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SSDs, Win7, Multibooting--Best Practices, Questions, and Issues (Read 12416 times)
NightOwl
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SSDs, Win7, Multibooting--Best Practices, Questions, and Issues
Dec 15th, 2013 at 1:50am
 
To All

Well, the end is drawing nigh:  Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003Support Ends April 8th, 2014

I tried to install Win7 on a new system a couple years ago when my old computer system went belly up.  But, I ran into several issues early on, tried to Google how to deal with them, and could not find any readily available solutions.  I was not in a good place mentally at the time for extended troubleshooting, so threw in the towel, and reverted back to what I knew best--WinXP (turns out the worst of the problems was present with a fresh install of WinXP as well--this is a whole other thread--how does one keep track of all the little tweaks you perform during the life of a hardware system and software OS so you can revisit them if need be in the future?  I now know that I do not remember an awful lot of them  Wink --somehow I had dealt with the problem on my old system, but could never find the solution to apply to the fresh install of WinXP ).  But, long story short--I never went back to Win7.

Anyway, with the demise of WinXP support on the visible horizon now, I guess it's time for me to  upgrade to at least Win7 (can't go to Win8--just don't see that as a good option for now!).  (Okay, I know some of you are rolling around the floor, laughing out loud at my *early adopter* attitude--see NightOwl rocking back and forth mumbling "change is good, change is good"--it's really me--I did not see any new abilities that were *must have* that WinXP couldn't provide.

So, in preparing to upgrade to Win7, I'm thinking about changing to a SSD on my system.  Now, I thought I had been keeping track of references to SSD on the forum here (I keep an ongoing text file of links of interest so I can refer back to it without always having to *search* for old treads), but, turns out I have been tracking lots of Win7 threads, but not so much the SSD threads.

So, I need to decide first what flavor SSD I should get.  Then I have questions about best way to setup Win7 on the SSD, and I have various questions about how best to set up multibooting and how different OSs on the same system interact with each other and the SSD drive.

So, anyone with suggestions at which SSD they would recommend and why, I'd like to hear what you have to say.  But, I will ask Brian directly because I know he has SSDs and has been dealing with them for the last couple years:

Brian wrote on Aug 6th, 2013 at 3:15am:
A friend has ten different SSDs. He says they are all "the same" and to buy the cheapest one. I'm not sure about that. I have Intel 520 series drives and my neighbour has Samsungs. We are pleased with our choices. I'd expect a 120 GB SSD would be quite large enough for you as you only need to put OS on the drive. You can put your data on a HD. 

And earlier in that same thread, reply #20, you said:

Quote:
I bought my first SSD (120 GB) over a year ago and installed it into a Dell computer bought in 2006 (SATA II MB).


I built my current computer in November last year. Asus Sabertooth MB, 16 GB RAM, 240 GB SSD.

I'm pretty sure the 120 GB SSD is an Intel 520.  Based on what you said above, do you only have Intel 520 drives?

Brian wrote on Aug 20th, 2012 at 10:27pm:
used Shopbot to compare prices but I wanted an Intel 520 Series 120 GB SSD. My second choice would have been a Samsung 830. I was told to avoid OCZ as they have a reputation for developing problems.

Is your neighbor's Samsung the 830 model?

Did some Goggle searches and ran across this report:  Top 5 solid-state drives: It's upgrade time

Looks like the current Samsung model is the 840 and Intel did not make it onto his *top 5 list*.  Looking elsewhere, I see that Intel's most recent model is now the 530.  And, I'm seeing reference to *enterprise-grade double data protection* vs *consumer-grade SSD*--but, I don't see where one can determine which SSD falls into which category--and if those two categories are truly important or not.

Looking at the NewEgg website to compare:  Compare SSD Products

I see that the Samsung 840 has two different units--the EVO and the Pro Series, and *Memory Components* are either TLC or MLC--what's the difference, and does it matter?

So, anyone who has any suggestions as to how to wade through all the options (other than size and price) to figure out what would be the best options to consider--please offer your input.....


