installijng ssd hard drive as boot drive for windows 7



I am interested in purchasing a 64 gb Kingston Solid State hard drive
and installing it on my Windows 7 PC as the
C drive which I believe would allow the system to boot up considerably

Has anyone done this? If so, what steps were used to make the

best, Aaron

Bug Dout

Yes, I've done that. Not much improvement on my system, but if you have
a slow hard drive to begin with, you'll see better improvement. As
another poster said, RAID0 is really the way to go (for permanent
storage speediness).

You have two basic choices to make the switch:

1. Put in the new drive and reinstall Windows and everything else.
2. Make an image of your C: drive, save to another disk, put in the new
drive, restore the image back to the new drive.

1 is more trouble, but you're assured that Win 7 installs properly on
the SSD (Win 7 changes its settings a bit on SSDs, as compared to
HDDs). 2 is less trouble but you have to take extra steps to make sure
Win 7 has the right settings. There's a utility which name escapes me
that does this checking and setting for you.

Charlie Hoffpauir

I am interested in purchasing a 64 gb Kingston Solid State hard drive
and installing it on my Windows 7 PC as the
C drive which I believe would allow the system to boot up considerably

Has anyone done this? If so, what steps were used to make the

best, Aaron

It's more efficient to just take a $100 bill and burn it.

I installed a very highly rated SSD (OCZ VERTEX) thinking I'd see a
dramatic speed increase in booting Windows (I have Vista 64, but
results should be similar for Win 7). I was able to boot into Windows
from a cold start in 90 seconds with my 500 GB SATA drive, after
switching to the SSD my boot time dropped from 90 seconds to 60. I was
foolishly expecting something like 15 seconds! So I paid $200 for a
120 GB drive that saves me 30 seconds once or so a week.... duh!

BTW, the way SSDs work, you'd better make sure that the drive you are
thinking of getting supports the "trim" function, otherwise you'll
find with a drive that small that your performance will actually drop
to SLOWER than a typical hard drive once all the memory cells are used
once (the SSDs are very fast reading data, and also writing data to
"erased" cells, but very very slow in "erasing" used cells. So what
this means is that any time any data is changed, that cell takes a
rather long time to be erased, so in order to "save" that time and
give fast performance, the drive writes the "new" data to an unused
cell. So eventually. all cells get used, then you begin to pay the
performance penalty. Win 7 "trim" function "erases" those unused cells
whan you're not using the drive, so you can maintain the original fast
performance. But not all SSDs suppport the "trim" function.)

As others have mentioned, the way to go for faster performance (until
SSDs are actually cheaper than rotating disks) is to go with a RAID 0
configuration. It's not as fast as a new SSD, but is very fast and you
have decent capacity. I've posted my speed tests for my SSD, a single
7200 RPM SATA drive, and a RAID 0 config. Copies of the test results
are here:

I'd also consider switching to something like a 10,000 RPM drive like
the WD Raptor series.... or if you're really into performance, a RAID
0 configuration of two or more of those little beasts.


I am interested in purchasing a 64 gb Kingston Solid State hard drive
and installing it on my Windows 7 PC as the
C drive which I believe would allow the system to boot up considerably

Has anyone done this? If so, what steps were used to make the

best, Aaron

Windows 7 is "SSD aware". If the SSD is detected, the partitioning
should be set up to align with sector 2048, rather than the traditional 63.
If you used WinXP, it would choose sector 63 for alignment of the first
sector (presumably based on CHS alignment and the fake values used for

Windows 7 should also refuse to defragment the SSD, because defragmenting
them is not required. And that is because the seek time for an SSD is
0.1 milliseconds on the SATA bus (the flash chips may need around 0.025
milliseconds, to set up the operation and handle first data). Such a small
time means there is virtually no penalty for head movement.

Another optimization, is not updating the "last accessed" time stamp on
files. I don't know whether Windows 7 disables that by default or not.

