Monday, December 26, 2016

Google Fonts - A nice collection of free, easy-to-use fonts

Google Fonts - A nice collection of free fonts that are easy to install and use.

Google this phrase, "Google fonts", or type this address "" and be prepared to spend an hour in memory lane as you snoop through 800+ fonts.  It reminds me of the 90's when fonts were all the rage.

All the fonts are free True Type (.ttf) and come from the OPEN FONT LICENSE project.

Downloading and Installing

From google's screen, select the fonts you want, then at the bottom of the screen, click the download icon; all arrive as a single ZIP file. 

Using File Explorer, double-click to open the ZIP file.
Copy all folders and paste into a location on your data drive or in your MyDocument's folder. 
Within each folder, "other-mouse-click" the .ttf file and select Install.

The font is ready to use in your favorite word processor, and other programs.

(Keep a copy of the fonts separate from your operating system, that way, when you upgrade to a new computer, the fonts travel with your data directory and are easily re-installed.)

Too bad you can't use them on webpages (web pages, such as this blog, restrict fonts to known families.  This way they display properly on devices when the font is not installed).  Other types of programs, such as word processors and pdf's, embed the font into the document, solving these types of conversion issues.

Vaguely related articles:
keylner: Font musings - an illustration
keyliner: Word Perfect - Review - A word processor that won't frustrate you
keyliner: Word Perfect - Setting up School Papers
keyliner: WP Hanging Intents, Paragraph Headers

Friday, December 23, 2016

Time to uninstall Acrobat Reader and use Foxit

Replace Adobe Acrobat with Foxit's Reader program.  You will find Foxit loads faster, has less risk, less overhead, and is free. This article describes how to download and install.   I recommend this software.  Article updated on 2016.12

Why change?

Acrobat Reader has become big, complex, and cumbersome and now loads too slowly and is exposed to security attacks. 

Adding insult, Adobe Reader keeps trying to install McAfee's advertising program "McAfee Security Scan plus", which I consider malware (see Keyliner article:  Because of this, I never allowed the program to update automatically, which makes its security problems worse.

Installing Foxit Reader

1.  Using the Control Panel's "Programs and Features", uninstall Adobe Acrobat Reader or Adobe Acrobat Reader DC.

optionally, use this recommended de-installer from 
Be sure to pick the correct version. 
As of 2015.07, you probably want version "10.x and later"

2.  Download and install the Foxit Reader:
Foxit can be downloaded and installed without registering.  The program is free.

From the menu, click "Downloads"
On Left-nav, look for Foxit Reader "Free Download"

When Installing, I recommend these options:

[  ] Shell Extensions (do not select)
[  ] Foxit Reader Creator (Deselect unless you want to use it within Microsoft Word and don't mind the slow overhead of installing the plugin.)
     [  ] Windows Shell Extension
     [  ] Word Plugin  (or [x])
     [  ] PPT Plugin
     [  ] Excel Plugin
[x] Plugin used to open PDF files inside the browser  (or uncheck to open in separate window)
[x] Foxit Spell Check Language

Click Next:

[  ] Create Desktop Icon  (you don't need the clutter)
[  ] Add icon to the Start Menu [x] or optionally check
[  ] Create Quick Launch Icon (you don't need the clutter)
[x] Set Foxit as the Default PDF Viewer
[x] Show PDF files in Browser (or turn off if you want the PDFs in a dedicated window)
[x] Disable ConnectedPDF features - recommend check to disable

[x] Enable Safe Reading (Trust Manager)

(x) Don't install a free 30-day trial of Foxit PhantomPDF Standard  (shame this option is not default)

Once the install completes, launch the program and consider these changes:

Under menu File, Preferences
Consider Disabling
"Cloud Reading" e.g. "Disable extras tab"

In "General"
- Disable show start page
- Disable Show Advertisement
- Disable Show floating promotion page

In "Page Display"
- Set Zoom to 100% - I find this is better than auto-sizing

In "Trust Manager"
- Consider disabling (unchecking) Enable JavaScript actions.  I am testing this and am unsure of the ramifications, ,but in general, disabling Javascript is probably a good security measure.

Installation is complete.

From File Explorer, locate any .PDF file; double-click to open.  Foxit Reader should open and display the document.

If you need a PDF editor or other PDF features, look at Foxits Product page and consider sending business their direction.

Related Articles:
Unsavory copies of Foxit from Scamming Sites:

Keyliner article:  Adobe's Acrobat Reader and McAfee Scam

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Western Digital My Cloud Review

Western Digital My Cloud - Personal Cloud Storage -Installation comments and feature reviews.   Review updated for 2016.12.  I have now had this drive in service for over two years.  Still a recommended device and the software still works the same. 

I had a problem:  Of the 6 or 7 computers at my house, my 650GB External USB drive could no longer hold all the image backups plus, moving a portable USB drive from machine to machine was a nuisance.  None of this worked well for daily backups. It was time for a Network Attached hard drive (NAS - Network Attached Storage).

Western Digital (and other vendors) now sell relatively inexpensive "Cloud Drives" - basically a drive on the wire.  The drive is visible from inside the network and from the internet -- acting like DropBox, GDrive or OneDrive -- except the drive is in your house and there are no monthly fees.

I bought a single-bay, 3TB model for $170.  Also available is a 4TB dual-bay RAID-0 (with two 4TB drives, mirrored) for $350.   

With a NAS/Cloud Drive, you get these benefits:
  • Stand-alone; no server or dedicated PC needed
  • Large capacities, relatively cheap (3TB for $170)
  • Visible to all devices in your network; disk appears as a Network Share
  • Visible to all of your Internet devices, including your phone, tablet, laptops, etc.
  • Acts like a Drop-box, Gdrive, OneDrive, but lives at your house
  • Build public and private shares; invite other people to use the device
  • Supports continuous or scheduled backups
  • Supports Streaming Music and Video folders
  • No monthly fees
And you get these drawbacks:
  • Vastly slower than an internal SATA drive
  • Much slower than a USB connection
  • Cannot connect drive directly to a PC USB Port 
  • Not well-suited for Image (ghost) backups


The hardware is easy.  Plug in a Cat-5 network cable and launch a configuration program (see software, below).  The drive will be online and ready in a few minutes. But the setup has two flaws.

By default, the drive picks up a DHCP IP Address from your router.  Although easy, I think this is a mistake - the address should be fixed, assigned manually from outside the DHCP range.  Admittedly, most home users won't know what I am talking about, but if your main router reboots and re-assigns the addresses, it would likely cause a world of odd problems.  I recommend hard-coding the drive's IP address, using a value outside of your DHCP pool.

The second issue was almost cosmetic.  The drive named itself "WD Cloud" (or something like that).  But everything about this product is called WD-Cloud-this- and WD-Cloud-that.  I got confused and later decided to rename the main drive to "WolfHouseSAN1".  Do the rename before you connect a dozen other machines. 

The drive does not have a power switch.  To turn off, use the Dashboard software.  Always power-off gracefully using the software.  And, a device as important as this, deserves to have a UPS battery backup. Mine does.

Bewildering Software

Western Digital's software, and how to install them, is bewildering.  This will frustrate even knowledgeable users.  When I am installing (or re-installing), I return to this page to see what I should be doing.

There are a half-dozen different utilities, all doing different things, and Western Digital does not help in explaining why or what you should do. 

WDC Downloads - User facing - Recommended - Go here first Downloads - Technical - For the geeky

My recommendations, in green:

The downloads are a mixture of ZIP and MSI files and figuring out how to run the installations is complex enough to keep non-technical people from succeeding.  Roughly speaking, expand the Zips, copy the contents to a folder, then run the setup.exe.  If it is an MSI, other-mouse-click the MSI and select "Install."  Really?  Come on Western Digital - you can figure this out.  It needs to be one download, with a menu, and it needs to walk people through the installation.  My mom does not know what to do with either a ZIP or an MSI.

