Installing a new SSD on my laptop

3 years ago I bought a OCZ Core v2 SSD... I was very disappointed by write freeze, price and capacity. Recently a friend of mine, told me that I should try the new ones that has much improved in the meantime. So I decided to give another try to SSD on my laptop. I bought a Crucial M4 128GB SSD, because they seems to be of better quality than OCZ (and probably because of my first failed attempt).

The price is correct (~130€) and after some tests it seems quite good at write and read speed. So from this point of view, I am more convinced than my first attempt.

Now, the real problem of the SSD is how to migrate your old data to your new drive. I have always upgraded my HD to a larger one and so a simple dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb bs=32M was enough... In the case of SSD you have to migrate to a smaller capacity. This includes to juggle a little bit with your partition to get something that fits.

In order to improve a little bit the lifetime of my SSD, I have tried to follow various advice you can found on the Internet. One of this advice that seems to make sense, is to align your partition to a number modulo 2048 (rather than the default which is to start at 63). I followed this forum to do that.

I end up with all partitions aligned to 2048.

The GOOD news: doing data migration for Linux is a breeze. As a matter of fact, Linux support pretty well being move around, ending up on a different partition and so on... It just took me the time to transfer data, update grub and disk UUID and reboot.

The BAD news: doing data migration for Windows is a hell. I always keep a Windows partition to test various OCaml software. But Windows doesn't like you like to be moved around.

It especially doesn't like that the first sector of its partition get moved (i.e. from sector 63 to sector 2048). I spend a week trying to 'repair windows' but it was a pure waste of time. Thinkpad comes with a special ways to store passwords which is not compatible with the rescue mode of Windows, so you cannot access the repair mode -- because you need the Administrator password -- which is not readable...

I decided to get back to the standard first sector on 63... Now Windows complained about 'hal.dll' missing. You know why ! Because the partition number has changed (from /dev/sda1 to /dev/sda3). Boot in Linux, run fdisk, enter expert mode, fix order -- after having remounted read-only the root partition and unmount everything else. Grub complains a little bit, fall into rescue mode. I fix that following these instructions and running 'grub-install --recheck /dev/sda'.

So after 2 weeks of fights, I end up with a working windows (honestly, this is a pain, don't try to play with Windows partition, this OS is a lot more sensible sensitive than Linux).


1. On Wednesday, May 2 2012, 04:43 by seeS

You wrote "honestly, this is a pain, don't try to play with Windows partition, this OS is a lot more sensible than Linux"

Were you trying to say Windows is more sensible or sensitive? I would of thought the more sensible OS would be the one where it just worked. A more sensitive (to changes) OS would spit the dummy if you changed something.

2. On Wednesday, May 2 2012, 06:41 by phil

sensible is a "faux ami", it means "raisonnable" you mean sensitive :)

3. On Wednesday, May 2 2012, 07:04 by George

I think you meant "sensitive" instead of "sensible"

4. On Wednesday, May 2 2012, 08:13 by Arne

I think you wanted to say that Windows is more sensitive (sensible in french). "sensible" means "raisonnable" - not what you want to say about windows ;-)

5. On Wednesday, May 2 2012, 08:28 by Gaël

Hi !

"Same thing" here: migrating a virtualbox image to kvm. Linux handled that just well (no problem: it just booted well).

Windows was a lot more troublesome: it's a really SENSITIVE OS (contresens monstrueux dans l'article : c'est "sensitive" pas "sensible"). Its hdd ide drivers changed giving BSOD at startup, its virtual motherboard changed, giving no acpi nor "suspended state" capabilities. Seriously its way to deal with hardware is crap. If only it booted faster than the linux partition...

Thanks for the hints for data transfers on a new disk.

6. On Wednesday, May 2 2012, 08:37 by Giorgos

Yep, Windows is fun in so many ways. I tried to migrate an XP install to an "advanced format" hard disk which, like an SSD, needs to have its partitions aligned or performance is noticeably reduced.

I gave up after trying anything I could think of to make it work, the culmination of it all being the use of hexedit on the partition's BIOS parameter block to change its reference to the first sector. Then I installed a copy of Vista that was lying around unused.

It looks like Microsoft just isn't too crazy about designing their products to be efficient and flexible. It's ridiculous to see a task as simple as moving your OS become a major challenge.

7. On Wednesday, May 2 2012, 09:02 by Virgo

Moving Windows partition location was probably causing problems, because you also need to change first sector of primary ntfs partition. It contains the number of sectors before that sector. - search Hidden Sectors.

8. On Wednesday, May 2 2012, 11:44 by Sven

I think you didn't really mean to say that Windows is more sensible then Linux. Sensible in English means 'making sense', not being sensitive/delicate or problematic.

9. On Wednesday, May 2 2012, 13:12 by Alex


10. On Wednesday, May 2 2012, 13:27 by rjc

I think you meant "juggle", not "jungle" and I hope you meant "sensitive", not "sensible" ;^)

11. On Wednesday, May 2 2012, 19:16 by Ben

Hello and thank you for your article,

Do you see a big difference between the two ssds?
can you give us some statistics about boot time, ... , and your hardware configuration?


12. On Saturday, May 5 2012, 10:34 by Philip Hands

"Sensible" is what's called a false-friend -- It doesn't mean what you think it means.

You probably meant sensitive, fragile, delicate, or finickety.

Sensible means something like sane or reliable in English which is pretty much the opposite of what you were trying to say.

13. On Tuesday, May 8 2012, 18:21 by Flo

You want to replace sensible with sensitive, don't you? :-D

14. On Thursday, June 28 2012, 23:05 by Sylvain Le Gall

Thank you for all the english corrections.

My hardware is ThinkPad x60s, with an old Core processor (i686) and 4GB of memory. Not precisely powerful.

Concerning statistics, I don't really have them. But I can talk about general responsiveness of the computer.

Boot time is faster but not by a large margin on Linux. However it is really noticeable on Windows. Windows tends to be unresponsive right after boot and this is no more the case.

I am big consumer of "compilation" (using OCaml compiler). Compiling big project on Linux has seen a cut of 30% of compile/test time. This is good. The most noticeable improvement is running "unison". Unison is a file synchronization tool. It scans all your file and compare them to a replica to define what has changed and sync. It implies scanning all your home directory. Before the SSD, it took more than 5 min. Now we are talking of 30s. My $HOME is about 20GB with a lot of small files.

15. On Friday, June 29 2012, 01:59 by Tim

Most of the time, a virtualised Windows is enough, no? Which solves all the partition problems.

16. On Friday, June 29 2012, 02:10 by gildor

Yes a virtualized Windows helps. I have a couple of qemu images for that. Although, it doesn't have the same I/O speed. 

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