\solid state drives offered superior performance but had a higher price tag per GB.
Thus in Desktop computers it is recommended to use a Solid State Drive (preferably use a mSATA SSD if a mSATA port is present) as a boot drive and a Hard Drive for Data Storage. In laptops this is only be possible if there is a mSATA port and a HDD bay. In some laptops the Optical Drive can be converted into a HDD bay.
Dell are beginning to sell this highly desired configuration but it seems there are some initial teething issues and systems are being shipped out with a blank SSD and a HDD with Windows. Many other users are asking how to do this.
I have asked my Dell contacts to update Dell Backup and Recovery to support multiple drive configurations.
Step 1: Make Recovery media with Dell Backup and Recovery
Follow the instructions here to make a Rescue Disk (Bootable External Hard Drive) or Factory Backup (Bootable USB Flash Drive):
This should be standard procedure when you get a new Dell system.
Also make a Windows 8.1 UEFI Bootable USB as its required for the use of DISKPART:
This is useful to have to hand in case you later want a clean installation (For Windows 7 users the OEM .iso is unavailable to download so just use a Windows 8.1 .iso for DISKPART).
Step 2: Adjust UEFI BIOS Settings
There are 4 settings which need to setup correctly in the UEFI BIOS. Their exact settings depend on the Operating System being installed. In most cases these should be applied correctly at the factory defaults however some may be changed for example the SATA operation may have been set up for a SSD Cache Drive which is not what we want. Its worth taking the time to check all the settings before proceeding.
Windows 8.1 64 Bit UEFI (Recommended)
◦USB 3.0 Enabled – Debug Off
Windows 7 64 Bit UEFI (Recommended)
◦UEB 3.0 Disabled – Debug On
Windows 7 32 Bit MBR
◦UEB 3.0 Disabled – Debug On
Desktop systems <2012 may or may not have a UEFI BIOS and <2010 definitely won’t have a UEFI BIOS. Systems without a UEFI BIOS will have a so called Legacy BIOS.
Windows 7 64 Bit Legacy BIOS MBR
Windows 7 32 Bit Legacy BIO MBR
Detailed instructions on how to change these settings are listed below:
- USB Debug – Disable USB 3.0 Functionality – UEFI BIOS Only
This setting disables USB 3.0 functionality making USB ports exhibit USB 2.0 functionality. This setting is useful as Windows 7 and earlier versions of Windows do not include native driver support for USB 3.0 and installation using the use of USB 3.0 ports can hence be stalled.
- SATA Operation – UEFI and MBR BIOS
The SATA operation should be modified to suit your SSD/HDD configurations, such as SSD cache drive or SSD boot drive or just a conventional HDD.
- UEFI/Secure Boot – UEFI BIOS Only
UEFI is newer technology which makes the legacy MBR partition scheme obsolete. UEFI uses the GPT partition scheme. It has support for larger drives, more partitions and is more reliable than the MBR.
Associated with UEFI is SecureBoot. Secureboot requires a UEFI Boot and will only allow verified code to boot. This allows Windows 8.1 64 Bit to boot for example and will reject anything else. The idea is that Malware cannot boot before Windows 8.1 64 Bit significantly increasing the systems overall security.
For a video demonstration on changing the UEFI BIOS settings see the start of this video up till 1:21:
Step 3: Use of DISKPART
Boot from the Windows 8.1 installation media and use DISKPART > CLEAN ALL on the HDD and DISKPART > CLEAN on the SSD:
Step 4: Restore Factory Settings to SSD
Power down the system and remove the SATA data and power cables from the HDD (Desktop) or remove the HDD (Laptop). We want the computer setup so it has the SSD only otherwise Dell Backup and Recovery will restore to the HDD as its largest in size.
Use the Rescue Disk or Factory Backup to install Windows 8.1 or 7 to the mSATA SSD. Update Windows and check that its running okay.
Power down your Dell.
For Windows 7 power up and enter the UEFI BIOS setup, disable the USB Debug to re-enable USB 3.0. Power down your Dell.
Step 5: Initialise HDD and Assign for Libraries
Reseat the SATA and power cables (Desktop) or reinsert your hard drive (Laptop). Power it up and log into Windows. Finally you can initialise your hard drive and set it up to use the HDD as a data drive:
This should now have the factory settings on the SSD and the HDD used as a Data Drive.