Even the names are confusing

"WD My Cloud Mirror" is the main installation program

-- use this even if you did not buy their Mirrored drive.  It should have been called "WD MyCloud Setup".  This will get the drive online -- but this is not enough!  For the advanced setup options (such as the fixed IP address, which you also need), you have to install a second utility called "Quick View".  Quick View is a dashboard, but who would think it also contains setup controls?
"WD Smartware Update" is the 'backup program' -- This is the reason you bought the drive. Why was it not called "Smartware Backup"?.  Even though it is called "update," it is not an update.  Figuring this out takes time.  - Update:  Two years later, all this is still true.

Data Backup

For normal day-to-day file backups, use the "Smartware" backup utility, which is one of the downloads above.  This is a slick program but there are several decisions to make and each has limitations and risks. 

It can run two types of backups: 

1.  Category Backup, where it looks at the entire drive for particular file extensions, or
2.  File-by-file, folder-by-folder backup (my recommendation)  
  • "Category" backup looks for certain types of data files (by category, DOC, XLS, Music, video, etc.). 

    Approximately 300 extensions are supported, with a complete list of extensions on the support site.  I do not trust  this backup because unexpected file types, such as macro files, or other unusual files, such as a database, will not be backed up. 
  • Backup of Selected Folders - Recommended but with risks.

    Mark the (data) folders to backup, and exclude those you don't (such as Temp and Cache folders).  I recommend this method, but it has one giant caution. 

    The biggest problem with a File Backup is you have to include and exclude folders.  When a folder is marked, all files and folders within are backed up.  On the surface this is good.  But if new folders are added at a root, it will *not* be backed up by default.  (A better design would have been to select the top-most folder, then mark selected subfolders to exclude, but that is not how the software was designed.

    Because of this, periodically check which directories are included in the backup or be religious about where you save your data -- always in data or Documents. 

Both the Category or the Selected Folder backup have two types of schedules:

A.  "Continuous backups" (where the file is backed up as soon as saved) or

B.  "Scheduled Backup" where it is periodically backed up, on a timed schedule - Recommended.

The Continuous backup is a neat idea, but chatty.  If you save your Excel sheet multiple times during the day, it will backup multiple times.  I have the software set to keep 5 generations (5 copies or revisions of each file).  With a continuous backup, you may consume all generational backups sooner than expected.  This is all handled automatically, but it is nice to have a backup from 3 days ago and the continuous backup may be harmful in this area.

My recommendation is the Scheduled backup.

At first I had the backup set to run "Once per day" at 8:00am (when I was likely not using the computer).  All changed files are backed up once per day. 

But I found the computer was usually asleep and it would skip the backup.  When the machine woke, usually in the evening, it did not run a catch-up job, instead it waits until the next (8:00am) job.  When I realized this, I had missed 5 days of backups.
To work around this, switch an "Hourly" backup. This way, if a schedule is missed, it will catch-up the next time the computer is in-use and you are not beating the drive with a continuous backup.  This gives slightly better control over the generational backups.

Scheduled data backups have been glorious.  Automatic and unattended.  Restores are simple and reliable.

As a bonus, you can reach into the backups folders from a tablet or phone and show your friends the pictures you took the day before, without having to download them to the phone -- just reach into your cloud drive and look at last-night's backup.  This is not as the software was intended, but it works well.


The backup requires a login before you can use it -- but what login to use?  Western Digital was not helpful.  The answer is the same account you use when you log into the Windows desktop.  For example, on my Windows 10 machine, I login with ""  - use this same account, spelled the same way.  Windows 7 users, who are running a local account, the username will be shorter: for example 'trywolf'.

If you don't recall the actual account, open Control Panel, Users, "Make changes to my account" (see inset). 

Click for larger view

Image Backup

Western digital did not provide backup software for "Image Backups" (Ghost images of the entire drive).  I use a third-party program called Acronis.

Acronis saw the drive* and the backup can run over the wire.  Be sure all of your switches and routers are gigabit speeds.  Even with fast switches, an "Image" backup will take 15 to 20 hours over the wire.  Image backups are not really what this drive was intended for.  

* Using Acronis on the Western Digital Cloud drive required adjustments in the backup job.  In the backup job, use the local workstation's login credentials (e.g. the account used to login into the workstation.)  For the destination, use a UNC path to one of the Shares defined on the SAN; for example "\\wolfhouseSAN1\Bak" and within that share, create a sub-directory to hold the backup. 

Restoring an image with Acronis is problematic.  The bootable Acronis recovery disk will not be able to see the cloud drive -- even though the Acronis Windows client was able to make the original backup.  As a horrible idea, you can restore to a bare-metal replacement drive by installing Windows, then Acronis, then the restore.  Instead, what I do is copy the image (.tib files) from the Western Digitial drive, to an external non-cloud USB drive, then boot the Acronis Linux disk.  From here, run a standard restore.  Of course, if you are trying to restore just a file or a directory or two, you will not have these problems; launch the program and restore the file.

Related: When making any disk-image backup (using a third-party program, such as Acronis), be sure to follow the steps documented here:  Disk Imaging Cleanup Steps

Other Backup Concerns 

Because the drive lives in my house, it is susceptible to fires, floods and other disasters.  You will still need GDrive (OneDrive, DropBox, etc.) for important off-site data backups.
Then there is this concern:  How does one backup the backup drive?  The Smartware utility provides a "Safepoint", which can mirror the entire drive -- but then you need a second drive large enough to hold this drive.  If you can afford to, buy the dual-bay mirrored drive, which helps solve part of this problem.   

As a File Share

The drive can also act as a standard network file share.  Files saved on a share are available to all of your devices, all in a central location. However, this has been vaguely disappointing.

On the home network, seeing the share, saving and retrieving files, has been noticeably slow.  The slowness is found in two areas.

If the drive is busy running a backup, it will be slow for other clients - taking 15 to 30 seconds to load even a minor document.  And, if the cloud-drive is asleep due to inactivity, it will take 40 to 50 seconds to wake and retrieve the file. 

The drive supports separate user accounts and you can build multiple shares (folders), exposing them to the Internet or keeping them private to your network.  Essentially, the drive appears as an SMB NT Server, with shares on the disk pack.  This works as expected and the details are too boring to explain here.  Share and other settings are exposed in the System Tray's Dashboard.

USB Connections

The drive has a USB 3 port and you will need a male-to-male USB 3 cable, not supplied.  To my surprise, you cannot use this port on a PC.  It turns out this USB port is only compatible with the USB 3 port on a router ( Answer 1544) and only more expensive routers have this feature.  The USB connection will gain you nothing in speed; you are still restricted by your other workstation's network connection.   

Not being able to mount the drive directly to a PC was not mentioned on the box and this means I cannot run Image backups or restored directly on the drive (This is why you cannot use Acronis to directly restore when booting from the Recovery disk).

Some may complain the drive will not run over wireless.  If it could, it would take a month to run a backup.

As a Streaming Device

The drive also supports streaming.  For instance, I copied all of my digitized music to the Public Music folder, turned on the streaming feature, and now I have access to my music, from any device, both on the internal network and from the Internet. This has been entertaining and I was completely surprised about how useful this was.  See this article for details:  Keyliner Streaming Music with a Western Digital Drive.  Since then, I have discovered the joys of Pandora.


The drive is working wonderfully as a backup drive, especially when using the Smartware utility.  Image backups are too leisurely to be useful and with these, use a directly-connected USB drive. 

Using the drive as a standard file share has been disappointing because of speed issues. Sometimes the speed is acceptable, other times not, depending on when the drive is asleep. 

Western Digital needs to simplify the software installation and simplify the decisions that need to be made on how the drive is installed. It is confusing to have a setup program that does not include all of the needed options, and other naming problems, mentioned above.