 

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Re: SSDs, Win7, Multibooting--Best Practices, Questions, and Issues
Reply #1 - Dec 15th, 2013 at 7:11pm
 
@
NightOwl

My SSDs are Intel 520 series and my friends have Samsung 830s. The Intel software seems more reliable than Samsung Magician but the software isn't essential.

Regarding Multi-Booting. Put as many OS on the SSD as you like. In any order. They will be independent. See the BIBM section in this page for how to install the OS.

http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/howto/index.htm

I suggest a 240 GB SSD rather than a 120 GB. They are slightly faster and aren't double the price.

Here is a brief thread on SSD choices...

http://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=356984

In your Newegg page, I'd buy the Intel 530.

A better choice would be http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820167177

as it also contains..

    2.5" to 3.5" Adapter Bracket & Screws
    SATA Data Cable
    SATA Power Cable
    User's Manual & Driver Disc
 
 
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Re: SSDs, Win7, Multibooting--Best Practices, Questions, and Issues
Reply #2 - Dec 16th, 2013 at 2:20am
 
This Topic was moved here from YaBB Forum Software + Rad Web Site by NightOwl.

Oops!  Started this in the wrong board!
 

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Re: SSDs, Win7, Multibooting--Best Practices, Questions, and Issues
Reply #3 - Dec 19th, 2013 at 4:39am
 
I've got two 250GB Samsung 840 EVOs, but only 6 mos. on them so no idea yet on how well they'll stand up over time.  I put one in my old, slow netbook, and it turned it into a reasonably usable laptop!

As I understand it, the principle difference between TLC and MLC is longevity--the way the memory cells are rewritten suggests MLC will theoretically last longer than TLC.

But I don't have a real grasp how that translates into real world use.  TRIM and overprovisioning might even go a long way toward minimizing the differences.  It could be a lot like looking at MTBF numbers for spinning disks--one may be theoretically superior by the numbers, but we all know any of them can (and do) die whenever they feel like it, regardless of the numbers.  So until I've had enough experience with SSDs to see a definite pattern I, like Brian's friend, am choosing not to pay extra for differences which may only be theoretical.  IOW, cost-wise, capacity seems more worth paying for than MLC vs. TLC.

I agree with Brian--if you have a machine that will take multiple drives, use the SSD just for your OSs and put your data on a large HDD.

Both my SSDs (the netbook and my work-a-day laptop) are multibooting DOS/XP/7/8.  I've noticed XP boots somewhat faster on the SSD vs HDD, but 7 and 8 now boot a lot faster since switching them to the SSD.  Not sure why that is, but the change is much more noticeable with 7/8 than it is with XP.

 
 
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Re: SSDs, Win7, Multibooting--Best Practices, Questions, and Issues
Reply #4 - Dec 19th, 2013 at 1:36pm
 
I measured some OS loading times (BIBM Boot Menu to network icon visible on the desktop).

WinXP HD               32 secs
WinXP SSD             19 secs

Win8.1 HD              27 secs
Win8.1 SSD            11 secs

Each XP and 8.1 was a clone of the other. XP is an old installation. 8.1 is a fresh installation. Restoring an 8.1 image to the SSD takes 57 secs and to the HD takes 83 secs. (using IFW in another Win8.1 OS)
 
 
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Re: SSDs, Win7, Multibooting--Best Practices, Questions, and Issues
Reply #5 - Dec 20th, 2013 at 5:24am
 
Brian's numbers correlate with my seat-of-the-pants impressions.  On his system XP boots 68% slower on the HD vs SSD, while W8 boots 145% slower.  Thus, the SSD vs HD difference is much more dramatic with 7 or 8 than it is with XP.

Not sure why that is, but with XP on its way out it's probably not worth puzzling over.  7/8 also works better with SSDs because of native support for TRIM and SSD-friendly sector alignment, so it's probably time to consider an SSD a must-have, no-brainer upgrade if you're still using spinning disks.



Edit: here are my HD vs SSD boot times (in secs):

XP*: 70 vs 38  (HD 84% slower)
W7: 41 vs 17  (HD 141% slower)
W8: 27 vs 9  (HD 200% slower)

(* XP is a well-worn installation with lots of stuff on it, so not as fast as it could be.)


