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Boot from express card

Posted on 2013-05-28
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Last Modified: 2013-06-18
I have a Sony TZ21 mn/n ultra portable which is fine for my purposes. Unfortunaely the installed HDD is a 1.8 inch 100gig unit but spins at 4200 rpm (or thereabouts) hence it is slow on boot and not clever either on opeing files.

I have a 32gig express storage card and have set this up to boot and have copied the Windows 7 .iso files and have changed the bios to boot from this drive.
so far so good.

When i restart the machine, it does boot from the express drive and opens up the normal windows installation screen.
Perfect.

However, I am sure that if i continue, the installation will be done on the "normal" location, drive C.

Is there a way I can force it to install on drive F (the express drive)?

Is dual boot an option, if so, what is the ideal way to install identical Windows 7 installations?

Many thanks
david
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Question by:Muskett
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Expert Comment

by:dlethe
ID: 39203433
open it up and unplug the disk drive.   Problem solved.
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Author Comment

by:Muskett
ID: 39203585
Hi dlethe,
If it were a tower unit that would certainly be a good idea, unfortunately, opening up a Vaio is a major undertaking.

But to follow on from your idea, I might just be able to disable the drive in the bios, I will check if this works.

thanks
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Expert Comment

by:dlethe
ID: 39203603
Understood, getting inside a laptop is an art, and sometimes you even need a special tool. But check out the maintenance manual.   Many laptop vendors give you a break and make it easy when upgrading memory or hard drives.
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Author Comment

by:Muskett
ID: 39203637
The Vaio stripdown is about 2 hours so not really an option. If I were to go that route i would buy a 1.8 inch SDD and swap it. Am really trying for an easier solution and keep the existing factory hdd but use the express slot for the OS to give fastter boot times from the 32 gig SSD I already have.
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by:nobus
ID: 39203734
>>  However, I am sure that if i continue, the installation will be done on the "normal" location, drive C.   <<  why is that? any specific reaso to think so ?
 i never had that problem; it always installed on the chosen drive properly
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Author Comment

by:Muskett
ID: 39203755
Yes, you are right. I have just checked and the problem is that the express drive is not presented as an option.
The drive would seem to me to be valid as the machine booted from that drive as that is where the W7 install files are.
could it be that I cannot install to the same location as the .iso file location?
If so, would it work if I use a USB port for the .iso install file?
I will check and post results later
thanks all.
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Assisted Solution

by:rindi
rindi earned 167 total points
ID: 39203864
You will need the drivers for the express card and load them when you get to the where to install selection of your OS installation process, then when the driver is loaded, reload so the disk becomes visible. But as pointed out above, removing the internal disk during the installation is a good idea as otherwise the boot loader will probably get installed to that disk, which you don't want...
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Expert Comment

by:ArneLovius
ID: 39203865
the express card storage is probably treated as removable storage rather than a fixed disk...
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Author Comment

by:Muskett
ID: 39203877
Yes ArneLovius,
I believe your are correct in that the Express card is noted as removable storage. Does that kill my plan to install the OS there?
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Assisted Solution

by:ArneLovius
ArneLovius earned 166 total points
ID: 39203897
unfortunately yes for a normal installation, however, you might try using doing a vhd boot with the vhd file on the express card storage.

http://blogs.technet.com/b/chrisavis/archive/2013/05/03/boot-to-vhd-configuring-creating-a-reusable-trial-version-image-and-more.aspx
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Author Comment

by:Muskett
ID: 39203987
Phew!
I need time to try this out but looks very interesting.
Please give me a couple of days.

Many thanks
david
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Expert Comment

by:RobMobility
ID: 39204293
Hi,

Pop the installation files onto a large USB pen-drive, boot from that and you should be presented with multiple destinations for your installation?

it's possible the express drive device driver may be needed or you might just have to set your SATA settings to compatible/PATA emulation to install?

Kind regards,


Robmobility.
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Expert Comment

by:dlethe
ID: 39204452
A simple call or email to the support people of the company that makes the express card would certainly reveal whether or not the card is bootable, would it not?  

If they say card is NOT bootable. Stop. If they say the card IS bootable, then it still may not work because the Sony BIOS may prevent it, but at least a call to the vendor will tell you if there is a dealkilling it-is-not-bootable condition.
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Author Comment

by:Muskett
ID: 39204487
In my first post i did confirm that it is bootable:
When i restart the machine, it does boot from the express drive and opens up the normal windows installation screen.
so that is not the issue.

