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Questions regarding SSD before I build tomorrow

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  • Hard Drives
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June 29, 2011 11:50:47 AM

I am building the following:

i7 2600K
Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU Cooler
Kingston HyperX Blu 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 RAM (4x4GB dual channel)
ASRock Z68 Extreme 4
Crucial M4 128GB SSD
Coolermaster Silent pro Gold 1000W PSU
Asus Xonar DX soundcard
Gigabyte GTX 560ti (X2 SLI)
Coolermaster CM690 II Advanced Case
2x 1TB HDD
1x 2TB HDD
1x 500GB HDD
SATA DVD Drive

I have some questions mostly regarding the SSD because I do not wish to install OS/software etc only to find I've messed something up in the BIOS and need to re-format. I am going to improvise my way through the various SSD optimization guides out there but I am not 100% confident about the details especially since a lot of them relate to older SSD drive technology I am not sure if some of the process is now "automated" on the newer SSD's like the Crucial M4. Please, flag anything that stands out!

My action plan:

1) Install SSD drive into one of the two Intel 6GBPS sata III controllers on my motherboard

2) go into BIOS and find "SATA Controller"/make sure it is set to AHCI Mode

3) FIRMWARE UPDATES.... are they necessary? and is it possible to do via USB?

4) Install Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit (no turning back now, hopefully)

5) Install my four SATA hard drives into the 3GBPS Sata II ports

6) Verify "TRIM" is enabled

7) Verify scheduled disk defragmentation is disabled

8) SYSTEM RESTORE... I do not wish to disable this. Is it possible to keep my restore points on another HDD?

9) Disable drive indexing

10) PAGE FILE... in some instances my video editing software Adobe After Effects will try to eat up all 16GB of RAM and then some. For this reason I don't think that disabling the page file will do me many favours. I would like to minimize it's size though or if possible use another hard drive for it

11) Disable hibernation

That's it. Is there anything else I should consider?

More about : questions ssd build tomorrow

a b G Storage
July 1, 2011 9:00:54 AM

Looks good. Be sure to install the newest Intel RST drivers in Windows. You can do this during install, or wait until later.
July 1, 2011 12:06:49 PM

I am happy to report everything is up and running. Not without a few significant problems:

1) ThermalRight Silver Arrow CPU cooler --> too big to close my Coolermaster 690 II Advanced case! I am surprised since it is a popular/highly recommended cooling fan and my case is definately not the smallest one out there. I need to address this ASAP. It is likely I'll sell the silver arrow (if it can't be returned) and buy another cooler. It can not be adjusted to fit, simply too big!

2) I can't find a way to use my PCI-E sound card (ASUS Xonar DX) while using my 2x 560ti GPU's. I believe this is a PCI-e bandwidth issue? I am using my GPU's in slots #2 & #4 as advised in the manual. The sound card was installed to the bottom PCI-e slot and at one point everything worked together, now I can't start my computer without removing the sound card (hangs on first screen). Are there any BIOS settings I should look into to allow use of all three PCI-e components?

3) GPU's are running in PCI-E 8x instead of 16x. Could this be related to issue #2?

4) I thought the SSD would be listed under IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers in device manager...



Here are the BIOS settings I adjusted before installing Windows 7



Well these are the issues I found yesterday after actively pushing the computer in all directions. Hopefully they can be resolved. I am very happy there aren't any random BSODs/significant performance issues to be reported.
Related resources
a c 353 G Storage
July 1, 2011 4:30:11 PM

P/H 55, PH/67 and Z68, normally 8x and 8x the best your going to get with 2 GPU cards. some are even lower.

Z68 Extreme4 = "3 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (PCIE2/PCIE4: single at x16 or dual at x8/x8 mode; PCIE5: x4 mode)" So 8x/8x correct for GPUs. Sound card is in the X1 slot - correct ?? verify that it is seated properly

For SSD: Download AS SSD, install and open (Do Not need to run benchmark - may run once, but DO NOT run often). On top left will show driver (should be iastor (msachi exceptable). Should also show "Green OK" for partition alignment.
July 1, 2011 10:05:10 PM

Update: I left the computer on unattended for 1-2 hrs and upon returning to use it, it was on "startup repair". It must have crashed/restarted and automatically launched into this from rebooting.

