CLONE AN HDD TO AN SSD:
G E T A N S S D :
GET AN SSD
1) To start the process, you first have to purchase an SSD (Solid State Drive). You can’t clone your HDD (Hard Disk Drive) to an SSD unless you have an SSD to clone to.
I highly recommend the Samsung 850 Pro SSD’s, particularly the 128GB variety.
Keep your eye on the Samsung 850 Pro 256GB, because there are times when it is only $50 more than the 128GB, making the 256GB Samsung 850 Pro the biggest bang per buck of the bunch!
If you don’t need the best, or if you are hurting for cash and trying to go cheap, or if you are building for a client who wants the cheapest solution, then the Samsung 840 EVO 120 GB SSD is the best way to go.
I and my clients love the Samsung 850 Pro Solid-State Drives!
You just want it to work.
Note: SSDs are only made for SATA connections. If you have an older motherboard and machine that only has support for IDE drives (PATA hard drives), then you are not going to be able to put an SSD into your computer, and it’s time to look into getting a newer and better computer anyway.
Another Note: If you are running on a Windows XP machine, then I recommend that you not install an SSD into that machine. You would be better served by saving your money and buying a whole new machine, and then worry about putting an SSD into that machine sometime later on.
Get an External Backup Hard Drive:
2) If you have more data on your HDD (Hard Drive) than will fit onto the SSD that you have purchased, then you are going to have to move the Data Libraries off the HDD onto a higher capacity External Hard Drive of some kind. Note: If you have an extra high-capacity internal Hard Disk Drive lying around, it can be used for this purpose as well.
For this purpose, I purchased the 2 Terabyte Seagate Backup Plus, which has good reviews for a mechanical hard drive and was recommended by a customer in the store where I bought the thing. I have loved this device so far, and I recommend it. I have been backing up all of my Data from many different computers onto it for months now.
It probably doesn’t matter what you get, but if your data and programs on your current Hard Drive are larger than the Solid-State Drive that you are trying to clone to, then you are going to need some kind of external or “other” hard drive that you can copy all of your data over onto, so that you can then delete that data on your Hard Drive thus making the amount Used on the Hard Drive less than the amount of free space that you are trying to clone to on the SSD. You want to put your data someplace safe so that you can then delete that data off your main Hard Drive, so that you can then successfully clone your Hard Drive to your new Solid-State Drive.
Transfer your documents and data off from your Hard Drive onto your External Drive:
3) Once you have an external hard drive in hand, then you are ready to transfer your Documents, Pictures, Music, Videos, Downloads, other Libraries, and Virtual Machines off of your old Hard Drive onto the New external hard drive. Even at USB 2.0 rates, you get about 28 MB/s transfer rates while transferring your data off from your old Hard Drive onto the External Hard Drive. It will take awhile, but it’s doable.
Once the Data is transferred to or backed up to the External Hard Drive, then you delete the Data off your Old Hard Drive. Be careful not to delete any of your Operating System in the Windows directory nor any of your programs in the Program directory.
I recommend SyncBack Free in order to get a perfect mirror copy of each Library of data onto the External Drive before you delete that data off the Hard Drive. I also use SyncBack Free in order to get a perfect mirror copy of my data when I reverse the process and put the data back onto my Data Drive.
The goal is to get the remaining Operating System and Programs on your Old Hard Drive to be less than the size of your new SSD, so that you can then successfully clone your Old Hard Drive to your New SSD. In my case, I had to get the size of the remaining material on the Old Hard Drive to be less than the 128 GB SSD that I bought. On the one machine, I got the Used Space of the Old Hard Drive down to 65 GB before cloning the Old HDD to the New SSD, which is good enough!
If it is too tight, still, then you are going to have to temporarily uninstall a few programs, in order to get the size of the Hard Drive to be less than the size of the Solid State Drive.
I highly recommend the Samsung Pro 850 SSDs.
Clone your Hard Disk Drive to your Solid State Drive:
4) Okay, now for the hard part — cloning your trimmed-down HDD to your new SSD.
You have got all of your data off of your old hard drive onto an external drive or an extra internal drive, and now you have disconnected the external backup of your old data.
Then you reboot the machine with only your Old Hard Disk Drive connected, so that it can rebuild itself and get used to not having its data in place.
Then I shut the thing down, install the New SSD as Hard Drive 1 with the Old Hard Drive remaining Hard Drive 0. Then I boot up from the Old Hard Drive and format the new SSD so that it’s ready to go. Note, some of the different cloning software will actually format the SSD for you before starting the cloning process.
Everyone recommended the free EaseUS Backup program for the cloning process:
I tried it a few times, and it always failed. It was fast, but it always failed to produce a bootable SSD for me. I assume that the newest version of EaseUS that I was using was not able to recognize and properly configure the Samsung 850 Pro, or the EaseUS wasn’t properly designed to work with Windows 8.1. It was a bit frustrating. So then the search began in earnest to find something that would actually work. You just want it to work.
