*** This article relates to my specific SSD (Crucial 256 GB m4 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive SATA 6Gb/s CT256M4SSD2). If you are looking for general information on SSD’s, how to set them up, and why they are great, go to this article. ***
Well today I had a real pants-pooper scare. Fired up the computer and it jumped to life as it now does with the new SSD. Login. Something funny is happening. I’m not able to start any programs or even bring up the Task Manager to see what is running. Force the computer to shut down by holding down the power button. Start up again. Computer hangs when Windows is supposed to load. Pop in Windows 7 CD to see if there is a quick fix it can do. Can’t do anything. Check BIOS. Doesn’t even show the SSD exists. Uh-oh…
It appears I had a cascading Lemony Snicket series of events. I think it was some random weird thing that caused Windows to hang (it seems to happen once in a blue moon), I forced it to shut down when I couldn’t get anything to respond, and my particular SSD’s particular version of its driver was susceptible to failure due to sudden power loss.
Needless to say, all of this happened exactly 6 days after my 30-day money-back guarantee expired. I thought I was going to be without a computer for several weeks as I battled to get a replacement drive for this new brick. What would happen to the partial data still on the old drive I’d have to return but couldn’t access to save and then completely erase?
Luckily I had access to an old laptop that can still function as a web browser so I was able to go to the manufacturer’s website and find a solution. Here is the convoluted process I had to follow. Maybe it will help you too.
Read and follow this article to allow your SSD to be seen by your system again. It tells you to disconnect your SSD from your motherboard but leave the power attached. Then you go through a series of power ups, rest for 20 minutes, power down, etc. I’m absolutely serious about this. I’d never seen anything like it. For extra insurance I made sure as I was starting up to go into the BIOS and let it sit there rather than some random screen. It was weird and time consuming but it worked! Now my computer could see my SSD again. In fact, no damage appeared to be done and all my files were still accessible. Boy am I glad that the Windows 7 disk didn’t work before or I would have lost about a week’s worth of work by reverting to my last backup.
Back up all files and create a new system image. I did all this and changed my auto backup to happen daily now instead of weekly. I really never want to lose a day’s worth of work but a week’s worth is unacceptable. I don’t know why I didn’t think to do this before. If you don’t know how to do this stuff, Windows 7 will walk you through it. Just click on the start button in the lower left and type “backup” then select “Backup and Restore” and follow the prompts. You can create a system image here too. It will be an option on the left-hand side of the Backup and Restore window.
Check to see if the SSD is physically damaged with chkdsk. I’m certainly not an expert on this but a quick way that seems to be accurate is to run the command chkdsk. To do this you click the start button, type cmd and press ctrl+shift+enter to get to the command line in administrator mode, and finally type chkdsk (assuming your SSD is your primary drive, if not, you’ll have to specify the drive before running chkdsk – more info here). When you press enter you see a laundry list of details about the particular drive including how many bad sectors it has. Mine had 0 so yea!
Check to see the newest version of the drivers. Follow the link to an official forum thread that details all of the driver updates. BONUS: They provide instructions in the first message on how to subscribe to this thread so you are always in the know if new drivers become available.
Check to see which version of the drivers is installed on your SSD. This might be a little confusing because the link takes you to instructions for a particular program. Just skip to the part entitled “Validating the Current Firmware Revision” and follow only those instructions. That is the only part we care about right now. I have a brand new drive (purchased April 2012) and my drivers were out of date so chances are yours are too.
Update drivers. So it seems that all of my problems stemmed from drivers that couldn’t handle sudden power loss very well (although the drive has done just fine when we’ve lost power before). At the time of this writing version 000F is the newest and supposedly fixes this problem along with two others. If you follow the link above it does a good job detailing the steps you will need to take. Simply select your type of drive from the drop down menu and then pick either the automatic or manual install. Read and follow the instructions that go with your preferred installation method. NOTE: I could not get the auto installer to work (I think because I use 64-bit Win 7) so I had to do it manually. I opted to create a bootable USB flash drive with the driver update software on it as detailed in the instructions and it worked flawlessly.
Enjoy functional computer. Change shorts (The scare is over?). Hopefully my system is fully operational once again. So far so good…