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FireCuda SSHD tunes itself up for a faster computer

Migrating my Windows system to a new drive and looking for a one-step solution, I used Paragon Migrate OS 5.0, designed to help migrate data from HD to SSD. Still, I opted for a different solution, the new SSHD from Seagate.

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One 2TB SSHD, the software Paragon Migrate OS 5.0 and one hour of my time, to get the new drive in place and the software running, and my Windows 10 migrated to a new, faster drive, of hybrid technology.

Although SSDs are fast, they are still a problem if you want lots of space at an acceptable price. The alternative is the new FireCuda SSHD drive from Seagate. Announced last October, the FireCuda represents the fifth generation of SSHD drives from Seagate. Initially available only for laptops and more recently to desktop computer, a SSHD drive is a solid-state hybrid drive, said to mix the best of both worlds: the huge amounts of space of HD with a speed close to the one offered by SSD.

Seagate announced the drive is able to deliver superior performance compared to a standard hard drive, yet provides the high capacity options you’ve come to expect from a hard drive solution. It’s the perfect upgrade for gamers, creative professionals and PC enthusiasts: that’s me! I wanted to move the Windows 10 OS from one of my computers to a new drive, but did not want to go through the pain of having to reinstall all programs again, if I opted for a SSD.

Prices on SSDs have, in fact, come down, but their problem continues to be capacity. In my case, I always use a 2TB drive for my OS and programs (I’ve close to 1TB filled with the OS and multiple programs, and I’ve all the other stuff in three 2TB internal drives), so going for a – affordable – SSD meant I would have to find a way to transfer only my OS, and then reinstall the remaining programs. No way!  Still, if you want to do it, or follow my solution, there is a program that does just that, Paragon Migrate OS 5.0, presented as a solution to breathe new life into an old PC.

Now available with full Windows 10 support, Paragon Migrate OS 5.0 is a one-step tool to help with Windows systems migration to new storage devices – solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives (HDDs).  There are many programs designed to transfer or clone the OS from one disk to a new one, but none, apparently, does what this one does when it comes to the move from HDs to SSDs. The magic of Paragon Migrate OS 5.0 is that it instantly performs fast and safe Windows migrations and even downsizes to smaller capacity drives, thanks to advanced data exclusion capabilities.

This means it is possible, according to Paragon Software, to transfer a live system with no impact to your work, and have your partitions automatically aligned in the process, if needed. The new release fully supports Windows 10 and comes with an even more intuitive UI providing easy access to the software’s step-by-step migration wizard. I had to try it!

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According to data analysis by Statista, SSD shipments in the last few years have increased drastically – from 39 million units in 2012 to the estimated 189.6 million in 2017. As PC users seek to take advantage of SSDs’ better access time, read/write speeds, and resistance to physical shock from drops, the challenge becomes moving massive amounts of data, applications and the operating system from the existing hard drive to a smaller SSD. Paragon Migrate OS is a handy tool that transfers any Windows version since XP to any capacity storage disk in a single operation.

Paragon’s intuitive wizard in Migrate OS simplifies the migration process, automatically downsizing the source system volume and providing intelligent selection of specific files when migrating to smaller-capacity drives, and auto-aligning copied system partitions – all without rebooting the system.

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New and major features in Paragon Migrate OS 5.0:

  • NEW! Support for Windows 10;
  • NEW! Windows 10-style GUI;
  • The option to build a WinPE bootable media to do migrations or to fix various boot problems without installing the product;
  • Migration of 64-bit Windows systems configured to the uEFI-based boot mode directly, under Windows, without any work interruption or having to reboot.
  • Key product features include:
  • Migrates Windows to larger or smaller storage devices in a single operation;
  • With WinPE bootable media supports all Windows systems since XP, including Windows 10;
  • Migrates 64-bit Windows systems configured to the uEFI-based boot mode;
  • Automatically aligns partitions on the destination disk, if necessary;
  • Automatically detects and copies Microsoft Reserved Partition (MSR) for successful migrations of Windows 10;
  • Allows the user to exclude data during the process in order to fit in to the destination disk;
  • Processes locked (in-use) disks with Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to migrate without rebooting Windows;

Although I had decided to not use a SSD, but a SSHD FireCuda, I opted to use the Paragon Migrate OS 5.0. I did not care about “automatically downsizing the source system volume and providing intelligent selection of specific files when migrating to smaller-capacity drives, and auto-aligning copied system partitions – all without rebooting the system”, but the idea of having a one-step solution to migrate my OS appealed to me. It was also a chance to test the program from Paragon Software Group.