Macrium Reflect! Here’s a link to what I found that actually worked:
There is also a book about Macrium Reflect.
The free copy of Macrium Reflect is what worked for me, and here’s why. The Macrium Reflect actually uses Microsoft’s Shadow Copy feature which is used by VMware and others to make copies, backups, and clones of Windows Machines. Microsoft actually knows how to backup and clone their own stuff. The Macrium Reflect took noticeably longer to clone my 65 GB Old Hard Disk to the New SSD, but when it was done, I actually had an SSD that I was able to boot from.
Obviously, if I ever end up buying a backup program, it will be Macrium Reflect that I end up buying, because I know of a surety that it actually works with the Samsung 850 Pro SSDs that I love so much.
After you have finished the cloning process, then you remove or completely disconnect your Old Hard Drive, move the SSD to the Hard Drive 0 spot, make the SSD the boot device in the BIOS, and boot from the SSD, letting it get used to being the boss and the boot disk. You MUST do this process while the Old Hard Disk drive is disconnected, or your machine can get really confused trying to figure out which copy of Windows to boot from; and, it can trash your Master Boot Record as a result.
I booted a couple of times from the SSD to let everything know that it is now the boss and the New Boot Device, and then I reconnected the Old Hard Drive and formatted the Old Hard Drive.
In my case, I chose to use the Old Hard Drive as my Data Drive (I:), where I then moved over all of the Data from the External Hard Drive back onto the Old Hard Drive. I developed and learned a few useful tricks for making sure that I got all of the Data off the external Hard Drive and onto the Old Hard Drive that I was now using as my Data Drive. I’ll talk about some of that next.
Learn how to use SyncBack Free to backup and restore your Data:
5) Your hard drive(s) is the heart and personality of your machine. You want to find ways to back it up.
Here are a few little tricks that I like to employ.
I, personally, use SyncBack Free to backup ALL of my computers and data. SyncBack Free will make an exact mirror duplicate of any folder that you create a profile for. It does not leave hidden files behind to mess everything up! It does NOT encrypt or make-proprietary your backup data so that only it can read your data. The copied data can be read by anything, not just SyncBack Free. It’s just intuitive, and you have no ‘monkey-business’ going on behind the scenes. Once I learned how to use this program, it has become one of my most-used programs. I also use it to backup my data from one machine on my HomeGroup to another machine on my HomeGroup within my home through the Wi-Fi and the Router. If this machine should die on me, I have a duplicate copy of its Data residing on another machine in this house. I also use SyncBack Free to make mirror copies of my data folders to my External Hard Drive from time to time.
I use SyncBack Free to backup everything, and then everything can read and use the backups that I create.
SyncBack Free for the world!
Use your Old Hard Disk Drive or a new Hard Disk Drive as your Data Drive:
6) Let me say that if you add an SSD to your computer and use it as a boot drive, it is nice to have a huge 1TB or 2TB Western Digital Hard Drive out there to use as your Data Drive.
I bought the 1TB Western Digital Internal Hard Drive, which I use to store my data and documents on. I love it. It is very quiet, especially compared to other hard drives that I have purchased.
I like buying my Hard Drives from Amazon, because they seem to package them better and handle them better than Newegg. Some of the Hard Drives I have purchased from Newegg appear to have received shock (drop) damage, and were producing SMART errors when they arrived. In either case, I also spring for the two day shipping, so that my New Hard Drive isn’t being tossed around in the post office or UPS warehouse for days on end. I don’t want them drop-kicked to me, but carefully shipped to me instead. I even at times bought my hard drives from Newegg and used Federal Express to get them to me so that they would have less droppage during transit.
Now it’s time for the case study:
7) With one of my machines, I actually was gifted a Dell 755 that a friend was using as a Multimedia Home Theater machine. It was a perfectly fine Core 2 Duo 2.67Ghz machine. It was a full-tower device with lots of juice in the Power Supply and lots of hook-ups, connectors and ports, on the motherboard.
I pulled out the 80GB Barracuda Seagate my friend had in there. I then put in a Samsung 850 Pro, to which I installed an unused copy of Windows 8 that I had lying around. It was a bit of a mess trying to get the Windows 8 to upgrade to Windows 8.1 through the Windows Store, a rather buggy, long, and disappointing process. I gave up, formatted the thing again, and installed my Full Install of Windows 8.1 that I had here. Then I used Mircrosoft’s slmgr utility from the command prompt to remove the Product Key from that full Windows 8.1 install and then used the Product Key from my old Windows 8 upgrade that I had lying around, and activated the Windows 8.1 using the old unused Windows 8 Product Key.
So now, I have a clean legal install of Windows 8.1 on an SSD in that old Dell 755. The next thing I do is install my new Western Digital 1TB Drive into that machine, and format the WD HDD in NTFS.
