SSD and Format question

Discussion in 'Alienware 17 and M17x' started by guerriero, Jan 31, 2013.

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  1. radji

    radji Farewell, Solenya...

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    Yeah, I couldn't find the iaStor.inf file on the DVDs either. Soooo, here's what I've got:

    First, you should disable secureboot, fast boot, and disable/change from UEFI mode to legacy mode. That will maximize compatibility with the Windows 7 installer. I know Windows 7 is compatible with UEFI but I'm not sure to what extent and if our Alienware's are setup for Windows 7 in UEFI mode. Now check your boot tab and make sure that the USB device in the boot priority list is higher than the SSDs and hard drives. Finally make sure your hard drive's modes are set to RAID (just to be sure).

    Next, you want to format your USB drive just to be sure it's clean and will make it visible to the Windows 7 installer. Then download the zip I attached. These are the AHCI and RAID drivers direct from the Dell's Intel RST driver package. Unzip all the files in the them onto the root of the USB drive. It's very important the files themselves (not the folder they're in) are saved to the USB drive's root folder. Then shutdown your system and start it back up with the USB drive already plugged in. Hopefully the USB drive will show up then when you click on Load Driver this time.
     

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  2. Mikeforester

    Mikeforester Notebook Enthusiast

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    Thank Radji, i don`t know which part (giving priority to USB over HDD on boot list or having the right driver files on the stick) but it did help, now i can load up the RAID drivers, and see the following on the select drive to install win7 page:
    Total size: Free space: comment:
    Disk 1 Partition 1 39MB 38MB OEM Reserved
    Disk 1 Partition 2 13.6GB 5.3GB Recovery
    Disk 1 Partition 3 452.1GB 0GB Primary

    I still don`t see my mSata SSD drive anywhere...
    Not sure if i mentioned already, but my SSD serves a cache function right now. Is there something I should do in IRST first to break up that?
    sorry for all the noob questions :S I skipped school when learning about hardwares...
     
  3. Mikeforester

    Mikeforester Notebook Enthusiast

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    Actually, scratch that last part.. i`m jumping ahead of myself already...
    so with this , i could put on fresh win7 on the 500 GB drive, and the SSD still would serve as cache right?

    my other thought was, do i actually need the SSD as cache? wouldn`t it be better to have it separated completely, and install win7 on the SSD and put everything else on the storage?
    this was, if I were to extend / replace the 500GB I wouldn`t have to put on a fresh windows, that could always stay on the mSata drive?
     
  4. MickyD1234

    MickyD1234 Notebook Prophet

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    Hi, you won't see the cache drive because RAID is active in the bios and it is already configured as a cache. This is in hardware/firmware so it is invisible to the OS. You can turn it off using the hot key sequence that comes up on boot - before the alienhead so that it will apear in win and you can partition and use it.

    I doubt it would be worth it though as you're laready getting near SSD speeds, but your call :)
     
  5. radji

    radji Farewell, Solenya...

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    De nada. That's why we are here. In reference to your cache drive, your mSATA is "slaved" to your hard drives thru RAID in order to be a cache drive. That is, when an mSATA is being setup as a cache partition, it is set to RAID mode, as is the hard drive it will be caching. That way the SATA controller will transmit data directly between the two drives without it having to go thru any software beforehand. If you want to turn off caching in your mSATA you can. Another option that what Mickey described is to go into the Intel RST control panel and under the accelerate tab, disable acceleration for the partition the mSATA is caching. Then you would click 'set volume to active', it's in the RST control panel as well. That will cut it in Windows. In order to cut it in the BIOS you would need to go to the advanced tab in your BIOS, select your mSATA device, and set it back to AHCI (it should be in RAID). That is the dangerous part cause you need to make sure you're doing it for your mSATA and not your RAID'd hard drives.
     
  6. Mikeforester

    Mikeforester Notebook Enthusiast

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    ok, so as I understand from MickeyD , i should just leave it as it is, and just put on fresh win7 on the 500GB HDD and leave the mSata as Cache.
    what about the partitions? should i delete Partition 2 and 3 and just create 1 ? not sure what the Recovery part is used for...
     
  7. radji

    radji Farewell, Solenya...

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    Partition 1 is secured space used for partition alignment. You can delete is and reformat the whole RAID array and Windows 7 will just create it again. It's meant to align the drive partitions. Partition 2 is your recovery partition. It contains all the data for Alien Respawn, which will recover your system partition back to it's original factory state. If you prefer to do a clean install as opposed to and system restore using Alien Respawn, then you can delete the recovery partition as well as forgo re-installing Alien Respawn in Windows. BUT...be warned, once you delete your recovery partition, it's a pain in the donkey to set it back up. So if you use Alien Respawn, then leave the recovery partition alone. You can always just delete partitions one and three, and leave the recovery partition alone.
     
  8. Mikeforester

    Mikeforester Notebook Enthusiast

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    I wish I could just use Alien Respawn, as all i want is to return to factory settings... the laptop is only 2 month old and have not made any changes to it. But the system restore points i created "disappeared" , so I`m forced for a clean install
     
  9. Mikeforester

    Mikeforester Notebook Enthusiast

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    Radji, MikeyD,

    just thought I let you know I did manage to restore my factory settings using Alien Respawn. The reason why i wanted originally to re-install win7 as AR did not work at all.
    Then, I managed to start it up in Safe Mode, running it as Admin, but then i got a " you don`t have enough disk space" error message.
    the final solution which worked for me was:
    1. Format a USB stick
    2. Put the Raid drivers on it (thanks Radji for that, without this in Win7 installer I could not see any drive details and this became essential)
    3. In BIOS raise the rank for USB to have priority over HDD
    4. Start up in Safe Mode, run AR , create a USB recovery media on USB stick which is at least 8GB (or DVD)
    5. Put win7 DVD in , and reboot, load from DVD drive to start up Win7 installer
    6. Go to install Win7 , at the screen where you have to select a drive I did not see nothing. Here comes handy the USB stick. Important! Do not have a USB mouse plugged in ! I did and for a while i could not load the RAID drivers from the USB stick, as I did not see the drive at all. After ( by desperation really) I removed the USB mouse and rebooted, restarted the whole win7 installer process I could see my USB stick, and I could load the Raid drivers, and finally I saw my C drive and the 3 partitions.
    7. The reason AR sent me the error message disk is full was right in front of me.... Partition 3 said Total space: 460 GB , Free space: 0 GB.
    I had to format partition 3 (leave Partion 2 - Recovery intact! ), erase all data from it ( so make sure you save all your important files to an external drive) , then quit the installer and reboot, plug in the other USB stick with the AR recovery media on it, and boot from that (here comes handy if you put USB as first boot option in BIOS) this time, I could run AR recovery and go back to original Factory settings without that annoying error message: "you don`t have enough disk space". In just about 15-20 min I started up windows as it came from the factory :)

    I hope this will help someone who has the same problem.
    thanks for all your help guys !
     
  10. MickyD1234

    MickyD1234 Notebook Prophet

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    Wow that was a real trial, but glad you got there! :D
     
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