The Support Download pages had the barest of descriptions -- descriptions such as, "This download contains the latest version of the WD Quick View for Windows," are not helpful.  Tiny description, such as "This is a utility that will discover WD network attached storage drives on the network and provide drive status information." -- Is this important?  -- Should I install it?  My recommendations in the chart above will help you get started. 

With the complaints aside, this drive accomplished my goals in a way that is hard to do with other methods.  I recommend it. 

Additional Costs

When considering your backup solutions, there are other costs, above and beyond the price of the drive.  Ideally, you would do all of these suggestions, at great expense:
  • Upgrade all routers to gigabit speeds. 
  • Buy a second Cloud drive to backup the first (or buy the dual-bay drive).  You have to worry about drive failures.
  • Pay for the professional version of Smartware and then subscribe to DropBox, Onedrive, etc. so you can have more than 2G of free space.  Use this for offsite backups of your most important data.  The Professional Version of Smartware backup makes this easier to manage (although I have not tried this myself).  You need to be able to schedule multiple, different types of backups.
  • Use a third-party product (Acronis) for Image backups.  Buy an external USB drive to hold them.
  • Put this drive on a UPS battery power -- after all, this is a spinning hard disk and it will not like power failures.  The router should be on UPS too.  As you can see, this can get complicated.

Related articles:
Disk Imaging Cleanup Steps Downloads - Technical
WDC Downloads - User facing

Monday, December 19, 2016

Windows 10 screen position is not saved

Problem: Windows 10 screen position and orientation is lost after a reboot.
Problem: Windows 10 display orientation and positions are not saved after a reboot.
Problem: Windows 10 monitor position not saving  not saved
Problem: Windows 10 monitor orientation not saving not saved
Problem: Windows 10 display settings reset after startup
Problem: Windows 10 display settings lost on restart
Problem: Windows 10 display settings not saved  are lost
Problem: Dual monitors revert to default positions

There are probably many causes for this problem, but in my case, after much testing, and re-formatting, and re-installing, I found the culprit.

Screen positions and possibly orientations are set using either the Windows Settings, "Customize your display" or are set with NVidia's monitor control panel.  Then, after a reboot, the screen's orientation and positions revert to Windows default.

In previous testing the Windows Store disappeared and all Windows Store apps, such as MSN News and oddly, the Windows 10 Calculator (Calc.exe) and the Weather app disappeared.  No amount of Microsoft repair utilities would fix the Windows store.

You are using a Crucial SSD drive.
You installed Crucial's 64-bit "Storage Executive" version 3.34.
Enabled Momentum Cache and the Over Protection partition.

In my case, I have a slotted NVidia video card, driving dual monitors, where the right-hand monitor is vertical.

You may have used the motherboard's onboard PC Display Port.  This is probably not related.

Crucial's Storage Executive is the guaranteed cause of this problem.  I have repeatedly testing this.

I am unclear if this problem is endemic to Crucial's Storage Executive or if this is just with my setup.  I am unclear if this is caused by turning on the Over Protection partition or if it is simply the act of installing Storage Executive.

Update:  Install Storage Executive version 3.38 (or newer).  Crucial released a new version of the software and this resolved this problem.

I know the following did not work:

* Uninstalling Storage Executive
* Re-installing NVidia drivers (376.33) did not help
* Restoring a disk image prior to installing Storage Executive amazingly did not fix the problem!

Bad Solution:
* Re-installing windows, from scratch, after erasing all partitions on the disk, resolved all problems, but I as soon as Storage Executive was installed, the problem re-appeared.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

How to build an Over Provisioning Partition on SSD

How to build an Over Provision partition on an SSD drive.
How to build an OP partition on an SSD drive


On a newly installed Crucial 500GB SSD (MX300), setting up an OP-Partition failed with a message, 'Not enough room' to install.


While the SSD is installed as a slave / secondary drive, and before you clone the disk, format the entire drive as a Simple volume, assigning any drive letter.

Then, running Cruicial's Storage Executive, create the Over Provisioning partition on the blank disk.

Later, when cloning (using the free version of Acronis HD, or any other cloning software), manually set cloning options, where you will manually adjust the partition sizes.  Example steps on how to do this can be found in the keyliner article: How to install a Crucial MX300 SSD Drive.

Pay particular attention to the these three steps:
Install the New Drive
Format and Enable Over Provisioning and
Clone the disk

Full details can be found in this keyliner article:
Link: How to install Crucial MX300 SSD drive

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Password Generator

Password Generator - program for building lists of random passwords.  Length and complexity is controlled by various options and the final results are written to an ASCII file.

This is a free Keyliner download that is a stand-alone executable.  No installation or configuration is required.  This program does not require registration, nor are there ads or nagware. Free to use for personal and commercial use.    

For a company's public wireless access, we needed a way to generate passwords with a one-week life-span, starting Monday morning through the next Sunday night.  This program generates several years worth of weekly passwords and outputs the results to a tab-delimited file.

When run, it writes a simple tab-delimited text file, editable with Notepad or excel.  Three columns: The password, a starting date and an expiration date.  If you only need passwords, ignore the date columns.


There is none.  Download and run the executable.

This is a self-contained .exe that does not need installation, registry changes, or configuration files.  Place the .exe in any directory.
Double-click to run.

Public GDrive Download Link:  PasswordGenerator

Download Notes:
When first launched, Windows 7 and above will flag the .exe as "un-signed and potentially unsafe."  This is because the executable was downloaded from the web.  If you trust my program, accept.  Once accepted, you are not prompted again.  This remains unsigned because certificates are too expensive.  Runs on Windows XP or newer and requires dotnet 4.0 or newer - you likely already have this.


1.  Launch the program.

2.  Choose a password strength.

     Default = "High" 
     (12 character passphrase, Caps, digits, likely multi-word, depending on length)

     For documentation:
  Lowest  = 8 Char, Capitals, No numbers
  Low     = 8 Char, Capitals, Numbers
  Med     = 10 Char, Capitals, Numbers 
  High    = 12 Char, Capitals, Numbers, likely multi-word
  Higher  = 14 Char, Capitals, Numbers, multi-word
  Highest = 16 Char, Capitals, Numbers, multi-word

     Optionally select "Require special characters"
     Where a space is a common special character, or periods and other symbols.

3.  Set the Count for how many passwords to generate.
     100 is approximately 2 years worth of weekly passwords.

4.  Type an output file path and filename or accept the default:

5.  Pick a Start Date (any Date) or ignore if not important.
     Set a cycle date; which defaults to a 7-day password rotation.

6.  Click Generate.

7.  Click the Notepad icon to view the resulting file.  Example results:

     The generated list has passwords and dates.
     Naturally, you can ignore the dates, if not needed.

Randomization Notes:

The intent is to generate multiple, random passwords (passphrases), but over the course of several hundred runs, it may assemble the same phrase.  This is okay.  Theoretically, you are assigning the phrase to different users or across wide time-spans.

At Strength=Higher and above, the program generates multi-word phrases.  To help block dictionary attacks, the stronger passwords have one or more digits appended. 

Password lengths are guaranteed to be the minimum length indicated but can be longer, with  variation in the generated lengths.  For example, a "High" password will be a minimum of 12 characters, but will randomly generate longer, 12 to 16 characters.  This makes passwords less predictable.

Drop me a note on how you used the program.  I welcome suggestions.

Humor:  Earlier versions of this program generated these passwords:  "FriskyHamster27", "KleptoChild6", and "CreepyFamily1".  Management called and the program was modified.  Now, all passwords are "happy"  with no personable nouns.  I am still fond of FriskyHamster.

