OK - I read your post and questions.
So - it's been a while . . .
I'm not sure what I did to bomb my system. I was installing an update of some software and the update didn't work as well so I was trying to go back to a restore point and crashed and couldn't boot. I managed to get it back up but any reboots caused issues so I went with a clean install. The cloning worked great up to that point - for well over a year - so your guess is as good as mine. Most power users would recommend a clean install but I think you can get by with using paragon to clone.
To clarify - your system can use sata iii devices that are backward compatible - just not at optimum speeds. Make sure the devices you are purchasing are backward compatible - most if not are (I think). You just don't get optimum speeds - but you are right that it is a huge improvement.
I'm sure that the Crucial tech guy knows more than I do - I just know what worked for me. Better safe than sorry, would be my recommendation. The tech guy may not be familiar with the bios on your system - that you have to jump through hoops to get it to support an ssd. Maybe that has something to do with installing the Intel driver? The "why" is over my head.
I have the Corsair Neutron GTX 240 gb in my system. It works great. You might want to check out PCPartpicker and look at the SSD drives most people are buying (and the reviews). That's the site that most people use when building a system. I enjoy just browsing the build systems.
As far as overkill - you could get by with 120 gb for your operating system. A lifehacker article recommneded that you put your operating system and key programs on the SSD and your data on a mechanical drive just for economy. That said - if you might build a new system some day you will want to move that SSD over so If the $$s aren't an issue you might want to go up the ladder.
I don't think you would see a performance difference between brands of SSD drives on your current system as the SATA ii would be the bottleneck.
I guess my overall advice would be to follow the cloning directions religiously using paragon keeping the clean install as an option if you have issues. I would definitely create a boot disk just in case.
I think you would also have to create windows install disks if you want to use your current license if you do a clean install - I didn't do that - I put out the dollars for a new license. You should be able to avoid that cost by thinking ahead.
By the way - have you thought about using an external blueray drive? I use an old PS3 connected directly to my receiver (that connects to my TV). I also run netflix and amazon through the PS3. Most new blueray players offer the same network functions.
Sorry for the rambling - I just got an email from UPS and the parts for my new build will be delivered tomorrow.
Thanks for the additional information.
The Crucial tech support guy recommended trying the system without installing the Intel drive update. He said Windows comes with an earlier version of the driver and that, in his opinion, he saw no benefit to installing the updated driver--unless I encounter problems. May I ask what prompted you to install the (updated) driver? From your steps, it sounds as though you thought your system wouldn't boot without it being installed.
Not sure why, but the Windows 'Create System Restore CD' app is crashing on my system. I definitely won't proceed until I've successfully resolved that issue!
I want to add a Blu-ray drive to this system so that I can rip content from a few of the discs (that I own!) to my media server (a glorified PC with lots of drive space).
Have fun with building your new system!
I installed the Intel driver on the advice of others in this forum (or other forums) - I can't recall the justification. Just know it worked. 🙂
By the way - I use JRiver as my media server on my HTPC. I record over-the-air and play my music using jriver through my receiver in the front room. Getting all my CDs in flac format - slowly.
I used mediaportal for a while. I started with microsoft media center. I really like JRiver.
Can you elaborate on your Step 4: Enabled RAID (F2 during reboot)? Is it the BIOS's Advanced Chipset Features > SATA Mode setting? i.e., change it from ATA to RAID?
BTW, the BIOS's Standard CMOS Features page shows my four SATA devices (two HDDs, DVD, DVD-RW). (It also shows eSATA as "Not Detected".) Does that mean I'll need to remove a device so as to detect the SSD?
Chris I'm traveling today and don't have access to my PC. I'll open up the bios when I get back on Friday.
Have to drive fast tomorrow - UPS is coming!
OK - I'm back at my PC.
Yes - in Advanced Chipset Settings I have the SATA Mode set to RAID. That will give you the AHCI functionality you need for the SSD.
You don't actually put your hard disks into a RAID - you just enable RAID so you get AHCI.
Yes - it does look like you have all your sata ports in use.
See the following links for a more complete discussion of IDE and AHCI and the Intel drivers. Please note that forum member HOKU is very knowledgeable but my experience is that the process is a little easier than he conveys if you follow the steps I outlined on the forum.
Lastly - I'm a little concerned that your dvd and dvd-r/w may not work when you enable RAID as all SATA ports will be switched to AHCI. I think your devices use IDE. I use an external dvd r/w.
Thanks for the detailed reply.
Argh. So this model supports only four SATA devices. I wonder if there's a way to expand it? I suppose if I'm replacing one of my HDDs then I really don't need an additional port.
I hadn't considered that my internal DVD drives may no longer work. I haven't seen that mentioned anywhere. OTOH, that would free up two SATA ports. 😉
I'm taking baby steps here, but I changed the BIOS to use RAID, then I rebooted. A 'matrix storage' menu appeared, listing the two HDDs. This was quickly replaced with the standard boot menu displaying the HDDs and the internal DVD drives. I am able to boot the Windows Repair Disc using either DVD drive. Not sure if that indicates Windows will see the DVD drives, too.
Obviously, I haven't migrated the OS to the SSD yet. I haven't even installed the SSD yet.
I changed the BIOS back to use ATA. I haven't yet installed the Microsoft Fit It nor the latest Intel RST driver. If I install those two items will I still be able to boot off the HDD, temporarily?