Switch to a solid state boot drive

“Installing a solid state boot drive is one of the best ways to make your PC start faster, and making the switch is much easier than you might expect.”
Have you seen how cheap it is to pick up a solid state drive (SSD) today? If you’re not throwing solid state boot drives into all your PCs then either you’re not saving enough of your hard-earned pennies, or you’re terrified by the prospect of reinstalling Windows. Well, be terrified no more – I’ll show you the foolproof way to clone your existing boot drive to a fresh new solid state drive for free!

The new drive must be big enough for all the data on the existing boot partition (the part of your hard drive needed for the operating system to start). It’s best if the new drive is larger than the old one, but this isn’t essential; it just makes life easier. This isn’t a quick process – if you’re lucky, and it all runs without a hitch, it can take under anhour, but if there are issues or errors, this can extend to five hours or more. It’s not something to try when you’re in a rush
Step-by-step Migrating to a new boot SSD
Recovery discs
We usually find that the newly cloned drive needs to have its bootloader (a small program that starts the operating system) rebuilt. We recommend creating a Windows emergency recovery disc (in Windows 8 it’s called a Recovery Drive). Open the Start menu, type Create a system repair discand select it. You’ll need a
spare blank CD or DVD onto which you can burn this.

Remove everything unwanted
If you’re lucky you’ll have a solid state drive larger than the one it’s replacing, but if your SSD is a bit tight for space, remove any unnecessary programs to make room. You can also remove the large hibernation file: open the Start Menu, type Command right-click ‘Command prompt’, select ‘Run as administrator’, type
powercfg –h offand press [Enter].

Resize partitions
It’s possible to resize the existing boot drive. To do this, right-click ‘Computer’ and select ‘Manage > Disk management’. Right-click on the boot partition that you’re going to clone and select ‘Shrink volume’. The Disk Management tool will calculate the amount of space that can be removed. If system files are causing issues, see step four.

Partition sizing
If you’re having issues freeing up enough space and shrinking the partition down due to system files, then you can try the EaseUS Partition Master software, which you can download free from www.partition-tool.com. This will physically shift the data to shrink the partition and it’s pretty bulletproof, but it will require a reboot into its exclusive mode.

Connect the drive
We’re getting close to the copy session, so hook up the new drive on a spare SATA or eSATA connection (if you’re not sure what these are, check http://bit.ly/17co9Vj). This is easy on a desktop PC, but for a laptop you’ll need to use a spare desktop machine to handle the copying, or else use an external drive caddy. Ideally this should be running over eSATA.

Select and copy
Macrium Reflect is my favourite drive-copying tool, largely because it has a pretty interface and I’m easily distracted, but also because it plays very nicely with Windows. You can download it free from www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx. Simply select the boot drive and click the ‘Clone this drive’ link that appears, select the destination drive and it’ll do the rest.

Recover it
Once Macrium Reflect has finished cloning the drive, power down your computer, disconnect the old boot drive, permanently install the new one and boot. Whenever I’ve run the clone process I’ve always been tripped up by something. Usually Windows will get confused and want the bootloader to be rebuilt, so boot the recovery disc and let it run.

And reboot
Any ‘recovery’ can be completed by the automatic system, and should only take a minute to finish. When it’s done, the new boot drive will be ready to run. You shouldn’t notice any difference when your computer starts because it should run as an identical system, although you’ll discover that it’s much faster if you’re upgrading to an SSD.

7Review earns Amazon affiliate commissions from qualifying purchases. You can support the site directly via Paypal donations ☕. Thank you!
We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.