If we are still using a mechanical hard drive, of the old ones, in our computer, it may be the reason why our PC is slow . These hard drives have the best capacity / price ratio, however, in terms of performance they leave a little to be desired. Therefore, the best way to update our PC for little money is to buy an SSD, greatly improving the overall operation of the computer.
The main problem of changing the hard drive of our computer and replacing it with an SSD is Windows. The normal thing is that when we change our hard disk, we have to install Windows from scratch, complicating the process, wasting time and doing something that, if our Windows is going well, would not be necessary.
If we have not formatted the computer for a long time this may be a good opportunity to do so. However, if we don't want to waste time formatting and reinstalling Windows, then we can use another technique: migrate Windows from the old HDD to the new SSD.
We recommend you read until the end to avoid problems, for example, when you start Windows from the new SSD. Many problems can come from the BIOS not using the new drive as a boot drive.
The advantages and disadvantages of an SSD (beyond performance)
The main advantage, and the one that most interests’ users, is the performance improvement. An SSD is much faster than any normal hard drive. It can read and write data up to 10 times faster than normal HDDs. And access times are much shorter.
However, these units also have other advantages. The solid storage units, having no plates or mechanisms, are completely silent. And they also consume less energy by not having to move all these mechanisms.
Unfortunately, they also have some drawbacks. For example, some units (especially NVMe) get too hot. In addition, the GB / € ratio is larger than that of normal hard drives. And in addition, the useful life of these units, although now it is well over 10 years, is shorter than that of an HDD.
First steps: prepare your hard drive to migrate Windows 10
The first thing to keep in mind is that this process is not too risky. Because the process is based on a copy of the data from one unit to another, in case something goes wrong we will always have the original hard disk with the data that will allow us to try again.
Anyway, the first thing we recommend you do is a backup of the most important files. So, if you screw up a lot, at least our files will be safe.
The next step we recommend is to prepare Windows for the process. Although it is not mandatory, we recommend making sure you download and install all Windows updates so that nothing is left on the air. In addition, a disk cleanup is not over, removing temporary and unnecessary files and uninstalling all those applications that we do not need anymore. The less space our Windows occupies, the faster the process will be. And if we have a good backup and can delete personal files so that it occupies even less, much better.
Finally, we recommend defragmenting the entire hard disk. This way the data blocks will be sorted and the sequential reading and writing will be faster.
We already have our hard drive ready. We must ensure, of course, that the SSD is of greater capacity than the space occupied on the original hard disk. Otherwise the data will not fit in it. In addition, the sector size must be the same on the source disk and the destination disk since, otherwise, they cannot be cloned.
How to migrate Windows 10 from an HDD to an SSD: the best programs
There are several programs designed to carry out this task. Some of them work in offline mode, that is, outside the operating system (loaded in RAM), and others from Windows itself.
Next, we will see different alternatives that we have to clone our hard drive to a new SSD to improve computer performance without losing our data.
Acronis True Image
When it comes to data backups, Acronis is one of the most prestigious companies we can find. Acronis True Image is one of the most complete programs we can find to back up our data and images from hard drives to recover them or, as in this case, clone them.
The latest versions of this software have a function called "Active Cloning". This new feature allows us to clone a drive with an operating system (our disk with Windows) to a new drive directly from Windows, without having to restart or boot with another drive.
Active Cloning can work from Windows itself or, in case of detecting any data access problem, it will automatically be in charge of restarting the computer, cloning and restarting. All this without the user having to do practically nothing.
The process is fairly simple. Simply use the "Clone Disk" function, choose the type of clone (automatic recommended), the source drive (our old hard drive), the destination drive (the new SSD) and wait for the process to complete. When finished, Acronis will tell us to turn off the computer, disconnect the old hard drive and turn it on again. Windows should automatically boot from the new SSD. And everything should be as it was before starting the process.
The only problem is that Acronis True Image is a paid software. But if we don't mind paying, it's probably the best program we can find to clone our HDD to an SSD. We can buy this program from the following link .
AOMEI Backupper is one of the free programs to backup and protect the information of our most complete hard drives that we can find.
The Standard edition of this program is the free edition that we can download and use without limitations for domestic use. And this edition has a function that allows us to clone a hard drive from an HDD to an SSD, or between two equal drives.
