Me and My New Crucial M4 SSD

So a few weeks ago I got a nice little present in the mail from Crucial.  It was one of their nice new(ish) M4 SSDs with a massive 256 Gigs of free space.  Here's a review of my experience with the drive so far...

When I got the drive I backed up everything (actually most everything was already backed up to my desktop which has a 1TB disk in it), swapped out the drive in my Asus UL50AG, upgraded the firmware to v9 (which will require a blank CD or DVD) and installed a fresh install of Windows 7.

 To be truthful my first couple of weeks with the disk were a little rough. Apparently the drive that Windows installs by default is ... what's the polite word for "total crap" ... as my laptop would just randomly blue screen saying that there was some sort of storage problem.  After a little searching around the net (the Crucial support forums weren't all that helpful) I managed to find a thread on the newsbin.com forums that was talking about the exact problem that I was having.  They gave some basic info about how to switch the drivers, but that didn't help me much.  The best part was that they actually replied with step by step instructions when I asked for them.

So just in case you are having the same problem that I was having either check out the forum thread, or just keep reading, I've got the fix at the end.

I've got to say, now that I'm not blue screening the laptop for no reason, the damn thing is running great.  Ironically, when it was blue screening, I wouldn't even notice it sometimes because it would reboot so quickly that when I'd look back at the laptop, I'd just be sitting at a login screen.  Personally I thought this was pretty funny (at first).

The laptop is smoking fast now.  This laptop was never really all that quick.  This machine is the laptop that I take when I travel when I know that I won't be needing more than SQL Management Studio, a SQL Instance with some sample databases, and Office.  But now, all I can say is wow.  When I launch an app, it's there.  The machine boots in 8 seconds from the BIOS posting to the login prompt.  Shutting the machine down is about 4 seconds, and the battery live is what it was when I bought the machine 2 or 3 years ago, with over 7 hours of battery life.

Now the only real downside that I see if the drive size. This is a 256 Gig drive, and the disk in here before was only a 320 Gig drive (formatted) so I didn't loose all that much space, but I did have to be a little picky about what I put back on the disk so that the thing isn't totally full already.  Things like my music, movies, etc. I didn't both copying back.  Basically just my pictures and my documents are all that I put on the computer as those sync up with my other computers via Windows Live Mesh.

If someone was to ask me if they should pick one of these up for their laptop, I'd have to say that the answer is yes (so long as you can deal with the disk space limit).  Now Crucial does make larger drives up to 1TB is size (which I'd just love to test out) but they are probably a little to pricey as they run about what a new laptop does.

Denny

Now, to fix that pesky driver problem that you may have (these are for Windows 7)...

Click on Start, then right click on "My Computer" and click on Properties from the menu that pops up.

Click on Device Manager

Click the little arrow next to "IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers"

You should see something similar to this screenshot.

DM

Right click on the device listed (the "Index(R) ICH10R SATA AHCI Controller" in my case) and select "Uninstall" from the menu that pops up.  Make sure to click the "Delete the driver software for this device" check box when prompted to do so.

The computer will prompt you to reboot.  It'll do there between two and six times depending on what hardware is installed.  Just keep letting it reboot as it wants to.  Mine rebooted twice.

If you go back into the device manager (first 3 steps above) you should see that it now says "Standard AHCI Serial ATA Controller 1.0" or something similar to that.

Leave the computer on over night so that the disk can clean itself up (so that TRIM can run) and by morning you'll be find.  Make sure that you have any screensavers, etc. disabled before you leave it on over night.  You can use the laptop while TRIM is running, but the disk may be slower than expected.  This will go away once TRIM is finished.

(For the record so that I'm not running afoul of any stupid US laws, I did get this drive from Crucial as a test unit, in other words I didn't pay for it.)

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Dec 23, 2011
I upgrade laptops every 3-4 years and this time around I got an Alienware m17xR3 and dropped a pair of Crucial M4s in it (128GB and 256GB). My experience has been stunning with this machine. I P2V'd my old laptop (which had 2 physical hard disks in it) and it now runs faster in a VMWare virtual machine than it did on the physical hardware! :-) Kevin Boles

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Denny Cherry is the owner and principal consultant for Denny Cherry & Associates Consulting and has over a decade of experience working with platforms such as Microsoft SQL Server, Hyper-V,...
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