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  1. #1
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    November 27, 2010



    Dear Forum,

    In planing my "Big Build" I am looking at using a Solid

    State Drive for Windows 7 64 Bit only, with a 1 or 2 TB

    conventional HDD for storage.

    This has brought up the question of drive letter assignment.

    "Back in the day", the letter assignment for two drives that

    Microsoft said was mandatory were:

    C: HDD-1's First partition

    D: HDD-2's First partition

    E: HDD-1's Second partition

    F: HDD-2's Second partition

    G: to ?? HDD-2's Subsiquent partitions

    Z: CD/DVD Burner

    What is the situation when you run both an SSD and regular HDD?

    Can the SSD be partitioned so it has a C: and an E: drive?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Big_Al

  2. #2
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Can the SSD be partitioned so it has a C: and an E: drive?
    I don't see why not, but why E and not D for the SSD 2nd partition?
    What is the situation when you run both an SSD and regular HDD?
    Your operating system should rightfully reside on your fastest drive for best performance, and an SSD is just that. Your other
    "mechanical" drives can serve as storage space for whatever you have the need for, including backup.
    So in other words yes you can use an SSD and your regular hard drives together just fine.

    If you are going to partition an SSD, make certain that at least 20GB of free space reside with the primary operating system's partition.
    It would probably also be best to create those partitions on the SSD before the os is installed.


    For the sake of being obsessive/compulsive I would also prefer my SSD to be located on the Drive 0 position of the mainboard, and your
    other lesser drives assuming Drive positions 1, 2, and so on.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
    Latest Build:
    ASUS X99 Deluxe, Core i7-5960X, Corsair Hydro H100i, Plextor M6e 256GB M.2 SSD, Corsair DOMINATOR Platinum 32GB DDR4@2666, W8.1 64 bit,
    EVGA GTX980, Seasonic PLATINUM-1000W PSU, MountainMods U2-UFO Case, and 7 other internal drives.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Al,

    Welcome to the Lounge.

    From your post I gather you are building a desktop?

    Now I'll pose a question not necessarily for you alone but for all the distinguished posters on this site.

    I understand the need for SSDs in laptops where fast boot up time for a quick check in an Airport or Starbucks is necessary and of course the power savings on long flights. However, is it really worth the added expense for a desktop given the newness {no long term data on reliability in actual use,etc} and need for special drivers {correct me if I'm wrong here}? As Fred would say I've put on my Flame resistant suit have at it!
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

    PowerShell & VBA Rule!

    My Systems: Desktop Specs
    Laptop Specs

  4. #4
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    I understand the need for SSDs in laptops where fast boot up time for a quick check in an Airport or Starbucks is necessary and of course the power savings on long flights. However, is it really worth the added expense for a desktop given the newness {no long term data on reliability in actual use,etc} and need for special drivers {correct me if I'm wrong here}?
    I'm leaning toward getting an SSD for use as my primary drive in my desktop computer. I say leaning because I havn't done so yet.
    You pose a good argument against it. One I havn't fully been able to get passed at this time. I guess when it comes down to it I want a fully functional and stable system over rip roaring speed.
    I suppose I could probably store my current raptor in an antistatic bag for safe keeping??
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
    Latest Build:
    ASUS X99 Deluxe, Core i7-5960X, Corsair Hydro H100i, Plextor M6e 256GB M.2 SSD, Corsair DOMINATOR Platinum 32GB DDR4@2666, W8.1 64 bit,
    EVGA GTX980, Seasonic PLATINUM-1000W PSU, MountainMods U2-UFO Case, and 7 other internal drives.

  5. #5
    Bronze Lounger
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    First, you have to play ball with your programs and most will expect 'D' to be CD/DVD, if I'm not mistaken. It just makes installations easier since that is the default for most.