For an interesting discussion on passwords and for the reasons for this program's design, see this keyliner article:  Link:  "Better Safer and Stronger Passwords"

Keyliner Download Link:  PasswordGenerator

Related articles:
keyliner link:  Better Safer and Stronger Passwords
keyliner link:  Prize Select Raffle Ticket Program

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Windows login screen flashes after disk clone

Issue:  Windows login screen flashes on and off after cloning the operating system to a new disk.

Likely, you have cloned to a new SSD drive.
Likely, if you unplug either the new disk or the old, you now get a Windows Recovery boot error (UEFI disk problem), and cannot boot the computer from either drive.

After cloning, you rebooted as a first-time boot with both drives active.  The hardware is confused about which drive is the real boot drive and is flipping between them.


Disconnect the old drive's SATA cable, leaving the new drive attached.  Reboot one time.  This allows the motherboard BIOS to clearly identify the new disk.

This keyliner article describes the cloning steps in detail and one of the steps guards against this problem.  Look for the sections marked with this:


When the clone is done, do not allow the computer to power up.

Article link:  Install Crucial MX300 SSD drive

Additional Problem:

If your experience was like mine, both disks get marked with a UEFI failure, and after this happened, neither disk would boot, giving this error:

Full Text Error Message:
Your PC/Device needs to be repaired.  The Boot Configuration Data file is missing some required information.  This article describes how to recover.

File: \BCD

Error Code: 0xc000000d
Error Code: 0x00000034

You will need to use recovery tools.  If you don't have installation media (like a disk or USB device), contact your PC administrator or PC/Device manufacturer.

When:  On a reboot, typically on a Win
See this article for the solution for corrupted UEFI: Link: Your PC Needs Repairing - UEFI)

Related articles:
Keyliner: Erasing all partitions after a Clone
Keyliner: Your PC/Device needs to be repaired - UEFI failure
Keyliner: Install Crucial MX300 SSD drive
Keyliner: Disk Image Cleanup Steps

Erasing all Partitions after a Clone and Formatting

How to:  Erase all files, all disk partitions on a disk after it has been cloned.  This article shows how to use Windows Control Panels to reformat and an alternate all-command-line method.  Either method works.

These instructions work on Windows 7, 8 and 10.

Do not use these steps to reformat a C: drive for a Windows re-installation.  Instead, see  this Keyliner article:  Windows 10 Partitions are not in the right order.

After cloning a physical disk to a replacement SSD drive, I wanted to keep the old drive as a backup drive.  Formatting the drive quickly erased all files on the disk, but if you looked under the hood, a number of other partitions survived, including boot sectors, recovery partitions, etc.

These partitions are not visible in File Explorer and unless you looked, you would never know they were there.  The partitions waste space and confuse humans who later wonder what they are for.  This article describes how to fully erase the drive.

A.  Open the Windows Control Panel,
      Select "Administrative Tools", "Computer Management"

B.  On the tree-side, open the Storage section, select "Disk Management"

In my case, and probably yours, note the two disks, both with a busy set of partitions.

Click for larger view

On my workstation, the new SSD drive is a 488GB disk, at Disk 0, which was cloned from the D: drive.  Both disks have the same number and order of partitions.  The SSD is drive C:.  The larger drive, Drive D: (at 940GB) was the former C: drive and it needs to be fully erased. 

From Windows Explorer, you could highlight drive D:, "other mouse-click" and "Format."  It will reformat the disk, erasing all files in the large, center partition, but the other partitions and their hidden files remain, wasting disk space.

Steps to Erase all files and partitions on Drive D:

These steps are a mixture of DOS and Windows control panel steps.  See below for an all DOS-method.  Both produce the same results.  The all-DOS method is slightly easier, with less steps, but more typing.

With some humor, confirm you know which drive you intend to delete.  This article assumes Drive D:.  It goes without saying, carefully follow the steps below.  If you delete drive C:, you will not be happy.  With this said, even novice computer users can do these steps.

1.  On the Start menu, or in Windows 10 Search, locate "Command Prompt"  (type "Command" in Windows 10 search).

Other-mouse-click the icon and choose "Run as Administrator"  (or More... Run as administrator)

2.  At the DOS prompt, type "DISKPART"  (No quotes)  Press Enter.

Side Note:  If you are in the middle of a Windows 10 Setup (not illustrated in this article, and you are at the Disk Partition screen, press Shift-F10 to open a DOS Prompt.  Type DISKPART and you will be at this same position.  See this Keyliner article:  Windows 10 Partitions are not in the right order.

3.  Type "List Disk"   (DISK is singular, no quotes).

Confirm your disk number.
In my case the old disk is Disk1.  The size will give a hint.

These instructions assume disk 1.  Change as needed.

4.  Type  "Select Disk 1"

(If you are in the middle of a Windows Setup, and used Shift-F10 to get to these screens, you are probably selecting DISK 0.)

5.  Type "Clean"

The disk will be instantly erased.  All partitions removed, all files gone.  There is no warning, no screen activity.

6.  Type "Exit", then "Exit" again to return to Windows.

7.  Launch Windows Control Panel, select "Administrative tools", then "Computer Management"

8.  On left-nav, tunnel to Storage, "Disk Management"  (Illustrated, top). You will be prompted with "Initialize Disk"

Confirm Disk 1  (it is a little late to change your mind here; the drive is deleted)
Accept "GPT"  (recommended)

Results: Notice Disk 1 is un-allocated.

9.  "Other mouse-click the shaded un-allocated area.  Choose "New Simple Volume"

Click Next
Accept the recommended size.
Click Next
Accept the recommended drive letter (likely D:)

Click Next

At the "Format Partition" prompt, accept the defaults -
or, if you have time, uncheck [  ] Perform Quick Format (recommended).

Unchecking quick format, it gives a more thorough format, checking each cluster for damage.  The long format can take several hours on a large drive.

The drive is formatted and ready to use. 

Alternative Method:  Using All DOS commands:

Use this method to remove all partitions and reformat a disk using DOS commands.  This produces the same results as above, but all steps are from the command line.  Do this method, or the other; no need to do both.

a.  From the Cortana search, search for "CMD" (or Command)
b.  "other-mouse-click" the Command Prompt, choosing "Run as Administrator"  (or More..., Run as Administrator)

c.  At the DOS Prompt, type "DiskPart"  (no quotes)

d.  Type "List Disk"  (singular, no quotes)

Note the displayed disks.
My computer shows DISK 0 (the 500G SSD, which is my Windows C: drive) and
DISK 1 (the original spinning disk at 932GB)

Other disks are SD card readers and can be ignored.

e.  Using a DOS-like command, select the old hard disk.  Do this with care, but do not fear.

Type this command:
"Select Disk 1"                   (No quotes.  your disk may vary, but it is likely disk 1)

f.  Type this command:

There is no warning, no prompt.  The disk, and all partitions are immediately erased.  Look for "DiskPart succeeded in cleaning the disk".

g.  Create a partition and format the disk with these commands, typing each command and pressing enter.  Do not type the quotes.  Choose either the slow format (recommended) or the quick format.  The slow format may take an hour or more:

"Create partition primary"
"Select partition 1"
"Format fs=ntfs label=Data"    (Slow format, better quality) or
    "Format fs=ntfs label=Data Quick"

when the format is complete, continue with this command:

"assign letter=D"    (assuming a D: drive, do not type a colon)

"Exit" to exit DISKPart
"Exit" to close the DOS window.

The drive is formatted and ready to use. 

Technical note:  Although this article does not address reformatting a C: drive, but if you were, add an "Active" step right after "Select partition 1".  Do not activate data D: drives.

All Done

The drive is re-partitioned cleanly, formatted, and ready-to-use.  In my case, the full 931GB is available.  From File Explorer, you can highlight the drive, select Properties, and rename the drive.  I tend to call D: drives "DataDrive"  and I tend to name the C: drive as "OS" or "System".

