How to Upgrade Your Laptop With a Solid State Drive (SSD). How to change hard drive to ssd

Speaking of putting an SSD in my laptop, there are a lot of different methods you can use. Here we are going to show you two of the most popular methods namely clean installation of Windows 10/11 and clone laptop hard drive to SSD with free disk cloning software.

How to move Windows 10 to an SSD

The transition to a solid state drive (SSD) is ideal if you need a drive that is faster and more energy efficient. You don’t have to start from scratch either. We’re going to show you how to move Windows 10 to an SSD for the best of both worlds.

To keep your existing data intact but enjoy the speed of an SSD, you’ll need to move your operating system (and all data stored on it) to a new drive. Windows 10 doesn’t make it easy, but the instructions below make it easy to clone and swap your Windows 10 installation with your new hard drive.

How to move Windows 10 to an SSD

Before copying and moving anything, it’s important to clean up your files in order to move them quickly and painlessly. Fortunately, Windows comes with a proprietary cleaning tool that you should use before proceeding.

Step 1: Search for “Disk Cleanup” in the Windows search bar and click the appropriate link that appears.

Once opened, you will see a box with a list of file types that allows you to check the files you want to delete. Go through the file types carefully here, as there are many data types that you don’t need (temporary files, recycle bin data, etc.). It’s always a good idea to double-check your options in case you want to keep something.

Click Clean System Files at the bottom of the window. This will add a few other types of files to delete, such as previous Windows installations – which can be quite large, especially if you’re part of Windows Insider Windows 10. When Disk Cleanup switches to include system file types, it resets any changes you made in the list of file types in step 2, so be careful.

Select OK to run Disk Cleanup and remove the dirt from your system. Even with a few GB of data, the process shouldn’t take too long.

Windows 10 Disk Cleanup for Windows 10.

Step 2: Windows 10 doesn’t offer a simple cloning method and turns the operating system into a new hard drive. The good news is that there are a lot of apps out there that can do just that. These are usually backup programs that include important cloning features, specifically designed to move Windows 10 from an old hard drive to an SSD (or similar migrations). There is a lot to choose from, but here are some free options that we recommend.

EaseUS Todo Backup Free: The long name hides a well-kept backup tool that has a friendly interface for both advanced Windows 10 users and novices.

EaseUS Partition Master Professional: a more professional tool with better data management capabilities, Partition Master is for those who know what they are doing and want more control over the migration process. However, make sure you choose the free trial version, which should be enough to complete your movement.

AOMEI Backupper Standard: Long-term backup solution with a vivid interface. This app is a great choice if you like the idea of ​​using backup and cloning tools in future projects but don’t have any current solution.

After downloading the backup tool, it’s a great 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 top menu with the options Backup or Backup Tool. Select the appropriate option – again wording may differ – and choose where you want to back up your files. Then take some time to complete the process before moving on to the migration procedure.

We probably don’t need to say so, but you shouldn’t back up your data to the hard drive you’re migrating from or the SSD you’re migrating to. Use a separate external hard drive or specify a cloud backup service.

EaseUS Todo Backup main screen.

For the purposes of this article, I’ll be cleaning my F: \ (“Tiny Game Drive”) drive and pretending to clone my main drive, C: \, into it. (I accidentally deleted the screenshot where F: \ was blank, so let’s play around for a while.)

Reasons to upgrade to an SSD:

  • Faster launch and loading of applications
  • More robust data protection
  • Very easy to install
  • Make sure you know and understand all warranty information. Any unauthorized work on the system may void the system manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Before working with your computer, read the safety instructions in the product manual.
  • For PC users, it is recommended that the system be running Windows 7 or later. Also check your BIOS settings and update them if necessary for compatibility with SSDs.

What you need to have on hand:

  • Product manual for a laptop. Go to the website of the laptop manufacturer and download it. Provides detailed instructions on how to remove a laptop hard drive.
  • ESD wrist strap. If you do not have an ESD wrist strap, make sure you are grounded by touching a metal object before touching and working with the hard drive. Static electricity can permanently damage the hard drive, so be careful.
  • External USB drive casing, USB cable and data transfer software. Alternatively, you can purchase a data transfer kit that includes all of these items (e.g. CMS products). If you already have an external USB drive enclosure and cables, you can download the free DiscWizard app.
  • A small screwdriver.

