Moving to a solid state drive (SSD) is ideal when you want a sturdy drive that is faster, more energy efficient, and lighter. Are you looking to upgrade your hard drive to the long awaited SSD or hybrid drive?
You'll need to move your operating system (and all of the data in it) to the new drive. Windows 10 doesn't make this easy, but the following instructions will make cloning and swapping your Windows 10 installation to a new hard drive as easy as possible.
Please note: These instructions are intended for people who only change drives. However, depending on your setup, this method may work if you're building a new rig or swapping out computers. It almost certainly won't work with a virtualization project, although you can find these services if you're willing to pay for them.
Step 1: prepare your system
Before you copy and move anything, it's important to make sure that you clean up your files to make the transition as quick and painless as possible. Thankfully, Windows comes with its proprietary cleanup tool that you should use before proceeding.
Just search for Disk Cleanup in the Windows search bar and click the appropriate link that appears.
Once opened, a box should appear with a list of file types for you to review the files to be deleted. In this case, be sure to check the file types as there are many types of data you do not need (temporary files, recycle bin data, etc.). It's always a good idea to check out the options available in case you have something to keep.
At the bottom of the window, click Clean up system files. This will add some other types of files that you may want to delete, such as: B. previous Windows installations. These can be very extensive, especially if you are part of Windows 10's Windows Insider Program. If the Disk Cleanup tool switches to system file types, it will revert any changes you made to the file type list in step 2. So be careful.
Select OK to launch the Disk Cleanup tool and remove the junk from your system. Even with several GB of data, the process shouldn't take too long.
Step 2: Install a migration tool
Windows 10 does not offer a simple cloning method and replaces your operating system on a new hard drive. The good news is that there are plenty of apps out there that you can use to do just that. These are usually backup programs that contain critical cloning features specifically designed to move Windows 10 from an old hard drive to an SSD (or similar migrations). There are a few to choose from, but below are some free options that we recommend.
- EaseUS Todo Backup Free 12.8: The long name hides a well-maintained backup tool that has a user interface that is very easy to use for both power Windows users and newbies alike.
- EaseUS Partition Master Professional 14.5: Partition Master is a more professional tool with better data management capabilities and is aimed at those who know what they are doing and want more control over the migration process. However, make sure you go for the free trial, which should be enough to complete your move.
- AOMEI Backupper Standard 6.1: This app is a long term backup solution with a vibrant interface and an excellent choice if you like the idea of using backup and clone tools for future projects but don't have an up-to-date solution.
Once you've downloaded your backup tool, this is a good time to back up your data in case something goes wrong. Open your tool and look at the main menu. All of the above tools have a sidebar and a main menu with options for Backup or Backup Tool. Select the appropriate option – again, the wording may vary – and choose where you want to back up your files. Then take the time to complete the process before proceeding with the migration process.
We probably don't need to say this, but you shouldn't back up your data on the hard drive you will be using for the migration. Use a separate external hard drive or specify a cloud backup service.
Step 3: Choose your destination drive
Connect your new hard drive – or your old hard drive, depending on how you're migrating – to your computer. There are several ways to connect a new internal hard drive. However, the most common is SATA. SATA cables are flat, often red, and the connectors have an L-shaped bend at one end.
Find an open slot on your motherboard to connect the drive to and a spare power cable that will be disconnected from your power supply. They should be ready for use. If you're at a loss or confused, check out our full guide on how to install a SATA hard drive. On the other hand, an external SSD usually uses a USB connection or some other, simpler option.
Open the selected backup application. In the main menu, look for the option "Migrate OS to SSD / HDD", "Clone" or "Migrate". This is what you want
A new window should open and the program will detect the drives connected to your computer and ask for a destination drive. Make sure you are targeting your new SSD or other drive and that the target drive has enough space. This window should also provide useful information about the data in each drive. The following example is from EaseUS Partition Manager, the above from AOMEIs Backupper.
Step 4: adjust the partition size
These backup tools usually give you options for customizing partitions. You can delete partitions on the destination drive if they have previously been used or configured to work with another device. If you are not sure, you should delete the partitions for security reasons.
You also have the option to choose partition sizes when migrating. You can make a copy without resizing partitions. However, this is usually a bad choice that the tool doesn't take advantage of. Instead, select the option to adjust and optimize partitions for the new drive. You want to use tweaking, resizing, and similar commands.
The program's clone wizard will now take over. Take a look at your drives and start the migration process. Confirm that you want to continue and the software will inform you when the process is complete. The cloning process can take some time. It is a good idea to make sure your power cables are connected and that the older hard drives have plenty of room to "breathe" so they don't overheat.
After the migration is complete, restart your computer and see if everything works. Your tool should prompt you to do so, or you can restart your PC after the migration process has automatically completed. You can then either delete the backup tool or keep it for more data management.