VR Rig Upgrades: SSD Capacity

An issue I’ve been fumbling around with for a few months now is upgrading my VR rig with a new Solid State Drive (SSD).  I had originally mounted it in a hot swap port on my PC (and had to create a case over it to protect it).  However, it eventually made my PC unstable, and I had to remove it and send it in for warranty replacement.

The replacement came in a few weeks ago, and this time I decided to install it as a replacement for the existing SSD inside the computer.  When I had had my PC built years ago, the computer was built with an SSD to run the operating system and some programs, as it would make them load a lot faster than on a standard hard disk drive.  This was fine.  However, it has filled up over time, despite me installing most things to the hard drive instead.  I had kind of reached a stable maximum on that drive.

The problem was that the load times for games was getting rather lengthy in newer games, largely in part to the time it takes to read the data off of the hard disk.  In regular games, it’s no big deal, but in VR, load times make a HUGE difference.  You are sitting or standing there, blind to the world, with very little input except whatever loading screen the game designer had incorporated… and they didn’t always think those through (holy crap, the glare of a bright logo in a dark background is miserable).

This is why I had bought the new SSD in the first place, to add a terabyte of storage space to transfer all my VR games to.  Anyway, this time I decided to just replace my old SSD with it, and move everything over.  This is where I had gotten stuck until I did some research and talked with a few people I know who are more knowledgeable in this area.  I finally got it to work this past weekend, and I’ve been trying to tweak and move stuff since then.

Here are the main things I wish I had known more quickly going into this.  I know this is not going to be the best detail, but it should be enough to help you find the rest of the information more quickly.  I was doing this over the period of a few weeks, and I wasn’t exactly taking notes.

  1.  When you first plug in a new SSD, you will have to initialize the disk. You have to have it plugged in, and access compmgmt.msc through the cmd prompt.
  2. While you are there, make note of all the details of the partitions that are currently on your main SSD.
  3. You will need another hard drive with space larger than the SSD you are upgrading from.
  4. You will need Acronis software, and a thumb drive to run it’s software from.  Use this to backup the original SSD onto the extra hard drive.
  5. You will need another thumb drive.  Use the tools that come with Windows to make a repair disk on this thumb drive.
  6. Turn off the computer, and use standard computer modding procedures (turn it off, unplug everything, ground yourself, etc) to swap out the SSDs, leaving the original disconnected.  Put everything back together.
  7. Using the Acronis software on the flash drive, and the hard drive you made the backup to, restore the image of the original SSD onto the new one using CUSTOM settings.  You will want to set the system and recovery partitions on the new SSD to the same size as the original, and expand the size of the C: drive partition to fill up the rest of the space on the drive.
  8. When you try to boot your computer afterwards, it won’t work.  You haven’t done anything wrong, the Windows OS apparently uses references not just to the pathname of the drive but references to the specific drive hardware it is running on.  You will need to shut down the computer, swap out the Acronis software drive for the Windows Repair drive, and reboot the computer.  The repair software will fix the install itself.
  9. Now that it’s working, you may still have some cleanup to do.  If you have been running games from your hard drive, you will want to move the installs.
    1. Oculus:  Thankfully, in more recent updates since when I previously tried to install the SSD, the Oculus software has added an option for being able to move installs from one location to another.  Use it to create a new game install location on the SSD and then move all your VR games over from within Oculus.  DO NOT TRY TO MOVE THE FILES MANUALLY.  It appears that Oculus software does not acknowledge files that are already within the correct folder unless Oculus moved it there in the first place.
    2. Steam: For Steam, you use the software to define a new install location, then move the files from their old location to the new one, and try to run the game.  Steam will get confused for a bit, but then track down where the current install is and run from there.

So, that’s the gist of what I did.  I know it’s lacking in the technical details, but hopefully it will be enough to help you track down the latest info on how to swap an SSD out for a larger one if you need to.  I didn’t know enough about some of these concepts when I started to realize that some of those steps were even a thing.

Less loading time, and more game time for me!

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