Changing Windows (8) SATA-mode without reinstall

Since it took me a long time to find this information when I needed it myself about a month ago when I was about to get a SSD and needed to switch my SATA-mode from IDE Legacy (which must have been the default in the BIOS that came pre-installed on the motherboard) to AHCI, I figured I'd make a short post so the information can be found in at least on more place on the Internet.

Windows only activates the driver needed for whatever mode is currently selected when Windows is installed. I did find a couple of solutions for how to make Windows accept a new mode instead of giving a blue screen of death but the were all registry hacks that changed or removed entries that either didn't exist in Windows 8 or simply didn't work.

I imagine the solution below will work for Windows 7 as well, in case you don't want to play around in the registry.

So here's what you do: Boot Windows in safe mode.

In more detail:

  1. Open msconfig.exe either through the start menu/screen or the run prompt, go to the boot tab and tick the Safe Boot option.
  2. Restart the computer, go in to your BIOS/UEFI and change your SATA-mode to whatever mode you desire.
  3. Let Windows boot up, once booted up you'll be in safe mode, just open msconfig.exe again and untick the safe boot option and restart.
  4. All done.

It's possible you might be able to use the F8 menu during boot to get to Safe mode but I never tried this. I can imagine this not working for Windows 8 since this option become available a lot later in the boot process, in other words, Windows might get to the point where it gives a blue screen of death due to having the wrong SATA mode driver before you get to the menu.

(Oh, in case you were wondering. Getting a SSD for your OS install is definitely worth it, the OS and any apps installed on the SSD will be a lot snappier, it's especially noticeable just after boot where all the startup apps will load pretty much instantly instead of Windows being slow for minutes. Sadly I haven't seen that much of an effect on games.)