    Second, you have given no indication of the expected size of your SSD drive, nor an explanation of why you would partition it. A little will go a long way with a primary drive, and if the HDD drive or partition is for data then send it to a partition on the HDD. You'd have to be doing something really exotic to generate data faster than the HDDs you are talking about can receive and store it or update it when the source is a program on an SSD drive, and you lose the benefit of having an SSD drive if you partition it, reading from the first partition of it and writing to the second partition. Keep it in one piece please - it's going to cost you a fortune as it is.

  6. #6
    New Lounger
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    First, you have to play ball with your programs and most will expect 'D' to be CD/DVD, if I'm not mistaken. It just makes installations easier since that is the default for most.
    There is no such assumption when it comes to drive letters. The optical drives can be any available letter and can be changed as often as you like. I frequently juggle drive letters for various reasons and so far have never had a problem that I can remember over the last 10 years or more.

  7. #7
    Lounger
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    I have almost exactly the setup you're looking for. I have a 32Gb SSD (found cheap in my suppliers junk bin) which I installed as the primary drive, and then I put a 250GB Disk Drive in for data storage. The only issue I ran into was doing the initialization and partitioning. I did have it hooked to the primary interface (sata-1), but it kept giving me problems, either wouldn't initialize or format, or Windows wouldn't see the drive, or copy files to it. On investigation, I found the problem to be my MoBo controller was in "IDE Compatibility" mode. Once I changed it to AHCI mode, the drive was recognised and the installation proceeded without further issue. When all was said and done, it shows correctly as the C: drive and the traditional drive shows as D:
    Windows 7 will automatically configure properly for an SSD, and the boot time should be about 1/2 of that of a disk. I also found normal operation to be more responsive also, again possibly due to faster disk access.

    Good Luck, I'm sure you'll find it a worthwhile upgrade.

    PC Mechanic
    Halifax, NS

  8. #8
    New Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by RetiredGeek View Post
    Al,

    From your post I gather you are building a desktop?

    Now I'll pose a question not necessarily for you alone but for all the distinguished posters on this site.

    I understand the need for SSDs in laptops where fast boot up time for a quick check in an Airport or Starbucks is necessary and of course the power savings on long flights. However, is it really worth the added expense for a desktop given the newness {no long term data on reliability in actual use,etc} and need for special drivers {correct me if I'm wrong here}? ...
    The simple answer is that Windows goes to the disk so often that EVERYTHING is faster with an SSD. Those I know who have added one to an existing PC say it's by far the most noticeable speed improvement. The slowest SSDs are about 3 times as fast as a Velociraptor. I'm planning to put together the PC (parts) I got for my wife this weekend, and I decided it was better to use integrated graphics and a 60 Gb SSD for about the same price as an inexpensive graphics card and a mechanical 750 Gb.

    As for lifetime, the rating is a million hours MTBF, and there are no moving parts. Depending on the leveling algorithm, it could certainly last 10 years. At least I know I don't have to worry about bearing failure.

    BTW: realistically, the lower power consumption isn't much of a big deal. Normal HDs already have pretty low power consumption, so in a laptop, the additional runtime from using an SSD may not even be noticeable.

  9. #9
    Bronze Lounger
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    This invites a supplementary question (which is not designed to hijack the thread, but to invite opinions). Accepting that this will obviously be inferior to your dedicated drive, what are the opinions on using a flash drive to accomplish the same thing? This is often done with utilities or to run Linux or another operating system. I accept that it will be slow, but is it feasible? I'm thinking of it as an alternative to a dual boot setup, which is a pain in the neck if you use one system almost exclusively.

  10. #10
    Lounger
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    Windows 7 always assigns the Windows system drive as C: by default. You can set any partition of any drive to be whatever letter you want. Right click on Computer and select "Manage" then the disk manager to set the letter for any partitions to be any letter. I recommend that you leave C: as the system drive as it is less confusing.

