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SSD Boot Drive / Caching

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July 25, 2011 10:11:23 AM

EDIT: In short;
"If i go out and buy an SSD in order to use SSD caching with Intel SRT, will i lose my OS because i have to change my HDD to RAID rather than ACHI? Or do i not even need to do this to use Intel SRT?"


I built my PC about a month ago now and keep hearing about how good SSD drives can be for a Boot drive, and for SSD caching.

Currently im using a Seagate Baraccuda SATA III 7200rpm 32mb cache HDD in my system and that obviously has my OS, programs and all files and folders on there and running.

How easy would it be to buy an SSD drive (60GB OCZ Agility 3) to use as either a boot drive or as a cache (Im using ASUS P8Z68-v Pro Motherboard) which supports Intel Smart Response.

Im under the impression that my current 1TB drive would need formatting and set up in RAID 0 with the SSD? But doing this surely would mean id lose my OS and program files?

Documents and Programs arent an issue if lost, however i cant afford to lose my legitimate Windows 7 64-bit Professional.

Is it possible to add a SSD boot drive OR SSD cache WITHOUT losing my OS?

How do i go about doing this?

Any information / guide would be appreciated.

Thankyou in Advance.

More about : ssd boot drive caching

July 25, 2011 11:42:22 AM

You can add an SSD drive for caching without reinstalling the OS, but it will kill the drive in short term. It's a very bad idea to use an SSD for any cash function unless you may afford buying a new one every half year :) 
July 25, 2011 12:19:37 PM

The whole point of a z68 motherboard is to allow SSD Caching...so this hardly seems true?

Intel Smart Response adds regularly used programs and applications to the SSD cache. For example if i use Firefox all the time, it will be added to the Cache, whereas a program like Iternet Explorer which i almost never use, wont be added. If i suddenly change my browser however and start using IE all the time, then IE will be added to the SSD cache and firefox removed.

Seems highly unlikely z68 motherboards would force you to buy a new SSD every "half-year" and still be as popular as they are...?
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a c 283 G Storage
July 25, 2011 8:22:06 PM

1. The new z68 motherboards have other new features. It's not just about Intel SRT.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/z68xp-ud3-dz68db,29...

2. Intel's SRT caching technology was designed for buyers who cannot justify or afford the cost of a larger capacity solid-state drive. According to Intel, the original idea was that for about $100.00 a user could purchase a small capacity ssd of about 20GB and use it as a cache to improve hard disk drive performance. The actual improvement could not compare to a stand alone ssd. Intel also looked at different capacities all the way up to 512GB and concluded 64GB was the point of diminishing return. It made more sense to use a 64GB ssd as a boot drive that also contained software programs. Intel was hoping that if business clients saw an increase in performance, then they would be induced to purchase larger capacity ssd's.

3. Since you are thinking of purchasing a 60GB ssd, use it as a boot drive and to store your most used software programs. Store everything else on your hard drive.
July 25, 2011 10:20:11 PM

Thanks for the reply JohnnyLucky, i generally understand the idea of SSD caching, im just confused about the set up for it. I already have a 1TB HDD and a Z68 motherboard that ive been running for a month or 2.

After watching a NewEgg video, installation looked very simple however when i tried to change my BIOS so the HDD was RAID rather than ACHI i got Blue screens when trying to boot. All the builds and help with installation i see are for people who haven't yet bought any components and so dont need to be concerned with losing their OS.

I have an existing system and wish to add an SSD drive for SSD caching, but from what ive seen and read, this doesnt seem possible without losing my OS?

I wish id gone for a Gigabyte board with their "EZ SRT" that does it all for you :/ 
a b G Storage
July 25, 2011 11:37:59 PM

I am going to preface this by saying that I have not looked any of this up and therefore could very well be wrong.

I cannot see why you would have to setup a SSD in RAID with your current HDD to allow it to be used for caching. RAID 0 shares the information between both of the drives in RAID and then can access the information faster by accessing both drives at the same time. By putting a SSD and a HDD in RAID together you are completely eliminating any advantage you get from a SSD because you will constantly be waiting on the HDD for everything.

So as I said before I have not looked this up nor do I know exactly how to setup a SSD for caching but the idea of putting your drives together in RAID is absolutely ridiculous.

On another note I am using a 64GB SSD for my boot drive. I do not see the reason that you would not want to manually manage your system over letting anything and everything get "cached" by your SSD. Like Johnny said 64GB is the point that makes sense to switch over to a boot drive and a storage drive rather than caching.
July 26, 2011 6:35:51 AM

Thanks again JohnnyLucky, this is what i was looking for

"In most cases, it’s not going to be possible to use Smart Response Technology without re-installing Windows on your PC, because you must activate RAID mode in the BIOS to enable SRT. We expect that most motherboards based on the Z68 chipset will be set to IDE or AHCI mode by default, like our Gigabyte Z68X-UD5-B3, so you must make sure you change this before installing Windows."

Found that in one of your links. Looks like ill have to wait untill windows 8 and upgrade to an SSD then (providing windows 8 isnt a total flop :p )
a c 353 G Storage
July 26, 2011 3:29:56 PM

pepe2907 "but it will kill the drive in short term" Note that could be true for an MLC drive, but would depend on indivual usage and how often the data is swapped in/out. That is for time to tell
HOWEVER the Intel 310 SSD is NOT MLC, it is SLC so would NOT be a problem.