 
 
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Re: SSDs, Win7, Multibooting--Best Practices, Questions, and Issues
Reply #6 - Feb 23rd, 2015 at 8:53am
 
long time absentee....

my SSD is only 60 gb, currently its my first boot device, gpt uefi, very fast booting Windows 8.1 64, but filling up quickly! (a basic install with pagefile and hiberfil enabled and a few utilities takes up >20 gb)

I have two MBR drives, mainly stuffed with music and videos, each has Win 7 on it's first partition (one is 64 bit and the other 32 bit)

I'm thinking about converting my largest HDD to gpt and cloning my efi system partition and the MSR from my ssd to it, and setting the hdd as my boot device, enabling me to delete the efi system partition and the MSR off my ssd, freeing up a few hundred mb

how much will it slow down my boot if i booted my ssd off the efi system partition on my hdd ?


thanks in advance

Chris
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Re: SSDs, Win7, Multibooting--Best Practices, Questions, and Issues
Reply #7 - Feb 23rd, 2015 at 3:44pm
 
Chris,

Interesting. If you move your EFI and MSR to another drive I'd expect Win8.1 will not boot.

Moving those folders will give you about 230 MB of free space. I'm sure you would rather reduce your C: drive used space by many GB.

Firstly, how much RAM do you have? What is the size of your pagefile?

What is the size of the Win8.1 partition? How much used space is present?
 
 
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Re: SSDs, Win7, Multibooting--Best Practices, Questions, and Issues
Reply #8 - Feb 24th, 2015 at 4:13pm
 
Chris,

You haven't identified your system, but if your BIOS supports MBR (aka, "Legacy") booting as well as EFI, then IMHO a much more practical approach would be to convert your SSD from GPT to MBR and forget about EFI altogether.  That will allow you to simply dump the EFI and MSR (SRP), as well as all those other EFI-related partitions.

(You don't mention whether your Win8.1 is a retail or factory install, but if you also have a manufacturer's recovery partition the chances are it will be useless once you start tinkering with the partition layout, so it won't be worth trying to salvage.)

Converting an existing OS partition from GPT/EFI to MBR is not that hard once you understand the principle.  The OS partition itself is essentially the same regardless of whether it's GPT/EFI or MBR, and the only real difference is in how you get it to start booting.  That's where all those other partitions come in, whether it's an EFI boot or MBR boot (with or without a SRP).  To make an OS partition on a MBR-type disk bootable, you just need to copy to it the boot files and build a BCD for it.

I have done the conversion on several systems--usually to facilitate multibooting or custom recovery strategies.  In a nutshell, the basic overview is:
  • make an image backup of the Win8 OS partition;
  • wipe/reinitialize the SSD as an MBR disk;
  • restore your image backup to the SSD;
  • make it bootable by adding boot files and building a new BCD.

Make sure your BIOS is set to boot in "Legacy" mode instead of EFI, and Win8 should boot up just like it always has.

Obviously, whatever tools you employ should be able to recognize both GPT and MBR-style partition layouts.  My favorite for imaging and/or partitioning is BIBM (Terabyte Boot-It Bare Metal).

I'm not sure if BIBM can help with that last step (Brian would probably know), but the repair can always be done manually or if you prefer, automatically with a Macrium boot CD.  Download and install Macrium Reflect for free, use it to create a rescue CD, then boot from that CD, click "fix boot problems", and it will take care of copying the boot files and building the BCD.

As Brian intimated, just getting rid of the EFI stuff may still not give you as much room as you'd like, but he's waiting for more details before giving you specific suggestions.  You may want to consider moving your Documents/Pictures/Music folders from the SSD to the HDD, if you haven't already done so.



 
 
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Re: SSDs, Win7, Multibooting--Best Practices, Questions, and Issues
Reply #9 - Feb 24th, 2015 at 8:49pm
 
Dan,

A few comments while we are waiting to hear from Chris. TeraByte has a tutorial on GPT to MBR conversion but your method is much easier.

http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/kb/article.php?id=580

I'd really like to hear a "Dan Goodell" overview of UEFI. That would be great.