Follow these instructions when duplicating data on an old drive, transferring data to a new BarraCuda SSD, and installing a new SSD in a laptop. Note that because there are differences between laptop systems, these instructions may be different.

Step 4: These backup tools usually offer partition customization options. You can delete partitions on the target disk if they were previously used or configured to work with a different device. If you’re unsure, it’s a good idea to remove the partition just to be on the safe side.

Back Up Your Data (and Free Up Space)

Before you start fiddling with disks and formatting partitions, you absolutely need to back up your data first. Accidentally clicking can erase everything, so don’t continue until you’ve created a backup.

If you don’t have a backup yet, check out our favorite work software. Windows also has a file history for backing up important documents and the image file can save your entire system. Copying important data to an external hard drive is also done in no time.

If you are upgrading to an SSD that is smaller than your current hard drive, you need to exercise extreme caution. This isn’t as common as it used to be, thanks to larger and cheaper SSDs, but if that’s yours, you’ll have to delete some files and free up hard drive space before cloning it. Otherwise, your data won’t fit on the new drive. Once your data is safe, go to the next step.

Plug In and Initialize Your SSD

Connect the SSD to the SATA-to-USB adapter and then connect it to the computer. If it’s a new drive, you probably won’t see it in File Explorer, but don’t worry; you just need to initialize first. Open the Start menu and type “partitions” in the search box. Click Create and format hard disk partitions and Disk Management will open. Will prompt you to initialize the disk using the GPT or MBR partition table.

I will be using GPT for my SSD as I have a modern PC with UEFI firmware. If you have an older computer with traditional BIOS, you may need to use the MBR partition table. If you’re unsure, check your computer or motherboard model to see what type of firmware it uses.

If you are not prompted to initialize the disk and you do not see it in Disk Management, check that it is properly connected to your computer and that the chassis or docking station is turned on (if necessary). See our guide to troubleshooting a hard drive not showing up for more.

After the disk is initialized, it should appear in the lower Disk Management pane as unallocated space. You should go from there.

SSD is one of the best upgrades you can do on your desktop computer. It’s not very difficult to set up: physically install it, connect the correct cables, and reinstall Windows from scratch .

Prepare for laptop hard drive replacement

You can easily replace your laptop’s hard drive with an SSD on Windows 10 or 11, as long as you have access to the old hard drive. Remember that if your laptop is under warranty, hard drive to SSD swapping is considered an unauthorized change, take this into account. Besides, you also need to prepare for other things necessary for cloning.

  • Purchase a new SSD with the correct format and interface. When it comes to the best SSD for laptop, we suggest choosing M.2 PCIe or NVMe SSD if your laptop is compatible with it. Samsung 980 Pro, WD Black SN850, Kingston KC3000 etc can be a great option.
  • Check BIOS settings for SSD compatibility. You need to make sure the SATA controller mode is set correctly. AHCI is a newer interface than the IDE and has a much faster transfer speed. This can be a good choice if you are using a SATA SSD. If your new SSD is an NVMe SSD, you can use the NVMe protocol.
  • Prepare the cloning connector. Usually a laptop only has one slot, so you need to connect the SSD externally via a SATA-to-USB adapter or encloser. Compared with USB 2.0 and 1.0, the USB 3.0 version has a faster transfer speed.

Housing or cable

  • Prepare a screwdriver. You can use it to open the removable panel, remove the old hard drive, or install a new SSD in a laptop after cloning the laptop’s hard drive to an SSD.
  • Clean up the disk to get more space. In theory, if the new SSD does not have enough disk space to accommodate all the data on the old disk, the cloning process will fail. Therefore, it is necessary to uninstall unused programs, clean up temporary files or non-system files with “Disk Cleanup”, or move larger files (eg documents and movies) to another drive etc before cloning the hard drive to a smaller SSD.