    I like to set particular USB keys to always be on the same drive letter so I have one on L: one on J: and one on K: when I plug in an SD card it always goes on H: I have my main data drive as D: I have network drives mapped to Z: and Y:, my external USB backup drive mapped to B: and two DVD-RW drives set to E: and F: casual USB keys then usually go onto G:. If you find a drive without a letter on the main drive, it might be OEM partition leave it alone that will probably be the recovery partition to put the PC back to factory defaults. Windows 7 will also by default from a clean install assign a 100MB System partition on the same drive as the system, leave that alone as well it keeps information about restore in it.
    Expert help is less costly than inexpert help

  11. #11
    New Lounger
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    December 4, 2010


    Gentlemen,

    First, thank you for taking the time to answer my post.


    A little further detail about my computer use: I currently run a very slow

    Windows 98SE box-AMD 550 Chip and 256 Megs of RAM. Years ago I was

    turned on to Norton Ghost by the Guru that taught me computers.

    The Ghost "Mantra" is the smaller your C Drive is, the faster you can make

    AND restore an Image. To that end, when we built my original box, C was

    used for the OS, but 90% of the programs were installed on the D Drive.

    The 10% that were not were usually Microsoft programs that INSISTED on

    being installed on the C Drive. That box had a single Hard Drive.

    Right now I am using Norton Ghost 2003. Pick any problem you have had

    that drove you nuts and consumed MULTIPLE hours for you to solve, or

    worse, ate up all that time and you STILL didn't solve it and had to do a

    reinstall of the OS, and then look at the "Ghost Alternative" of doing a

    complete C Drive restore to a pristine state in a matter of minutes.

    My Windows 98SE box has a C that is 940 Megs and makes a Ghost Image

    that is 479 Megs which I have on my G Drive and was burnt to a CD. When

    I do a restore, it takes me 2 minutes and 20 seconds to be back to a

    pristine C. This box also has a single Hard Drive.


    To Clint: "but why E and not D for the SSD 2nd partition?"

    As I said in my post: "Back in the day", the letter assignment for

    two drives that Microsoft said was MANDATORY were:....."

    That is one thing that I was seeking an answer to: Is it STILL

    mandatory to partition as Microsoft said it was years ago?

    Can someone please put that question to rest?

    I need input from someone who has set their box up as my post: SSD

    with two (or more) partitions and a SATA with multiple partitions.

    John Brown came close, but remember, I need to keep the OS part of the

    SSD (the part that will be Imaged by Ghost) seperate from the everything

    else.


    To Peterg: "you have given no indication of the expected size of your SSD

    drive"

    Most likely 64 Gigs. Partitioned like so: 20 Gigs for Windows 7,

    10 Gigs for installed programs, 20 Gigs for C's Ghost Image and the last

    partition for doing Video editing/encoding.

    I await your further input.

    Big_Al

  12. #12
    New Lounger
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    Al,

    There were never any mandatory drive letter assignments. Not "back then" and not now. What you're talking about are only default drive letter assignments. You have always been able to change them to suit your own preferences. I'm not sure where you got the impression that hard drive letter assignments were mandatory but it's not the case. As for your other question regarding the SSD and the conventional drive, there may be other compatibility questions that need to be answered, but the question of drive letters should be considered settled. There is no issue. The only real limitation is that you can't, for all practical purposes, change the drive letter of the drive where Windows is installed after it's installed, but prior to install you can call it any letter you like. Call it 'W' (for Windows) if you like.

  13. #13
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    December 11, 2010


    Dear Baca,

    Thanks for your input, but I based my question on this from MS:

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/51978

    "Order In Which MS-DOS And Windows Assign Drive Letters"

    HOWEVER, I did fail to zero in on this part:

    Drive 1:
    C: 20 MB primary MS-DOS partition
    D: 20 MB logical drive 1 in extended MS-DOS partition

    Drive 2:
    E: 20 MB logical drive 1 in extended MS-DOS partition
    F: 20 MB logical drive 2 in extended MS-DOS partition

    Not creating a primary MS-DOS partition on my 1TB would allow

    me to configure my SSD as C, D, E and F and my 1TB as G and up.

