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SSD Boot Drive Questions?

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June 11, 2012 1:17:44 PM

Hi, first post :??: 
Anyway I'm considering using my current Mushkin chronos enhanced SSD 120GB as a boot drive as it is currently only holding a few GB of space, my 500GB seagate Barracuda is almost full and I fancy the performance boost, especially in games.
The problem is i was going to use paragon migrate OS to SSD 2.0 for the well... migration but I will have to leave the users folder on my HDD as it wont fit on the SSD. Can I boot off the SSD and create a new user to sort everything out without a users file?
And if so, which is the best way to link the old users file (on the HDD) to the SSD boot drive? I have seen methods which use hard links via windows shell extension and mklink in the command prompt but also methods which use a regedit but I was wondering which is the most effective and reliable?
Also could I move one of the program files folders to the HDD if it got too large to stay on the SSD and how would I be able to organise that so programs link correctly?
many thanks
:) 
a c 289 G Storage
June 12, 2012 1:53:08 PM

As to the users: If you are talking about My Documents and My Everything Else, it's fairly simple. Assuming that you have the OS running on the SSD (and I'm not clear about that), you log in as the user and right-click on My Documents. Select Properties, change the location to the existing folder on the HDD, and there it is. You may have a protection problem; file protection is not by user name but by unique ID and the same username booting from the SSD will have a different ID from that username booting on your HDD. You either change file ownerships or change the My Users to an empty directory and then copy the files there as the new user.

---------------

One thing I would like to get straight. Did you used to boot from the HDD? Are you still booting from it, or from the SSD? Did you do a fresh install on the SSD or a clone from the HDD? The answers point to slightly different solutions.

Be aware that, if you are migrating from an HDD boot to an SSD boot (or doing any new install), most apps will have to be re-installed; they will not just run from their old directories. This is because almost all installs make registry entries, which won't be in your new registry, and many place files in the /windows tree.

--------------

The most commonly used solutions to running out of space on the SSD for program installs are to
1) If the app offers a choice of directory when you install it, pick one on the HDD.
2) If the app doesn't let you do that, there are two registry variables that you can set to repoint the default installation directory. These should be reset after you do that install.
3) Free up space on the SSD by eliminating the hibernate and page files (I personally like a page file on my SSD), cleaning up the huge directories made to rollback patches and service packs, turn off system restore, and so forth.

June 12, 2012 2:29:27 PM

I'm currently booting off the HDD but I was going to transfer everything apart from the C:\users\username to the ssd then install future program's onto the HDD. Would this work or would I have to reinstall all my programs even if everything has been copied across? I haven't done this yet I was just posting here to see if anyone knew how effective it would be and whether it would work. Cheers
Related resources
a c 353 G Storage
June 12, 2012 2:55:30 PM

NOT a fan of clonning a HDD -> SSD. NOTHING like a "fresh" new OS + program drive With a Clean fresh registry.
If Cloning:
1) How was the HDD initially set up, ie was the Bios set to AHCI, or is it with the BIOS set to IDE. IF IDE and NOT AHCI, you need to Fix BEFORE clonning. (Just google switch ide to ahci in windows 7).

2) I just used EZ Gig II to clone my wife's OS + Programs to SSD.
.. A) It will first check if the size required is to large for the SSD, and allow you to "deselect' Folders (ie user My Docs) to move over.
.. B) It will enable windows Trim Cmd - But a GOOD idea to verify once up and running.
.. C) It will align the partition(s) correctly. REMEMBER, you not only want the OS + Program (C-Drive) placed on the SSD, you also want the "tiny" system partition on the SSD.

ADDED:
What I used ($ 15 after MIR), Note Not sure if it comes with the software, IF not no problem a free down load from Apricorn.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
SAME - SAME different adaptor, more expensive:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Software (I Used the EZ Gig IV ISO): http://www.apricorn.com/products/software/ezgig.html


As I stated, My 1st choice is a "Clean Install" and I only resort to the clonning method if clean install is NOT doable.
June 12, 2012 3:16:53 PM

I have so many programs installed I'm not sure I can face up to reinstalling everything! Is there any performance benefit to reinstalling instead of cloning? Would have to spend literally days downloading all my steam games etc.. 
I was going to use paragon migrate OS to SSD 2.0 but is that software better? Also I can connect the SSD via internal SATA 3 cables. Cheers.
a b G Storage
June 12, 2012 3:34:11 PM

Full install all the way, there is a lot of benefit to going this route.

