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There is so much info on the net; I am completely lost. All I want to do is set up a "decent" dual boot configuration on an SSD.

What I have now:

A desktop PC from Dell. It has one hard drive which is currently split into two partitions for dual booting Windows 7 and Ubuntu 12.04. It has one DVD drive.

What I want: I want a clean install on a new SSD (around 250GB). I will then use the existing hard drive for long term data storage, but boot from the SSD.

I want to make sure I am not doing anything stupid but otherwise I don't want massive technical detail. Things that concern me include:

  1. Will an SSD be compatible with my current setup?
  2. Will my SATA connection be a serious bottleneck? ie. Is an SSD a waste of money?
  3. On which connector should I connect the SSD?
  4. Do I need to configure something to prevent defragmenting? Any other important config?

I really don't want to get into a mess as I don't know much about building computers or hardware in general. A simple and robust process is what I need!

What I think I want:

A dual boot from the SSD for organisation and ease of clean installing. So that is the two OSs on different partitions on the SSD. Ubuntu will get the lion's share as I use Windows 1% of the time.

What I am currently considering doing:

  1. Back up all my data on an external HDD
  2. Buy Samsung 830 EVO 250GB SATA solid state drive.
  3. Buy an adapter to hold the SSD internally. Do I need 2.5" to 3.5", or a 2.5" to 5.5"?
  4. Disconnect the current hard drive
  5. Connect the SSD. Which connector should the SSD go on? I believe there are multiple on a SATA cable.
  6. Install Windows 7
    1. Put Windows 7 disk in DVD drive
    2. Turn on computer
    3. Install Windows 7 (on SSD) using all standard settings
  7. Install Ubuntu 12.04
    1. Put in Ubuntu disk in DVD drive
    2. Follow instructions using most standard settings and following partitioning split: Windows about 60GB, Ubuntu 190GB
  8. Connect the old HDD
  9. Load into Ubuntu
  10. Format the old HDD
  11. All done (!?)

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FYI: This is what my current storage looks like from Ubuntu (I don't know if this has any relevant information to address my concerns about compatibility):

enter image description here

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1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Overall, I think that you have the right ideas. An SSD upgrade is well worth the time and money. It is very difficult to offer concrete advice though on compatibility etc. without actually seeing your machine.

I personally have both the Samsung 840 Series Pro 256GB 2.5 inch and the Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5 inch SATA Solid State Drives. Both are excellent and I have had no problems so I can highly recommend the Samsung drives. There is a lot of material online comparing the different Samsung models. The general advice seems to be to so for the 830 or 840 PRO and avoid the standard 840 model.

In terms of adapters, I am using the Icy Dock 2.5 to 3.5 inch EZ-FIT Pro Dual Hard Drive and SSD Bracket which I think is great. The Samsung SSDs sit quite loose because they are so slim, but as they are SSDs with no moving parts this does not bother me. They seem quite safe. The choice of 2.5" to 3.5" or 5.25" adapter will depend on your case configuration. Do you have any free 3.5" slots?

The SSD cable only has one connector so you will require another cable as they tend not to be included with the drive. You may also need a power adapter depending on how many SATA power connectors your PSU has. I would always try to connect your SSD to the first SATA port (probably where your HDD is currectly connected) but it actually makes very little difference.

Your installation strategy seems fine, but remember that Windows 7 can be quite space hungry so it may be worth allocating 100GB to save yourself some headache later, although it you don't use it much you may be fine with 60GB. The installation process is not at all different for SSD or HDD.

One thing to definitely check before installing the OS is that your SATA controller is configured for AHCI mode in the BIOS. This improves performance and it is much easier to configure now. From your screenshot it looks like this is already configured, but do check it anyway.

Once you have Windows installed, install Samsung Magician Software and make sure that you register your device and update the firmware to the latest version.

You should indeed disable fragmentation and in windows the Samsung Magician Software will guide you through all configurations that need to be done. I can't speak for Ubuntu though.

Using the existing HDD for long term storage and backup is highly recommended.

Good luck!

Update:

Ok, I've had a look at the service manual and I think that you should be fine.

  • SATA controller is set to AHCI by default
  • There are 4 SATA version 1 / 2 ports operating at up to 3 Gb/s so enough for two drives and DVD
  • There appears to be space for another vertically mounted drive above the HDD, but the Icy Dock won't work - you will need something like this which has the screw holes at the bottom. Alternatively you can use the front drive bay.
  • There appears to be a spare SATA power connector if you mount the drive above the current HDD.

Of course this is all just deduced from the manual, but it looks like it will be fine to me.

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If you could provide the Dell model number it might help wrt compatibility. –  zelanix Jan 26 at 14:27
    
It is a Vostro 430 (MT?) –  cammil Jan 26 at 22:39
    
Ok, thanks. I have updated the answer based on the information in the service manual. –  zelanix Jan 27 at 0:08
    
Thanks! BTW, what do you mean by "SATA version 1 / 2 ports"? Does that mean it is either SATA 1 or SATA 2? Do I need a specific cable? –  cammil Jan 27 at 19:57
    
No, a standard SATA cable will be fine, but drives marked as SATA 3 (6Gb/s) will only operate at SATA 2 speeds (3Gb/s). In reality this doesn't really make much difference though so I wouldn't worry about it. –  zelanix Jan 27 at 21:49

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