    Here's the full MS spiel:

    Summary:

    Microsoft MS-DOS assigns drive letters to the first two physical
    floppy disk drives and hard disk drives it finds at boot time in a
    fixed sequence, including multiple partitions and logical drives on
    the hard disks. You cannot change this sequence.

    The drive letters assigned to additional drives installed using
    DRIVER.SYS and other installable device drivers is dependent upon
    the order in which the drivers are loaded in the CONFIG.SYS file.
    These drive letter assignments can be influenced by changing the
    order of the CONFIG.SYS statements or loading "dummy" drives to
    "use up" drive letters.

    Drive letter assignments can change when you upgrade from one
    Microsoft MS-DOS version to another or from an original equipment
    manufacturer (OEM) version of MS-DOS to another version that
    assigns drive letters differently. (The order in which drive
    letters are assigned was modified by OEMs in earlier versions of
    MS-DOS.) This article describes how MS-DOS assigns drive letters;
    it does not explain how particular OEM MS-DOS versions assign drive
    letters.

    The following occurs at startup:

    1. MS-DOS checks all installed disk devices, assigning the drive
    letter A to the first physical floppy disk drive that is found.

    2. If a second physical floppy disk drive is present, it is
    assigned drive letter B. If it is not present, a logical drive
    B is created that uses the first physical floppy disk drive.

    3. Regardless of whether a second floppy disk drive is present,
    MS-DOS then assigns the drive letter C to the primary MS-DOS
    partition on the first physical hard disk, and then goes on
    to check for a second hard disk.

    4. If a second physical hard disk is found, and a primary
    partition exists on the second physical drive, the primary
    MS-DOS partition on the second physical hard drive is
    assigned the letter D. MS-DOS version 5.0, which supports up
    to eight physical drives, will continue to search for more
    physical hard disk drives at this point. For example, if a
    third physical hard disk is found, and a primary partition
    exists on the third physical drive, the primary MS-DOS
    partition on the third physical hard drive is assigned the
    letter E.

    5. MS-DOS returns to the first physical hard disk drive and
    assigns drive letters to any additional logical drives (in
    extended MS-DOS partitions) on that drive in sequence.

    6. MS-DOS repeats this process for the second physical hard
    disk drive, if present. MS-DOS 5.0 will repeat this process
    for up to eight physical hard drives, if present. After all
    logical drives (in extended MS-DOS partitions) have been
    assigned drive letters, MS-DOS 5.0 returns to the first
    physical drive and assigns drive letters to any other primary
    MS-DOS partitions that exist, then searches other physical
    drives for additional primary MS-DOS partitions. This support
    for multiple primary MS-DOS partitions was added to version
    5.0 for backward compatibility with the previous OEM MS-DOS
    versions that support multiple primary partitions.

    7. After all logical drives on the hard disk(s) have been
    assigned drive letters, drive letters are assigned to drives
    installed using DRIVER.SYS or created using RAMDRIVE.SYS in
    the order in which the drivers are loaded in the CONFIG.SYS
    file. Which drive letters are assigned to which devices can
    be influenced by changing the order of the device drivers or,
    if necessary, by creating "dummy" drive letters with DRIVER.SYS.

    The MS-DOS utility SUBST, networks and programs such as the CD-ROM
    Extensions which use the MS-DOS network interface can request a
    specific drive letter be assigned to a block device.

    Example 1

    Consider as an example a system with one floppy disk drive and one
    hard disk drive, with two MS-DOS partitions (a primary partition
    and an extended partition containing a single logical drive) on the
    hard disk. In this configuration, MS-DOS will assign the floppy
    disk drive as drives A and B, the primary partition on the hard
    disk drive as drive C, and the logical drive in the extended
    partition as drive D.

    Example 2

    Consider another system with three floppy disk drives, the third
    drive being installed using DRIVER.SYS, and two hard disk drives,
    with a primary and an extended partition on each hard disk drive.
    The extended partition on the first hard disk drive contains two
    logical drives, and the extended MS-DOS partition on the second
    hard disk drive contains one logical drive. A RAM disk is also
    created using RAMDRIVE.SYS.

