Lesson 04 – Finding Drivers and Installing Windows

In this lesson are we are going to download drivers for our SATA controller so we can install Windows onto a single drive or RAID array. If you are installing Windows XP or Vista this is must. If you’re install Windows 7 there is a good chance that 7 already has a driver built in that is compatible with your motherboard’s SATA controller. Its a good idea to go ahead and download the driver just in case it doesn’t.


Finding Drivers for the SATA RAID Controller

We have a Gigabyte motherboard so we’ll go to Gigabyte.com, support and downloads and type in our motherboard’s model number. We have rev 1. and will go to Driver. Here we need to choose our operating system, which is Windows 7 64 bit. In the list we’ll look for SATA or RAID. The drivers we need to get Windows to see the SATA drive or RAID array during install will be small. Here it is called the Intel SATA RAID Pre-install driver. It is made small so it can fit onto a floppy disk if needed. If you are install Windows XP you will need a blank floppy disk to copy the driver files to. For Windows Vista or 7 you can copy the files to a CD or USB thumb drive. Of course while you are here you can go ahead and download the other drivers you will need for after Windows is installed to get all of the other hardware working. {reg}

Using a floppy drive to load SATA RAID controller drivers at the beginning of XP install

OK. Seriously, it is 2011. If you are installing Windows XP you need to reconsider using Windows 7. It is far superior to XP in just about every way. Now if you have some software or hardware that only works in XP and you can’t find a replacement for it this is how you get your SSD or RAID array to be seen by Windows XP setup. You need to copy the SATA controller drivers to the root of a floppy disk and connect the floppy drive to your computer. Note that floppy drives connected through USB will not be seen by XP during setup. It needs to be connected through a floppy controller on the motherboard.

On the blue screen just as the install starts it will tell you to press F6 on the keyboard if you need to install a 3rd party driver. Press F6, wait a moment and then S to access the floppy disk. It should see the driver and give you a list if there is more than one. See your motherboards manual for the correct one to choose. Press Enter to load it. Press Enter to continue. Then continue with Windows XP setup as usual.


Using a USB thumb drive or CD to load the drivers during Vista and 7 setup

If you’re installing Windows Vista or 7 the procedure for getting Windows to see your SSD or RAID array is the same for both. You need to copy the SATA drivers to the root of either a CD or USB thumb drive. Using a thumb drive is easier. When you get to the screen that asks where you want to install Windows you may see the SSD or RAID array there already. If you do you can just continue installing Windows.

If the SSD or RAID array isn’t in the list, insert the USB thumb drive or CD with the SATA drivers and click Load Driver. Use the Browse for Folder dialog to find your USB thumb drive, or CD and locate the folder with the drivers. Then click OK. The driver will appear in the list. Click Next to load it. Back on the where do you want to install Windows screen, choose your SSD or RAID array from the list and click Next to install Windows. For complete instructions on installing Windows Vista or 7 see Lessons 2 and 3 of the Home PC Builder Computer Setup Lessons.

Once the expanding files portion, which is dependant on the speed of the DVD drive, is finished you will see a dramatic speed up of the install process compared to installing Windows onto a hard drive.

In Lesson 5 we will update the drivers for the SATA RAID controller, disable defragmentation for all SSDs and show how to make a back up of your C drive.