Well I promised I would detail the ordeal I went through to get the 128 Gig SSD drive working with my Lenovo W500. It was quite the challenge but at the end of the day it was working and the hoops I had to go through in hindsight all made sense.
Let’s set the stage.
The laptop is the Lenovo W500, which for the record is a freaking heavy beast. I really miss my T61 but I digress.
The accessory is the ATA Ultrabay. It basically replaces your optical drive that you use maybe once in 3 months with an extra slot for a hard drive.
The hard drive is a Kingston Vseries 128g
Let’s start with the initial problem. If you have no optical drive how do you boot into an OS disk or iso? Well you can’t unless you use a USB device or via the network connection. This wasn’t my biggest issue because I could just swap out my main drive with my SSD, use the dvd drive to install the OS then swap them back into the ultra-bay. The issue for me was that I knew that under normal conditions I’d be on the road and wouldn’t have access to such a luxury so I wanted to be able to boot from a USB thumb drive.
No matter what I did I could not get my w500 to boot from this USB device. I’ve mounted many ISO files in my day and I knew I was formatting the stick correctly for boot but the laptop just wouldn’t have it. Finally I plugged in my USB hard drive, booted into windows 7, partitioned the drive and stuck the Server 2008 R2 iso on the new bootable partition.
I rebooted with the USB hard drive plugged in and the w500 saw it right away. Ok first hurdle down.
The next issue I faced was once I got through the pre-boot install phase of the Server install when the installation is running the pre load items then reboots you into the main installation phase of the process, my SSD wouldn’t allow me to boot from it. I really wish it I wrote down the error it gave me but it was one of two errors.
The first one was that the SSD drive couldn’t initialize or something to that effect.
The second was that it couldn’t recognize a bootable area of the drive and therefore couldn’t boot.
It always happened at this phase. Here’s the trick.
In your bios you have two selections in Config > Serial ATA. Compatability and AHCI
This mode has to do with how the SATA channel is controlled. Compatible mode runs the channel like a normal IDE / parallel ATA interface. AHCI is the newer way, it adds some features like hot-swapping (theoretically) and native command queuing, which is supposed to speed up how the drive works, but all the real-world tests I’ve seen have shown no significant improvement.
Basically the SSD would not support running in ACHI mode, which is set by Lenovo by default and is what mode my normal platter based drive in the laptop is formatted under.
So what you need to do if you installed your primary OS (in my case Win 7) under the default ACHI mode (which 99% of you probably have) you need to boot to bios (ThinkVantage button > F1) go to Config (first option on the first page) Serial ATA and change the mode to “Compatibility”. Then go back through your install process.
The only down side to this is that whenever you want to boot into one drive or the other you have to change the mode. It kind of sucks but unless you go back and reinstall your primary OS drive using compatibility mode you always have to keep switching them. Scary thing is once you get this all up and running and you forget to swap one time you get a BSOD and it freaks you out. Nothing is wrong you just have to restart and change the mode.
Make sure you never defrag your SSD drive. Additionally you’ll want to turn off the “superfetch” service as well.
These two things keep the SSD from writing over sectors on itself. Because SSD is solid state memory as you continue to write over the sectors on the drive they eventually go bad physically and can not be written to anymore. You’ll notice over time that your drives capacity goes down even if all you’ve done is copied the same file then deleted it over and over again. You want to conserve how much you write to the drive avoid copying gigs and gigs of files only to install a application then delete the files.
Hope that helps !
Thanks to DevHammer for his post on SSD’s as well Adventures in SSD
Side note if you want a great tool that flushes a ISO to a DVD drive OR A USB DRIVE download Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool
With my login, 22.8 seconds.