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I'd like to do a clean install of Windows 8 on my Acer Aspire laptop (Aspire M5-481PT) with a hybrid drive. Physically, there seem to be two hard drives (an HDD and an SSD). So when I try to clean install Windows, I am asked to pick a drive. The HDD has five partitions (some seem to be recovery related), and the SSD has two partitions. Which partitions should I delete (if any), and onto which drive should I install Windows 8? And then how can I instruct Windows 8 to use the HDD-SSD combination as a hybrid drive?

Edit: Currently, the operating system seems to be installed (from the factory) on the HDD. The SSD is invisible in File Explorer. It is only visible in disk utilities. I'm betting I need to install Windows to the HDD, and then point Windows to use the SSD for the hybrid relationship. Also, the SSD is about 20 GB. The HDD is about 450 GB.

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Do you mean a factory restore or a true clean install with a different Windows DVD? – packets Jul 9 '13 at 14:07
Using Windows 8 Reset feature will do exactly this. This will remove all personal files and installed desktop applications. – Ramhound Jul 9 '13 at 14:55
packets, this is a clean install. Ramhound, I tried a reset. It said it would restore the computer to factory condition, which it did: all Acer programs were replaced. – user1325179 Jul 9 '13 at 16:16
@user1325179: In your current install do you see any program that enables the use of the SSD as a cache for the HDD? – Karan Jul 9 '13 at 21:49
@Karan, I see four potential programs: 1. ExpressCache by Condusiv Techonologies, 2. Intel Rapid Start Technology, 3. Intel Rapid Storage Techonology, and 4. Sleep Memory Optimizer. I only list #4 because I found an Acer article that states that some Acer computers use the SSD for first resuming from sleep: – user1325179 Jul 9 '13 at 23:36

Windows is meant to be installed on the SSD location. Bear in mind however that you will need to set up your file locations and other data storage on the HDD. As far as deleting recovery drives and other drives--

  • If you back up your files and have installation media, there is no need for a restoration drive.
  • The drivers for your laptop can all be found online and installed directly in the C: or another location; no need for a separate drive.
  • Diagnostic drives can be helpful, but check your BIOS boot menu list for a diagnostic boot that is installed with your BIOS. If this is the case you might not need this drive either.

The general gist is that many of the drives that come with your computer are not entirely necessary, they simply provide safety for you, but there are other options.

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"Windows is meant to be installed on the SSD location" - And yet it seems to have been factory installed on the HDD. – Karan Jul 9 '13 at 21:48
up vote 0 down vote accepted

I found this awesome post in the Acer forums:

For anyone with an Acer Aspire M5-481PT considering a clean install, please read this!

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In my opinion using a combo of SSD+HDD like Acer laptops do is a gimmick. Here is why:

  1. Size (all your large files are stored on the HDD which is 5400 RPM disk, and this itself defeats the purpose of SSD)
  2. Energy Consumption (Having OS installed only on SSD will win you more battery time. Oh, wait, it's only 20 Gb of space)
  3. Basically if you want performance, you gotta upgrade. Get yourself a bigger SSD a minimum of 120Gb and HDD that is either a hybrid (part SSD and HDD) or 7200RPM HDD. Rout all your temp cache/my files to your HDD and either with a 3rd party software you'd be able to achieve fast start up/wake up time.
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I'm sure this has long since been answered, but the answer is: The OS gets installed to the regular (large) HDD. The small SSD is there for cache and speed start. It's small because it only needs to be used for memory cache (no need to have more space than installed memory). The Acer uses Diskkeeper software which should be available from the recovery discs, assuming your created them before wiping the original factory install. Also Intel Rapid Start for deep sleep functions, to allow a hybrid hibernation/sleep mode that restarts very quickly.

See this thread for LOTS of detailed info on these systems:

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