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  1. #1
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    Can I clone a hybrid hard drive to an SSD?

    For the past decade, I've gotten many useful tips and solutions from the Lounge, but my search didn't find anything on my current problem, so here I am.
    I just bought from the Costco website a new Dell XPS 8700 with Windows 8.1 and 16GB of RAM. The description of the system's hard drive on the website read "2TB 7200 RPM SATA Hard Drive 6.0 Gb/s + 32GB SSD", which I took to mean two separate drives, namely, a 32GB SSD (which I assumed would hold Windows and possibly a few other programs) and a 2TB hard drive (for everything else). My plan was to replace the 32GB SSD (by cloning it) with a 256GB SSD, which would then be my system+apps drive; I would then use the 2TB hard drive solely as a data drive. To my surprise when I booted the new machine, it actually has only a single drive, identified by Device Manager as a ST2000DM001-1ER. This is apparently a Seagate hybrid hard drive with a 32GB internal solid state cache (though I can't find much of anything about this model online). I have zero experience with hybrid drives, so before I do anything foolish, I'm asking for help with the following questions:
    (1) Can I clone the hybrid drive to the 256GB SSD? (The 2TB hybrid drive has only about 30GB used on it, so space shouldn't be a problem on the 256GB drive, right?) I've successfully cloned a 512GB hard drive to a 512GB SSD for my laptop using Mini-Tools Partition Wizard, and I'd like to use that program again if possible. However, does the source drive being a hybrid introduce any obstacles or complications in the cloning?
    (2) If the cloning is successful and I make the new 256GB SSD my Windows+apps drive, can I use the hybrid drive solely as a data drive? I assume I'd have to reformat the hybrid drive to remove Windows from it, but again, does it being a hybrid drive cause any problems in re-purposing it to being a data drive only?
    Thanks for any help that may be available.

  2. #2
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    I also haven't any experience with a hybrid but probably would use Dell's Backup and Recovery to create the DVDs or Bootable USB drive, remove both original drives, install the new drive on the first SATA port, install the backup discs and get it running then hook up the big drive on a second SATA port. For the USB Thumb/Flash drive I'd go for 16GB as 8GB may be just a tad too small, then put it away and not use any extra space on it.

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  4. #3
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    It seems your PC has two drives that appear as one cached disk via Intel’s Smart Response Technology - the drives may be packaged as one unit, can you take the lid off and check?
    You can clone this disk to an SSD, but it may be tricky to swap them around. You probably need to disable SRT and only install the SSD to get the machine to work. Once you have done this you should be able to re-connect the original drive and re-format / partition it, but SRT may be required - you need to check the BIOS settings to see how SRT is set up and whether it still works if you move the disk to a different controller port.

    The disks are likely to be GPT so you may also need to edit the UEFI boot information to remove the original drive from the boot list, otherwise the machine will attempt to boot from the the original disk, not the new SSD.

    cheers, Paul

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  6. #4
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    @Berton: Thanks for the idea of using a recovery disk; I hadn't thought of that. Unfortunately, the reply from Paul T indicates that the situation is more complicated than I thought.

    @Paul T: Many thanks for your very helpful reply. By opening the lid as you suggested (and giving myself a "Duh!" forehead slap for not thinking of that before), I found that there is indeed a little mSATA 32GB SSD on the motherboard as well as the 2TB hard drive in a drive bay. (I'd never seen an mSATA drive before, so it took me a while to figure out it was there.) It looks like your suggested steps will be the way to go, but I need to ask you a bit more because I'd never heard of Intel Smart Response Technology before you mentioned it. (I'm learning a lot from this process!)

    From reading up on SRT, it looks like I should disable it first (via the Intel Rapid Storage Manager program) before cloning the hard drive, so that the SSD cache is flushed before the cloning. Then, per your sequence, I should clone the hard drive to the new 256GB SSD, then remove the hard drive and the old SSD, then install the new SSD by itself, then reformat and reinstall the hard drive as a secondary drive. (I'm going to just save the old 32GB SSD for some future use.) However, since I'm quite unfamiliar with working with UEFI settings, I'm not sure what, if anything, I need to edit in it. Here's what the disk-related settings currently are in the UEFI:

    SATA Mode: RAID

    On the main "Boot" page are the following:
    Secure Boot: Enabled
    Boot Mode: UEFI
    1st Boot Device: UEFI:Windows Boot Manager
    2nd Boot Device: USB Storage Device
    3rd Boot Device: Internal ODD Devices

    On the "Hard Disk Drives" subpage of the "Boot" page are the following:
    1st Boot Device: Windows Boot Manager
    2nd Boot Device: UEFI OS

    There's no mention of SRT itself anywhere in the UEFI settings

    Do I need to change any of these? If so, when do I make the changes: before removing the old SSD and hard drive, or right after installing the new SSD, or after reinstalling the reformatted hard drive?

  7. #5
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    Vanceh,

    Here's my personal experience with a Dell 8700. Mine came w/only a 1Tb HDD. What I did was to Image (not clone) using Macrium Reflect.
    I then installed the SSD on the cable the HDD was attached to and booted from the Macrium Reflect PE boot disk created earlier. Restored the image to the SSD (resizing the C: drive in the process). After I rebooted and ReValidated Windows I installed the HDD Wiped it and then continued on. The process was fairly painless.

    Of course the M.2 drive throws a wrench in the works but it shouldn't be too much to work around with a little planning. HTH
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

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    PowerShell & VBA Rule!

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  9. #6
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    I would make an image first, then disable SRT and make sure the machine still runs.
    All being well I would then make another image - you can't be too careful.
    Swap the drives per RGs suggestion and restore.

