How to move Windows to an SSD drive

Some users sooner or later install an SSD drive on their computer to speed up the work of programs and the Windows operating system. The fact is that SSD drives are much faster than hard drives, which saves time and increases productivity.

On the user’s device: a stationary PC or laptop has a hard disk drive (HDD), which contains the system and other information. After installing an additional drive on the computer, you need to transfer the Windows OS and user data to the SSD solid state drive.

Currently, new computers initially use an SSD as the system drive. Older PCs have conventional hard drives.

A solid state drive has the following advantages over a hard drive:

  • Significantly increases the speed of work and loading of the system.
  • Significantly increases the speed of launching and running programs.
  • File operations are faster on a PC.

Many users install an SSD on desktop PCs or laptops in addition to an existing hard drive. On a regular computer, there is no difficulty in placing another disk. Notebook owners can install a solid state drive instead of an optical CD/DVD drive, if available on this unit.

As a result, in most cases, the computer will end up with at least two drives – a new SSD drive and an old hard drive.

Some users, after installing a new drive, reinstall Windows to start working from scratch. Others migrate the operating system from HDD to SSD in order to continue using the PC with the current state of the software.

Accordingly, questions arise about how to transfer Windows to an SSD. The user needs to correctly transfer Windows to an SSD drive in order to avoid errors and not lose data.

Preliminary information

In this article, we will tell you how to transfer the system to an SSD drive using the example of the computer of the author of the article. We have a fairly old desktop PC with two hard drives. An optional solid-state drive is installed on the computer to increase performance.

You need to choose the right SSD for your computer motherboard model. SSD models have different form factors and physical connection interfaces, this must be taken into account when choosing equipment.

My computer has two hard drives:

  • The first hard drive is divided into two partitions: “Local Disk (C:)” and “Local Disk (D:)”
  • The other hard drive is “Local Disk (E:)”.

The C: drive contains the Windows operating system and programs. Drive “D:” is used to store files. In my case, the local drive “E:” is not involved in the processes of cloning Windows and subsequent redistribution of disk space.

The Disk Management window clearly shows both hard drives with existing partitions. On the first hard drive, in addition to the system partition, there are several hidden service partitions (they are not marked with letters) that are not displayed in Explorer. These partitions are created automatically during Windows setup.

In my situation, you need to do the following:

  1. Connect the SSD drive to the computer.
  2. Transfer Windows and data from the system drive “C:” to the SSD drive.
  3. Start the system from the SSD, and then delete the data from the former “C:” drive (the HDD drive where the OS was installed).
  4. Add the freed space previously occupied by the system to the “D:” drive.

Choose an SSD that is 20-30% larger than the occupied space on the partitions that will be migrated from HDD to SSD.

We will need to perform disk cloning from OS to SSD using software. As a result, an exact copy of the system disk is created on the solid state drive.

Transferring the system to an SSD takes place in several stages:

  1. Performing preparatory operations.
  2. Installing a specialized program on a PC that transfers the system from HDD to SSD.
  3. Copy system to solid state drive.
  4. Installing a program to work with hard disk partitions.
  5. Redistribution of disk space.

This article covers how to migrate your system and data using Windows 10 as an example, but other versions of the operating system follow similar steps.

Preparing the system for transfer to another drive

Before starting work on transferring information to another disk, it is recommended to clean the system of digital garbage, and then defragment the hard disk.

You will delete unnecessary files from your PC that you do not need to save. After defragmenting, fragments of files scattered on the hard drive will be collected in one place.

These actions will help reduce the amount of data copied, as a result, the cloning process will be faster.

Connecting an SSD to a Computer

Attach the SSD to the motherboard. Depending on the design and physical interface of an SSD, different types of cables and connector types are used.

After that, you need to do the following:

  1. Start your computer.
  2. In Windows, open the Disk Management snap-in.
  3. In most cases, the “Initialize Drives” window will automatically open, in which you need to select a partition style for the SSD drive.

My PC’s system hard drive uses the GPT partition style, so I chose GUID Partition Table (GPT).

In Disk Management, the SSD appears as Unallocated space.

Installing Macrium Reflect

In order to transfer the operating system to the SSD, we need a specialized program. Disk cloning is built into most backup applications. A similar tool is also available in specialized programs from memory manufacturers.

To clone Windows 10 and data from a hard drive to an SSD drive, we use the Macrium Reflect program. Mainly because this app has a free version for home use. The program works in English.

If this software is not suitable for you, you can use other similar applications to move the operating system: EaseUS ToDo Backup, Acronis True Image, AOMEI Backupper, Paragon Migrate OS to SSD, Samsung Data Migration, Seagate DiscWizard and so on.

Do the following:

  1. Follow the link to the official website: https://www.macrium.com/reflectfree .
  2. In the “Reflect 7 Free” frame, click on the “Download Free” button.
  3. In the window that opens, you will be prompted to select the type of license, a personal Reflect Free is suitable for us. Here you also need to enter an email address to receive a download link for the application downloader agent.
  4. Start the downloader agent on the computer.
  5. In the “Macrium Reflect Download Agent” window, make sure “Free” is selected, and then click on the “Download” button.
  6. After the download is complete, the installation process of the application will start.
  7. In the windows of the installation wizard, you need to accept the license agreement and specify the type of license – “Home”.
  8. In the registration window, you can not enter anything, just uncheck the box “Register this installation of Macrium Reflect”.

