SSD Installation Problem: Windows 10 and Samsung 850 EVO

Recently I purchased a Samsung SSD and ran into an SSD installation problem. What’s SSD, you may ask? SSD stands for “solid state drive,” a faster version of a standard hard drive that has no moving parts to break.  As successor to the Samsung 840 EVO, the Samsung 850 EVO is very similar but features 3D V-NAND and a five-year warranty compared to the three-year warranty of the 840 EVO. I decided on this 500GB SSD because I wasn’t ready to part with my older Dell Precision T3500 and figured a faster primary hard drive would extend the service life another couple of years until I can afford to replace it. I also needed faster load times on my Creative Cloud apps because it drives me crazy to wait for one app to open when I’m inspired creatively in another app.

We couldn’t create a new partition or locate an existing one. For more information, see the setup log files.

Usually SSD installation is pretty straightforward but this one wasn’t quite that simple. Normally I would power down the computer, install the SSD, turn the computer back on and access the boot device menu. Then I would select the DVD-ROM drive or USB storage volume (whichever was serving as the installation media) to boot from, and it would boot into the Windows 10 installation screen. From there it was always a simple matter of partitioning the new SSD and allowing the Windows 10 installation media to install the operating system on the new drive.

This time, however, my standard method didn’t work. I tried various other methods and all I kept getting was “We couldn’t create a new partition or locate an existing one. For more information, see the setup log files.” This was particularly frustrating because one day earlier I installed a Crucial MX300 750GB SSD in an ASUS notebook and the installation went seamlessly. So I went opposite of my instincts and actually read the instructions.

To solve my SSD installation problem, I *wait for it* followed the instructions

The instructions say to take the SATA-to-USB adapter that is NOT INCLUDED (you have one of these, right? I didn’t…so clearly I was annoyed even further at this point…), connect it to your new SSD, then plug it into the computer you’re planning to install it in. Insert the installation CD (hopefully your machine actually has an optical drive-lots of computers don’t even come with these anymore) and install the included Samsung Magician and Data Migration software.

Follow the instructions and Samsung Magician will clone your existing drive onto your new SSD. Power down, install your new SSD, and boot back up. This worked! SSD installation problem solved. Not as seamless as I’d hoped, but it worked nonetheless.

The Samsung 850 EVO is performing well as expected. All my apps start instantaneously and the cloned Windows 10 operating system is, surprisingly, working flawlessly. This cloning procedure when upgrading hard drives is not endorsed by Microsoft. I’ve never had any luck cloning a running Windows OS because cloning software (especially free stuff produced by the hardware manufacturer) has a hard time unlocking and accessing system files in use by the active OS. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. With that said, I did have some complaints about this whole ordeal:

  1. Not everyone wants to clone their existing operating system. I wanted to do a clean install of Windows 10 and I couldn’t because none of the interwebs-endorsed methods of getting the Windows 10 installer to recognize the SSD succeeded. The only successful method of solving my SSD installation problem was cloning my old operating system onto the new SSD.
  2. Not everyone has a SATA-to-USB adapter laying around. After digging around in the garage, it turns out I did have an old adapter available but it was pulled from an ancient LaCie portable hard drive. This adapter failed because the Samsung Magician software didn’t recognize the 850 EVO because the adapter made it look like a generic portable USB storage device. It wouldn’t clone anything to the SSD because it wasn’t a Samsung 850 EVO.
  3. Because I didn’t have the correct SATA-to-USB adapter, I had to install the SSD into the T3500 as a third hard drive. Not a problem except that I had already installed it in place of the primary drive, Windows 10 installer didn’t recognize it, so I swapped the old drive back where the SSD had just been freshly installed in order to try the cloning procedure in the instructions. Since this is a 2.5-inch drive being installed in a desktop, I have a 2.5-3.5 inch converter mounting kit installed on the SSD. That had to come off so I could try putting my SATA-to-USB adapter on. Once I figured out that wouldn’t work, I reinstalled the converter mounting kit, reinstalled the SSD back into the computer, rebooted, and tried cloning again.
  4. The instructions make it look like the 850 EVO is supposed to come with a SATA-to-USB adapter and the bare minimum mounting hardware (screws). It did not come with any of that. The instructions are beautifully simplistic in the spirit of IKEA directions, but even IKEA gives you the screws and widgets necessary to assemble your NORNÄS.