    For a bit of fun, once you have it running I'd attempt to use the M2 drive with the mech drive to create a cache. Let us know what happens.

    cheers, Paul

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  11. #7
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    I clone and back up several hybrid drives. Like them a lot back when SSDs were expensive and small. Didn't know Seagate had a 32GB+2Tb hybrid. Nice to know.

    Treat is as one drive as that is all the cloning app (presumably you are using the free one from the SSD maker?) will see. Just clone the drive. If you have already put a load of stuff on there then you have an issue if you clone to a smaller SSD than what you have one there now.

    Since this is a new system another option would be to clean install the OS on the SSD using Dell's recovery disks (if you got any or made them on first boot).
    Last edited by Fascist Nation; 2015-05-02 at 16:50.

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  13. #8
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    Retired Geek and Paul T --

    Thanks very much for your help and your patience with my questions. The idea of making a just-in-case image before doing anything makes sense. It sounds as if by "image" you mean a recovery drive; is that correct? And if so, is the ability to boot directly from the recovery image drive the reason for preferring it over cloning the disk?

    I still need to know explicitly whether I need to change any of the BIOS settings I listed, and if so, at which step in the process. In particular, the only two choices available for the SATA Mode parameter in the BIOS are RAID and AHCI. I can understand the need to set the mode to RAID when using the original configuration of the small SSD as a cache for the hard drive via RST. But if I'm changing the setup to two completely independent disks, where I want only OS and apps on the new SSD and only data on the (reformatted) hard drive, is the SATA mode still meant to be set to RAID rather than AHCI? I definitely don't want the contents of the disks to be "striped" or mirrored on each other (please forgive me if I'm using the wrong terminology or misunderstanding RAID -- I really have no experience with it).

    Paul, on another note, if I can just get the new SSD and the old hard drive to work as drives C and D respectively, I think I'll pass on trying to make the old mSATA SSD a cache for the hard drive. I'm already having enough fun for one installation <grin>....

  14. #9
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    Making an image is done using backup software which copies an image of the hard disk to a file(s) on another hard disk. This hard disk can then be used to restore the hard disk to the same place or another hard disk. The backup software will allow you to create a boot CD that runs the backup software from CD and you then restore to the PC.

    Before you put the new SSD in you need to remove both the old HDD and M2 drive (SSD). Then you need to disable RST in the BIOS so the machine doesn't get confused - not that it matters because you have an image backup as well as the old disk. Then you boot from the backup software recovery CD......
    Do not set any RAID mode, you want stand-alone disks.

    I would put your data on the SSD as well as the OS - assuming it fits - you can't have too much speed. Then you can backup data from the SSD to the HDD to be doubly sure.

    cheers, Paul

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    I would second the advice to treat the hybrid drive as a single drive, when dealing with it. Just clone it to the SSD and be done with it. It can still benefit from caching, if you use it as a data drive.

    Of course, if you use the SSD as a single drive for OS and data (and I see no reason not to, considering the space available), there won't be much benefit from the small SSD cache on the data drive, but it won't hurt either.
    Rui
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    I would expect slower response if you use the M2 as a cache for the SSD - copying from one to the other will be slower than copying directly from the SSD.

    cheers, Paul

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    I thought I'd give a follow-up on how everything worked out, in case this thread proves useful to anyone else who encounters this issue. First of all, my grateful thanks to everyone who replied. I re-read all the suggestions and decided on a sort of composite series of steps to handle the issue, as follows:

    1. I first made a recovery disk from the original hard drive before doing anything to it (per Berton's advice, but using Windows Recovery function instead of Dell's).

    2. I cloned the hard drive to the new 256 GB SSD via a USB-to-SATA cable (per Fascist Nation's and ruirib's advice to "just clone it"), using MiniTool Partition Wizard Free. No problems.

    3. I disabled Intel's SRT (using the Intel Rapid Storage Technology program, since I couldn't find anything in the BIOS that would do it), and then I restarted the machine to make sure it would still boot (per Paul T's advice). It did.

    4. I removed the hard drive from the computer and installed the new SSD in its place. I left the old mSATA SSD in place since it had now been "disconnected" from SRT and was no longer caching the hard drive. When I restarted the machine, it told me to insert a boot disk -- oops. Remembering the usual maxim of "the first thing to try is to reboot", I turned it off and restarted it, and it booted just fine (I shut down and rebooted several more times just to be sure that all remained well.)

    5. Figuring that the hard part was done, I connected the hard drive with the USB-to-SATA cable to wipe it before reinstalling it in the computer. But when I went to File Explorer, the hard drive showed up as a removable drive with "no media". Connecting via other USB ports made no difference, and connecting it via the cable to another computer gave the same result. I worried that perhaps I had damaged the drive somehow in removing it from the computer, but it was recognized just fine when I temporarily removed the SSD and put the hard drive back as the system drive. (I knew the cable worked because I had used it to clone the hard drive earlier.) After some fruitless web searching for what to do about this, I ran across an old Lounge posting by Retired Geek that saved the day. He suggested to someone with a similar problem that the USB cable might not be delivering enough power to spin up a hard drive, and that putting the drive in a powered USB drive enclosure might put things to rights. I tried that, and it worked. Once the hard drive was connected that way, I wiped it, reformatted and repartitioned it as a single-partition GPT drive, and reinstalled it in the computer as a data drive. On rebooting, everything worked!

    Once again, my thanks to everyone for all the help -- you guys are the best! You gave me not only the knowledge but also the confidence to venture into what was for me unknown territory, and to come out smiling.

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  22. #13
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    Thanks for posting back, glad it worked for you.

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    Well done .
    Rui
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  24. #15
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    Vance
    USB-to-SATA cable
    First I have heard of this type of product. I have been using docks but it is a useful option to know about.

    David

    Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.

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