You can run the same "Clean Steps" when re-installing the operating system (Windows 10) from scratch.  See this Keyliner article: Windows Partitions not in the right order.

Possible Problems:

* DiskPart "Format" command fails with "There is no volume selected. Please select a volume and try again."

Solution:  With the proper drive Selected, type this command: "Create partition primary" and continue with the steps above.

* No D: drive:
The drive formatted but does not appear in File Explorer.
The drive formatted and the Control Panel's Disk Manager shows a disk, but no drive letter was assigned.

Solution:  If the DiskPart program is still running, type "Assign Letter = D"  (no colon).  If you had already closed the Disk Partition program, re-launch using steps above.  Select the disk, select the partition, then Assign the drive letter; no need to re-format.

The drive is formatted and ready to use.

Your non-spammy comments welcome.

Related articles:
Keyliner: Windows 10 Partitions not in the right order
Keyliner: Disk Imaging Cleanup Steps
Keyliner: Open File Explorer to a Default Folder
Keyliner: Optimizing the Windows Swap File

Chkdsk does not run on restart - CheckDisk /f /x

Issue:  DOS Chkdsk C: /f /x does not run at restart
Issue: Force DOS Chkdsk on restart fails
Issue: DOS chkdsk does not run on reboot

When using the /x switch, DOS prompts 'Chkdsk will run when windows restarts', but when you restart, the command does not run.  You are expecting a screen similar to this:

Other Symptoms:

* There is a long delay on reboot, with no screen activity
* Chkdsk does not run; does not run on second attempt
* You are probably trying to run this command before cloning a disk
* You are sure this command used to work in Windows 7 (it did; and still does)


If you are running dual monitors or a monitor with a separate video card, you may have problems with the chkdsk command. 

Your video-card(s) drivers are not available to the reboot DOS environment.  The command is running, but you cannot see or answer any prompts.  This explains the long delay at reboot.

Follow the video data-cable from the monitor to the back of the PC.

If the cable runs to a slotted card, you will need to run a temporary new connection for the video, directly from the motherboard to the monitor.  Most semi-modern computers have a Display Port, HDMI, or old-style VGA port built into the motherboard -- but it may not be used, depending on the slotted video card.

For this article you want a video connection that goes directly to the port near the USB and network connectors (typically PC Display Port or HDMI).  Naturally, your monitor needs to support this and you may need an adapter for one type to the other. More details below.

Additionally, if there are errors or other messages that require your attention, you may not be able to respond if you have a wireless keyboard.  Use a wired keyboard.

Personal note:  This took hours to figure out, with a lot of nonsense on the web about running the program twice and editing registries, etc..  Finding a PC Display Port cable, with a wide-end on both sides, as required by my monitor, was impossible.  In the end, I borrowed the cable from a friend.  Buying an adapter, DisplayPort-to-VGA would have cost $30.


When running chkdsk with a /f  or /f /x switch, reboot with local hardware -- this means a local VGA card and a wired keyboard. 

Shut down the machine and do these steps:
a)  Plug in a wired (USB) keyboard.

Wireless mice are ok.  If your wireless mouse and keyboard use the same dongle, leave them plugged in, but still use the wired keyboard (both keyboards can be active at the same time).

b) Looking at the back of your machine, ignore all card-slots and only look at the area where all the USB and network ports exist.

c)  You should find a video port and your existing monitor may already be plugged into this port.  If so, you would not be reading this article and you can continue with the ChkDsk steps below.  If a video cable does not run to one of these ports, run a cable, typically PC Display Port, or HDMI to your monitor.  Disconnect other video cables (if Dual monitor). 

Yes, I know this is a pain and you likely don't have the cable.  Be sure to see what your monitor accepts.  You may need to, for example, use a DisplayPort cable from the PC, then switch it with a converter to an old-style VGA connector.

Reboot and test Windows, making sure the monitor works as expected.

On my monitor, I had to use the monitor's controls, telling it to pick the DisplayPort; the auto-detect port did not work properly.  This video port and monitor will work - and it will work without drivers. 

Running ChkDsk

Restart Windows normally, then

d)  From the Desktop Search, type "Command", to locate a DOS Prompt.
e)  "Other-mouse-click", choose "Run as Administrator."

f)  At the DOS prompt, type this command:

Chkdsk C: /f /x

Accept offer to run at next reboot.
Reboot.  Allow the checkdisk to run.  This is a more thorough check disk than standard and the command only takes a few minutes to run.

When done, shut down the computer.

If checkdisk does not run at the reboot, and if there is a long 30-second to several minute delay - where your heart sinks and you wonder if the computer is dead - the problem is the video.  This command only displays on the motherboard's main video card.  If you run dual monitors, on a separate video card, those cards and drivers will not load (or will not load in time).  Similarly, wireless keyboards don't load and you can't "press any key to continue".

Related articles:
Keyliner: Installing a Crucial SSD Drive
Keyliner: Your PC Needs Repairing - UEFI)
Keyliner: Setting DVD or USB Drive Boot Order
Keyliner: Disk Image Cleanup Steps 

Your PC/Device needs to be repaired - UEFI

This message displays when a UEFI disk had its boot parameters changed or you may see this message if you did not clone the disk properly while upgrading a hard disk.

As scary as this message is, it is recoverable and your programs and data are not lost.

Full Text Error Message:
Your PC/Device needs to be repaired.  The Boot Configuration Data file is missing some required information.  This article describes how to recover.

File: \BCD

Error Code: 0xc000000d
Error Code: 0x00000034

You will need to use recovery tools.  If you don't have installation media (like a disk or USB device), contact your PC administrator or PC/Device manufacturer.

When:  On a reboot, typically on a Windows 10 (Windows 8) computer, laptop or desktop.

Prerequisite Steps:
Do these steps to confirm the BIOS is set properly for boot.  You will likely need to do these steps if you were trying to change the Boot Device order or if you had enabled the Legacy Boot options.

These steps vary by hardware vendor, but in general:

a)  Cold-boot the machine, and open the BIOS Setup screen.  Typically press F2 when the machine's brand-logo appears, just before Windows loads.  If the BIOS setup key does not display, search the web for your particular computer. Some, for example, require pressing fn-F2.  There is also a way to make a Windows setting change to force this condition on next reboot; details not here.

b)  In the BIOS setup screen, confirm Boot Mode is set to UEFI.  Confirm Secure Boot is ON.

Solution 1:  USB Recovery Drive

If you had previously built a Windows 10 Recovery Drive,

a)  Boot from this disk * Boot instructions, below
b)  Select Repair. 

The recovery drive is typically an 8GB USB -- and it has to be created from this same computer prior to this error. This cannot be built from another machine. 

The trouble is, nobody has ever built this disk and even if you did, you likely can't find it.  I clipped mine to the back of the computer.

For this article, you are too late, but the disk can be built with these steps:
a)  From the desktop's search, type "Create a Recovery drive".
b)  Follow the on-screen instructions and expect an hour to build.  It will require an 8GB or larger USB thumb dive.

Solution 2:  Windows 10 Installation Media

From any other computer, build a Windows 10 installation disk and use it to recover from this error.

a)  Search for "Windows 10 Media Creation Tool" or this link:

b)  Download, saving the executable to your downloads directory.
c)  Double-click to run the Media Creation Tool program stub (.exe).
d)  When prompted, insert a blank DVD and allow it to build the disk. Optionally use a USB.
e)  This will take 20 to 40 minutes to write.  Label the disk as "Windows 10 Installation Media".

f)  Insert the DVD/USB and reboot the computer, booting from the DVD or USB *

*Boot instructions, below

Getting to the boot menu varies by manufacturer.
For Dell, press F12 "Boot Options" at the hardware/BIOS banner

Boot to the DVD/USB disk from the BIOS screens:

1.  At the Windows initial setup screen, click Next
2.  In the lower right corner, select "Repair your computer" by typing "R"

3.  Choose "Troubleshoot"

4.  Select "Advanced options"

5.  In Advanced, select "Command Prompt"

At the DOS Prompt, type this command: 

Boot /fixmbr   Press Enter

6.  After the first command, type these commands, pressing ENTER after each:

Bootrec /fixboot
Bootrec /scanos
Bootrec /rebuildbcd   (Selecting "A" - All when prompted)

type "Exit" to close the Command Prompt window.