The start up repair could not resolve/fix anything so I restarted, only for it to launch into start up repair again. When I tried booting into my new Windows 7 installation, I got a BSOD right after the Windows Logo screen.

I was completely unable to resolve this after 2hrs and beginning to think that the SSD drive or one of my new components was faulty. The only information I can give on the BSOD's/broken installation is as follows:

Problem event name: StartupRepairOffline
Problem Signature 01: 6.1.7600.16385
Problem Signature 02: 6.1.7600.16385
Problem Signature 03: unknown
Problem Signature 04: 21200468
Problem Signature 05:AutoFailover
Problem Signature 06: -
Problem Signature 07: Corrupt file

This information is taken from the "view information" link in startup repair.

To determine whether this was a hardware issue I had to reformat (thankfully, only losing a days work...)

I have just formatted the SSD/reinstalled Windows 7 and I'm up and running again. I am now reluctant to proceed with anything until I can resolve the cause of this issue. I installed a million drivers yesterday including most of the software on the Motherboard disk such as overclocking utilities/instant boot/usb speedup etc. I have a gut feeling one of these may be the culprit.

1) I reduced my "system restore" space to a few GB. This mean't that recovering my OS installation from system restore was impossible, there were no restore points to select from :/  I wonder if that would have allowed me to resolve the issue without reformatting. I've left it at it's default size this time around, do you think it will work correctly this time if I get the same problem again? Is there a way I can save a snapshot of my SSD drive onto one of my other drives? That would be useful. If I encountered the problem again I would like to be able to reinstall windows 7 and then patch a "drive image" to the OS installation, is this possible? Would give me some peace of mind if I am not able to define the cause of the problem.

2) For whatever reason on the new installation the Sound Card and 560ti's are playing nicely together, again... I wonder if it is a matter of time before I cannot get past the first boot screen again? Sigh.

3) When I went to reinstall windows 7 I saw two partitions on the SSD. One was around 119GB and the other was 100MB. I pushed "delete" on the 100MB partition and it didn't appear to remove it, I then formatted/installed windows 7 on the 119GB partition. In windows I now have a 100MB "H:" drive which "cannot be accessed until formatted" is there any way to remove this and reclaim it on my SSD 119GB main partition?

4) Device manager appears to list my components correctly this time:



hah. I was prepared for some headaches but this is the most bumpy new computer build I've ever done and I've been building for 10 years! I do not expect anybody to address every issue I have listed but it will be much appreciated if you can answer any of them off the top of your head

Thanks
July 1, 2011 10:21:54 PM

RetiredChief said:
For SSD: Download AS SSD, install and open (Do Not need to run benchmark - may run once, but DO NOT run often). On top left will show driver (should be iastor (msachi exceptable). Should also show "Green OK" for partition alignment.



I did one benchmark. Please let me know if there are any significant issues with my results. Also I was surprised to hear those mobos do not run GPU's @ 16x? The manual and spec for my motherboard state they are 16x slots.
a c 143 G Storage
July 1, 2011 10:34:04 PM

1) Windows has a nice image program under the Maintenance folder in "Programs". You can select where to save the backup...



2) Could've been a setup error to start or drive issue... I think all should be good now (hopefully :D  )

3) Geno O addressed this issue

4) It doesn't look like you have installed the latest Intel RST drivers, as should have something listed Intel(R) ICH10R SATA AHCI Controller.

July 1, 2011 10:35:31 PM

ok thanks. Do you think it will be worth reinstalling windows? I only re-installed a moment ago.

If it won't cause any performance issues and there is a way I can hide the "H:" drive then I am happy to forget about it. If it can cause any problems at all then I'll reformat right now.

Also with regards to the GPU:



It came up on the last installation too. Should I just ignore the message? The GPU's are in the optimal/high performance PCIe x16 slots. In Nvidia Control panel it also says: "For optimal performance, plug the GeForce GTX 560 Ti (1) into a high performance PCIe slot. Refer to the motherboard manual for more information."
July 1, 2011 10:38:05 PM

thank you tecmo! I will run through your suggestions shortly.

