Migrating from HDD to SSD


Finally making the plunge into upgrading to a SSD. However, I have been searching the web on how to do this and it would see that most everyone uses cloning software. Is there a way to do this without downloading third party software? Is there nothing native in Windows 10 to perform this task?

Thanks Todd

Comments (19)

19 responses to “Migrating from HDD to SSD”

  1. Paul Thurrott

    I always do a clean install but, no, if you want to clone your install, there is nothing in Windows that will do that.

    • Simard57

      In reply to paul-thurrott:

      Is Microsoft moving towards supporting the ability to migrate to new computers more automated? I would like to take a new PC out of the box, log in with my MS Creds and have it updated to reflect my other PCs in the MS account. The Store should download the same apps, the start screen should be copied - the UI should resemble what I was seeing before. I understand Desktop apps are not easily moved but Windows should tell me what Apps were NOT installed for me to do myself.

      • wright_is

        In reply to Simard57:

        A lot of that is automated. I set up a new laptop for my brother-in-law a couple of weeks back. The background and colour scheme were automatically copied over, as were the Store apps and OneDrive data, unfortunately you still have to install applications manually - which is still around 90% of what he used...

        It is getting better with each iteration, but it isn't there yet.

      • Lauren Glenn

        In reply to Simard57:

        They tried that with WIndows 8 and above with the sync option, I believe. It didn't work for Win32 apps.... But if you buy a new computer, just log in with the new PC as is so you confirm it's activated. After that, take the drive from the old machine and plop it in the new one while taking out the new PCs drive. It will boot up, repair drivers for a bit, and then you'll be like you were on the old machine.

    • wright_is

      In reply to paul-thurrott:

      I've done both, clean install and migration. For the migration, we used Samsung Evo SSDs and used the supplied migration tool. For out laptops (company with 100+), we bought a USB -> SATA adapter and migrated the drive that way, before swapping them out. Generally took around 20 minutes.

      A clean install takes longer, but it is a good option if the machine is cluttered.

      In our case the laptops were relatively clutter free (company laptops with core apps installed, no local admin rights for users to install additional software) and we generally had less than an hour to get the machines migrated - the users were generally off site on projects and we got them at either 07:00 on a Monday or after 15:00 on a Friday, before the employees set off for the customer site or when they cam back.

      If you can take a couple of days to get things set up and running smoothly again, the clean install is the best way, but re-installing all those applications and apps, recovering settings etc. can be a pain. If you need to be instantly productive, the migration is a better option.

    • rtodd_us

      In reply to paul-thurrott
      Yeah that might be a better now that I think about all the trash I have on that computer.
  2. Omegaman

    Many of our corporate clients are having us upgrade all their workstations and laptops to SSDs. This is pushing their refresh cycle out a year or two saving the companies money while improving performance of the machine and productivity. I've done my share of cloning over the years.

    There are lots of software options, but one of the best I've found for someone who may feel intimidated by performing the clone is Acronis. Just connect both drives (SATA) and boot to the Acronis CD and find the Cloning option in the Tools.

    If you don't want to mess with software, there are hardware cloning tools out there that are inexpensive. You pop both drives in, hit a button and go. Example: https://www.amazon.com/StarTech-com-SATA-Hard-Drive-Duplicator/dp/B003WV5DLA

    Some tips for cloning:

    1. Run the Windows chkdsk utility. Run it twice, three, or as many as it takes to ensure you get a result with no problems. Cloning a Windows volume that has errors can cause unpredictable results when cloning (even failure to fully boot). It's quick to do -- just don't forget it.
    2. Don't clone to USB -- meaning don't try to use a USB to SATA adapter, or a USB drive dock to clone to. I see this a lot from users who would prefer to not open their computer up to slave the cloning target. These have given unpredictable results for me in the past and also take much longer than simply going SATA to SATA. Sometimes the cloning doesn't even finish.

    I do agree with everyone else that a clean install is ideal. Short of that, cloning is a quick and easy way to upgrade.

      • jimchamplin

        In reply to lwetzel:

        It's just always given me better results. Also, the amount of time required to install Windows and applications on the new drive is negligible. Then just keep the old spinning rust disk for mass data storage. You don't even have to move your stuff off of it!


        On this system, I have three drives. A fast 400GB 7200 RPM drive for Windows and games. A 128GB SSD for Linux system and binaries, and a cheap 2TB 5400 RPM disk mounted at /home to contain my user directory and 24GB of swap.

        On another, Windas lives on a 64GB SSD and there's a 160GB 7200RPM disk for data.

        Like Colt 45, it works every time.

  3. Lauren Glenn

    Done this many times myself. The one I use is Ease US as I use it also when I get a SMART error on a drive and I need to keep going with a new drive. Never really had a problem EXCEPT when the new drive you have is initialized as a GPT drive when the source drive is MBR, or vice versa. The system will report no error and continue to clone the drive, but it will not boot.

    So if you initialize the drive as whatever type the source drive is (MBR or GPT), then it works fine and doesn't cost anything for the free version.

    You can even keep using Windows while it's running but I wouldn't make system changes while it's going.... but you can.

  4. wunderbar

    Most SSD's will come with imaging software that will take the contents of the HDD and copy it to the SSD's. Samsung's is especially good. It's just a little utility app, so you plug in the SSD, run the app, it's approximately 3 mouse clicks and then just some time, and then you just turn off the computer, take out the HDD, plug the SSD in in it's place, and you're done.

    At a previous job I converted 20+ laptops to SSD using the samsung tool. (note it only works with samsung drives)

    • wright_is

      In reply to wunderbar:

      I can only give one upvote for that. That's the way we did it. At my previous employer, we upgraded around 100 laptops to SSD and used the Samsung tool - I think on 3 devices it complained that the tool was outdated and needed an update, otherwise, we just used the tool from the CD - ISTR that you also don't have to install the migration software, just the Samsung Magic tool, which we don't use, IIRC.

    • rtodd_us

      In reply to wunderbar:

      That's good to know. I am looking at getting a Samsung SSD and it is the same size as my current HDD.


      • arunphilip

        In reply to rtodd_us:

        +1 to what wunderbar said - most of the mainstream manufacturers either provide the software in the retail package, or point you to the website.

        For Samsung, take a look at Samsung Data Migration Software for Consumer SSDs on this page: www.samsung.com/semiconductor/minisite/ssd/download/tools/

        From there you can download the actual software, as well as the user manual.

        It is a good time to also decide whether you want to migrate/clone, or take this opportunity to perform a shiny new clean install of Windows 10 1803 :-). There's no right answer to this - it all depends on whether you want a quick and hassle-free migration, or if you're willing to spend the time on setting up a fresh install the way you like.

  5. AnOldAmigaUser

    If your SSD is the same size or larger than your HDD, you should be able to boot with a repair disk and restore a system image. If the drive is smaller, then you are probably better off doing a clean install.

  6. Dan1986ist

    If you have not done so already, designate a volume label for your HDD, that way you can tell it apart from the SDD, if you decide to go with the drive cloning option. If the wrong drive is selected, it will wipe everything on that drive so make sure the SSD is selected as the target for the cloning operation and the HDD as the source you are cloning from.

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