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How to use an old SSD with an old OS in a new build with new OS

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November 16, 2013 9:50:31 AM

Hello and thanks for opening my question!

I would be really grateful if anyone knowledgeable could help me, I have tried to help myself but I just can't seem to find a step by step guide for what I am trying to do!

I have an Alienware m11x laptop. When I received it years ago, I immediately removed the HDD it shipped with and replaced it with a Crucial M4 SSD. I installed Windows 7, relevant drivers etc and everything was great.

I then took the HDD and connected it using an external caddy, with a view to using it as external storage. I formatted the HDD using Windows 7 on my laptop. This went smoothly, but afterwards, whenever I connected the now external HDD, my laptop saw "External HDD(F: )" AND "Recovery(D: )". This second part is 18gigs in size. I decided to ignore it and continued to use the HDD as my external storage.

Very recently, I have taken on the daunting task of building my first computer (no more Alienware tax for me!) To save some money, I decided I would use the SSD I originally got for my laptop as my sole drive for my newly built desktop. I bought a copy of Windows 8 and want to install this to the SSD and rid it of everything else.

I also decided to replace the original HDD from Alienware into the laptop so that it isn't rendered useless. I want to reinstall Windows 7 to it using the disks I got from Alienware.

The only other material issue is that the HDD has lots of stuff I want to keep and transfer to the SSD once it is in the desktop (many mods for Bethesda games if you must know(!)) For this reason, I need to move the SSD and get that up and running on Windows 8 first so that I can make the transfer.

Can someone help me with exactly what I should do? The main things I am worried about are:

1. Do I just plug the SSD in the new build as it is now? It obviously doesn't have the correct drivers on and such so I don't want it to accidently boot up in my new PC; I want to start again, with Windows 8.

2. How can I do all this without being left with these recovery folders that take up space? Because the SSD will be my only drive in my new build, I don't want to waste 18gigs on...partitions, are they? if I don't need to.

Thanks so much if you can help, and thanks for reading my question. :) 

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a b G Storage
November 16, 2013 10:17:37 AM

Yes, you can plug the SSD directly into the desktop as is. Assuming you do not need any data from it, insert the Windows 8 install disk and boot from it. The SSD should be detected during the initial stages of the Windows 8 setup process.

Pick the SSD from the list once you get to that stage, and delete all partitions on the drive. Then highlight the drive and click New. This will create a 350MB recovery partition (trust me, you definitely want this unless you are going to be packing your Windows install media around with you), and then dedicate the entire rest of the drive for the OS and data.

And FYI - If you miss the prompt for the Windows 8 install disk and the desktop does try to boot from the SSD before you wipe it, there is a small chance it will actually work, but in most cases it will simply bluescreen and then reboot the computer automatically. Nothing is permanent here, so you're not screwing anything up by accidentally booting the Win 7 install.
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November 17, 2013 10:21:01 AM

Thanks for your help, this worked great!

One more question though if that's okay :) 

Once Windows 8 listed the partitions during the initial install, two showed up. I deleted the first and then used the second which it cleared. Everything works ok but after the Windows 8 install and updates, my Crucial M4 256gb shows up under My Computer, Properties as "Capacity: 237gb; Free space: 26gb".

Does this seem right? Because this is my only drive, I need as much space as I can get really, although squeezing every last gig is not essential.

Thanks!
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a b G Storage
November 17, 2013 10:24:48 AM

No that definitely sounds wrong. Did you format the second partition before you used it? If not, it probably left what was already on that partition in place and went ahead and installed Windows 8.
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November 17, 2013 11:06:39 AM

Oh bugger, no I didn't format it, I just overwrote what was on there...It didn't leave what was on there because it only had 50gb free...I'm now halfway through the Windows 8.1 update, do you think I should scrap it all and restart?
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a b G Storage
November 17, 2013 11:20:22 AM

If you don't need any data currently on the SSD, that would probably be the best option. Always nice to start with a completely fresh install on a wiped drive when you can.
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November 17, 2013 11:26:03 AM

Sorry to be a pain and thanks for your help man, seriously; but is there any way to manage the partitions to "release" the occupied space without starting over?

If there is no easy-ish way, I'll start again
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a b G Storage
November 17, 2013 11:50:50 AM

Managing the partitions would get back the recovery partition and you definitely don't want to remove that unless you plan to keep Windows 8 install media with you at all times in case something happens to the install and you need to repair it.

Otherwise you are left with manually deleting all of the data on the drive you don't need. This could take considerably longer than starting over though, depending on what needs to be removed.
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November 17, 2013 12:17:42 PM

Right I'm gonna start again, I'm now at the windows 8 setup screen, I see "Drive 0 Unallocated Space 528mb total size, 528mb free", and also "Drive 0 Partition 1 238gb total size, 237.8th free, type Primary".

What should I do now? Thanks

EDIT: After digging around, it seems that 238gb free on a 256gb SSD is actually normal; something about the file systems file table. So I restarted for no reason? Eghh
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a b G Storage
November 17, 2013 12:30:47 PM

Delete everything so you have one drive, all space is unallocated. It should not show the media you are using to install Windows 8 in the list. Then click New, and it will create one 350MB partition for the recovery environment, and allocate the rest to the OS and data. You should end up with something that looks roughly like this just before starting the install:

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November 17, 2013 12:44:10 PM

Ok I did that, thanks, the main bulk still shows as 238gb though; please see my edit to previous post as I think it applies. If it's true and 238gb is the max, I'll just go ahead with that.
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a b G Storage
November 17, 2013 12:54:11 PM

That's right. It has to do with the difference between how the available bytes are noted by the drive manufacturer (1MB = 1000KB) and how they are allocated when the drive is formatted (1MB = 1024KB). 238GB as the formatted capacity for that drive sounds right.
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November 17, 2013 1:09:36 PM

Ok dude, I started over for no reason then but I'm very, very grateful that you talked me through this, thanks
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a b G Storage
November 17, 2013 1:12:08 PM

Glad I could help :) 
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