A while ago I was reinstalling my laptop that is used for work, a ASUS S551LA, with Windows 10. One of the features of this laptop is that is has a 24GB mSATA SSD and a traditional 5400RPM disk of 500GB. This may seem a bit strange but the combination can be used as what is nowadays called “Hybrid harddisk” or “SSHD” and is a traditional harddisk with a small SSD caching layer on top of it for fast access to the most needed system files. A company called Condusiv has created software called ExpressCache which can turn a SSD and mechanical disk into a “hybrid” one which we will be using in this tutorial and is what is delivered with this laptop.
After reinstalling the laptop from Linux to Windows I wanted to see if I was able to recreate the hybrid disk setup and see how well it performed. The setup itself of ExpressCache software and setting up the hybrid connection is just a couple of minutes work.
After installing Windows you need to install the Intel RST software first and once installed perform a reboot.
If you do not install RST and continue configuring the ExpressCache software it will work for that session but once you reboot, Windows will not start anymore and eventually show a BSOD with the error “INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE”!
Installing and configuring the ExpressCache software:
Unpack and install the ExpressCache software, a reboot is needed after the installation, so perform it. Once you’re logged in again open up a elevated command prompt. In the prompt give the following command:
To see which disks are installed in the system, type:
In my case the SSD was disk 1, so here we select that disk (change it to the disk that’s shown in your output!):
select disk 1
Now clean the disk to make sure no data resides on it:
This may take a while depending on the size and amount of data on it, once finished, exit diskpart:
Now that the disk is prepared, let’s configure the ExpressCache software. First move in the ExpressCache folder:
cd "C:\Program Files\Condusiv Technologies\ExpressCache"
Now setup the ExpressCache software:
The setup will take 1 or 2 seconds to complete. Now that ExpressCache has been set up open up a few applications and close them, this should use the SSD straight away for caching the files used by these applications, see the screenshot below:
As you can see the SSD is already being used, although not much. Later on I’ve done some Windows updates, installed Office and rebooted the machine a couple of times, below is a screenshot of the SSD usage after that time:
The boot time of Windows has decreased significantly and almost feels SSD like when powering up the laptop. Logging in Windows which can take a while to load on a 5400RPM disk was alot faster in conjunction with the SSD as caching layer. Applying updates in combination with the cache layer also seems to speed up things considerably and makes the update process alot faster!