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Can't Get Windows to Use mSATA for Boot Partition on M4600?

Discussion in 'Dell Latitude, Vostro, and Precision' started by Zzyzxtek, Aug 7, 2011.

  1. Zzyzxtek

    Zzyzxtek Notebook Enthusiast

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    I've got an m4600 with a 128GB mSATA SSD and a 750 GB HDD.

    I'm doing a fresh install of Windows 7.

    With both disks wiped (no existing partitions), I select disk 0 (the mSATA SSD) to install Windows on and hit next. It continues happily along, but when it completes I find it created a 100 MB system partition (the boot partition) on disk 1 (the HDD) and installed all the rest of Windows on a partition it created the mSATA SSD. So it's actually booting from the HDD and then loading all the rest of Windows from the mSATA.

    If I try manually creating a partition in the Windows install on disk 0, it creates one partition using all the space. If I create a partition on disk 1, it puts up a dialog about creating additional partitions, and then creates two -- a 100 MB system partition and the other main partition. I want it to do that with disk 0.

    So, Windows is apparently thinking it can't boot from the mSATA SSD. Which is weird because that's the way it was set up from the factory (the mSATA had the boot partition on it as well). But I can't find a way to get that back.

    I've checked to make sure the mSATA device is set to bootable in the BIOS (although let me know if there is a trick to this). When I set the system to only boot from the mSATA, it hangs on boot up. If I set it to boot from the HDD, it boots up fine.

    I thought maybe it needed some additional drivers to recognize the mSATA as a boot device, so I've tried using the drivers during the install from the "Rapid Storage Technology (Pre-OS Install)", but when I do that Windows install now says it can't install on either of the two drives (showing a generic hex code error message), and I have to re-start the install.

    Any ideas or help? I tried talking to Dell tech support, but the person on the phone had no clue and was just walking me through these long, drawn out steps that they were just reading off the screen. I suspect there is some more direct answer to this.

    Many thanks in advance!
     
  2. Weegie

    Weegie Notebook Deity

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    Remove the hard drive and then install as per normal
     
  3. tom_bell07

    tom_bell07 Notebook Consultant

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    I don't think the mSata drive works without a HDD or something (another SSD) in the normal drive location. I tried doing that before with my m4500 and it didn't work.
     
  4. Weegie

    Weegie Notebook Deity

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    Worked with my intel 310 Tom, as long as the bios is set correctly, mSata formatted and set to basic disc, trying to clean install mine with the HDD in it, ended up with a mess like the OP just stated, bit of this here...and a bit that there.
    Soon as you put the hard drive back in after installing windows on the mSata, or any new HDD in the main slot, you have to reset the bios to primary boot from the mSata, because the silly thing defaults back to the HDD again, even if there is no OS on it, thus ending in not being able to find any bootable device
     
  5. Zzyzxtek

    Zzyzxtek Notebook Enthusiast

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    Thanks for that report! I just spent the entire afternoon installing all the Dell drivers and utilities per the re-image guide and Windows update, etc. So I was hoping for some confirmation that a clean Win 7 install could be made with the HDD temporarily removed before I backtracked that much. Now that I know it's possible, I probably won't be satisfied until I wipe it all out and try it! :(


     
  6. Bokeh

    Bokeh Notebook Deity

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    You have to move the drive up in the boot sequence. The bios automatically puts the 2.5" drives ahead of it.
     
  7. Zzyzxtek

    Zzyzxtek Notebook Enthusiast

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    Yep, thanks. When I was having the issues, the 2.5" drive was unchecked as bootable -- only the mSATA and DVD were checked as bootable, with the DVD first on the list. I had to make the HDD bootable after Windows put the partition on it (as mentioned above).

    I decided to wipe out the disks and re-install with the HDD removed when I get home this evening, so stay tuned...
     
  8. Dell-Mano_G

    Dell-Mano_G Company Representative

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    If you are having issues installing the OS to the mSATA drive try removing all other HDD's from the system and trying the install again. This will force the OS to install to the mSATA drive and not the HDD's.
     
  9. Zzyzxtek

    Zzyzxtek Notebook Enthusiast

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    Worked like a charm!

    I wiped both disks (I had time, so I truly wiped them with a utility that wrote 0's over the entire disk overnight -- probably not necessary, but I wasn't taking any chances with left over boot sectors or anything). Then I removed the HDD, booted to the Windows CD, it saw the mSATA SSD, I selected it and it went ahead and did the install. Put the HDD back, and it boots fine with just the mSATA enabled for boot and the only device in the boot order (also see note below). Checked it and the 100MB "System Reserved" partition was there on the mSATA along with the primary system partition, leaving the HDD completely untouched for my exclusive use.

    Thanks to everyone for the suggestions!

    Now I'm back to installing all the drivers and system software. Hopefully I'll be back to where I was last night before I burn out tonight.

    An interesting side note: With the HDD removed, the BIOS no longer showed the mSATA as a bootable device. It was not possible to enable it or set it in the boot order when it was the only installed disk. Only when I put the HDD back in did it show in the list, and could I mark it as bootable and add it to the boot order. There must be something about having the primary disk installed that enables the mSATA disk?
     
  10. Giarc392

    Giarc392 Newbie

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    Hi. I am having the same problem with my M4500. I've done what you describe, but with different behavior. Here is what I have done:

    1) Installed mSATA Intel 310 80GB
    2) Set BIOS to boot from CD/DVD and mSATA
    3) Set BIOS SATA to AHCI
    4) Booted from install DVD
    5) Used DISKPART CLEAN ALL on existing HDD (disc 0 HDD, disc 1 SSD)
    6) Shutdown and removed HDD, leaving only the SSD
    7) Booted from install DVD
    8) Installed WIN7 to SSD with 100MB System Reserve on SSD
    9) Installed necessary drivers and other Dell schwag
    10) Shutdown and installed HDD
    11) Set BIOS to boot from CD/DVD and mSATA
    12) No Dice on Win7 booting
    13) Tried Startup Repair >3 times per other forum recommendations
    14) Still no luck

    I can boot into Win7 by selecting the mSATA as the boot option from F12 menu. I cannot boot otherwise. I figure the issue is that the SSD was Disk 0 when Win7 was installed w/o the HDD. The SSD becomes Disk 1 with the HDD installed and at Disk 0. I haven't tried setting the BIOS to boot CD/DVD, mSata, and internal HDD (I just saw this posting). I haven't yet tried bootrec /fixmbr or /fixboot.

    What is your boot order in the BIOS? Is your SATA configured for AHCI or RAID? According to "diskpart list disk", is the HDD disk 0 and SSD disk 1, or vice-versa?

    Anybody else have a M4500 with a similar and working configuration? Can you provide BIOS settings and "diskpart list disk" results, including location of system reserve?

    Thanks in advance for your help and advice.
     
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