7.  From the Windows Setup screens, click "Continue"

The PC should now boot properly.
Consider building a Recovery Drive from the first solution, above.

Booting from a DVD or USB Drive

UEFI-protected disks are new to Windows 8 and Windows 10 and are designed to prevent programs from modifying the boot sectors - and they also block booting from an untrusted, unsigned USB or DVD. 

Booting using a Microsoft program (such as the Windows Recovery Drive or the Windows 10 Media disk), or from a trusted disk imaging or virus vendor's disk will succeed.  But the biggest problem is getting the PC to recognize it is allowed to boot from those devices.

See this Keyliner article:  Setting Boot Order for DVD or USB (article pending)

Related Articles:
Keyliner: Installing a Crucial SSD Drive

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Install for Crucial MX300 SSD Drive

Follow these steps for the best results when installing an SSD drive.

You need to do more than clone the disk when installing an SSD.  There are performance enhancements and other preparations that need to happen to ensure a successful install.  Once completed, the SSD will give the best speed and performance. 

These instructions are for the Crucial Mx300 525GB disk but will work with any brand drive.  Novice computer users should be able to complete these tasks.

Convert a desktop computer from a spinning disk to an SSD drive
Maximize performance
Install an Over Provision Partition (giving best speed)

Assumes you are using the free copy of Acronis HD to clone the drive
Assumes Windows 10

This is a dishearteningly long, technical article and will take a long evening to complete.  My apologies.

The support forums have lots of traffic about the Acronis cloning software not working properly.  A lack of preparation is the likely culprit.  This article addresses this and other issues.

This assumes the old hard disk is a UEFI protected disk.  These are common in most machines since Windows 8 and they are more difficult to work with -- especially if trying to boot from a CD Rom or Thumb drive.  This article navigates around these issues and you need to follow them in this sequence for best and safest results.

Supplies Needed:
1.  Physical keyboard, typically USB.  A wireless keyboard may not work for one of the steps.
2.  SATA Hard Disk data cable (purchase separately from drive.  I like red ones).
3.  Drive Bay Adapter (a 'sled'), purchased separately.

4.  You may need a Video Cable that runs from the motherboard to your monitor.

If you are running dual monitors or a monitor with a separate video card, 
you may have problems with all-important chkdsk step.  

5.  Recommended: An 8G or larger USB thumb drive for emergency recovery.

6.  Recommended: Blank DVD, for emergency recover disk.

Hugely Important Pre-Requisites:

Cloning UEFI boot disks is risky.
As I was doing this project, I missed an important step and
trashed the computer with a nearly unrecoverable UEFI error.
A backup gives serenity to your life.

A.  Backup your current Disk -- or at least backup your data! 

This is not a goody-two-shoes "backup" - I mean it.  My first install had several blunders and they were scary.  As I was writing and fine-tuning this article, there were several times where I nearly lost the original disk.

I recommend using Acronis Disk Imaging software to make a disk image of your existing hard drive (the full version, not the one that came with the SSD drive, or use other such software, such as Macrium Reflect's free version).  Write the image to a portable external USB drive.  If you have the full-featured version of Acronis, use that version to clone the disk; you do not need to install the free version that came with the drive.

Related:  Keyliner link:  Acronis Step By Step

B.  Create a Windows 10 Recovery Drive, just in case.

From the desktop's search, type "Create a Recovery drive".

Using a dedicated 8G USB thumb drive, follow the on-screen instructions. 
This takes about an hour to build.
If you blow up, booting off this disk can restore and repair UEFI disk problems.

C.  Recommend spinning a copy of Microsoft's free Windows 10 installation media.

Because I did not have a recovery drive (step B), I had to use this method when my installation went south. For other reasons, this is a good disk to have hanging around.

Search for "Windows 10 Media Creation Tool".
Run the program and write to a DVD.
Label the disk "Windows 10 Installation Media".
Of course, if you follow these instructions, you won't need the recovery disks....

D.  Update the workstation's motherboard BIOS

-Especially if you have an older machine. Contact your vendor's support site.  Almost all computers have BIOS updates.  When downloading, chose the most recent version.  Steps vary and are not detailed here.  The older the computer, the more important this step is.   

Pre-download these utilities:

E.  The SSD came with a free copy of Acronis cloning software, along with an installation code.  From,

Download Acronis HD (
Install, accepting all defaults
Do not launch.

(Or use other cloning software.  The web recommends Macrium Reflect, the free version.  I have not tried this.  For this article, I used the free Acronis version.)

F.  Download "Crucial Storage Executive" (64-bit version).

Open the Support tab, click "SSD Support,"
Download "Crucial Storage Executive"
It Downloads as a ZIP file

The link is hard to find.  As of 2016.12, see red-arrow in illustration:

Double-click the downloaded .ZIP file to open the archive
Note file "Setup.exe" 
Other-mouse-click, select "Copy"; then paste onto your desktop

From your desktop, double-click the copied Setup.exe
(Caution: Do not run or double-click the SETUP from within the Zip)

Select "Install Crucial Storage Executive", accepting all defaults 
Once installed, do not launch

The same page offers a download BIOS update.  Do not bother.  The Storage Exec will do the BiOS update. 

Caution:  Older versions of Storage Exec had a bug where Windows 10 screen positions and orientations would not save.  Be sure to download the latest version.

PREP Local Disk (C: Drive)

These steps give the best chance of success and give the best performance on your new drive. 

1.  Clean-up the Existing Windows C: Drive prior to cloning.

For full details, see this keyliner article: Disk Image Cleanup Steps

or this summary:

a) Using File Manager, highlight Drive C.  "Other mouse click", choose "Properties"
b)  Click "Disk Cleanup".  This takes several minutes to load
c)  In "Files to Delete", select all options - except "Hibernation File Cleaner" (if present)

If present, be sure to cleanup the Windows 10 upgrade files - saving 3Gig of disk.

d)  Click the "Clean up System Files" button (or in older Windows versions, the "More Options" tab).  Again, this takes several minutes to load.  You may have to re-select the checkboxes, depending on your version of Windows.

e)  In the More Options / Cleanup System Files, click and allow it to delete all but the most recent restore point.  It will complain.  Ignore and allow it to delete.

2.  Optional:  Optimize the Windows Swap file - Recommended, but optional.

Reason:  The default Windows Swap file is a variable-sized file that shrinks and grows from (0 to 2G), ebbing and flowing as needed.  It is constantly allocating and de-allocating, fragmenting the disk.  Force a fixed size.  This way the file never collapses and never fragments.  This also makes boot times slightly faster.

To set a fixed-size swap file, follow these steps.

Temporarily delete the swap / paging file:

a)  Launch Windows Explorer
b)  Highlight "This PC / My PC", "other-mouse-click", choosing "Properties"
c)  Select Advanced System Settings
d)  On top-tabs, select Advanced.  Click "Performance"
e)  Click the second "Advanced" tab
f)  Click "Virtual Paging"

Uncheck [ ] Automatic manage paging file size
Set "No paging file"  (Set)
Click OK, OK. -- Ignore the warnings.
Reboot to de-allocate the file.

g)  After reboot, manually de-fragment the hard disk:

-  Open File Explorer
-  Highlight drive C:, other-mouse-click, "Properties"
-  In the Tools Tab, click Optimize and de-fragment drive.
-  Allow de-fragment to complete.  This may take up to an hour.

h)  Return to the Virtual Paging screens, above

i)  Manually set a Virtual Paging Size.  The numbers are not important, but for most machines, I pick 1500-1500 (or as much as 1800-1800), where both the min/initial and max sizes are the same. Click "Set" to commit.

