Sunday, February 6, 2011

SSD Saga continued

So I got my OCZ Vertex2 SSD some time ago, and I managed to get it running in AHCI mode on my existing Windows XP pc. However, I had not yet transferred my windows system partition from hdd to ssd. A good job for Super Bowl Sunday, as it mirrored the highs and lows, the moments of elation and crushing despair, that I would have experienced had I watched the game itself.

After many false starts, I arrived at this process:

1) I aligned the partition, and formatted the whole ssd drive as one partition.

2) I used Clonezilla to copy my C: drive partition on my hdd to the new empty partition on the ssd. I used the "device-device" (device to device) menu option, with the basic (not advanced) option.

So far, so good. Here's where the fun began. Naturally, after such a cloning operation (operating on partitions, not the whole disk), the master boot record on the SSD was not set up properly to boot into windows.

First, I unplugged the hdd, so the ssd would show up as C: (and so I wouldn't fat-finger it into oblivion). I booted from the XP install disk into the Recovery Console, and used the three classic incantations:

fixboot C:
bootcfg /rebuild

This is supposed to repair the mbr, and make the drive bootable. No dice. I just received the message "Error loading operating system" on a black screen.

I turned to the old reliable, Ultimate Boot Cd (not UBCD4win this time)

It comes with several MBR tools. The one that worked for me was MBRWork (version 1.07b)

Here's how to use MBRWork, from here and here
Steps to recover lost partitions
7> Change active hard drive. (ignore if you have only one hard drive)

1> Backup first track

4> Reset MBR to zero

3> Reset EMBR area to zero.

A> Recover MS Partitions (see fig 2)

5> Install standard MBR code

Reinstall your boot manager. (if used)

See explanations below..

Below view shows after 4> Reset MBR to zero. A> Recover MS Partitions has been
added to the list of options, also notice MBR Partition Information is
now all zeros. There are no longer any partition boundaries, meaning the hard
drive is unbootable and you can't read any data. If you now try to use fdisk
or other utility to recreate the partitions, new file tables will mean all
your data will be inaccessible, except for data rescue efforts. MBRWork finds
the original partition boundaries and reconstructs them exactly as they were,
meaning your computer works again and the data is intact.

MBRWork Menu

1) Backup First Track This is your safety valve to put things back as they were
2) Restore First Track Appears as an option only after using 1)
3) Reset EMBR Clear extended partition area
4) Reset MBR Remove partitions
5) Install Std MBR Same as fdisk /mbr (removes any boot manager)
6) Set active partition Also can be done with fdisk
7) Change active HD
8) Only shows if DDO present Remove Dynamic Disk Overlay (i.e. EZDrive, Maxblast)
9) Capability Check Runs tests on your BIOS, makes no changes.
E) Exit
A) Recover partitions Appears only after running 3) (and/or 4)

Success! It boots, and is much much faster booting and loading programs. And, it's still aligned properly, according to this ssd alignment calculator.

However, if you're using XP, and thinking about transferring your existing install to an ssd, know that it is not an easy or straightforward operation. Newer versions of windows are apparently much smarter about the way they handle ssds.

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