Shaky-flaky migration to SSD

I could write a novella on what's happened thus far in trying to migrate from my dying 80GB C-drive with Win7 installation, to a new bulletproof (!) 120GB SSD that's to replace it, but a lot of that sad history is probably incidental to my current setting. So, skipping much of that annoyance and wasted time:

The new SSD booted up at, LONG last, though somewhat mysteriously, with Win7 upgrade disc in the DVD drive, a week ago. I'd been through many failed attempts leading up to that - failure of dozens of attempts to clone the old C-drive with Ghost, then moving on to trying to clean-install, when new failures presented themselves, mostly cycling ad-nauseum without ever offering to boot in any form, but also not liking my legit product key, etc.

That time a week ago, I simply hit "esc" at the product-key entry screen, since I was planning to shut down and try something else - and lo, it continued the first-time-boot process, asking me for time-zone, etc! I thought I was home free at last, though part of me expected the tedious drama wasn't really over.

I installed Chrome and made a few tweaks, then decided it was time to switch back to the old C-drive (80GB) and take note of all the software I'd want to install in the clean new setup, and make sure I pulled off the various data files I'd want to save. Can't recall if I rebooted that new installation then or not, though I think I did, since I ended up feeling confident that it was reproducible.

A week went by without my having time to continue the migration, and then a rainy day came, so I only got back into it today. Yeah, you know what's coming: now it won't boot from the SSD - again.

Roughly every five attempts, it gives me a "didn't shut down normally" screen, so I can choose to boot up in safe mode, etc, but I don't know what if anything can be done from there to fix. Other boot attempts lead to nothing - plain old black screen with no indication of any boot activity, though I have the chance to get into BIOS or select a boot device. Still other attempts to start lead to "repair" or "start normally" option, though this is rare. The "repair" option didn't go anywhere useful last time it happened - I hoped it might complete a system restore, but on restarting, it didn't boot at all.

Is it naive to expect, as I did, to be able to shut down and switch between two C-drives (one old, one new) alternately connected to the same mobo?

When installing an SSD as a C-drive, there's little (no?) indication of life - seems like it's an act of faith that requires just waiting and hoping there's still some process running, vs just me staring into the unchanging inky grayness that once was full of life and hope. So what's the longest a hack builder like me should endure this e-silent treatment before hitting the power button again?

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  1. Several things. dont ever cloan a harddrive to an SSD. it wont be set up right. bad things will happen. (TRIM, defrag, etc)

    2nd do you have AHCI enabled? you should have for the SSD when you did the clean install. If not reinstall with it set correctly. You can't change it after the original install or windows wont load. If you old harddrive was installed with it set to IDE it wont boot with it set to AHCI either
  2. Unksol - thanks for the reply.

    During this process I've seen lots of references to setting BIOS to AHCI but never found it in my BIOS settings anywhere...and went looking for more detail on where to find it, and found instead some posts indicating that SSDs are shipped in that mode already, if that makes any sense.

    I did give up on cloning to SSD, but because of indications I might have bad sectors - and never saw any advice not to do that. Is this generally accepted?

    Can that explain the non-repeatable boot after my not-so-clean install? It started once or twice, but not now.

    Say I decide to clean install (again) - where exactly is that AHCI setting in BIOS?

    I'm very hesitant to do that vs trying almost ANY other option to get to my week-ago-worked version of Win7 first, since on reinstalling I fully expect product-key issues to resurface, leading to my having to start with a Vista installation or something as annoying as that before I might eventually succeed in using my Win7 upgrade disc. I don't even know if I still HAVE those repair discs around...
  3. Microsoft allows clean installs from upgrade media, but you MUST own a valid version of a previous OS that could be installed on the machine for it to So if you own a valid copy of vista but its buried in a closet somewhere you're fine. See option 1 here:

    AHCI is the mode of the SATA controller. May need to refer to your motherboard manual to find the correct BIOS page if you're having trouble. Should be with the rest of the configurable onboard stuff
  4. OK, I did finally find the AHCI enable option.

    But to clean install, do I...have to reformat the SSD first? All I get when restarting w/Win7 upgrade in drive is 'startup repair' or 'start normally' options, neither of which lead anywhere good. I'd love for that 'option 1' to work...
  5. you are still booting from the SSD. you need to select boot from CD, then go through the reinstall, which will involve formatting the drive.

