) If you have a tower case you will need an SSD to 3.5 inch hard drive mounting plate as Solid State drives are much thinner and smaller in size. If you have a laptop verify the model number of the manufacture’s SSD has the proper mounting hole locations.
Photos of PATA and SATA data cables, Hard Disk Drives and Solid State Drives----->