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First scratch build done! IDE/AHCI mistake to fix; advice/feedback?

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August 20, 2012 10:59:07 AM

So I was excited tonight to finish my first system, which I had pieced together on a shoestring budget. This was really a small-scale prep before starting construction on the performance build that is sitting ready to be assembled, but it will still serve as a new email/web PC for the living room. I had quite a few of the parts sitting around after they were replaced in other computers, so it really was only about $150 out of pocket for the remaining bits. Safe chance to learn from any newbie mistakes prior to it being potentially costly.

For a while I had everything up and Win7 running- I thought I actually went from A-Z on the project with no missteps! Then I realized the dismal speed of the SSD was a real problem- checked and realized I hadn't set the BIOS for AHCI; it was in IDE mode. :(  I ran into a headache when I made the error of changing the BIOS setting prior to the registry setting, and ultimately just erased the entire install running from a Ubuntu USB boot.

Now I worry the SSD is pretty much loaded with junk data and don't know if there is a cleaner I should run prior to reinstalling Windows. I would imagine either from the Ubuntu USB OS or from another system with this drive temporarily attached. I know this time to just fix the BIOS config prior to running the install disc and the original mistake should be okay. What would be advisable?

At any rate, below is the system as it stands; note I am adding a cheap 500gb HDD for storage once it's fixed.

Case: CM 343
Mobo: MSI 760GM-P23 mATX
PSU: CM Extreme 500w (I know; it was just sitting here though)
CPU: Athlon II X3 455
GPU: Asus HD 6670
RAM: 8gb (2x4gb) PC3-10600
SDD: 120gb Intel 330
Cooler: Silenx 92mm tower
Fans: 120mm front intake, 92mm side intake, 92mm rear exhaust
a b B Homebuilt system
August 20, 2012 11:45:15 AM

All ATA SSDs and HDDs have a built in command called SECURE_ERASE which will zero out the drive. On HDDs this can take several hours, on SSDs its almost instant. This can be run on any unmounted drive. Fortunately it's easy to run, just download and burn PartedMagic to a CD (it's a linux live CD) and use the "erase disk" program and run it in "secure erase" mode (should be the last one). Do not under any circumstances use the random write or zero write funtions on an SSD. There are a couple of guides on the internet.

One thing to note though is that the SSD may be "locked" during the boot process to prevent it from being tampered with. This allows the data to be accessed but prevents certain commands including SECURE_ERASE from being run. To fix this plug the drive's power cable in after you're already booted into PartedMagic but before you open the Erase Disk program. Your PC must support HotSwap SATA to do this (it should). If it doesn't try putting the PC to sleep and waking it up.
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