Windows X

windows iconI had recently to help a friend moving a Windows 8 installation from HDD to SSD. He had bough the laptop, requested the SSD, and the morons just placed the SSD inside the laptop, but performed no installation whatsoever: the SSD was not even formatted and my friend would not see it from inside Windows.

I saw that there was the typical recovery partition, that little trick performed on the users to not provide additional media in case the initial Windows installation crashes. I committed the mistake to think that I would be able to reinstall Windows by creating a recovery USB disk, but after many tests I was only able to reach a point where I could do a clean installation, but where? Never mentioned. Perhaps to the SSD (unlikely), most likely to the HDD, again. Funny thing: if I physically disconnected the HDD, I was unable to reach any recovery point, saying that there was no recovery partition (which I had very specifically backed up to the USB stick, exactly as explained on the process to create the recovery media). I wonder what happens if the HDD really crashes.

Which would be the cost by Asus (in this case, but Dell, Samsung or Acer do exactly the same) to include a USB stick that could just reinstall the OS? Easy way, if you insert the USB stick and boot to it (not an easy task nowadays, anyway) and say yes to 3 or 100 confirmation messages. Windows is then installed from scratch with all the drivers required for that laptop -pristine installation, just what you get when you buy it new. But no, with the recovery partition trick, they use the hard disk purchased by the user, and worse, his/her time to perform that creation of recovery media. Even worse, why Microsoft makes the process so complicated? I cannot obviously compare a Windows installation to a Linux one, but I can definitely do the comparison with Os X; when I bought a new Macbook Pro, transferring the OS from HDD to SSD was a simple process, directly accomplished with the tools already provided in Os X.

At least I had the opportunity to see finally Windows 8 in action. The laptop was a very nice, sturdy, Asus N750JV, I was dutily impressed with both; Windows has come a really long way, and the interface has improved a lot. Moving between the tiles and the standard Windows interface was not so nice, but workable. Going through the process of updating the OS, not nice at all, and overall, I had the impression of incompleteness. I guess I will wait myself for Windows 9, or better, for Windows 10, which will probably be called Windows X, just to catch up.

Moving Windows 8 to SSD

windows icon Quick answer: make sure your SSD can hold the content from your HDD, removing any unneeded information (or just moving it to an external drive), then use the wonderful EasyUS tool.

The explanation below comes on my personal experience moving a new Windows 8 installation on an Asus N7500JV to SSD (being the advantage here that the HDD was practically empty).

  1. Install EasyUS Todo Backup (Free)
  2. Execute it, Select CLONE -> Disk clone. The source is the HDD disk, and the SSD, the target. In this laptop, the original HDD has 5 partitions (6 in fact, as a little spare space between 2 partitions is considered also a partition):
    • 100 Mb (EFI)
    • 900 Mb (recovery)
    • ~380 Gb : C Drive (System)
    • ~530 Gb : D Drive (Data)
    • 20 Gb (recovery)
  3. However, the C drive is mostly empty, and the D was still totally empty. Without having to manually shrink any partitions, just let EaseUS perform its magic. It creates the same structure, in only 120 Gb, as follows:
    • 100 Mb (EFI)
    • 900 Mb (recovery)
    • ~74 Gb : C Drive (System)
    • ~24 Gb : D Drive (Data)
    • 20 Gb (recovery)
  4. Ensure that the system boots from the SSD. This can be accomplished in two ways; booting to UEFI and select the SSD as first boot drive, or, more safely, by removing the HDD from the system (just unplug the connector).
  5. The system boots perfectly. Migration is complete, but the HDD still has a full Windows 8 installation, and both disks, the SSD and HDD have recovery partitions. Time to cleanup.
  6. It makes no sense having the recovery information on the SSD, we keep it on the HDD. Execute (press Windows-R) diskmgmt.msc. On the SSD, remove partitions D (Data) and E (recovery), and extend the partition C (Systems) to cover the whole disk. This drive will be now as follows:
    • 100 Mb (EFI)
    • 900 Mb (recovery)
    • 119 Gb : C Drive (System)
  7. Shutdown the system. If the HDD had been disconnected, reconnect it now, and boot again.
  8. Execute again diskmgmt.msc. The SSD will appear as C: unit, and the original C: unit in the HDD is now the D: drive. Remove the two big partitions in the HDD (original System and Data), and create new partition with all the space (~980 Gb), and assign it the letter D. The HDD remains as follows:
    • 100 Mb (EFI)
    • 900 Mb (recovery)
    • ~980 Gb : D Drive (System)
    • 20 Gb (recovery)
  9. In total, we are wasting 1 Gb of hard disk, as we have two recovery (900 Mb) partitions and the one on the SSD is not required. It is possible to check that recovery still works perfectly; as explained in this post, open a command prompt in administrative mode and execute:
    REAGENTC.EXE /Info
    It shows, among other details:
    Windows RE Location: 
    	\\?\GLOBALROOT\device\harddisk1\partition2\Recovery\WindowsRE
    Recovery image location:
    	\\?\GLOBALROOT\device\harddisk1\partition5\RecoveryImage
    In the same shell, doing
    GET-PARTITION
    should show:
    Disk 0
    1- 100 Mb System
    2- 900 Mb Recovery
    3- 128 Mb Reserved
    4- 118.1 Gb Basic   C
    
    Disk 1
    1- 100 Mb System
    2- 900 Mb Recovery
    3- 128 Mb Reserved
    4- 910.4 Gb Basic   D
    5- 20.01 Gb Recovery
    

Done! Thanks to EaseUS!

Hackintosh and hibernation

hackintosh icon[Permanent link] I use a SSD on my Hackintosh, with just 128 Gb plus a HDD for Music, etc. From the 128 Gb, I use in fact only 98 Gb in OsX, and the rest goes to a Linux partition.

It is a desktop, 32 Gb of memory, usually running for months before requiring a reboot, and most of the time sleeping.Waking up is very fast, works much better than my old Vista installation (unfair comparison), or even recent Linux installations.

Last days I started having problems putting the computer to sleep: it would start the process, switching off the monitor signal, audio, and then the computer itself, just to restart immediately. Then, a message started appearing complaining that my startup disk was almost full. Checking the space didn't show anything extraordinary: the normal scenario where more and more programs get installed, more work done, and the 128 Gb are suddenly too little.

Only one file called my attention: /private/var/vm/sleepimage, at 16 Gb, but removing it seemed out of place: this file is automatically created by OsX to keep the memory saved on disk, for out of power scenarios. In fact, this was probably the case why my box didn't manage to get to sleep; having 32 Gb RAM would have required storing 32 Gb on disk, and that space was just not available (in fact, this is not necessarily the case, as the dynamic pager can page out inactive pages prior to hibernation).

One possibility was moving the file to the HDD; going to sleep and waking up would slow down, but the SSD lifetime would probably improve, not to mention the SSD free space. But then I realized that I didn't need this file. You see, OsX has several sleeping modes, which can be set using pmset, such as:

sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 3

Doing man pmset shows the possible modes, with only 3 recommended values:

In my hackintosh, the hibernation mode was 3 (pmset -g hibernatemode), but, in case of a power loss, I had to reboot anyway the computer, so the best solution is:

sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0

followed by

sudo rm /private/var/vm/sleepimage

Magically, my disk space usage went from 97% to 60%. And sleeping? Thanks for asking: works perfectly; in fact, somehow faster -no more needs to store 16 Gb, even on a SSD-