You can easily avoid having to redownload steam games, if you go to your steam directory, the "steamapps" folder contains all the games, you can drop this folder into a new steam install (or continue using the old steam install even). Sometimes steam is a little weird about doing this with a fresh install(you may have to 'download' the games, but they will take <1min each, or sometimes they all act like they have updates and do some quick downloads).

If you have trouble with the games, you may need to install .net framework, and other redistributables, these are in the games folders, they get run the first time you play a game, if they don't run then you'll have to install each distributable manually (there are a total of 5 or so across all games: directx, .net, visual c++, and probably one or two more). Usually this isn't a problem, but I've had it happen once or twice depending on how i do things.


Check out this post for some other ssd tips:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tom...
a c 353 G Storage
June 12, 2012 4:07:51 PM

When looking at clonning software
These are what I looked at (free and pay for versions):
.. EaseUS
.. Acronics
.. paragon
..Clonezillia
.. EZ Gig II (now IV).

Settled on EZ Gig.
.. Never heard of, but have seen several references to it (all good) in forums
.. EZ GIG Seems to be popular with SSD manuf as it (along with Norton Ghost) are often included with SSDs that included kit for migration). That is How I got the USB->Sata device required by EZ Gig, so opted for it, but downloaded the newer version IV.

Since I never really tried paragon can not give a Honest comparison, But can say EZ Gig worked great on My wife's system.
June 12, 2012 4:52:36 PM

ok you've convinced me to do a clean install. I guess finding a .exe for every small program then more complex methods such as the steam apps folder move and such for larger programs is more worthwhile if the end result is a faster, cleaner system.
one question: how would i link the newly installed OS on the SSD to the users folder on the HDD? I couldnt just move it because it won't fit on the SSD so qould it require a regedit or some hardlinking or sylinking or such?
cheers
June 12, 2012 5:02:54 PM

I would do a fresh install. The reason is because of the registry issues mentioned before. There are just so many quirks to a cloned HDD-to-SSD system that can be ironed out with a fresh install. As to the programs and user files on your HDD... maybe decide if you need all those programs installed?

I understand the games issue and would recommend backing them up to a folder on your HDD now, then "reinstalling" them from the backup once you've installed Windows on your SSD. Should only take a few minutes each.
-The problem here is you now need more space for the backups... perhaps you have an external drive you can transfer media files to in the meantime? A friend with some extra space?

My point is that making the effort to transfer over all of your stuff exactly right might be harder than just starting fresh and just downloading your games as you need them. I have an SSD boot setup and I keep just a few games installed at a time, with my other games (especially big ones) backed up to my HDD. If it's less than a GB, I don't install it.

It's all based upon how complicated you want to make it and how much you want it all to fall apart if a drive fails. I choose to do a fresh install every few months, myself.
a b G Storage
June 12, 2012 5:25:42 PM

H4rry said:
ok you've convinced me to do a clean install. I guess finding a .exe for every small program then more complex methods such as the steam apps folder move and such for larger programs is more worthwhile if the end result is a faster, cleaner system.
one question: how would i link the newly installed OS on the SSD to the users folder on the HDD? I couldnt just move it because it won't fit on the SSD so qould it require a regedit or some hardlinking or sylinking or such?
cheers


In reality, moving your steam games is really simple, there are just some nuances to it that may crop up, so I gave thorough instructions in case you run into snags.

To move your users directory off drive, I'm a big fan of this method, it uses symlinks and is a bit complex to setup, but once you get it right it's smooth sailing (you can also move the ProgramData folder using the same method to offload more space to your HDD):
http://lifehacker.com/5467758/move-the-users-directory-...
The alternative would be to go into the properties of your my documents/desktop/my music/ etc and move the library location to your alternate drive.

But you have to create a new user with the new install and then copy your files from your old users folder to the new one with either method.


