Replicating drives
November 26, 2012 1:20 AM   Subscribe

Could you please step me through replacing my current HD with an SSD?

I have a hard drive with my OS (which is windows 7) and all my programs on it, and I have (or rather will soon have) a shiny new SSD. How do I go about easily making the seamless switch, so the OS particularly doesn't need reinstalling? At a fairly basic though not utterly hopeless level of tech understanding.

I have another hard drive in the other slot, which can of course be removed temporarily, or if relevant it also has more spare capacity vacant on it than each of the other drives.

posted by wilful to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can move your data from one drive to another, but it is going to be much more straightforward to reinstall Windows on the SSD if possible, and keep any big data on the older (large) drive.

There are two big issues with moving your data and Windows install are:

1) Windows won't be configured to run on that SSD. SSDs are different beasts and I believe Windows 7 and 8 have some optimizations for that new hardware.

2) You probably have more data on the big old drive than can fit on your on the small but fast SSD.

That second one is what really kills it.

If you don't have more than can fit on your SSD and you're determined you can use Acronis ($$$) or Clonezilla (free) to backup and transfer your data to the new drive.

Either way you should back-up your drive regularly and especially before attempting either a move with your current OS install or not. Good luck.
posted by TimeDoctor at 1:33 AM on November 26, 2012

cheers timedoctor, but no, the old HDD being replaced is about the same size as the new one. There is a large D: that's going to stay where it is.
posted by wilful at 1:47 AM on November 26, 2012

The Register has a video guide to replacing an HDD with an SSD.
posted by devnull at 1:52 AM on November 26, 2012

I replaced my Windows 7 HD with a larger (but non SD) device last week. The tool that helped me out was DriveImage XML - and I used this guide to its employment in LifeHacker. The free version is a little slow at doings its copying stuff - but you are only going to do this once.
The steps I followed where:
1. Take an image of my Windows HDS and copy to an external HD
2. Mount the new HDD in the second slot on my PC
3. Partition/format the new HDD and copy the image to it
4. Make sure the new HDD is set as bootable
5. Remove the original HDD and replace with the new one. Set the BIOS to make sure that the new drive is the first one booted from.
posted by rongorongo at 2:22 AM on November 26, 2012

I bough an SSD drive with my new computer. I keep it for OS and apps only - data resides on 1TB drive. I love it. Had no issues, bought it at MSY. Didn't need to do anything to set it up.
posted by mattoxic at 3:14 AM on November 26, 2012

I have had bad experiences with trying to port an OS between hard drives. Since you already have your data isolated on the D:/ drive, reinstalling Windows should be pretty straightforward!
posted by katrielalex at 3:30 AM on November 26, 2012

Magic search words for what you want to do are ghosting or cloning.

The basic idea is

(1) Install SSD on some unused sata port
(2) Go into the cloning/ghosting software, might require booting into it
(3) Make a bit for bit copy of the old hard drive
(4) Shutdown, move the SSD to the sata cable the hard drive was on, reboot

There's free stuff available, either open source or from drive manufacturers.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:27 AM on November 26, 2012

1. Install SSD into some unused port / USB enclosure etc.
2. Format SSD in windows (administrative tools | computer management | disk management)
select the disk, initialize it, and format it. Windows 7 will set the offset correctly for the SSD
3. Install XXClone.
4. Select your source and target drives.
5. In the cool tools tab, click the 'Make bootable' button
6. in operation mode tab, 'backup the entire volume from scratch'
7. Wait. A while. it's copying stuff.
8. When it's done, remove your old hdd, insert SSD into it's place
9. Boot. You're done!

*I used this sequence of steps 3 weeks ago to install two new SSDs in two different laptops. I've had a few funny quirks, but generally it's worked ok.
posted by defcom1 at 7:23 AM on November 26, 2012

I made it simple. I took HDD drive out. I put SDD drive in. I installed win8 on SDD drive. And then I was basically done since almost all my data is in the cloud. [now I have to figure out how to get back into the HDD(long story) for the one file that was not associated with any cloud service.
posted by Folk at 7:34 AM on November 26, 2012

Last time I copied over a boot drive I used Clonezilla. I only had a problem when I tried to use the old drive as a secondary drive. My question from that.
posted by RobotHero at 10:18 AM on November 26, 2012

Thanks for answers. I want to ghost or clone it because I don't want to install all of the other programs as well. If it was just the OS I'd probably go that way, but installing Office and printer drivers and games and other stuff is too much.
posted by wilful at 2:35 PM on November 26, 2012

Probably the best that could have happened is that when you initially installed on the old drive you made an image at that point. That would serve as a start point... it is not impossible to replicate the same, but you would need to do all the program removing and replacing to isolate the OS+basics on the one old drive only and then image it for use. If the drives are equal in size you can clone and do this isolating afterwards as well.

However my frank recommendation is: You, brand new proud owner of an SSD, worrying about the time needed to reinstall the OS are worrying too much. It ain't that daunting.
posted by Bodrik at 12:00 PM on November 27, 2012

As one who recently moved Windows 7 to an SSD (and reinstalled all programs) and then recently installed Windows 8 as a fresh install over the pre-existing Windows 7 (all within the past six months), I can say that reviewing all the programs I had installed and reexamining whether I really needed them again was a very useful exercise.

So now I have a system that is completely up to date with the latest versions, and all the hardware under Windows 8 was recognized remarkably well. Not nearly the time-sink I was afraid it would become, but Microsoft has sped things up considerably since the old Windows XP days.
posted by scooterdog at 12:59 PM on November 27, 2012

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