Upgrade to Solid State Drives

For some time now I’ve wanted solid state drives (SSD) to replace my conventional hard drives (HD) in my portable computers for improved speed and battery life. Until recently the available SSD offerings with a decent capacity were a bit out of reach, but I was able to find two 180GB Corsair SSDs for about $180 each after rebates.

One SSD was for my Asus Eee PC 1000HE netbook with a 160GB HD running Windows XP. I connected the SSD to my SATA-USB adapter and imaged the HD to the SSD using Clonezilla booted from a USB optical drive. Then I opened up the bottom of the Eee PC, replaced the HD with the SSD, turned on the power, and it booted up just fine! Eventually I’d like to use the remaining 20GB of unallocated SSD space so I can have a dual boot XP/OSX “hacintosh” install. This is proving to be a bit more challenging than expected, so that project will sit on the backburner for another day (if at all, since I can already boot Snow Leopard from a USB stick).

The other SSD for was my work laptop with a 500GB HD running Windows 7. This was more of a challenge since I was going from a larger to a smaller drive, although my Windows 7 install was fairly fresh and would fit on a 180GB SSD without deleting any data. In principle, the idea was to shrink the HD partition so that it will fit on the SSD. There’s lots of guides which can be Googled to do this. Most of what I read worked, but there was some stuff which didn’t. Here’s what worked for my Fujitsu:

  • Starting from the booted HD install, turn off virtual memory and disable the paging file per this procedure.
  • Use a third party defragger such as MyDefrag which can move all of the data to the beginning of the partition.
  • In Windows 7, go to Computer Management -> Disk Management, right click on the C: drive, and select Shrink Volume to a small enough size.

At this point, I ended up with a HD with less than 180GB in partitions and the excess being unallocated space. One guide said to do a disk to disk image from the HD to the SSD using Clonezilla. But Clonezilla quit with an error saying that I was trying to image from a larger disc to a smaller disc. So then I tried imaging the recovery, boot, and C: drive partitions from the HD one by one to the SSD, but I was never able to get the SSD booted. So now back to the procedure which worked for me.

  • Remove the HD, install the SSD, and do a clean install of Windows 7 on the SSD from the Fujitsu recovery disks (you do have them, right?).
  • Connect the HD to the SATA-USB adapter, boot with Clonezilla from the optical drive, and image the C: drive partition from the HD to the SSD.
  • Disconnect the HD and the optical drive, and try to boot to the SSD. There will probably be an error on booting. That’s OK, we’ll fix that.
  • Reboot with your Windows 7 recovery disk (the Fujitsu disc will work, though a generic disk is available here.) and select the repair boot option. It should boot up OK after that fix.
  • After rebooting, go back to Disk Management, right click on the C: drive, and select Expand Volume to fill the unallocated space. (Actually I had a D: partition also, and I wanted to expand that “backwards” to fill the space between the C: and D: drives. Windows 7 won’t expand a volume backwards, so I instead used GParted from the System Rescue CD to do that.)
  • If there’s another error upon rebooting, another fix using the recovery disk should take care of that.
  • Finally when everything is up and running, don’t forget to turn the virtual memory back on and reenable the paging file.

I hope these instructions are useful for others who may be in the same situation!