I use my computer for multi-booting so I installed all OS in MBR mode. My son doesn't use multi-booting so I installed his Win8 in UEFI mode, mainly to see how it worked. I have a test computer with about 25 entire drive images (MBR and UEFI) that I can auto-restore in 2 to 3 minutes. A different form of multi-booting.

I started a thread about restoring UEFI Win8 images using various imaging apps, to a new, empty HD  and there were a few apps that couldn't do it. Surprising. It turned out to be a very informative thread.

http://www.wilderssecurity.com/threads/failed-uefi-restores-to-a-new-hd.373634/





 
 
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Re: SSDs, Win7, Multibooting--Best Practices, Questions, and Issues
Reply #10 - Feb 25th, 2015 at 9:20pm
 
Brian wrote on Feb 24th, 2015 at 8:49pm:
I'd really like to hear a "Dan Goodell" overview of UEFI.

Well, I have no particular experience with UEFI so don't think I can offer anything enlightening.


Quote:
TeraByte has a tutorial on GPT to MBR conversion but your method is much easier.

There are two significant differences between Terabyte's method and mine.

First, the Terabyte method seeks to change the partition scheme without destroying the OS partition.  My method just blows it away and restores it from a backup.

Second, the Terabyte tutorial attempts to keep the Windows Recovery Environment.  I don't.

The WinRE is essentially a Microsoft-style dual-boot, using the BCD to either boot the OS or to alternatively boot into a recovery "partition" in the event the regular OS partition won't boot.  (I use the term "partition" loosely because it's not actually a physical partition, the RE is instead a .wim file that is loaded and operated like a virtual machine when it's needed.)

Personally, I find the WinRE more trouble than it's worth, so I usually dispense with it.  Implementing the WinRE demands a Microsoft-style dual-boot, which as you know, I abhor for a number of reasons.  Besides, it doesn't do anything that can't be done by booting from a Windows installation DVD.  Sure, for the rare time you need the RE, it's a tad less convenient if you have to boot a DVD, but for me that one pro doesn't outweigh all the cons.

Furthermore, I always multiboot my systems and I find much of what the RE might be needed for can be done from an alternate booted OS anyway, so I've seldom even needed to resort to booting a Windows DVD to repair a malfunctioning OS.


Quote:
I started a thread about restoring UEFI Win8 images using various imaging apps, to a new, empty HD  and there were a few apps that couldn't do it. Surprising. It turned out to be a very informative thread.

Yes, quite an interesting thread.

I don't find the lack of widespread success that surprising, though.  Remember, we've had similar trouble in the past when new ...uh, partition "variations"... have been introduced.

Note that the new EFI systems use standard partition formats but have their "type" indicators munged.  The EFI partition, for example, is FAT16 but instead of "06" (the standard indicator of a FAT16 partition) it is now "EF".   But it's not like we haven't seen that before.

For example, compare this to the decades-old Dell Utility partition or the XP-era Dell Restore partition.  Both were ordinary FAT16/FAT32 partitions but Dell tweaked their partition table entries to look like they were non-standard partition types so utilities would leave them alone.  The result was many cloning/imaging tools (including Ghost and Acronis) appeared to work but actually didn't because they were somehow confused by the odd partition descriptors.  I don't necessarily think the authors of those programs were confused, my guess is the source of the failures probably owes more to some particular library or libraries the authors may have employed to develop those programs, and some unwitting assumptions about what is "standard" made by the developers of those libraries.

And don't forget how several Windows-based imaging and partitioning utilities (including Acronis) got tripped up because they relied on Windows API calls that themselves could be confused by non-Microsoft partition descriptors--such as this one I documented some time ago, yet which still exists to this day in Win8.

So I'm not at all surprised some programs don't work correctly.  It will take time for vendors to fully vet the parameters of when their programs do and don't work.  And as I said, it's not going to be enough to just audit their own code because some problems could be stemming from code they didn't write that's locked up in some third-party library they happen to be relying on.