Thanks for the support in general I feel quite confident I'll be able to resolve these problems with the help :) 
a c 143 G Storage
July 1, 2011 10:41:00 PM

You have the graphics cards in the top two PCIe 2.0 x16 slots correct? You have the proper power plugged into the cards (meaning each has two PCIe power connectors)?
July 1, 2011 10:53:47 PM

Yes I have them installed in the top two PCIe 2.0 slots (there are three PCIe slots in total). I have two 6 pin adapters plugged into each GPU. The motherboard has a 4 pin power connector on it titled "SLI/XFIRE power connector". With it plugged in, it continues to run at 8x. I am not sure what this does I have tried searching for it on google and have not found anything unfortunately. There is NO mention of it on the SLI configuration/installation pages in the mobo manual.

With regards to the Intel RST drivers I have found the following:

http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&...

I am running windows 7 64 bit. I would like conformation I've found the right one just to be safe haha.

BACKUP
I just created my backup image. If I do a clean reinstall of Windows 7 to get rid of the 100MB partition, will I be able to recover to the current state using the backup image?


July 1, 2011 11:12:47 PM

Quote:
I would reinstall or that 100MB would bug me forever :D  Here is a tutorial if you need it:

http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/1649-clean-install...[3]=Installation%20and%20Setup


for clarification:

"If you don't want the separate 100MB partition for the boot loader, you have delete all partitions, create a single (1024 aligned) partition that covers the whole drive, then install windows on that partition. "

It will probably make sense when put into practice, but as it stands my plan is:

1) boot from windows 7 DVD

2) delete 119gb/100mb partitions --> this will now show one partition with "unallocated space", correct? My SSD is 128GB, will I need to calculate/set the correct amount of space for the partition? I am slightly intimidated by this haha

3) install Windows 7

4) attempt to recover from backup image



July 2, 2011 12:17:04 PM

Advanced:

If you have more than one partition for a disk # (hard drive) and want to get rid of them to make that disk # one bigger drive again, then select a partition with that disk # and click on the Delete option for each partition with the same disk # until there is only one "unallocated space" with that disk # left as in the screenshot below. Now do step 8.
To shrink an existing partition to create another partition to install Windows 7 on instead, select the partition you want shrink and click on the Extend option. Type in how much in MB (1 GB = 1024 MB) that you want to shrink it by. Now select the new extended partition and do step 8.


this is the tricky part. Will I need to use the "extend" option and enter a value of 131,072MB (=128gb) ? Or will there be a "use maximum size" option of some sort?

disregard this post, done! :) 
July 2, 2011 3:53:05 PM

I have just reinstalled my OS and successfully removed the "100mb" drive partition which was appearing in windows. Now I am installing drivers/restoring profile settings yet again! the backup did not restore any profile/driver information it only transferred some desktop files which was disappointing.

tecmo34 said:

4) It doesn't look like you have installed the latest Intel RST drivers, as should have something listed Intel(R) ICH10R SATA AHCI Controller.
http://i964.photobucket.com/albums/ae127/Tecmo34/Other%20PC%20pics/DeviceManager.png


could you direct me to the correct Intel RST Drivers for my system? I am cautious that the RST drivers on my ASRock CD may have been the reason why my OS installation became stuck in an infinite "startup repair" loop. I tried looking for Intel RST drivers online and found this:

http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?DwnldI...

I tried installing the top one and got:

"this computer does not meet the minimum requirements for installing the software"

July 2, 2011 4:30:15 PM

I have never understood the technical side of Hard disk controllers/management and I am a little confused. Should I install 10.6.0.1002 from the station-drivers website? Launching it, it appears to be the same as the drivers on my CD so hopefully it is the most up to date version.

What will the Intel RST drivers allow me to do? I don't know if this will be of any help but here is my configuration:

OS installed to a 128GB SSD (SATA III Port SATA3_1, White)

DVD drive (SATA3_M2, White)

All of my SATA 2 connectors are occupied with:

2TB SATA 2 HDD
1TB SATA 2 HDD
1TB SATA 2 HDD
500GB SATA 2 HDD



July 2, 2011 4:52:42 PM

I managed to stumble upon this:
http://www.intel.com/p/en_US/support/detect and was able to get the right ones installed (hopefully!)