I used Disk Management from the Computer Management Console to assign the Western Digital Drive as the I: drive. I make each one of my Data Drives the I: drive in each one of my machines, because I backup through the WiFi from my main machine over to another Windows 8.1 machine; thereby, I maintain a Hot backup of my main machine. If my main machine dies on me, then I can switch over to the Secondary machine with its SSD as C: and its HDD as an I: Data Drive. I can also use a neat little program called SyncBack Free to Mirror the Data Drive (I:) from my main machine over to the Data Drive (I:) on my Secondary Backup Machine.
SyncBack Free is one of my all-time most favorite Free Programs:
To complete the tranformation, I picked up 8 Gig of DDR2 Kingston Value RAM from the local Surplus Center at Salt Lake Community College for around 8 bucks. I dropped that into the Dell 755.
Then I purchased a Radeon R7 240 with two Gig of RAM for my video card. This video card combined with the SSD and the 8GB of RAM allows me to pull up multiple VMware Virtual Machines at the same time very quickly, which is very satisfying.
I can also load Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, and my Email script also in Internet Explorer and have 8 tabs open in each for at least 32 internet tabs or pages open all at once. You just have to be very careful NOT to have something with the same username opened in two different browsers at the same time, or the whole thing can get confused and lock up on you and refuse to work. If you login to one of your websites in one browser and login to the same website with the same username and password in a different browser, you quickly find yourself locked out of that website.
This Dell 755, with the new SSD, new HDD, full complement of RAM, Windows 8.1, and the new Radeon R7 ended up becoming my current main machine, because it has a bit more fire-power than my other Windows 8.1 machine. Good enough!
Now, I can use the next couple of years to save up for the Core i7, Sabertooth Motherboard, 64GB of DDR4 RAM, Windows 10, 512 GB SSD, and 4TB Data Drive that I want to own someday. With that thing, I think I’ll turn it into an Apache Server and take up Web Hosting, and use it to host some of my own Websites and Forums.
I’m just slowly coming up to speed as I go along. You learn by doing.
8) On the machine where I cloned the old Windows 8.1 HDD to the new SSD, I used SyncBack Free along with the Windows Explorer Copy feature to copy the Data from my External Seagate Drive over to the old HDD that I had formatted and used as my Data Drive (I:).
SyncBack Free can be used to make Mirror copies of folders on the External Drive to the internal Data Drive (I:).
First, though, you must go to your SSD, find your Documents folder, Music folder, Videos folder, Pictures folder, and Downloads folder in This PC or My Computer, right click each one of these folders and select Properties, and then select the Location Tab, and change the location of each one of these folders over to the Data Drive (I:).
What you want while you are restoring your data is for all of your data to go onto the high capacity 7200 rpm HDD instead of having it go onto your SSD. Therefore, you have to change the Location of your main data folders (or Libraries) from the C: SSD drive over to the I: Data Drive. Then you can use Syncback Free to mirror the backed-up Data from your External HDD Drive (which is E: in my case), over to their respective folders on the Data Drive (I:). I also maintained the tree structure of the subdirectory, therefore, I have a Users subdirectory on both my C: SSD and my I: Data Drive. Then I put the Location of each of the main data folders (or Libraries) within the User\username subdirectory on my Data Drive. I just moved the Location from the C: drive to the I: drive for each of the main Data Folders or Libraries. I wanted all of my data going onto the High Capacity Data Drive (I:), and not the SSD.
I only use the SSD for installing programs and for installing the Operating System. I have tried to move everything else over to the Data Drive. I also tried to work up generous over-provisioning on the SSD hoping that that will increase its life and performance. In my case, I installed and used the Samsung Magician software in order to perform the over-provisioning and other performance enhancements that the Magician recommended.
It’s nice to boot the OS and run your programs off the SSD, yet at the same time have tons of room on your internal HDD for storing your data. Hopefully this little series will be of great use to you, should you decide to someday clone your HDD over to an SSD.
While preparing this series, I have also seen links to SSD’s on Newegg. If you see similar google ads above or below, you can get at quality SSDs through them as well.
The best thing you can do for an aging desktop computer that you still want to keep using is to clone the HDD (Hard Disk Drive) over to an SSD (Solid State Drive), and then boot and run all your programs from the SSD. The improvement in performance is stunning, even if your motherboard only provides SATA II. Once you have experienced it, you simply do not want to go back to booting and running your programs off an HDD (Hard Disk Drive). Not only does the machine boot faster from the SSD, but all of the background maintenance that takes place in Windows 8.1 is infinitely faster and doesn’t bring the machine to a crawl, if that disk maintenance and software maintenance is being done on an SSD instead. An HDD is a major bottleneck, especially when lots of different background processes start to come into play. With an HDD, there was always tons of background activity on the Hard Drive visible in Task Manager that chewed up lots of CPU cycles and Disk Usage. In Task Manager Processes, the CPU and Disk Processes often idle around 0% most of the time, if you are using an SSD for your OS and Programs.
It’s very satisfying to clone your HDD over to a new SSD.
NOTE: This discussion and list of steps is found on our Computer Forum here at this link:
Have a good day!
The Powers That Be
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