The issue is I cannot clearly see how to get the W7 installation to be performed on the expres drive as it is not presented as a location option when I boot from that drive.

thanks
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Expert Comment

by:RobMobility
ID: 39204563
Hi,

Did you try changing your SATA settings? This may make the SSD appear to Windows as a PATA drive?

Also, check whether a driver is available for the SSD which is required during Windows Setup (F6) in order for the drive to be 'visible'?

Kind regards,


RobMobility.
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Expert Comment

by:RobMobility
ID: 39204564
PS. How is the SSD described in the BIOS - i.e. in boot order/settings, is it a USB disk or disk drive?
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 39204589
As I mentioned, you need to provide the driver for the card when you get to the screen where you get stuck at.
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 39204603
Also, if you want to install the OS to the disk connected to that card, you must boot from something else. You can't install to the same location you are installing from.
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Author Comment

by:Muskett
ID: 39204693
rindi,
I think you may just have hit the nail on the head!
That is exactly what i was trying to do!

When I get home, I will try with the USB dirve with the OS install files and see if I can install to the Express card.

Thaks to all
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Expert Comment

by:RobMobility
ID: 39204722
Hi,

Putting the install files on a pen-drive was in my post too.

Regards,


RobMobility.
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Author Comment

by:Muskett
ID: 39206797
Hi all,
first of all, sincere apologies for leading you in the wrong direction, my total stupidity and I most certainly should have known better at my tender years!

Of course, one cannot install to the same drive as the installation files, blushing brightly!

Unfortunately, the problem has not gone away as even though I have now got the .iso file on a usb stick the installation process can only see drive C and the Sony recovery partition, not drive E (the express card) where i want to install.

I do not think it is a driver issue as I can see the express drive if I browse for drivers from the installation menus so I really do not think it is  adriver issue.

I have tried to make the express card drive "drive 0" in the bios but that cannot be done.

So I am back to the question, how can i force windows 7 to install on the removable drive?
Maybe it is simply not possible?

Thanks again
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LVL 88

Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 39206872
It still is a driver issue, even if you can browse the device. just extract the drivers for the card to a USB stick (the one you are booting from is fine), then in the menu you get stuck on select the option "load driver", browse your stick to the place where you extracted them, and after that again where you selected "load driver" select "refresh", and after that the disk should be visible in the list, provided the drivers you loaded were fine
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Accepted Solution

by:
RobMobility earned 167 total points
ID: 39207021
Hi,

It's possible the SSD is being treated as a removable flash drive in which case Windows might not like this?

Have you tried changing the SATA mode to PATA/compatible? Does that help?

Can you provide details of the SSD drive - make, model etc.

Kind regards,


RobMobility.
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Expert Comment

by:ArneLovius
ID: 39213064
as long as you still have the "fixed" disk in the laptop, a VHD file can be on any RW medium for VHD boot..
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Author Closing Comment

by:Muskett
ID: 39215505
Dear all,

What I thought would be a relatively easy question has grown significantly.
I am extremely greatful to al who have contributed to the solution. I have not completely finished in my task but your suggestions have greatly assisted in drilling down to the actual problem.

I have far from given up but for the sake of fairness to all concerned i am closing the question as it is begining to deviate from the original.

I belive that my problem is now such that the express card is presenting itself to Windows as a removable bdevice (which it is of course) and windows does not like installing to removable devices. There are ways round this but i believe that it is off topic.

Again, many thanks to all who have helped imensely to hone down to the real issue.
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LVL 25

Expert Comment

by:RobMobility
ID: 39217393
Windows 8 does, I believe, allow installation on removable drives.

You can test this by installing the Windows 8 trial.
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Author Comment

by:Muskett
ID: 39255936
Final update:
I have finally done this with both W7 and W8 (as suggested by RobM) using this:
http://www.triballabs.net/2012/03/step-by-step-guide-to-install-windows-8-to-go-on-a-usb/

Note that the official MS requires that one purchases W8 Enterprise version.

I have to report that the results are extremely poor, boot times are probably slower than from the HDD.

I would guess that the poor performance is simply that the transfer rate from the express card is slow, not the actuall SSB express card itself.

That said, I will go for W8 as it seems to be generally quicher than w7.

However, a very interesting journey, thanks again to all.


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