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How to prepare SSD for Win7 Re-install

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July 20, 2011 6:04:27 PM

I recently upgraded to a 64 gb M4 Corsair SSD and after performing some of the tweaks posted online, I've noticed that the SSD takes a long time (approximately 60 sec.) to boot up and load windows when I turn on the system. When I had first installed Windows 7 and the drivers, boot up time was 20 seconds or less. Unless anyone can name a notorious tweak that can hinder SSD performance, I plan on just re-installing windows on the SSD and starting over (and being more careful with tweaking). My question is how should I prepare the SSD for the new installation of Windows 7? Secure erase? Or should I just boot from the Windows 7 cd, delete the existing partition, and create a new one? If Secure erase, is that an unnecessary write to every bit on the SSD (currently using only 22.5 gb)? Any suggestions or thoughts are greatly appreciated. Also, please let me know if there are any ways to avoid this situation in the future when applying tweaks. Thanks

Finally, I am a certified rookie...first build and everything....so please dumb stuff down for me....type extra slow and what not. Thanks guys...forums, I would be nothing without you.
a b $ Windows 7
a c 289 G Storage
July 20, 2011 6:14:29 PM

Not too rookie, you got the right answer.

A Secure Erase is the best way to reset the drive. I personally use a boot disk of Parted Magic. Free, works well. Read the directions _carefully_. You may have to set the controller to IDE, set a password on the drive, or even unplug the drive's power for 30 seconds while your PC is running the erase!

Two most important things. First, set your BIOS to AHCI mode before the install. No AHCI, no TRIM command. Depending on the drive firmware, you may lose performance as you write to the drive over time. Garbage Collection can keep up on some SSDs, but it only works if you keep a lot of free space around.

Second, my own personal trick for keeping an OS drive from crapping up from poor uninstalls or mayhem. You may not find it worth doing. After the initial install, update, and installation of security software, I do an image backup. For every cycle of installing new software, I
  • Restore the previous backup (so it's important to have ONLY the OS on that partition)
  • Download and apply all updates to all software since that backup was made.
  • Install the new software.
  • Do a thorough security scan.
  • Do another backup.

    Okay, it's strange and borders on obsessive-compulsive. But I'm running an OS partition that is only a few elapsed months old. Any crapware that I had to uninstall was effectively never there, since I just rolled back to before I installed it. If malware gets through, just restore to before it ever hit the system. My registry stays a reasonable size.

    At least back up before doing a major install or configure, so that you can roll back. It works better than System Restore, at least for me.
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    July 20, 2011 11:30:22 PM

    Thanks for the help Knott. Your method for keeping your OS running germ free is solid. I am definitely going to start a collection of image backups of the SSD....store them on my HDD....especially when it comes to tweaking.

    However, I'm still not sold on the secure erase....from what I have read....some consider it unnecessary. Right now I am leaning towards a quick format and relying on TRIM and garbage collection to do the rest of the work. "DiskPart" is another possible method for cleaning the SSD that I read about....not exactly sure how it differs from secure erase, so feel free to elaborate on it.

    Again, thank you very much for the advice. Please let me know if you have any additional thoughts concerning Secure Erase or any opinions on quick format or Diskpart
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    a c 209 $ Windows 7
    a c 415 G Storage
    July 21, 2011 12:04:57 AM

    illanights said:
    Right now I am leaning towards a quick format and relying on TRIM and garbage collection to do the rest of the work.
    If you boot from the Windows 7 install disk, delete all the partitions, and then quick format a new partition that spans the entire disk, then a TRIM should be issued indicating that all the blocks on the drive have been freed and that will effectively do the same thing as a secure erase as far as optimizing the wear levelling algorithm goes.
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    a b $ Windows 7
    a c 289 G Storage
    July 21, 2011 12:48:28 PM

    sminlal said:
    If you boot from the Windows 7 install disk, delete all the partitions, and then quick format a new partition that spans the entire disk, then a TRIM should be issued indicating that all the blocks on the drive have been freed and that will effectively do the same thing as a secure erase as far as optimizing the wear levelling algorithm goes.

    This site is a never-ending font of information. sminlal, I had no idea. This goes in my toolbox.

    Edit: bouncing smiley deleted. It was to express my excitement, but it is so annoying after two seconds.
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    July 21, 2011 8:35:47 PM

    Thanks for your response, sminlal. That's exactly what I did...re-installing Windows 7 went smoothly. It only fixed my problem temporarily though. Initially, right after installing drivers, my system was booting to Windows in 20 seconds....and I thought I was in the clear. However, approximately 30 minutes after the install, it suddenly took over a minute to boot.

    It spends 45 seconds at the "BIOS" entry screen....i.e. the screen that shows the motherboard logo and says, "Press the delete key to enter bios". Minus the 45 second wait here, the SSD is still loading Windows in 20 seconds......does this indicate a motherboard problem rather than the SSD. I experience no problems once Windows begins loading. Also, the problem persists even when I boot from the Windows CD in the disk drive.....it was only temporarily fixed just after a fresh Windows install.

    Any ideas or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for all your help already.
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    a c 209 $ Windows 7
    a c 415 G Storage
    July 22, 2011 1:35:47 AM

    It sounds very much like you have some sort of BIOS configuration or motherboard issue that's causing the delay, not a Windows or SSD issue. Look for a BIOS configuration option that says something like "quick boot".

    My system takes a fairly long time in the BIOS because it has 12GB of RAM which needs to be initialized. That can't be skipped because its ECC RAM which needs to be zeroed in order to initialize the error correction codes.
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    a b $ Windows 7
    a b G Storage
    July 22, 2011 1:44:12 AM

    You using a raid card? They tend to slow things down if they need to be intialised .
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    July 22, 2011 4:07:36 AM

    Here's the scoop. I have a 990FX Sabertooth mobo. It uses a system of LED lights to report errors instead of beeps during POST. When the system first boots up, the DRAM light flashes on briefly (5 seconds or less). I have 8 GB of 240-PIN DDR3 1600 RAM. It is not ECC (What is ECC, by the way?). After the DRAM light turns off, the Boot Device light turns on and stays on for 45-50 seconds. Once that turns off, Windows begins to load...end of story. No other adverse affects that I know of.

    Typically, the Boot Device light would flash on for only 5 seconds before Windows began loading. The Manual says that the lights turn on when there is an error and remain on until that error is resolved. Any ideas what could cause the sudden increase in POST time...

    I did check for a quick boot option...to no avail. POST still takes the same amount of time despite messing with boot configuration options.

    To the best of my knowledge, I am not using a raid card. At the most, my system is running two hard drives without raid. Right now I just have the SSD hooked up.

    This is probably a question for the guys over at ASUS, but if you gentlemen have anymore suggestions or ideas, I would really appreciate it.

    Also, on a completely different note, have any of you seen "Epic Meal Time" on youtube? My little brother and his friend just made some kind of monstrosity in the kitchen that involves a Big Mac wrapped in bacon and deep fried. Apparently this youtube show inspired them.

    Anyway, I look forward to your responses...if I don't die of a heart attack in the meantime.
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    July 29, 2011 1:32:25 AM

    Best answer selected by illanights.
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    July 30, 2011 9:16:26 PM

    Probably not the right answer, but I just thought I'd throw in that I had some very slow booting when I had external USB hard drives connected and powered on, on my computer. Until I turned off legacy USB in the bios.
    You could alwys check.
    Cheers,
    Lasse
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