This anchors the swap file on the disk, making it immovable and permanent.  This file is the number-one cause of fragmentation on your disk.

Once the SSD is installed, Microsoft removes the deftragment option and you
will never be able to optimize in this manner again.  Ideally, optimize before
cloning.  There are performance gains in starting out with a a more organized disk.

3.  Run a Chkdsk with special switches.

The check disk step fixes unseen problems that cause cloning software to fail.  This is a highly recommended step, but it can be difficult to run on some machines, depending on the video, monitor and keyboards being used. 

a)  Run the DOS prompt program:  From the Windows Search (Cortana), type the word "Command", to locate a DOS Prompt.
b)  "Other-mouse-click", choose "Run as Administrator."

c)  At the DOS prompt, type this command:

Chkdsk C: /f /x

Accept the offer to run at next reboot.

Allow the check disk to run.

This is a more thorough check disk than the standard version and the command only takes a few minutes.  It looks like this at bootup:

* When done, power off the computer and continue with the drive installation steps, skipping the What if Chkdsk does not run section...

What if chkdsk does not run?

At reboot, watch for the chkdisk screen.  If it does not run, and if there is a long 30-second delay - where your heart sinks and you wonder if the computer is dead - the problem is the video.  This command only displays on the motherboard's main video card.

If you have dual monitors, running on a separate video card, those drivers may not load (or will not load in time).  Similarly, wireless keyboards sometimes don't load and you can't "press any key to continue".

chkdsk with a /f  or /f /x switch often requires "local hardware" -- this means a local video port on the motherboard's backplane and it often means a wired keyboard.  Related article:  Running Chkdsk on reboot.

Shut down the machine and do these steps:

a)  If you were unable to "press any key to continue," you may need to plug-in a Wired (USB) keyboard.

As you try these steps, and you are unable to respond to (optional prompts), you may need to switch from a wireless to a wired keyboard.  If your wireless mouse and keyboard use the same dongle, leave them plugged in, but still use the wired keyboard (both keyboards can be active at the same time).  Wireless mice are ok (DOS does not need mice). 

b) If you did not see the DOS screen on reboot, you may need to fiddle with the video (... the reason you are reading this section is you did not see chkdsk running). 

Looking at the back of your machine, ignore all card-slots and only look at the area where the USB and network ports exist.

Looking for a local Video Port

c)  Trace your monitor's video cable back to the machine.  If it arrives at a port in the "look in this area" illustration, continue with the CHKDSK steps, below (this means the video is plugged into the motherboard).  If you have dual monitors, disconnect the video-data-cable for the second monitor, leaving only the one at the motherboard. 

If both monitors are plugged into a (not-here) card-slotted video card, disconnect both video cables.  Then look at either of your monitors and find a video-cable connection that matches the one on the computer's motherboard.  Often, this will be a PC-Display port or a VGA port.   Yes, this is a pain.  You likely do not have the correct video cable for this. 

more details....

The type of port on your motherboard varies, depending on the age of the machine.  New machines typically have a PC-Display Port (illustrated below), or an HDMI, or an older-style VGA port.

Connect a video cable (which you may or may not have) from the motherboard's backplane (see "look in this area), to the monitor.  This may be a different port on the back of the monitor than used before.  Monitors almost always have multiple ports and this may be in a different cable position than you normally use. If you were cursed like I was, I had to use a DisplayPort cable from the PC, then switch it with a converter to an old-style VGA connector at the monitor.

Disconnect the other video cables (if Dual monitor), disconnecting from the slotted card area, labeled above as "not here".

On my monitor, I had to use the monitor's controls, telling it to pick 
the DisplayPort because the  auto-detect did not work properly. 

Restart Windows normally, with the one monitor connected, and retry the CHKDSK steps, above.

Personal note:  This took hours to figure out, with a lot of nonsense on the web about running the chkdsk twice and editing registries.  The real problem with CHKDSK not running was the video.  Finding a PC Display Port cable, with a wide-end on both sides, as required by my monitor, was impossible.  In the end, I borrowed the cable from a friend.  Buying an adapter, DisplayPort-to-VGA would have cost $30.

A clean chkdsk ensures a good, clean disk-clone.

Crucial MX300 - Interior View

Install the new Drive

Keeping the wired keyboard and video set as above, continue with these steps (you may not have had to make changes with video, depending on the chkdsk steps).

1.  With the power off, install the new SSD into any open drive bay.

Leave the original hard drive on SATA Port 0 - (often printed on the motherboard)
Use any available motherboard SATA port for the new SSD
Use any available power plug for the new SSD Drive

If you forgot to buy a new SATA cable, temporarily steal the CD Rom's SATA and power cable.

I found my sled/drive bay adapter did not fit in the slots - the screw holes did not line up.  Turning the sled upside-down, but keeping the drive right-side-up, solved the problem.  Another problem I had was my plastic adapter/sled's screw holes did not have threads.  It was hard to make the screws work properly.  I would have been happier with a metal sled.      

2.  With both the original hard drive and the SSD installed, boot the computer and launch Windows normally.

You will be booting with your old hard drive as drive C:.  The SSD is temporarily a secondary drive.

3.  Launch the previously-installed Crucial Storage Executive.

Storage Express is slow to start, with no screen activity.  Be patient.

At the java prompt, "Allow Access on Public Networks"
It will open a browser window, which may be minimized or hiding behind other windows. 

4.  Select Firmware update

(Note:  On my workstation, I did not know this option was here and instead I downloaded the bootable firmware update.  It was difficult to convince my workstation to boot from CD and this caused UEFI errors that were painful to recover from.  See this link: Your PC Needs Repairing - UEFI).  This utility should make this easier.

5.  After the firmware finishes its update, return to the Storage Executive utility. 

Click "Enable Momentum Cache"

It will warn this is not recommended without a battery.  Wink-wink: Skip this step if your desktop is not on a UPS battery backup.

Now that I've said that, most people, including me, ignore the warning and enable the cache anyway.  (On my computers, I always use a UPS battery backup.  UPS's save a lot of fried equipment and corrupted hard drives.  You should get one.)

This change will require a reboot.  Reboot and Launch Windows normally, again booting from your original hard disk.

Format and Enable Over-Provisioning

Enable Over Provisioning. This step is optional, but recommended.
Without Over Provisioning, the drive will be noticeably slower.

6.  In Windows Control Panel, open "Administrative Tools"
Open "Computer Management"

a.  Computer management may prompt (should prompt) "Initialize disk", Disk 1. 

It will offer MBR or GPT.  Choose GPT

b. Click Disk1 (the SSD), selecting the "unallocated partition"

c.  Right-mouse-click "unallocated,"
     Choose "New Simple Volume", click Next
     Accept the offered size
     Assign any drive letter (E:); this is unimportant
     Select Quick Format
     Close the Computer Management screen when done

Click for larger view.  The new SSD is Disk 1

7.  Re-launch Crucial Storage Exec  (again, it has slow load times)

a. Turn ON the Over Provisioning switch (slider switch on bottom of panel)
b. Accept recommended size at 10%
c. Important: Click the blue "Set OP" button, far right, and confirm when prompted
d. Close Storage Exec

Important Note:  If you later return to this screen, the ON/OFF switch will be off.  The Partition is still in place; see "OP" on the far-right of the drive illustration.  If you try to turn it back on a second time, it will fail, but the message won't say why.  This makes them evil.

In Control Panel, Administrative Tools, "Computer Management", note the new partition, next to a larger, empty partition.  The sizes are not relative, but notice 10% of 440 is about 40GB.