Trust and reliable HDD to SSD cloning software

In addition to the basic preparations, you also need free disk cloning software, which is the basis for replacing the disk with an SSD in Windows 11/10/8/7 / XP / Vista. And the most important factor is that it is able to boot if you clone your laptop hard drive to SSD including system. Here are some useful functions for cloning disks:

  • Smart Sector: Supports cloning only used sectors on a hard drive to another, so you can easily clone a large hard drive to a smaller SSD without any boot problem. And that’s what few disk cloning programs can do.
  • Hot Clone: ​​With it, you can easily clone a drive without interrupting or shutting down Windows and other running applications.
  • SSD Alignment: Enables SSD read and write acceleration with 4k alignment technology, not only to clone HDD to SSD in laptop but also clone SSD to larger SSD.
  • great Compatibility: Works well in cloning all branded SSDs like HP, ASUS, Samsung, Sandisk etc.
  • .

If you still don’t have a choice, it is recommended to use AOMEI Backupper Standard to swap HDD to SSD. It not only supports secure boot as well as these useful features, but also allows you to clone a hard drive with bad sectors. And it has a user-friendly interface so even beginners can use it like professionals.

Robust data protection: SSD drives protect data much better from accidental damage caused by hitting or dropping the drive. This is because SSDs do not contain any moving parts like traditional hard drives which contain a lot.

Step two: Setting up the clone

To get started, just click the “Clone This Drive” link under your primary hard drive, which should be selected by default. In the screen that appears, click the “Select a disk to clone” link in the large field of empty white space and select a new SSD. Your screen should then look something like this:

You can have as many partitions as my example does; you can have less. Regardless, you’ll want to put them on the new SSD. You can just click “copy selected partitions” and have everything perfectly mapped to your new SSD. You may also be hit by:

Sigh. In my example, I could fit the first four partitions on my new SSD, but the fourth partition – my primary data partition – seemed to be gobbling up the rest of the SSD’s space, even though the SSD had plenty of space for each partition from my primary drive. To fix this, click “Undo” and manually drag partitions from the old hard drive to the new SSD, saving the largest partition to the end:

Once done, click “Next.”

Step three: Activating the clone

You’ll now see a screen that gives you a fairly detailed overview of all the things Macrium Reflect will do when the clone is launched. No, it hasn’t done anything yet – you just set it up.

You can review these settings if you want, but you can probably just hit “Finish” which will start the procedure:

Depending on the size of the drive you’re going to – how much data Macrium Reflect needs to transfer – as well as its speed, this process may take some time. Mine was done in just over half an hour, but I cloned the SSD (where my Windows partition is) to a blank SSD for this example. In other words, the transfer was pretty quick. The transition from hard drive to SSD can take four times as long (or longer). If you’re impatient you can just set the clone to run overnight and it will all be set when you wake up.

7. Save your changes and let Windows boot from the new SSD. If your computer boots normally, and all the programs and data are there (except for the much faster ones), you’ve performed this operation successfully.

More Questions About SSDs?

You can read other posts from our SSD 101 series.

About Andy Klein

Andy Klein is a major exponent of the Backblaze storage cloud. He has over 25 years of technology marketing experience and has shared his knowledge of cloud storage and computer security at events, symposia and panels at RSA, SNIA SDC, MIT, Federal Trade Commission and hundreds of others. He currently writes and rumors about disk stats, Storage Pods, cloud storage, and more.

AOMEI Backupper Standard: Long-term backup solution with a vivid interface. This app is a great choice if you like the idea of ​​using backup and cloning tools in future projects but don’t have any current solution.

Moving Windows 10 to an SSD: Be prepared!

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Before you move your Windows installation files to an SSD, you need to separate any other data (documents, photos, music, videos) to another drive as it won’t be moved to the SSD – we just want to move your Windows installation.

You will then use the cloning tools to copy the Windows operating system to the new SSD and transfer your personal data to the old one. The great thing is that you will benefit from booting Windows from a faster drive while still keeping a large hard drive for your data.

If you are doing this on a desktop computer, you will have no trouble fitting both your new and old disc as there should be plenty of room for both. Things get a bit trickier when it comes to laptops. At this point, you may need to remove your optical drive to fit the second drive, or spend more money on an SSD that can hold all the data on your old drive.

Moving Windows 10 to an SSD: What do you need?

As mentioned earlier, for this project you will need your current hard drive from which you will be migrating data; a new SSD to which the data will be transferred; and back up all your data as you can only clone system files.

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