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Urbane0083 12-15-2011 08:52 PM

Easy way to convert IDE mode to AHCI in Windows XP, for SATA hard drives ?
I wonder if a good work-a-round would be to install a new SATA controller card and configure that for AHCI SATA? :confused:

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kpmedia 12-15-2011 09:28 PM

Yes, it actually is!

For the purpose of having a computer that works well at capturing video, SATA drives seem to perform more reliably when SATA hard drives are set to AHCI mode instead of IDE. (Side note: I've read information online that claims IDE is "better" or "faster", but those were not necessarily authoritative sites. And it also conflicted with my direct experiences -- multiple direct experiences, not just a one-off that could have been due to other circumstances.)

And, of course, video capturing tends to work better on Windows XP computers, due to the hardware and software available, which is not compatible or feasible in a Windows Vista or Windows 7 computer. So we have to change from IDE to AHCI.

Unfortunately, Windows XP is "married" to the hardware setting used when the OS was installed. So it's not easy to simply check a box and reboot. You have to manually "divorce" Windows XP from IDE, before re-marrying it to the new AHCI.

AHCI and IDE are a two-part process two use: BIOS and drivers. The BIOS is an easy change. The drivers, however, are a bit more roundabout to change out. You'll find a number of blogs and forums that detail this process by typing "convert ide to ahci windows xp" into Google. It's mostly people sharing their experiences of what worked with their particular hardware. Since these are drivers, thus hardware-specific, it's not always the same.

The biggest issue with the IDE to AHCI conversion is you have to make a registry change, pray you did it correctly, and reboot (making the AHCI changes in the BIOS, too, before Windows comes back). If something is not done correctly, you may have a hell of a time getting back into Windows to try something else.

If you have a PCI expansion card (non-RAID), and two drives, you can often do this:
  • Install the expansion card.
  • Turn on the computer, let Windows find the card (and install its drivers), then shut down.
  • Put the C: drive on the expansion card.
  • Switch the BIOS to AHCI.
  • Boot back into Windows, which is now routed through the PCI expansion card.
  • Windows will find the D: drive is now using AHCI, and install AHCI drivers. You might need your motherboard's install disc, if Windows cannot find the drivers automatically.
  • Turn off computer, put drives back on motherboard, remove expansion card.
  • And now you should boot back into Windows just fine, in AHCI, on the motherboard.

I've done this several times, and it's much easier -- much safer -- than digging in registries, crossing your fingers, and praying for success. I've read countless horror stories online about people hosing their computers from bad registry edits related to IDE>AHCI changes. Just avoid this scenario when possible.

I thought of this method completely on my own, and admittedly by accident.

Kudos to you for being savvy enough to consider this as a viable option. And I'm glad to confirm it for you. :)

Urbane0083 12-16-2011 10:08 AM

I am thinking of a variant, since the PCI slots are all populated (yes, I could take one out) and I don't have a SATA controller card. I'd have to get one - which would become useless - or buy&return one, which isn't too honest. I'll see if I can borrow one.

So instead, here's what I am thinking:
1) Clone current (SATA) Main C: drive onto an IDE drive.
2) Remove DVD-RAM Drive from bus, put in IDE Main C: drive
3) Unplug the SATA Data D: Drive
4) In the BIOS, change onboard SATA to AHCI mode
5) Change boot priorites to the IDE hard drive. Reboot

6a) If windows detects AHCI, then I will upgrade using drivers from ASUS www site
6b) Remove current SATA drivers. Restart. Re-discover hardware. Install using drivers from ASUS.

7) Shutdown. Powerdown & unplug. Re-attach SATA Data D: Drive. Reboot.
8) See if Data D: Drive is acessable. Verify SATA controller is in AHCI mode.
9) Powerdown. Remove IDE hard drive. Re-attach DVD drive
10) Clone 'AHCI Version' Main C: Drive onto a differnt SATA drive (want to keep original). Plus, I have a lot of drives lying around from when I upsized drives or went SSD on main system.
11) Change boot priorites in BIOS to use new 'AHCI version' Main C: drive as boot device. Reboot.
12) Eat cake?

Having done all of this - and perhaps BEFORE doing all of this, what utility can you reccomned to show me the increase in data speeds?

kpmedia 12-16-2011 10:21 AM

If that's the only optical drive in the system, be very sure to rip the CD or DVD that contains the motherboard drivers.
Load up GizmoDrive (or DaemonTools Lite or MagicISO), so you can mount the ISO.

You don't want to get well into the process only to realize you can't read the discs with the drivers. ;)


3) Unplug the SATA Data D: Drive
7) Shutdown. Powerdown & unplug. Re-attach SATA Data D: Drive. Reboot.
8) See if Data D: Drive is acessable. Verify SATA controller is in AHCI mode.
Nope, that maybe not work. Leave D: in the system. Let Windows have a live drive. If you want to be "safe", then don't use your current "good" D: and use one of those others you mention having as extra. Not that I've seen a drive erased, but you don't want to lose all the goodies you have on that drive now. D: can stay in the system for this whole process, never once moving. The only reason to unplug it would be to use a substitute drive as D: temporarily.

Don't forget the ice cream.

I've yet to come across a data hard drive speed tool that is at all accurate. The few potential ones are all payware. I've tried HDTune a few times, but I'm still not convinced it's telling me anything worthwhile.

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