Sunday, August 7, 2016

Migrating from a HDD (Hard Disk Drive) to a SSD (Solid State Drive)

My new drive in it's bracket, ready to go in my PC :)

First off, this is not a guide on how to go about doing the 'migration', as there are plenty of pretty good guides out there, such as the following 2:
I recommend you read through both articles and fully understand them before doing your upgrade. And then go ahead and read this article too (it's from one of the maker's of the software that the guides talk about):

So what this is, however, is a little article about my experience, and I will give a couple of my own tips so that you are a little bit better prepared to perform the upgrade successfully should you choose to do this.

Why would one want to upgrade from a HDD to an SSD?
The number one reason you would want to do this is that SSDs are faster than HDDs. But there's a couple of other benefits: your computer may draw a little less power, and it should also be a bit quieter.

Ok, on with it...

I started off by 'cleaning' my system of a lot of accumulated 'junk' which freed up some disk space. You should do the same - you don't want to bring over a bunch of junk to your shiny new drive, do you? I ran CCleaner, and SlimCleaner which gave me a couple of extra gigabytes of space (I don't run them as much as I should). Then I ran a defrag. I only did this because of freeing up a couple of gigabytes. I have Windows 7 so defrag runs automatically every week, so there's not really a need to run it manually unless you do something like I did.

The next thing I did was actually temporarily install the new SSD in another one of my computers, download the software for the drive (my drive is an OCZ), and check to see if there were any firmware updates for the drive...there weren't. Each SSD manufacturer has their own SSD utility software so download the appropriate one for yours. You don't have to do this, but if you have the means, I recommend doing this before. If you don't, then just do it when you're all done.

On to the actual cloning...

The software I chose to use to do the cloning was EaseUS Todo Backup Free 9.2. As the name implies, it's free software. But don't let the name throw you off - yeah it's free, but it's very capable software. Also, it sounds more like a backup tool, but it does cloning too, which is exactly what we need. The biggest thing though, is that it's capable of cloning a 'live' drive - your 'system' drive while your 'system' is running! This is pretty amazing for a free product so I highly recommend it.

When you have the drive installed in your system, and the cloning software installed, you can run the cloning process. I'd like to share 1 thing about the part of actually running the program. During the cloning wizard, it actually presents you with individual partitions besides the hard drives. I was so excited about the software that I only cloned the main partition first time around. This didn't result in a complete clone of my 'old' drive - just the main partition. This isn't enough - you need the 'System Reserved' partition as well, so when you're running the wizard, please make sure you choose all partitions on your old drive, otherwise your system won't boot off of the new SSD.

One last thing - I was originally attempting to do all of this in my cheap (USB 2.0) drive dock. It was giving me issues though - not always fully recognizing the drive, etc. So I would recommend not using one of those as it's just creating another possible point of failure.

Ok, ok, 1 more thing - during the wizard, there should be an 'Optimize for SSD' checkbox...make sure you check that box as I believe it makes sure that your new SSD will be properly 'aligned'.

I have Windows 7, so there is an Windows Experience Index test you can run on your computer. Before this new SSD, the 'Primary hard disk' score I was getting was a 5.9. After the new SSD, I'm getting a 7.7!

If you want to be thorough, I would download an SSD 'benchmark' utility, such as 'AS SSD'. This will tell you if your new drive is aligned properly...see the following thread:
It also will run some performance tests for you too.

When you're all done, you may want to check a couple of things to make sure that your system doesn't prematurely wear out your SSD:

1. Check that your system won't defrag your shiny new SSD. It should have automatically disabled it, but if you want to verify:
Open up disk defragmenter, click on 'Configure schedule', click 'Select disks...'. Your new SSD shouldn't even be in the list.

2. Turn off 'indexing' in Windows...or make sure that it's already disabled:
Open 'My Computer' / 'Windows Explorer'. Right-click on your SSD drive, click 'Properties'. Uncheck 'Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties'. Click 'Ok'. Done!

Well, I hope that was useful to some people out there. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment!

Oh, and in case you wanted to check out more information about the particular SSD (and bracket) I bought, here's the link to it on Amazon:
and the bracket:

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