Device manager after installation:


I am very concerned about the crash I had yesterday which forced me to restart without recovering anything from my SSD. It will set me back weeks if it were to re-occur after installing/configuring all of my software + plugins. I use so many multimedia applications and all of them are customized to death with plugins and profile settings. I will not be settled for a moment until I am confident about what caused the crash. What is the best back-up action I can take for saving a snapshot of all program installations, registry information and application data? It is only a 128GB disk if I can store an image of all of it's content on my 2TB HDD that would be ideal.
July 2, 2011 5:14:12 PM



On the ASROCK Z68 extreme 4 drivers page it lists a "required BIOS" for Intel RST drivers? Is it worth updating to this?
a c 353 G Storage
July 2, 2011 5:36:58 PM

Currently on Vacation, so not checking back as often as I'd like. But I see Gene O has been providing some excellent assistance.

Side Comment - Not really a biggy getting read of that tiny 100 MB partition (Kind-of more hassle than it is worth). Only =s 1/10 of 1% of drive space. But it would get rid of the extra drive letter if that bugs you.

Back of my mind there were some comments about the USB controller (odd ball, not a nec) used on the ASrock Z68 E4 and also the Fast USB utility that is used - Tried finding a link to, but didn't find. Myself I currently have it turned off. My build is on the back burner right now - No real rush as My I5-750 works great.
Did find this: Pertains to P67 and Z68 and last comment dtd Apr:
http://www.anandtech.com/Show/Index/4080?cPage=2&all=Tr...

I'm sure you have checked that you have all the last drivers/ Bios (Current ver 1.5) - My self, I need to do.
http://www.asrock.com/mb/download.asp?Model=Z68 Extreme4

Added - I see you found, yes use the RST Ver 10.5 - Note the comment on Bios version
July 3, 2011 3:33:03 AM

I think your problem with the graphics cards is that yes they are both x16 slots, but when both are occupied they share bandwidth. Your motherboard doesn't support 2xPCI-E 2 running at x16. The only z68 Motherboards i can think of that do support this are the gigabyte z68x-ud7-b3 and the maximus IV extreme z68. There's probably others but those the only 2 i know of. (As previously mentioned it's not a big performance loss) I would just ignore the window's warnings about your graphics card not being in the fastest slot.
July 4, 2011 7:54:11 PM

It appears that the GPU's will run in 8x. I will put this problem to the side for now in order to focus on the major issues I am experiencing.

UPDATE:

A few days into a new OS installation (Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit) I have just experienced yet another "startup repair infinite loop". I had been dreading a re-occurence of this all weekend.

Thankfully this time, I have managed to resolve the issue WITHOUT reformatting.

  • Start up repair failed to resolve the problem
  • System restore failed to restore due to "unspecified error"
  • I hadn't created a backup "disk image" only a file backup (which is useless to me)
  • attempted a fix in command prompt re-writing some registry files to no avail
  • Tried repairing my OS installation from the Windows 7 DVD. This made my OS appear in the boot selection but it would always take me to startup repair, even if I selected safe mode. No good.

    What fixed it:

    This: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/window...

    In command prompt, these two lines saved me from a reformat:

    bootrec /fixmbr
    bootrec /fixboot

    According to the startup repair "corrupt file" information I had a "missing OSLoader" and I will assume these command lines have rebuilt it allowing me to boot into windows again.

    I do not know if I'll survive the next system reboot or how often this might re-occur. I really need to find out the cause of this problem. I fear being several weeks/months into an OS installation and losing everything.

    I am currently building a "system image" on my 2TB drive, it is copying ~87GB of data. I believe I will be prompted to create a recovery DVD when done as well. From experience can anyone tell me if this is going to restore my OS in exactly the same state as it is now? Regarding registrys, software licenses, Itunes, firefox settings, game saves... will it restore everything? Knowing this will at least give me some peace of mind if I don't get so lucky with the bootrec /fixmbr, /fixboot commands in the future.
    a c 353 G Storage
    July 4, 2011 8:05:58 PM

    It will restore your Boot drive (Partition) and restore to the same as when the Back-up was made. If you have the Win 7 Installation Disk, you do not need the Bootable recovery disk as the Installation disk allows reinstalling from an image file.
    July 4, 2011 9:20:35 PM

    aha. Thanks.