* Continue with the Cloning steps - but you cannot use the Automatic Cloning options.

Clone the Disk

Return to Windows
Leave all disks wired-as-is.
Leave all keyboards and monitors as-is

If you are using the Over Provisioning (recommended from above), be sure to follow the cloning steps carefully.

A.  Install or launch Acronis HD (or your other cloning software).  These remaining instructions assume the free version of Acronis.  If you are using other software, the steps will be similar.

B,  The opening screen shows three large circled menus.  Ignore them.  This is a user-interface design problem - they look like menu buttons, but they are not. 

Instead, click "Get Started"

You are offered to create an account, or you can click "no internet connection". 

The "no internet connection" is is buggy -- you must register and create an account before you can use the software.

When prompted, type the Serial Number from the Crucial box.

C.  In "Tools", Select "Clone Disk". 

Choose Manual
(Reason:  You are trying to protect the OP partition)

D.  Click the Source Disk, where the Source Disk is your original drive.  Then Next

E.  Select the Destination Disk (e.g. the new SSD).

F.  On left-nav,

Click "Move Method:"
then Manual (not "As-Is" or "Proportional")

Select the largest partition.  On my disk NTFS 488GB.
Double-click the partition.
In the popup dialog, scale back the partition size by 10%

Click for larger view

For example, on my 500GB disk, shows as 488.4GB
Scale this back 10% plus 1G fudge.  In my case, changing to 488 - 48 - 1 =  439GB

Press Tab.
Note the "Space after" shows apx 49MB.  This preserves the previously-built Over Protection Partition

Click the bottom "Accept," the Next, ignoring all other partitions.
Click Proceed.

You must Restart when prompted.
(Remove any CD's or DVD's from the CD-ROM drive before rebooting)

G.  On Reboot, the clone will start.  Expect 20 to 70 minutes, depending on your data, speeds, etc. 

The status bar will not move in steps 1 through 5.  Do not panic.  Just wait.

Important:  Check the [x] "Shutdown computer" checkbox while the copy is running.

(Read the ubber-important caution, below  -- Do not allow the machine to reboot when the copy completes!)


When the clone is done, do not allow the computer to boot.

 H.  While powered down, move the SATA data-cable from the old drive to the new SSD.

In other words, move the SSD drive to the motherboard's SATA port 0 (the same port as the old drive).

SATA Port numbers are usually clearly printed on the motherboard.  Often it is hard to remove the cables from the motherboard side; I always move them from the drive's side.

Then, temporarily disconnect the old hard drive

Unplug the old drive's SATA cable and optionally its power-cable.
Leave disconnected!   (Do not allow both drives to boot on the first startup)

If you screw this up, like I did, Windows will boot but the Windows login screen will "flash on and off continuously" and the machine may never boot.  Then the UEFI security on the original disk will be corrupted and the new drive will be equally confused.  This will make you have a bad day.

If you followed the cautions from above, you would not be in this position.  Disconnecting the old drive will not repair the already-damaged UEFI codes.  Solution for corrupted UEFI can be found here:  Your PC Needs Repairing - UEFI but the steps are not pretty.

Continue with these steps:

First-time reboot with only the SSD drive active.

I.  Boot the computer, with only the SSD drive active.  Leave video and keyboards as-is.
J.  Allow Windows to load normally.

Log-in to Windows one time. 
Shut down the computer for the last time.


*  To keep the old drive as a backup disk, shutdown the computer and re-connect the old drive, using any available SATA Port, any available power cable (any port but SATA 0).  See steps below for recommended formatting.

K.  Return the video cables and keyboards (if changed from the chkdsk step) to their original, production positions (dual monitors, wireless keyboards, etc.)

You may need to set your monitor's input back to Automatic (if you adjusted the monitor's onboard menu).

L.  Reboot and launch Windows.

By this stage, the SSD is drive C: and is your new Windows boot disk. 
If the old-drive is still installed, it will probably be assigned as drive (D:).  It will have a copy of all your original programs, files and data.  This can be confusing, but you can safely ignore the disk for the time being; see steps below for formatting recommendation.

If the old drive is still installed, the CD/DVD may have changed drive letters from "D:" to "E:"  I recommend using the Control Panel's "Disk Management" to shift the drive's letter to Drive W: - this way you never have to worry about this again.

Except for an uninstall, you are essentially done.

Important - Un-install Acronis

M.  Finally, as much as I like Acronis (the full-sized, purchased software), un-install the free version.

This is crippled software and can only be used for cloning and there is no reason to leave it installed.  It is widely reported to cause crashes and instability.

Open the Control Panel, "Programs and Features"
Uninstall Acronis

Old Drive - Reformatting

If the old drive was left in the machine, I recommend re-formatting with these steps.

Reformatting makes a smaller target for viruses and other attack vectors.  Leaving a duplicate of the original disk can be confusing.  For backups, erase the old drive and make backups of the data -- not the programs.  Do not use these steps for reformatting a new Windows C: drive, for a new Windows re-installation.

Related keyliner Article:  Erasing all partitions after a clone and formatting.  
Related keyliner Article:  New Windows 10 Install; partitions not in recommended order.

These steps are geeky, but easy.

Use these steps instead of Windows Control Panel menus in order to erase old, hidden partitions remarkably, these steps are easier than using the Windows screens.

a.  From the Cortana search, search for "CMD" (or Command)
b.  "other-mouse-click" the Command Prompt, choosing "Run as Administrator"  or (More.. Run as Administrator)

c.  At the DOS Prompt, type "DiskPart"  (no quotes)

d.  Type "List Disk"

Note the displayed disks.
My computer shows DISK 0 (the 500G SSD, which is now the Windows C: SSD) and
DISK 1 (the original spinning disk, at 932GB)

Other disks are SD card readers and they can be ignored.

e.  Looking at the report, locate the old hard disk by looking at its size.  Do this with care, but do not fear.

Type this command:
"Select Disk 1"                   (No quotes.  Your disk# may vary, but it is likely this disk)

f.  Type this command:

There is no warning, no prompt.  The disk, and all partitions are immediately erased.  Look for "DiskPart succeeded in cleaning the disk".

g.  Create a new partition and format the disk.  Type each of the following commands, pressing enter after each.  Do not type the quotes.  These steps assume you have selected the disk, from step e.

Choose either the slow format (recommended) or the quick format.  The slow format may take an hour or more:

"Create partition primary"
"Select partition 1"
"Format fs=ntfs label=Data"    (Slow format, better quality) or
    "Format fs=ntfs label=Data Quick"

when the format is complete, continue with this command (assuming Drive D, do not type a colon):

"assign letter=D"   

"Exit" to exit DiskPart
"Exit" to close the DOS window.

The drive is formatted and ready to use. 

Possible Problems:

* DiskPart "Format" command fails with "There is no volume selected. Please select a volume and try again."

Solution:  You missed a step.  With the proper drive Selected, type this command: "Create partition primary" and continue with the steps above.

* No D: drive:
The drive formatted but does not appear in File Explorer.
The drive formatted and the Control Panel's Disk Manager shows a disk, but no drive letter was assigned.

Solution:  You missed a step.  If the DiskPart is still running, type "Assign Letter = D"  (no colon).  If Disk Partition was already closed, re-launch using steps above.  Select the disk, select the partition, then Assign the drive letter; no need to re-format.

This completes the SSD Drive installation. 
Comments welcome.  I, and other readers, would like to hear your experiences.

Related articles:
keyliner: Your PC Needs Repairing - UEFI)
keyliner: Setting DVD or USB Drive Boot Order
keyliner: Disk Image Cleanup Steps 
keyliner: CHKDSK does not run on reboot

keyliner:  Erasing all partitions after a clone and formatting.  
keyliner:  New Windows 10 Install; partitions not in recommended order.