 
 
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Re: SSDs, Win7, Multibooting--Best Practices, Questions, and Issues
Reply #11 - Feb 26th, 2015 at 7:52am
 

Wow! glad to have sparked a debate! I've been shuffling some big files, moving them off my HDD so that I could clear it and reinitialize it as GPT

I used Acronis True Image to clone the 60Gb SSD to the 2TB HDD.  Everything OK so far, Win 8.1 boots fine off the HDD in UEFI mode, although somewhat slower

I then reinitialized the SSD as mbr, created a single partition, and restored an image of the OS to it (the image was taken from the SSD when it was gpt uefi), it now boots fine in legacy bios mode using the F12 boot menu

OK so far, but then I installed EasyBCD on the gpt uefi HDD, setting it as the first boot device, trying to boot the mbr SSD from a BCD boot menu, but it didn't work   Sad
there seems to be a conflict between the settings shown in EasyBCD and those shown in the system configuration (msconfig), i'm wondering if I need to assign a drive letter to the efi system partition to help EasyBCD find the right BCD ?

Dan Goodell wrote on Feb 24th, 2015 at 4:13pm:
IMHO a much more practical approach would be to convert your SSD from GPT to MBR and forget about EFI altogether. 


Dan, I've bought this shiny new mobo with UEFI capability and i'm sure as hell gonna use it! (im stubborn like that)  Wink


Dan Goodell wrote on Feb 24th, 2015 at 4:13pm:
You don't mention whether your Win8.1 is a retail or factory install, but if you also have a manufacturer's recovery partition


Dan, my Win 8.1 install was from an ISO chopped down with the free beta verion of NTLite, so no, I don't have a manufacturer's recovery partition which I can reclaim)


thanks

Chris
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Re: SSDs, Win7, Multibooting--Best Practices, Questions, and Issues
Reply #12 - Feb 26th, 2015 at 1:53pm
 
c_j_holt wrote on Feb 26th, 2015 at 7:52am:
I've bought this shiny new mobo with UEFI capability and i'm sure as hell gonna use it! (im stubborn like that)

Well, then, hats off to you for your perseverance!

I'm not going to be of much help, though, as I only use BIOS/MBR mode, even though my system does support EFI/GPT.

That, plus the fact you're trying to use a Microsoft-style multiboot (out of necessity because of EFI), and IMHO that's virtually guaranteed to cause headaches down the road.  I abhor Microsoft's pseudo-multiboot scheme with a passion--so much so, that I refuse to help anyone go down that road to ruin.

Hyperbole aside, though . . .

From everything I've read, trying to multiboot EFI boot and BIOS boot on the same system is asking for trouble.  I'm not exactly sure why . . . perhaps it has something to do with capabilities/limitations of the EFI partition.  I don't see why it would be a BCD limitation, and I don't think it can be a GPT-vs-MBR issue because Vista/7/8 have no trouble handling both types of disks in the same system, so it must be something with the actual boot hand-off itself, from MBR or EFI partition to the OS partition in question.




 
 
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Re: SSDs, Win7, Multibooting--Best Practices, Questions, and Issues
Reply #13 - Feb 26th, 2015 at 3:36pm
 
Dan,

Quote:
Second, the Terabyte tutorial attempts to keep the Windows Recovery Environment.  I don't.


I tried your method. Easy.

I can't recall the WinRE ever helping me. But I need the WinRE.wim to create IFW recovery media and I think some other imaging apps use it too.

http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/howto/tbwinre_tutorial.htm

Using WinRE.wim to create the recovery media avoids having to download and install the 2 GB Win8 ADK.

Quote:
as I only use BIOS/MBR mode, even though my system does support EFI/GPT.

Me too. I wonder what we are missing? If anything. We can't boot from a drive larger than 2 TB but that isn't relevant if you have the OS on a SSD. We don't have Secure Boot but does it really matter?
 
 
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Re: SSDs, Win7, Multibooting--Best Practices, Questions, and Issues
Reply #14 - Feb 26th, 2015 at 4:34pm
 
Dan,

Quote:
I'm not sure if BIBM can help with that last step


No it can't do this because there is no BCD store.


But this worked using the IFW TBWinRE for all the steps below.
From a Command Prompt...
Use Diskpart to "clean" the disk
Restore the Win8 image
Restart the computer into TBWinRE again (MBR mode)
From a Command Prompt...
bootrec /rebuildbcd

Win8 boots in MBR mode.


 
 
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