Also, make sure you go through this guide and do the steps your comfortable with, as it can save a lot of space and boost performance:
http://thessdreview.com/ssd-guides/optimization-guides/...

Lastly, look up "SteamMover", it's a nice app that lets you move steam games between two separate locations, so you can put a select few games on your SSD.

Edit: It's worth noting that once you go through the fresh install process a few times, it gets really easy, I usually only need 2 hours or so to get my computer back to gameable status, and one or two more to get it back just how I had it before.
June 12, 2012 5:29:10 PM

OK so my plan of action: (sounds exciting)
-fresh install of windows 7 onto SSD
-make new user
-copy games i will use back across to SSD and install them
-install other programs and utilities i will use
-keep all other files on HDD
i shouldn't need to back up my data until i am sure the SSD version of windows works as the data should be on the HDD correct?
can you format an SSD without affecting the performance so I could do a fresh install every so often?
cheers
June 12, 2012 5:34:42 PM

djscribbles said:
In reality, moving your steam games is really simple, there are just some nuances to it that may crop up, so I gave thorough instructions in case you run into snags.

To move your users directory off drive, I'm a big fan of this method, it uses symlinks and is a bit complex to setup, but once you get it right it's smooth sailing (you can also move the ProgramData folder using the same method to offload more space to your HDD):
http://lifehacker.com/5467758/move-the-users-directory-...
The alternative would be to go into the properties of your my documents/desktop/my music/ etc and move the library location to your alternate drive.

But you have to create a new user with the new install and then copy your files from your old users folder to the new one with either method.


Also, make sure you go through this guide and do the steps your comfortable with, as it can save a lot of space and boost performance:
http://thessdreview.com/ssd-guides/optimization-guides/...

Lastly, look up "SteamMover", it's a nice app that lets you move steam games between two separate locations, so you can put a select few games on your SSD.

Edit: It's worth noting that once you go through the fresh install process a few times, it gets really easy, I usually only need 2 hours or so to get my computer back to gameable status, and one or two more to get it back just how I had it before.


I would still have my HDD in my computer so the symlink method would be kind of redundant as i could just go onto my HDD every time i needed a specific file. the SteamMover thing looks really useful though thanks.
a b G Storage
June 12, 2012 5:46:59 PM

H4rry said:
I would still have my HDD in my computer so the symlink method would be kind of redundant as i could just go onto my HDD every time i needed a specific file. the SteamMover thing looks really useful though thanks.


Moving your active users directory off drive ensures you don't waste SSD space on NEW user junk like downloads, cookies, game saves, etc.

But to each his own :) , you find a lot of people with their own setups they like to use, and it's definitely not one size fits all. Good luck with your clean install.

One final note: Unplug your HDD while you install Windows to the SSD. It can prevent a lot of really odd issues caused by multiple windows installs, and weird inter-drive dependencies.
a c 353 G Storage
June 12, 2012 6:34:51 PM

You asked "can you format an SSD without affecting the performance so I could do a fresh install every so often?"

A "fresh" install is real easy with windows 7.

Just go to Control panel, system & Security, selec t back up.
This will create a system image of your small 100 mb system partition and your "C"-drive (SSD). You can place this image in the rott directory of the HDD. I also copy it to my Backup external HDD. When the Image is completed, you will be prompted to make a repair/restore DVD. I skip this as you can also just use your windows instal disk. Just select repair, restor from image.

Takes about 10 -> 15 Minutes and you will boot to a system that was EXACTY as it was when you created the image. I normally do this right after Install, let windows do it's updates, do drivers, install programs - check out for a day or to.

You DO NOT have to reformat, as this process wipes the partitions and recreates them - NO reload windows, re-install drivers, wait for all the windows updates, NO re-install programs (Except for changes you made between making the image and current dat.

It's Wam bam thank you and 10 minutes later up and runing!!
June 12, 2012 7:20:08 PM

Just looked at symlinking and although maybe not the entire users folder things like AppData folder could be symlinked as it gets quite large.
found this very useful program http://schinagl.priv.at/nt/hardlinkshellext/hardlinkshe...
a symlink creator which doesnt involve command prompt :) 
thanks
!