AdrianPerry
(1) SRT will yield about a 2x (max 4x) improvement in disk performance. A good SATA II SSD used as the Boot/prpogram will provide much higher performance in terms of boot time and program load time.
(2) A good sata II SSD is is more than the cost of agility III (OCS agility III may look good as "sale" price is low - There is a reason it's on sale - Has the HIGHEST DISsatifaction ratio. GREAT price Orginally $170, Sale price $100. BUT ALSO has a 43 % 1/2 egg rating - OUCH. This falls into the "Buyer beware" or "Plug and PRAY" catagory.
Ref: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
July 26, 2011 4:28:51 PM

Thanks for the response RetiredChief, however since i will lose my OS either way (adding as a Boot drive, or adding so i can use SSD Caching) ill just wait now untill a new OS is released that i wish to purchase (probably windows8) and then ill buy an SSD specifically for a boot drive.

Im already using a SATA III 7200RPM HDD so its not exactly slow, would just be nice to boot faster :)  Guess ill just wait now untill the time is right to upgrade.
a c 353 G Storage
July 26, 2011 5:10:20 PM

Just a comment.
(1) Waiting may be a good thing, gives them time to sort out the problemswith the SF22xx controller.
(2) Do NOT need to lose your current operating system on HDD when installing a new SSD as a boot drive.

.. Disconnect HDD, install SSD, Install operating system on SSD, If Installation good. Reconnect HDD. You will be able to select which drive to boot from by Hiting the Key that brings up the Boot Menu (F12 On Gigabyte, F11 on My New Asrock Z68). NOTE: this does NOT change Boot prioity in Bios.
July 26, 2011 7:56:57 PM

Ok so I have Win 7 64-bit Professional, so if i install this again on the SSD surely i cant use the same product key as i already have in use on the HDD?

Ive no idea if its possible but ideally i need to mirror/transfer the OS over from the HDD i currently have to a new SSD in order to use it as a boot drive.

Also though some people recommend a clean install when adding an SSD as a boot drive so im really not sure whats the best way to go about this.
a c 353 G Storage
July 26, 2011 8:31:14 PM

Clean install is highly recommended over imaginging a HDD to a SSD. Clean install will (1) properly align the Partition (Important). (2) it will (a) DISable defrag and (b) enable trim.

You can most proably reuse the same Key. The only parameter being changed is the Boot drive - MB, GPU and Internat are all the same.
July 29, 2011 2:18:57 AM

Hi I haven't tried it but this guy was able to set up SSD caching without re-installing windows.
You have to make a change to the registry, here are the instructions:

http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1587/4/

Let us know if it works for you!
August 3, 2011 3:50:13 AM

By the way that registry fix does work, i tried it
August 3, 2011 8:01:25 AM

Thanks for the report. Ive still been holiding off on purchasing an SSD due to not being able to find a guarantee'd simple straight forward guide that has worked.

Ill follow this registry fix later and providing my PC boots without the BLUE SCREEN in RAID mode, ill go ahead and purchase one :D 

Looking at the OCZ Agility 3 60GB which i hear is fairly good :)  Nice Read/Write speeds too :D 
August 5, 2011 5:26:28 PM

AdrianPerry, this is something I've been curious about as well. Please let us know how it goes!

I've just been doing a disgusting amount of research on SSDs for my new build and all that info is fresh on my brain right now, so please forgive me if I overshare, but...

When it comes to SSD shorter life concerns, they aren't well founded. I was just reading write here on Tom's Hardware about reliability tests for SD drives, and I came away thoroughly encouraged. (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-reliability-fai...) The big concern is memory exhaustion since the drives have a theoretical limit for P/E (Program/Erase) operations. While this is true, even the worst offending new 25nm SSDs will keep on writing/erasing for a projected 18 years (assuming a healthy 10GB/day of activity)

If you think about how SSD drives work, it shouldn't matter much if it's used as a cache or not. When something get's cached, it stays there until it is replaced- no reprogramming of those bites is done until the cache fills up to the point where something has to go. This means that your OS won't be continually erased and re-written, it just gets written there and as long as you keep using it, it stays. To the best I can tell, reading the data doesn't hurt it- it's only changing (initial programming or erasing and reprogramming) that uses up those P/E cycles.

Taking this even further, that means that hypothetically, the programs you use the most are the safest, since you do not touch those bits after you write them.

SSDs do have faults, and most of them come from their relative immaturity and the early pains all technologies go through as their kinks and bugs get worked out. But for me, unless there is a particular brand whose controller proves buggy, I won't be worried about SSD PE killing my data. More likely then not, an electrical component will fail before the memory does.

Just my two hundredths/USD.
March 21, 2012 10:46:06 PM

I never knew why reinstalling an OS was such a big deal if you maintain your comp you shouldn't have many programs you don't use regularly. System backups are always a good idea especially when using SSDs. I transfered all my savegames, pics, music, etc off my dead laptop in a few hours. I'd much rather spend a day backing up info and reinstalling an OS than having to deal with problems in the future. Its like how you can't install a new video card and expect to use the same drivers as your old one...not really but you get the idea.

There are programs that do this, but I've heard they still can cause problems
December 26, 2013 12:22:33 PM

I just built a new system (Gigabyte 970A, AMD FX 4130, 16 gigs ram, 850 gigs hdd's)

I was debating using my 500 gig SATAIII WD Blue as a boot and my SSD (Sandisk 120) as a cache drive. But after much contemplation, I used my SSD as boot and my 500 gig for everything else..

Now, I heard I could use my SSD for commonly used programs and that would speed them up... Being a Computer Shop owner, and using this for the shop, I decided to just use the SSD as a boot drive and all I can say is WOW...

Now, if you are worried about redoing your OS, then I would go with drive cloning software... Make sure that the drive you are buying is larger than the Used space on your boot drive. One thing I did last time is I had to clear all caches on the drive (used up over 10 gig) . I only use Acronis... When I did it for personal PC, I used this product: http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/products/migrateea...
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