How to move Windows from HDD to SSD

We proceed to the process of cloning Windows from HDD to SSD. After starting the Macrium Reflect program, the Create a backup tab will display all the drives on this computer.

There are several partitions on the system hard drive that need to be moved to the new drive. This is the system partition – the “C:” drive and several service partitions. All of these sections are marked with Windows icons in the form of checkboxes. Check the boxes in these sections to clone only the system, without the other section.

This hard drive has a “D:” partition that does not need to be migrated because it will remain on this HDD. Therefore, there is no mark.

If your PC has only one “C:” partition, then you need to mark all partitions of the hard drive. If there are several logical disks on this HDD, then you need to select only the system and service partitions, without marking other partitions that will remain on this hard disk.

Go through the steps:

  1. Click on the link “Clone this disk …” (Clone this disk).
  2. In the next “Clone” window, click on the “Select disk to clone to …” link to select the disk to which you want to clone the system.

After that, both disks will become visible in the program window:

  • The Source section displays the source hard drive.
  • The Destination section contains the SSD to which the Windows operating system will be cloned.

The “Local disk” field indicates the type of partition, the type of disk and its size. In this case, a Samsung SSD drive is installed on the PC.

  1. Click on the “Next” button, and in the next window, repeat this action.
  2. In the window with a list of upcoming operations, click on the “Finish” button.
  3. In the “Backup Save Options” window that opens, deselect the “Save backup and schedules as an XML Backup Definition File” checkbox, leaving “Run this backup now” checked, and then click OK.
  4. On the computer, the HDD is cloned to the SDD disk. This process takes some time.
  5. A window will open on the screen informing you that the transfer of Windows 10 to SSD is complete.

Booting Windows from SDD

Now the computer has two identical drives with Windows installed: the current OS on the local drive “C:” (the system partition on the hard drive) and the cloned system on the local drive “F:” (solid state drive).

In order not to confuse both identical systems, rename the name of the current system partition by naming it, for example, “old system”. To do this, right-click on the “C:” drive, and then specify a new name.

Reboot your computer to enter BIOS to prioritize booting Windows from the SSD.

Your PC may have a modern UEFI interface or an older BIOS. You need to select the SSD priority in the boot option by moving it to the first place using the “↑” and “↓” arrow keys. Be guided by the name of the manufacturer of the SSD drive: WD – Western Digital, Samsung, Kingston, etc.

Save your settings and then exit BIOS or UEFI.

The computer will boot to Windows installed on the SSD. After entering the Explorer, you will see that the old system is now on the “F:” drive.

Redistributing disk space on your computer

After the transfer of Windows from HDD to SSD was completed on the PC, it is necessary to perform disk space redistribution operations.

After cloning is complete, there is unallocated space on the SSD that needs to be attached to the SSD. This can be seen in the Disk Management snap-in.

The system partitions on the hard drive were about 195 GB, and the total size of the SSD was 250 GB. During cloning, the space occupied by the system partitions was copied, and the rest of the volume remained unallocated, so it must be attached to the system partition.

To perform the operation of attaching free space to the system volume, you will need the services of third-party software. I have AOMEI Partition Assistant installed on my computer, which is designed to work with disk partitions.

AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard version is free, so you can use the services of this program, which works in Russian. For these purposes, other applications are suitable, which you can read about in the article on my website.

Do the following:

  1. Launch AOMEI Partition Assistant on your computer. The application window displays all drives on this computer.
  2. Right click on the “C:” drive.
  3. Select Merge Sections from the context menu.
  4. In the Merge Partitions window, check the boxes for the C: drive and unallocated space.
  5. Click on the “OK” button.

The old system and service partitions remain on the hard disk, which must be deleted in order to use this disk space for storing information in the future.

Do the following:

  1. Click on each of these sections in turn by clicking Delete Section from the context menu.
  2. Confirm your actions in the “Delete Partition” window.

After completing this operation, you will need to add unallocated space to the “D:” drive so that this hard drive is unpartitioned as a single entity.

  1. Right click on the “D:” drive.
  2. In the context menu that opens, click on the “Merge Sections” item.
  3. In the Merge Partitions window, check the boxes for the local disk and unallocated space. The “Merge above selected partitions for target partition” option is set to drive “D:”.
  4. Click on the “OK” button.
  5. After selecting all the tasks, click on the “Apply” button.
  6. In the Pending Operations window, click the Go button.
  7. In the next window, click on the “OK” button. By default, the program selects the Windows PE boot mode, in which scheduled operations are performed.
  8. After that, the process of redistributing disk space will start, which takes some time, during which there will be several reboots of the PC.

As a result, after starting Windows in Explorer, you will see all the disks of your computer with correctly allocated space.

From the article, you learned about how to transfer a Windows SSD drive system. We recommend that you use a solid state drive on your device if you have the opportunity to take advantage of the speed of the software.

Article Conclusions

In some cases, you need to upgrade your PC to speed up the system. After installing an additional solid state drive on the computer, the user needs to transfer Windows 10 or another version of the operating system from the HDD to the SSD. Windows clone and disk space reallocation operations can be performed using third-party software.

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