I would expect Windows 7 could be installed and used, without special treatment.
If you could install the OS on a regular rotating hard drive, there shouldn't
be much difference with the SSD. If you set the BIOS to AHCI, Windows 7 has
the "msahci" driver which supports TRIM to a single drive. Getting TRIM
to work with RAID arrays, is a separate issue.


Loren Pechtel

I am interested in purchasing a 64 gb Kingston Solid State hard drive
and installing it on my Windows 7 PC as the
C drive which I believe would allow the system to boot up considerably

Has anyone done this? If so, what steps were used to make the

best, Aaron

That sounds like a bad idea. Flash drives don't have wear-leveling.
Get a real SSD.


Ian said:

Do you really need to enable AHCI to get TRIM support?

I got an Intel X25-M 120 GB SSD at a really good price. I installed
64 bit Win 7 Pro, along with various apps on it with my other
drives disconnected, but haven't yet put it into normal service. My
BIOS SATA setting is now at IDE. Right now I'm dual booting
XP Pro and 64 bit Vista Ultimate. The SSD would be introduced
in a tri boot setup using VistaBootPro.

If I change the BIOS to AHCI, will there be any loss of data
integrity on the other two drives?

I can't find a good reference, but along the way, I've seen "msahci"
and "TRIM" mentioned together a lot. I don't think the regular IDE
style driver supports it.

There are options besides TRIM. Some SSDs have built-in garbage
collection. And things like the Intel Toolkit, support manual
TRIM. So in some cases, you can get an equivalent to TRIM, using
a standalone application (left running overnight).

The procedure for flipping your system to AHCI, is here. You have to
"rearm" Windows 7 for the driver change, and that takes a registry
change. Once Windows 7 has identified the right driver, it prevents
the other ones from automatically detecting a hardware change later.
So the "rearm" step is necessary, before shutting down and entering the
BIOS to make the change. I notice in here as well, that some people
are having trouble with the "msahci" driver. The Intel driver package,
generally has AHCI and RAID in the same package, and you could get
AHCI that way. But I don't know whether the Intel AHCI also supports
TRIM - the reason for wanting "msahci" to pick up all the drives,
is it is built in. If you use a separate Intel driver, I don't
know whether you can later "go backwards" or not.

OK, the bottom of this table, says the Intel RST driver supports
trim, for drives not in a RAID array. If you own two SSDs and they're
running RAID 0, then there is no TRIM used there.

"What features are supported on each I/O controller hub (ICH)?
TRIM support in Windows 7* (in AHCI mode and in RAID mode for drives
that are not part of a RAID volume"

I presume any AHCI driver is smart enough to query all hard drives, and
see whether they indicate they support AHCI. The same would apply to
using any command queuing protocol (NCQ or TCQ). There is no point in
tagging commands, if the disk isn't paying attention. The driver needs
a fallback, in case a user mixes ancient and modern drivers on the
same computer. If a person wanted, they could use an IDE to SATA adapter
dongle, and then that means the driver would be exposed to some crufty
old drives. Any driver, has to be tolerant of all the various revisions
of ATA/ATAPI specs.



Ian said:
Thanks, Paul,

Win 7 isn't really my problem. It would only take an hour,
or so, to reinstall Win 7 and apps to the SSD for use in an
AHCI environment. My problem is the multiboot XP Pro,
64 bit Vista Ultimate environment.

I'm beginning to think that TRIM isn't worth the trouble.
My Intel SSD is 120GB, and I can't see my total install
being greater than 60GB. Also, the SSD will be for the
OS and apps only, no data storage. Under this scenario
the SSD would probably be obsolete before garbage
starts to slow it down. I have 6GB of RAM, so the pagefile
would see minimal usage, and I could shrink it to 100MB
without any performance hits. Then TRIM would be a non-
issue. I do have the option of using the Intel utility for TRIM
if the drive slows down.

