So I asked a question similar to this previously, but never got solid help and so never really acted on it (largely because the computer was still new and didn't really need improving).
Now that the computer is getting a bit older, it's slowing down and is in need of a clean install. So if I'm clean installing anyway, I thought I may as well upgrade the hard drive arrangement.
Currently, I'm running the 2 original 1TB drives in the original RAID0 configuration. What I want to move to is a 128GB SSD for OS/Software, and put the 2 1TB drives into RAID1 for security against failure. I'm currently using about 500GB, so this leaves me with plenty of space.
I have a few questions that I'd appreciate some feedback on before proceeding:
1) Can the motherboard support SATA-III?
2) What cables would I need to buy to add the SSD to the system?
3) How to a destroy the RAID0, and then re-instate the array as RAID1?
4) I opened up the tower yesterday, and couldn't see a place for the SSD. Could it fit in the empty 'floppy drive' bay?
Thanks in advance of any help and advice,
1. The motherboard will accept 6 GB/sec drives but only has the capability to run them at 3 GB/sec. The faster interface did not become available on a Dell desktop until the XPS 8300 was produced.
2. Assuming that you are keeping all your current drives you will need to purchase a SATA data cable for your new drive. Dell only ships as many SATA data cables as the number of drives that were ordered with the computer.
3. Before destroying the RAID be sure you have backed up all data that you wish to keep as you will not be able to recover it from the component drives of a RAID 0. Once you have done that, start the computer and press CTRL and i at the same time during the RAID status screen. This screen typically appears immediately after the Dell logo disappears from the display. Once you have the RAID setup screen in front of you, find the option to reset the drives to non-RAID. This will delete the array and you will have two independent hard drives. When you are ready to re-create the RAID, connect two eligible drives to the computer and repeat the process to reach the RAID setup screen. Choose the option for the RAID you wish to create from the menu.
4. The Studio XPS 8100 has space for two hard drives and two optical drives. If you already have two hard drives you will need to find an adapter to fit the SSD into the second bay for your optical drives.
Additional notes: I assume you wish to use the SSD as your system drive. If so, it should be connected to the first SATA port, SATA 0 (though some machines label it as SATA 1). Be certain it is the only drive in the system when you perform your installation so that you have no conflict with an assignment of the letter "C" to your SSD. This means you should disconnect your existing hard drives, and also disconnect any card readers that are installed in the computer. Once you have the system up and running you can reconnect all these devices.
I recommend connecting your RAID drives to SATA 2 and SATA 3 (the third and fourth SATA ports), leaving SATA 1 for your optical drive.
Thanks for your reply, that's really helpful. So does this sound like a good plan of action?:
1) Backup all data, and collect all OS/drivers/software needed for restore
2) Go into RAID status screen and destroy the RAID0
3) Unplug the 2 HDDs
4) Mount SSD into secondary optical bay
5) Plug SSD into SATA 0 port (and optical into SATA 1)
6) Restore system onto SSD
7) Plug the 2 HDDs into SATA 2 and 3
😎 Format the 2 HDDs and establish new RAID1
9) Move all data onto RAID
Does this sound like a good solution to increase performance, and also provide safer storage of data? (i.e. am i correct that if either of the HDD's fail, then the data is still safe?). Also, when would I need to format the 2 HDD's?
Thanks again for the help.
Looks like a good plan. You won't need to format your RAID drives until you have created the RAID. You aren't really formatting the RAID drives themselves, but the virtual drive that is constituted by the new RAID volume. Your new RAID 1 volume will be about half the size of your old RAID 0 because each drive will be a mirror of the other instead of adding the capacities of the two drives. Should you ever need to break the RAID 1, however, you will wind up with two hard drives having identical data so that you can recover data from either drive.
I am thinking of putting a 256 GB SSD in my 8100 solely for programs (I really do not think I need a 256 GB but just for the sake of preparing for future growth). I'll make the 1.5TB HDD for data. Backup will be a 1TB WD Passport.
Installing the SSD does not seem to be a problem after reading the previous threads. My questions are:
(i) Can I just MOVE ALL my program files from my HDD to the SDD and the conversion is done? I mean simply cut and paste all the files other than the data files.
(ii) IF NOT, can I re-install Windows 7 64 bit to my SSD (which will be C:\) using the System Recovery Disk I prepared (and used when formatting my HDD earlier)? My computer did not come with a Windows7 CD.
(iii) Do I have to do a RAID adjustment when I have BOTH the SSD and HDD connected (I don't even know what RAID is)?
(iv) While I understand that 8100 does not support 6GB/s, would one see drastic improvement in the computer's performance after using a SSD for system?
(v) How about the Crucial CT050M4SSC2BDA Adrenaline Solid State Cache as a simple and quick fix?
1. No, you cannot move applications. They need to be reinstalled.
2. Yes, you should perform a clean install of Windows 7 (follow the link to Natakuc's guide below)
3. No, you should not need to do anything with RAID. The BIOS should be set to AHCI.
4. Yes, there will be an improvement since even 3Gb/s mechnical hard drives do not operate any where near 3Gb/s (more like 100 Mb/s).
5. The Adrenaline cache seems ok, but I'm a little worried about the problems that have been reported, so I've decided not to go that direction for my XPS 8100.