Updated instructions are here from an XPS 8700 thread. This instructs in using Dell Backup and Recovery opposed to Alienware Respawn but Alienware Respawn is essentially a reskinned Dell Backup and Recovery:
Follow the instructions here to make a Rescue Disk (Bootable External Hard Drive) or Factory Backup (Bootable USB Flash Drive):
This should be standard procedure when you get a new Dell system.
Also make a Windows 8.1 UEFI Bootable USB as its required to use DISKPART:
This is useful to have to hand in case you later want a clean installation (For Windows 7 users the OEM .iso is unavailable to download so just use a Windows 8.1 .iso for DISKPART).
Insert the Windows 8.1 Bootable USB. Power up your system and press F2 to get to the Dell BIOS setup. Ensure that the SATA Operation is AHCI (see the start of this video up till 1:21):
Boot from the Windows 8.1 installation media and use DISKPART > CLEAN ALL on the HDD and DISKPART > CLEAN on the SSD:
Power down the system and remove the cables from the HDD. We want the computer setup so it has the SSD only otherwise Dell Backup and Recovery will restore to the HDD.
Use the Rescue Disk or Factory Backup to install Windows 8.1 or 7 to the mSATA SSD. Update Windows and check that its running okay.
Power down your Dell.
You can power down your Dell and reinsert your hard drive. Power it up and log into Windows. Finally you can initialise your hard drive and set it up to use the HDD as a data drive:
This should now have the factory settings installed correctly on the SSD with the HDD being used for your files.
Can you please send me your service tags in a private message so that we can help you fix the HDD issue
Dell | Alienware Product Management
If you need something more straight forward than my posted solution, I suggest you contact Dell Tech Support and they can guide you step by step. They're actually really good with Alienware customers.
My Alienware R17 just arrived -- and it was setup like this too! The SSD has been spared and it's just for Data. The 1TB HDD is where they installed the OS.
I'll try these steps and hopefully it'll work for me too.
Perhaps you can shrink the volume of the 1TB drive to 128GB and then try this method? I will report back if it works after I try.
You noted "In BIOS, to properly add the device to the start up order, I deleted the existing UEFI start up entries, and only had SSD:\\BOOTMGR as my “Windows Boot Manager”. The existing one should be deleted."
Please help me, how to remove old item and add item "Windows Boot Manager" only with SSD?
I using Alienware 17 R2, with SSD Samsung 256GB, and 1TB Toshiba.
Some days, I boot into Windows 8.1 very slow, take 3-4 minutes, I think UEFI boot config wrong partition boot. but before at I buy Alienware 17 R2 from Dell, I only take 2 seconds for boot into Windows 8.1.
Thank you very much.
There are a few things to check with what you describe.
First of all, once you have windows installed, I would not touch the UEFI settings, this is set up automatically for you by the Dell Recovery, and is not the easiest to retrieve.
Secondly, make sure (like I did), that your boot drive is the SSD drive. you can do this by going to your computer (libraries - computer), and checking that the C:\ Drive is the smaller drive., not the 1tb drive that comes with the alienware.
Finally, it is normal for windows 8.1 to take longer to start up on some days. It is using a type of hybrid boot set up, where it doesn't always manually start up. Most of the time it is using a form of hybernate when you shut down. Make sure NOT to right click on the start menu, and shut down from there. That will always shut it off in a way that will not allow for quick startup.
I hope this helps