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Regarding the FireCuda, initially I was not sure if the fact that it uses flash memory together with the hard drive would make any difference in terms of setting it up or migrating my OS. I did not find specific information about this on Seagate’s website, so I decided I would go ahead and migrate the OS using the software from Paragon Migrate OS. It was only after the migration – which run without problems – that I found a .pdf document from Seagate stating that the FireCuda “installs and operates like a standard hard drive. No additional drivers or software required.”

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Once I installed the hard drive and started the system, I was ready to open Paragon Migrate and proceed. The experience with the software followed the promises made by its creator. It is important to read the instruction manual, and pay attention to the information on the wizard, but in most cases it will be a simple process. The software uses a wizard to guide you through, and if you’re migrating to a smaller capacity SSD or HD, it will tell you what fits in that drive and allow you to choose what to migrate besides the OS.

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The migration process took some 45 minutes to be complete. The timer on the program does not help you much to know what is going on, but in the end I had all my system and program files on a new 2TB HD that, according to Seagate, is faster than a regular hard-drive. Paragon Migrate OS 5.0 needs one last operation, and that is the go into the BIOS of your computer and change the boot order, so your new drive becomes the bootable one.

This is a must, especially if you’ve several drives in the system, and also if you leave the source drive attached, at least until you are sure your new drive is working as intended. Here I ran into a problem that has also been reported by other users of the software: my system either booted from the source drive or, if I disconnected it, refused to boot, no matter how much I changed the BIOS. The solution is simple… just change the cables connecting the drives. Once I got the cable connected to the source drive moved to the new drive, the system went back on without problems.

Firecuda SSHD tunes itself for a faster computer

The Paragon Migrate OS 5.0 may not be the tool for advanced users that have complex dual-boot systems, but for most of us, it does a fast and “no headaches” job of a migration that with many cloning software may not run as smooth as expected. In that sense, the investment into the program makes absolute sense, even if it isn’t the kind of software you use everyday. For those aspiring to move to SSDs, this may be the only solution that will guarantee a clean and quick migration.

If you use Paragon Migrate OS 5.0 to migrate to a SSD, you do it because you hope to achieve better speeds in your system. I was also after a gain in speed, even if my new drive is a hybrid and not a SSD. Seagate speaks of the FireCuda being 5x faster than normal hard-drives, and that is interesting. To achieve – some – extra speed, the drive uses 8GB of flash to enable, according to Seagate, “lightning quick boot times, blazing application starts, and dominating game load speed.”

For many users, 8GB of flash memory is simply not enough, but the option from Seagate has to be looked upon from a price point perspective: the 2TB Firecuda costs around $104.99, just a bit more than a regular drive the same size, and still offers a gain in performance that will be enough for many users. Having more flash memory onboard – some ask for 32GB or more – would take the price up, meaning the SSHD would become less competitive. With SSD prices coming down, this is still a solution to explore if, like me, you want maximum capacity and speed.

Seagate lets us look under the hood to see how the 8GB of onboard flash perform. According to its engineers: “we designed new firmware that allows it to take over data storage and management for system tasks and applications-in-use, allowing the platters to spin down and cut your power consumption without sacrificing any performance. We’ve also developed highly sophisticated caching algorithms that continuously analyze how you use your system. These algorithms then get to work tweaking every aspect of FireCuda’s operations so that the drive is always perfectly synchronous with the unique way you work and play. We call it Multi-Tier Caching and it would be like owning a smart car that continuously tunes itself up as you drive – always performing at peak efficiency for the task at hand.”

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In the end, one question remains: is my system faster? It is not easy to have a full answer to that. I would say yes, that’s the reason why I decided to migrate my Windows 10 system – that and because the old HD will now be used for my 2017 photo and video archive inside the PC. One of the aspects of the FireCuda is that its flash memory is “always learning”, so it adapts to the user, keeping in memory the files mostly used. So, with time, theoretically at least, it gets faster. Thinking about it, I believe my computer seems faster the last days… Each time I open Affinity Photo now, it seems to take less time!

 

 

 

 

 

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Journalist, writer and photographer since 1979, both print and online, with a vast experience in the fields of photography, software, hardware, web, aviation, History, video games, technology, having published content in almost all Portuguese newspapers…

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surgtech2006

Can the OS be migrated to the SSD portion of the hybrid drive specifically?