Cloning your HDD to an SSD.

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Cloning your HDD to an SSD.

Postby The Powers That Be » Sat Nov 29, 2014 10:45 am

THIS REVIEW SERIES IS ONLINE AT OUR WEBSITE:

http://allthings.computer/clone-hdd-to-ssd/

Let's face reality here. The kind of backup that most of us want to make nowadays is a transfer of our Operating System and Programs from an old HDD over to a fast-booting SSD. I have done this a couple of times, so I know what works, and what didn't work for me. You just want it to work.

BUY AN SSD FROM AMAZON:

http://reviews.allthings.computer/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 SDD 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.
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Re: Cloning your HDD to an SSD.

Postby The Powers That Be » Sat Nov 29, 2014 11:11 am

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.

I got an External Hard Drive that has the Power Supply. Some devices (and computers) do not do well when power is provided exclusively through the USB port.

3) Once you have an external hard drive in hand, then you are ready to transfer your Documents, Pictures, Music, Videos, Downloads, 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.

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!

I highly recommend the Samsung Pro 850 SSDs.
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Re: Cloning your HDD to an SSD.

Postby The Powers That Be » Sat Nov 29, 2014 12:14 pm

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 your 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, installed the New SSD as Hard Drive 1 with the Old Hard Drive remaining Hard Drive 0. Then I booted 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:
http://www.easeus.com/

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:
http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx

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 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 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.
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Re: Cloning your HDD to an SSD.

Postby The Powers That Be » Sat Nov 29, 2014 12:53 pm

5) Your hard drive(s) is the heart and personality of your machine. You want to find ways to back it up.

Here's a few little tricks that I like to employ.
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Re: Cloning your HDD to an SSD.

Postby The Powers That Be » Sat Nov 29, 2014 2:33 pm

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 for the story:

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, 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:
http://www.2brightsparks.com/freeware/freeware-hub.html

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.

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.
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Re: Cloning your HDD to an SSD.

Postby The Powers That Be » Sat Nov 29, 2014 3:13 pm

7) On the machine where I cloned the old Windows 8.1 HDD to the new SSD, I used SyncBack Free along with the Windows Copy Program 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 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 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 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 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. If you use some of the links above to find and purchase what I went after, we'll get a small cut of the action which we can then use to keep this website and forum going.

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 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 a 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.
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Re: Cloning your HDD to an SSD.

Postby The Powers That Be » Sat Nov 29, 2014 3:23 pm

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Re: Cloning your HDD to an SSD.

Postby The Powers That Be » Sat Nov 29, 2014 7:07 pm

Here's a link to SSD's that we recommend:

viewforum.php?f=1393
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Re: Cloning your HDD to an SSD.

Postby Natter » Sun Nov 30, 2014 7:13 pm

This article got my attention. Here's my situation. I have a nearly 5 year old Windows 7 Ultimate desktop machine I use for business. I don't know if it has the SATA III HDD connector or not, but overall, it was a top of the line machine when placed in service, and I'd like to keep it for another year or so, and one day replace it with a Windows 10 machine.

I would like to replace the HDD with a SDD. I would probably buy the 256 GB version to which you posted the link on Amazon. I could get by with the 128 size, but I don't want to overly complicate things by having to move my data to another HDD. Paying the extra $50 or so is worth it to simplify things.

Here's my question. I currently encrypt certain directories with Window Encrypting File System. Since I am going to be upgrading to an SSD, I would like to start using Bitlocker to encrypt the entire disk. This is especially appealing now that the increased overhead would be compensated by the SSD. If I go this route, when should I encrypt the new SSD, before the cloning, or after the cloning? Any thoughts?
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Re: Cloning your HDD to an SSD.

Postby The Powers That Be » Sun Nov 30, 2014 7:57 pm

Natter wrote:This article got my attention. Here's my situation. I have a nearly 5 year old Windows 7 Ultimate desktop machine I use for business. I don't know if it has the SATA III HDD connector or not, but overall, it was a top of the line machine when placed in service, and I'd like to keep it for another year or so, and one day replace it with a Windows 10 machine.

I would like to replace the HDD with a SDD. I would probably buy the 256 GB version to which you posted the link on Amazon. I could get by with the 128 size, but I don't want to overly complicate things by having to move my data to another HDD. Paying the extra $50 or so is worth it to simplify things.

Here's my question. I currently encrypt certain directories with Window Encrypting File System. Since I am going to be upgrading to an SSD, I would like to start using Bitlocker to encrypt the entire disk. This is especially appealing now that the increased overhead would be compensated by the SSD. If I go this route, when should I encrypt the new SSD, before the cloning, or after the cloning? Any thoughts?


Good question!

My gut feeling is to tell you to clone the HDD to the SSD first, and then apply the Bitlocker encryption to the SSD after the fact. There's a couple of reasons why I would go this route.

First, since you haven't already applied Bitlocker to your HDD (Hard Disk), you have no idea what kinds of problems might be introduced by doing so, or even if your HDD supports encryption natively. The last thing you want is for your Hard Disk to break or stop working because you decided to encrypt it at the last minute.

Second, there is a wise rule in place regarding backups -- you do all you can to protect your backup and keep it untouched and unchanged. When I tried to clone my HDD to my SSD, it didn't work the first few times I tried it, because the EaseUS software I was using seemed to be unable to create a bootable SSD. My salvation came in the fact that I could simply re-format the SSD and try again, because the HDD (Hard Drive) remained unchanged. I just kept trying until I found a piece of software (Macrium Reflect) that was able to successfully clone my HDD to my new SSD.

Third, you have no way of knowing most of the time if a piece of software will actually be able to clone an encrypted disk. The specifications might say that it will, but from past experience that's still no guarantee. There can be nothing more annoying than to be unable to find a program that can actually clone your hard drive successfully. I have cloned a few of these in the past, and you just want it to work. As I see it, having the Hard Drive encrypted first would lessen your chances of finding a program that can clone it, especially a free program. If you are willing to shell out cash for a cloning program, I imagine you can get what you want; but, I wasn't willing to shell out the cash, and even if you do shell out the cash that's still no guarantee that the program you buy will actually be able to successfully clone your HDD to your new SSD. By keeping your hard drive unencrypted, it increases your chances of being able to find a free program that will actually be able to clone your HDD to your new SDD.

Fourth, everything in my mind is telling me to encrypt the SSD after the cloning process. Here's my final reason. Let's say you successfully clone your HDD to your SSD, and everything is working just fine. Then you use Bitlocker to encrypt your SSD after removing or disconnecting your HDD, and it doesn't work and you are left with a brick either because your SSD or your motherboard don't have what it takes to support Bitlocker. Well, as I see it, you should be able to unencrypt that SSD or format that SSD, do the cloning again and still have a working SSD when you are done. As long as you protect your HDD from damage, you can keep cloning the thing indefinitely until you finally end up with something that works. If you lose your HDD, then all bets are off.
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