How to Switch from a Hard Drive to an SSD

November 5, 2015 | By Kevin Shih | PCDIY

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Making the switch from a hard drive to an SSD is a task many PC builders will eventually come across. And as prices for SSDs become more affordable than ever, you are probably thinking about making the switch sooner rather than later. Trust me, the switch is worth it.

Personally, I have made all of the systems in my house – including my relative’s PCs which all run on SSDs. This has breathed new life back into systems that are 5 years or older and definitely beats buying more RAM if you want to make the PC feel “snappier.”

Although making the switch from a hard drive to an SSD may sound as simple as copying all the files over, PCs aren’t designed that way because system drives have special partitions that makes them bootable with an existing operating system installed.

How to Switch from a Hard Drive to an SSD:

Required Hardware

  • SSD and HDD
  • drive cloning software
  • a separate drive for you to back up your data (swapping to a smaller drive)
  • external USB hard Drive enclosure, dock, or SATA to USB adapter (optional)
  • USB pen drive (optional)

Software Options

Steps:

  1. Backup important files such as documents, videos, music, and photos onto a separate drive by copying the data over. You can skip this step if you are cloning to a bigger hard drive than your current drive.
  2.  If you are swapping to an SSD that is smaller than your current drive, clear out any data located on your C: drive that takes up space such as videos, music, photos, etc. Make sure the used storage space is small enough to clone into the new drive.
  3. Connect the new drive either internally with a SATA cable or use a SATA to USB adapter or external hard drive enclosure. Make sure your system recognizes the drive.
  4. Install the software of your choice. Run the software and select the Disk Cloning feature available within the user interface.
  5. All of the previously mentioned software should come with an automatic selection in which it automatically clone the entire Disk and its partitions from the selected “Source” drive to the “Target” destination drive. Make sure the drives are selected properly and begin cloning.
  6. Once the drive finishes cloning, shut down your computer and swap out your existing drive with the newly cloned drive.
  7. Boot up your system and enter BIOS with the DEL key and check your boot order. Or hit F12 to display the boot menu and select the new bootable volume.

Now that you are done with the cloning process, you can use the old drive as an external backup by installing it into a hard drive enclosure. Or if you want to use it internally, just reformat it and it will work as new.

Notes on Enabling TRIM for that New SSD

Mechanical drives rearrange drive data and make sure your computer can run efficiently. However, the writing and rewriting of data is unnecessary on an SSD and isn’t recommended. A TRIM command allows an operating system to inform an SSD which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be wiped internally.  For operating systems to have TRIM enabled, this will ensure the lifetime of that new SSD.

You can check if TRIM is enabled by entering the following in command prompt:

fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify

Returning a 0 will mean TRIM support is enabled and a 1 will mean it is disabled. Should you get a 1, please check if your SSD supports TRIM.

To enable TRIM, enter the following command:

fsutil behavior set disabledeletenotify 0

It’s All About the Speed…and Safety

You’ll notice an immediate impact on speed after making the switch to an SSD. As an added bonus, your data will also now be more secure. Ready to make the switch?

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