So it sounds like what is holding you back, is WinXP.
Maybe you could take a backup of WinXP, then work on changing
it. If it doesn't work out, do a restore and carry on with
your other plan.

Changing WinXP from IDE to AHCI, has a bit of a Catch-22
associated with it. If you try to install the AHCI driver,
while the board is still set to IDE, the installer won't allow it
because of the enumeration mismatch. If you go into the BIOS,
and flip the BIOS to AHCI, then the computer won't boot (because
the active driver is still the IDE one). You'd get the
"Inaccessible Boot Volume" in that case.

There is a recipe somewhere, that allows changing from IDE to AHCI.

But I was thinking of an alternative. That would be, to install
a driver for a second controller chip on the motherboard. Then,
move the hard drive to that controller. Now, since you're no longer
dependent on the Intel Southbridge interface, you could flip the
setting in the BIOS, and the computer would still be able to boot,
because it is connected to the second controller. For example, if your
board had a JMB363, you could use the SATA port from that, while
you work on installing the Intel driver. Once the Intel driver
is installed, you can move the drive back to a Southbridge port.
All you need, is a second chip (something other than the Southbridge).
When I need to do that here, I plug a PCI storage card into the computer,
and install its driver, and when the hard drive boots from that card,
then I have more room to make changes to the rest of the system.



Ian said:
My motherboard is an Asus P6T Dlx, and has 3 on-board
disk controllers, the Intel ICH10R, a Marvell SAS controller,
and a Marvell eSATA controller. Unfortunately, this board
doesn't have an internal connector for the Marvell eSATA
controller. My previous Asus P5B Dlx did have an internal
connector for the JMicron controller.

The SAS looks interesting. It's my understanding that, if
the SAS driver is not installed, the SAS controller will
function as a normal SATA (IDE) controller. Is this correct?
It would make things easier. I could move the XP and Vista
disks to the SAS, change the ICH10R to AHCI, then connect
and reinstall Win 7 Pro on the SSD. I have an older clone of
my Vista disk, so I can use that for risk free experimenting.

I wasn't proposing using the alternate controllers permanently.
I was proposing using them, until the most difficult OS (WinXP)
had been changed to use AHCI on the main controller (Southbridge).
So you're only using your alternate, to solve the problem of
being unable to boot the computer if you change the BIOS setting
to AHCI for the Intel controller. If the WinXP disk can be made
to boot from some other controller, then you can work on the
WinXP Intel driver change.

"SAS controllers may support connecting to SATA devices,
either directly connected using native SATA protocol or ..."

so that suggests you could use the SAS temporarily.

Marvell 88SE6320 2 SAS
Marvell 88SE6111 1 ESATA abd 1 IDE ribbon

With your current config, you'd work on adding whatever driver
is needed for 88SE6320, move the WinXP disk over so you can
boot WinXP while on the 88SE6320. Once 88SE6320 is used to boot
WinXP, then change the BIOS to Intel AHCI, boot WinXP again and
install the Intel AHCI. Then, move the disk back to the Intel
controller. I would then expect that your "re-armed" other two
OSes would be ready to go. You could "re-arm" the other two,
work on WinXP, after WinXP is tidied up, the next boot of
Windows 7 or Vista should work OK.

Someone ran a SATA optical drive from the SAS here.

The Asus support site, lists a

"Marvell 6121 SATA Driver V1.2.0.68 for Windows XP & 64bit XP & 32/64bit Vista.
Marvell 6121 SATA Driver V1.2.0.69 for 32/64bit Windows7."

driver package, so you could boot WinXP now, with current cabling,
and install that. Re-arm your other OSes, shut down, then move the
WinXP drive to the SAS controller, and see whether WinXP boots using
that new SATA driver or not.

Also, the Asus VIP forums may contain threads with experiences with
using that controller. More than one Asus motherboard has used it,
so you may be able to dig up further feedback on the controller that way.
Eacn motherboard model is supposed to have its own forum.


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