The next job on my festive technical support rounds was to upgrade my old man’s laptop HDD to a new SSD. In the past such upgrades have usually involved other components and necessitated a fresh install of windows, but with this upgrade being just one component, to a Windows 7 PC, I decided time was ripe for a fresh investigation of the possibility of cloning the old drive onto the new
There are various paid products out there, but I have almost always found free or open-source alternatives which are often more powerful, better documented and better supported. I found a range of free options, and after reading a few comments settled on a choice of 2. CloneZilla, which runs from a bootcd, and Macrium Reflect, which runs under Windows. As I had a spare PC which was already running Windows I decided to use the latter.
The installation includes windows PE components which made it a sizeable download but it all installed without any problem. Running the program presented an option to clone the disk which I selected. I cloned an full 320Gb 7,200rpm WD Blue HDD onto a 480Gb SSD. By full I mean the HDD had around 2Gb free, so there was a lot to copy. This took 1 hour 21 minutes. After cloning I used windows disk management to expand the main system partition on the clone to fill the remaining 150Gb.
The upgrade was completed by slotting the SSD into the vacant HDD space in the laptop. The system booted flawlessly first time, requesting just one reboot after detecting the new hardware. The laptop in question is no happily in use, with lots more free space, and with a huge increase in performance. A very good result.
Update July 2018
If you need to first shrink the partition that is mostly empty, but is too large to fit on the new drive this can be done with the built-in “diskmgmt.msc” tool. First you will need to defrag the drive to move all the files to the start of the drive. This can be done with a program called “Perfect Disk” which has a free trial (fully functional) available.
Update Sept 2018
Several system files may show up as “excluded” and may refuse to move. This can be fixed. You must run “Perfect Disk” on the system the drive is originally from. You need to turn off and delete various things as follows…
1. Run cleanmgr, select to clean up system files, tick all the options and do a clean. Amongst other things this removes temporary internet files
2. Turn off hibernation in power management
3. Turn off the page file
4. Turn off and delete all system restore points
5. Run services.msc and turn off the windows search service
Finally, and only if you still can’t fully shrink, run a disk check
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