    Now, the most significant problem I am trying to resolve is the startup repair loop but I would like to begin to address another problem.

    Gaming is not very stable. GPU's/CPU/RAM are not overclocked in any way and the temperatures aren't in the danger zone (GPU's reach 65-70 under load, CPU reaches 60 under load). However, I cannot run Crysis or Crysis 2 for more than 30 minutes without the game freezing and my computer shutting down these are the only games I am testing at the moment Crysis 1 does not have any stability issues afaik. I should also mention the GPU load does not go above 40-50% in GPUZ. I get around 30-40fps @ 2560x1440 in Crysis 2 DX11 all settings on ultra.

    I am using two 560ti's PCIe GPU's @8x in slots #2,#4 linked via an SLI bridge. I am using an Asus Xonar DX in the bottom PCIe slot. I highly suspect that I am experiencing some kind of PCIe bandwidth issue. There is a 4 pin power connector on my motherboard Labelled SLI/XFIRE power connector which was never mentioned in the SLI setup section of the manual. I do not know what its purpose is here is a diagram of my setup, and the power connections to my components:



    Can anybody tell me what the 4 pin SLI/XFIRE power connector slot is supposed to be used for?
    July 4, 2011 10:32:30 PM

    tecmo34 said:
    Look at page 42 of the manual.... ftp://174.142.97.10/manual/Z68%20Extreme4.pdf

    It is recommend to plug in a Molex connector when running two graphics cards, according to the manual.


    right! thank you. In the paper manual, I never saw this. No mention in the SLI setup. I only have one molex connector (thank you for specifying the name by the way! :na:  ) The asus Xonar DX will also require a small 4 pin power connector. Sadly, the molex/small 4 pin will not stretch to allow me to use both at the same time. The sound card will have to remain uninstalled until I get/find another molex connector. Either way I will be keeping the sound card uninstalled until games are running stable just to rule out any PCIe bandwidth issues.

    I am confident about this. If it crashes with the molex connected, well that would be disappointing.
    a c 143 G Storage
    July 4, 2011 10:43:51 PM

    Also, I would install your sound card in the first PCIe X1 slot right above your first GPU. This will help with your bandwidth concerns with all the PCIe x16 slots.
    July 4, 2011 11:40:26 PM

    UPDATE: I managed to fit my thermalright Silver arrow cpu cooler INSIDE my case by rotating the giant fans 90 degrees. Thankfully I do not need to look into returning/selling this cooler anymore. I am running Prime95 at 3.4Ghz and the CPU is hovering around 50C @100% load on all cores for 2 minutes. Idle temperature is 30-35C. Seems good.

    tecmo34 said:
    Also, I would install your sound card in the first PCIe X1 slot right above your first GPU. This will help with your bandwidth concerns with all the PCIe x16 slots.


    unfortunately the Thermalright Silver arrow heatsink occupies that space. I will use onboard audio for the next few days while getting my GPU's stable. After this is resolved I will try it in the bottom PCIe slot again (assuming the crashes ARE related to the missing molex/mobo connection). Should I really be concerned about PCIe bandwidth? I believe this board can support 3 ATI GPU's running in crossfire.
    July 5, 2011 7:01:00 PM

    Startup repair infinite loop sucks

    for the third time, I have returned to my computer to find it in a "startup repair infinite loop". Thankfully I was able to boot back into windows using bootrec /fixmbr & bootrec /fixboot commands from the windows recovery environment. This is the same repair action I took last time I got stuck.

    Three times now, no good! I believe the problem is caused by a damaged/corrupt boot sector. There is no specific driver/application/windows update I can isolate as the cause of this problem.

    Unfortunately, all three occurances have been when I am not at the computer. I will assume that it is crashing/BSOD while idle, restarting, and then going into startup repair. It is quite frustrating that by coincidence it has not happened while I am actually using it.

    On a brighter note

    The additional molex power into the motherboard has almost certainely resolved my BSOD's in GPU intensive applications. I ran Crysis for around 3 hours without any problems.
    July 5, 2011 10:54:34 PM

    STARTUP REPAIR INFINITE LOOP - possible answers?