    On a side note it really should take your key. Sure its for the right product/s numbers not smudged? but its better to not activate till you know its working right anyway. If it throws a fit when you try and activate you can at least call Microsoft and do it by phone
  6. are you perhaps sharing page file between the two installs, i.e. that might cause some of the symptoms
  7. I've been using F10 to select DVD as boot device - and getting only "startup repair" or "normal startup" as options, neither of which go anywhere good. What am I doing wrong?
  8. OK. Does the disc drive still show in BIOS? Normally DVD drives don't work if their port is set to AHCI. So on most boards you can set ports 1-4 to AHCI and ports 5-6 separately (or some variation of this). You'd need to set the smaller group to IDE and plug the DVD drive into one of those ports, and the SSD into the AHCI ports. Sorry, I forgot to mention this. If you don't see some sort of option like this what is your board?

    EDIT: You might also have 2 SATA controllers. same pricipal. One for AHCI one for IDE
  9. DVD shows in BIOS, yes. But it looks to me like the only three selectable settings are:
    Configure SATA as [AHCI]
    S.M.A.R.T. [Enable]
    Hard Disk Pre-Delay [No]

    The other six lines (in "Drive Configuration" tab) are SATA Ports (0 through 3), and Primary Master/Primary Secondary (both 'not present')

    Board is an Intel DG43GT.
  10. Is there a submenu if you delete the SATA port and hit enter? I am guessing not. sorry but I'm on my phone so... LOL digging through Intel's data is interesting.

    Not to ask a dumb question but the DVD is still in the drive? does it spin up? Missing a "press any key to boot from cd" prompt? What's it do if you disconnect the SSD and all it has is the DVD drive to load?
  11. unksol said:
    Is there a submenu if you delete the SATA port and hit enter? I am guessing not. sorry but I'm on my phone so... LOL digging through Intel's data is interesting.

    Not to ask a dumb question but the DVD is still in the drive? does it spin up? Missing a "press any key to boot from cd" prompt? What's it do if you disconnect the SSD and all it has is the DVD drive to load?

    I'm awake again -
    1) submenu on deleting SATA port - don't know what you mean there. The four listed SATA ports can't be highlighted, so no way to touch them that I know of.
    2) I've looked a little at Intel's data but don't know where to go (if anywhere) for info specific to my mobo. (and the like) show what appears to be every BIOS config possible - so there's far too much spurious info. I want a building directory, not a world atlas...
    3) yes, DVD in drive.
    4) spins up, yes. Currently it goes like this:
    power on
    drawer closes
    POST beep with Intel logo & BIOS/boot options
    delay of 15 sec or so, then spins up
    second POST beep after spinning for 15 seconds or so
    windows failure to load (two options - repair or normal startup)
    repeat ad nauseum
    5) I've not seen the "press any key to boot from CD" for some time now - not sure when it was last visible
    6) disconnecting SSD to maybe force boot from DVD: "windows is loading files..." progress bar, then...a minute passes and it's asking me about the install language, time format, keyboard method...then gives me a compatibility report (restart without disc, then install upgrade, or something like that).

    On my own - reconnected both old- and new-C-drives, 'cause I have an itch to wipe the SSD and start from scratch, but still expect that to lead to old or new problems at this point. I'd post a screen-shot of Disk Management if any of the buttons above worked (?!), because it looks wrong: shows two "E" drives along with my old C-drive. One E-drive is "Disk_" (blank, not really an underscore), the other is "Disk 1". The latter shows a 100MB system-reserved (F:) "Healthy (Active, Primary Partition)" next to a 112GB (E:) "Healthy (Primary Partition)". "Disk_," above that line, is also a "basic," shows the same sized partitions, but with no letters or commentary - just the same size data listed.

    While looking a bit more at Disk Management, it hung & crashed. I tried to go back into DM again, and...BSOD.
  12. on restarting, Disk Management shows no such weirdness again. The "Disk 1" description is still as I described above.
  13. Windows creates the system reserved partition when it installs on a clean disk. it doesn't hurt anything. Just delete all the partitions on the SSD
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