The function of cloning a hard drive of this software works similarly to the Linux "dd" command. That is, it makes an exact copy of the source disk on the destination disk, including blank sectors. To do this, we will install this backup software on our computer, we will go to the clone section, we will choose the source and destination disks and that's it.
Of course, before starting with cloning we must take into account several things.
- The "sector by sector clone" option is interesting when the destination disk is larger than the source disk. If it is smaller, we should not check this option. Thus, the program will only copy the data and not the empty space and the other data structure.
- If the destination disk is an SSD, it is recommended to check the "SSD Alignment" box.
- If the source disk is smaller than the destination one, with the "Edit Partitions" option we can adjust the partitions so that we don't have any unused space left.
When the process is finished, we will have all the data of the original hard disk copied to the second hard disk. Now we just have to turn off the computer, disconnect the old hard drive and turn it on again.
We can download this backup software from the following link .
EaseUS Todo Backup
This is another well-known free program for backing up data, partitions and hard drives. And how could it be less, it also has the possibility to clone hard drives. Thanks to this function we will be able to pass all our data to a larger hard disk, or what interests us, move from an HDD to a new SSD.
The process is very similar to the previous program. We must install this software on our PC, choose the "clone disk / partition" option, choose the source and destination disk and that's it. We will only have to configure the advanced options for the cloning process:
- Optimize for SSD: choose if the target disk is an SSD.
- Sector clone by sector: to copy the hard disk as is, sector by sector.
- Create a portable Windows USB drive: to create a portable Windows USB.
The option that interests us is the first. And if we want the copy to be identical, the second. The third option has other uses and, in this case, we are not interested. We will check that everything is in condition and start cloning.
When finished, we will have an exact copy of our HDD in the new SSD. We only have to turn off the computer, disconnect the old hard drive and boot with the new SSD.
We can download this backup software from the following link .
For users who use Linux systems, or who want to do this task outside the operating system, in Live mode, Clonezilla is the best program for this purpose. Clonezilla is a completely free and open source disk cloning software. This allows us to create images of our hard drives to easily restore them, and, of course, create an identical copy of one disk to another.
To use it to migrate from an HDD to an SSD we must follow the following steps:
- Download Clonezilla and create a bootable USB.
- Start the computer with our Clonezilla Live.
- Perform the initial configuration (language, keyboard layout, etc.).
- Choose the option "device-device work directly from a disk or partition to a disk or partition".
- Select "Beginner mode: Accept the default options".
- Choose the "Disk_to_local_disk" mode.
- Select the source and destination disk.
- We confirm the process (checking that it is correct) and wait.
When finished, Clonezilla will have cloned our main hard drive to the new SSD. As always, we only have to disconnect the main hard drive and, when we boot, it will do so using the new SSD.
Unfortunately, Clonezilla has some important limitations. The first is that it is a much more complicated software to use than the previous alternatives. And the second is that it can only work with disks of equal or greater capacity. Never with smaller ones. Although there is enough free space to carry out the process, if the source disk is 1 TB (and we only have 30 GB occupied) and the destination disk, empty, is 500 GB, we will not be able to clone.
If we still want to use this cloning software, we can download it from the following link .
Last steps: check that everything is in order and enjoy the new SSD
When we finish the process, regardless of the program we use, we will have our Windows and all our data in the new SSD. It would only be necessary to disconnect the old hard drive to start using this new SSD.
In case the computer does not boot, what happens is that it will not have the SSD configured in the BIOS. We will enter this configuration menu, choose the new SSD as the primary boot drive and go.
When the operating system starts up, we can verify that everything is in place. We will have Windows as we leave it before cloning the hard drive, all our programs, configurations, personal files, and even the partitions created. And in case something is missing, we will have it on the old hard drive, which is still unformatted and has all our data.
When we are sure that everything is correct in our new SSD, then the last step is coming: think about what we do with the old hard drive. If it still worked without problems, we can still give it utility. We turn off the computer, reconnect it and can format it to use it as a secondary hard drive to save data. And even to keep in its backups. Thus, in addition to improving performance when passing Windows 10 to an SSD, we will also have gained storage space to use for whatever we want.