With SSD becoming more and more affordable these days, there are very few reasons to stop you from buying it for better performance. But new concerns may also arise when replacing a hard drive: Do you have to reinstall Windows? Can you transfer the old license and personal files to the new SSD?
If you don’t want a fresh start and just want faster speed, then it may not be the best idea to clean install Windows 10. Instead, you can directly migrate all the data from the old hard drive to the new one.
How To Migrate OS And All The Data To SSD?
Speaking of hard drive migration, you might think of backing up the hard drive and restoring it to the new SSD. This is actually a viable method, but the process is rather cumbersome – you need to create a system image, a recovery media, and then perform System Image Recovery. Things will get much easier if you use hard drive cloning software.
As the name suggests, cloning software can duplicate all the content of a hard drive, including the operating system, applications, and personal files to the target disk without reinstalling. You don’t need to worry about the license key, either. Whether it’s a retail copy or an OEM copy of Windows 10, you are allowed to transfer it to another hard drive on the same PC.
Best Free Hard Drive Cloning Software
The software I use here is AOMEI Backupper Standard. It has a powerful yet free disk clone feature to clone a hard drive to another, and the supported OS including Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP.
By default, it copies only used sectors and therefore enables you to clone larger HDD to smaller SSD. If your target disk has a larger capacity, you can also perform a sector-by-sector clone to copy all the sectors, even the blank or logically bad sectors.
For the target SSD, this software contains an SSD alignment feature to improve its reading & writing speed and prolong its life span. So you will get better performance after cloning.
Last but not least, the software has a very intuitive interface. You don’t any expertise to complete the hard drive cloning.
Step-By-Step Guide To Clone Hard Drive To SSD
To begin with, you need to do some preparations:
- Clean up the hard drive: Delete unnecessary and temporary files, uninstall unwanted apps.
- Install the new SSD alongside the HDD: If your PC has only one slot, try using a USB to SATA adapter.
- Install the disk clone software: Follow a simple wizard to install it on your current hard drive.
Then, you can use AOMEI Backupper to clone the hard drive:
1. Launch the software, select “Clone” and then “Disk Clone”. It will clone an entire hard drive to another disk.
2. Select the source hard drive with Windows installed, then specify the destination SSD.
3. Tick the “SSD Alignment” option to improve the performance of the target SSD, and click “Start Clone”.
If your source hard drive contains a system reserved recovery partition, and you want to clone it as well, please tick “Sector By Sector Clone” to make sure it functions normally on the target SSD.
If the target disk has a larger capacity, you can also choose “Edit Partitions” (supported by Pro edition) to resize the drives and therefore avoid unallocated space on the target disk.
How To Boot From The Cloned SSD Securely?
Once the cloning is complete, all that remains to be considered is how to get the PC boot from the cloned SSD.
The most direct method is to replace the HDD with SSD physically. When there’s only one SSD connected, your computer will boot from it automatically, and you can handle the removed hard drive as you like.
However, if your PC has more than one slot, you could also consider keeping the HDD as secondary storage. To do this, you just need to restart the computer, press the specific key to enter BIOS, set the cloned SSD as the first boot option, and save the settings. Thus your computer will restart to boot from the SSD.
After logging into Windows successfully, you can also use AOMEI Backupper to wipe the old hard drive as you like. Switch to the “Tools” tab, click “Disk Wipe” from common tools, then you can select a partition(s) or the entire disk to wipe up.
Cloning a hard drive to SSD is a good way to get better start-up speed and smoother operation, but if you don’t want to reinstall Windows and all the apps, a disk clone program is a necessity.
With the assistant of AOMEI Backupper, you can accomplish hard drive migration within 3 steps. And not only the entire disk, but it also enables you to clone selected partitions or only operating systems as you like.