    I may be narrowing down on this problem. It does appear that my "master boot record" is becoming corrupt frequently. After googling "windows 7 master boot record keeps corrupt" I am finding some promising results (as to isolating the cause of the problem)

    http://forums.techguy.org/hardware/939726-computer-keeps-loosing-corrupting-its.html

    a lot to consider here. Failing CMOS battery/motherboard components/SSD/bad PSU all appear to have potential to "corrupt" my MBR data when restarting the computer... any thoughts on this? Since the PSU has served me well for the past few months and the problem has only started this week I want to narrow it down to either the SSD or the motherboard.

    http://superuser.com/questions/283476/ssd-and-corrupted-master-boot-record

    seems to point fingers at the SSD

    I can install windows onto one of my HDD's and see how it goes for a week, if there are no problems then it's the SSD losing the MBR data. If I continue to get problems, then I can assume my motherboard is the culprit.

    Good action plan? I am reluctant to do this since it will mean messing around with new installations and not making any progress rebuilding my applications/preferences/games library and so on. But, it seems to be the only way I'll be able to troubleshoot the cause of this "startup repair" problem. It doesn't seem to be a very common problem going by the few number of threads I have been able to find on it (I have searched quite intensively)

    opps, sorry for the triple post. I should have edited the previous one sorry.
    July 6, 2011 1:20:43 PM

    Quote:
    Have you looked at the smart data from your drive? Look for reallocated sectors, CRC errors, etc.

    You can also scan your drive for errors with a program like HDTune.


    Thanks I just used HD Tune Pro 4.61. Health status is ok, and there are no reallocated sectors or CRC errors.

    "program fail count" Number of flash program failures: 1638442 Status ok

    I don't know if this is of any significance? Can I rule out my SSD as the culprit and assume my motherboard is the likely cause of my boot sector becoming corrupt?

    I looked at the other HDD's using HD Tune and the results were concerning:

    2TB Drive (newest) no problems at all - 2187 hours in power-on state

    1TB Hitachi Drive: 5 reallocated sectors which have been replaced, 5804 interface communication errors - 9661 hours in power-on state - health status: Warning

    1TB Samsung Drive: 3896 interface communication errors - 6151 hours in power-on state - health status: warning

    500GB: (Oldest HDD) current pending sector: number of unstable sectors: 686, write error rate 254194 (Error! threshold reached. Replacing the hard drive is recommended) - 16243 hours in power-on state - health status: failed

    The 500GB seems to be dying. I can move all of the important data onto my 2TB drive. What about the 1TB drives? Are they in a stable condition?

    July 6, 2011 7:51:47 PM

    I have just returned to my computer for the forth time to find it on "startup repair". It happened again while idle/when I wasn't at the computer (gRRRr...)

    Worth noting:

    1) "program fail count" Number of flash program failures: 1703980 - has increased from 1638442. I will keep a close eye on this number and see if it increases during normal operation, or only when the mbr becomes corrupt. EDIT has increased slightly to 1703982, doesn't seem to be linked to the mbr corruption. EDIT 2: after a fifth mbr corruption, fail count # is now 1835059.

    2) before I left my computer I made an adjustment in control panel --> internet options --> security --> and changed "launching applications and unsafe files" to "enable" from "prompt".

    This task itself is of no significance, BUT upon using the bootrec /fixmbr command to get back into windows, it is like I never made this adjustment. Also, "HD Tune" is no longer installed. it has seemingly forgotten both events ever happened after restarting! could this mean that the SSD is playing up?

    EDIT: Upon further inspection I would like to say that ALL events that took place during the previous boot cycle (which crashed/restarted into startup repair loop) have seemingly been lost. It is as if I have used system restore, but I have not. I have only rebuilt the mbr using "bootrec /fixmbr" and as far as I know it should not have this effect. Definately an SSD issue?

    ALSO, Virus which causes my problem:

    3) Damage due to CIH virus

    In this case, the virus dumps random data in the first 2048 sectors of the hard disk. MBR which is located in the first sector of the hard disk also gets corrupted in this process as a result, none of the partition is detected and accessed by the OS.

    Is there any chance that on two consecutive OS installations on my new SSD, I am doing something which is causing me to get hit by this virus? Should I bother looking into this?
    !