    In this configuration, MS-DOS will assign the first two floppy disk
    drives as drives A and B, then assign the primary partitions on the
    first and second physical hard disk drives as drives C and D,
    respectively. MS-DOS will then assign the drive letters E and F to
    the two logical drives in the extended partition on the first
    physical drive, and G to the logical drive in the extended
    partition on the second physical drive.

    The third floppy disk drive, installed using DRIVER.SYS, and the
    RAM disk created using RAMDRIVE.SYS, will be assigned the letters H
    and I in the order in which the DEVICE= statements appear in the
    CONFIG.SYS file.

    Partitioning Schemes:

    Listed below are some sample partitioning schemes for two 40-megabyte
    (MB) hard disk drives and their resulting drive letter assignments:

    * Drive 1:
    C: 20 MB primary MS-DOS partition
    E: 20 MB logical drive 1 in extended MS-DOS partition

    Drive 2:
    D: 20 MB primary MS-DOS partition
    F: 20 MB logical drive 1 in extended MS-DOS partition

    * Drive 1:
    C: 20 MB primary MS-DOS partition
    D: 20 MB logical drive 1 in extended MS-DOS partition

    Drive 2:
    E: 20 MB logical drive 1 in extended MS-DOS partition
    F: 20 MB logical drive 2 in extended MS-DOS partition

    * Drive 1:
    C: 10 MB primary MS-DOS partition
    E: 10 MB logical drive 1 in extended MS-DOS partition
    F: 10 MB logical drive 2 in extended MS-DOS partition
    G: 10 MB logical drive 3 in extended MS-DOS partition

    Drive 2:
    D: 10 MB primary MS-DOS partition
    H: 10 MB logical drive 1 in extended MS-DOS partition
    I: 10 MB logical drive 2 in extended MS-DOS partition
    J: 10 MB logical drive 3 in extended MS-DOS partition


    APPLIES TO

    * Microsoft MS-DOS 3.1
    * Microsoft MS-DOS 3.2 Standard Edition
    * Microsoft MS-DOS 3.21 Standard Edition
    * Microsoft MS-DOS 3.3 Standard Edition
    * Microsoft MS-DOS 3.3a
    * Microsoft MS-DOS 4.0 Standard Edition
    * Microsoft MS-DOS 4.01 Standard Edition
    * Microsoft MS-DOS 5.0 Standard Edition
    * Microsoft MS-DOS 5.0a
    * Microsoft MS-DOS 6.0 Standard Edition
    * Microsoft MS-DOS 6.2 Standard Edition
    * Microsoft MS-DOS 6.21 Standard Edition
    * Microsoft MS-DOS 6.22 Standard Edition
    * Microsoft Windows 95
    * Microsoft Windows 98 Standard Edition
    * Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition


    Big_Al

  14. #14
    New Lounger
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    Look at the APPLIES TO section and note that most people haven't used any of those OSs in a decade or more. You mentioned building a system with Windows 7. Regarding drive letters in Windows 7, about the only limitations I'm aware of are that

    1) A and B are still reserved for floppy drives and
    2) once you install Windows 7 to a particular drive letter, it's difficult to change that letter after the fact.

    Other than that, it's pretty wide open. The "diskmgmt.msc" tool lets you assign/reassign drive letters to your heart's content, with the exceptions stated above.

    If you don't care about drive letters, then yes, Windows will assign them for you in its default way, but you don't have to accept that if another scheme makes more sense to you.

  15. #15
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    Windows and Windows apps like to run from drive C:. All your temporary files and most program files default to C:.
    I would opt for an SSD of about 60GB and use that as C:. Install Windows and all apps to C:.
    Then add a couple of mechanical disks, one as D: for data, the other as E: for backups only.

    cheers, Paul

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