Ⅰ. Introduction: Why Move Windows 11/10/8.1/7 OS to SSD

If you have bought a new solid-state drive (SSD), it's time for an upgrade. Your computer will boot much faster if you move Windows installation to the SSD, especially if you have an older and slower HDD. Why? That's because traditional hard drives are essentially metal platters with magnetic coatings that store your data, with a read/write head on an arm that accesses the data while the platters are spinning. A solid-state drive performs the same basic function as a hard drive, but data is instead stored on interconnected NAND flash memory chips.

hdd and ssd comparison

Compared with hard drives, SSDs have many advantages:

  • Much faster data access speed
  • Lower power consumption
  • Better reliability (no moving parts)
  • Shock resistance

Therefore, it's a great idea to move Windows operating system to SSD. By doing so, you can improve your computer's performance by a large margin. 

There are generally two ways to move and install OS to SSD: 

  1. 1. Clone OS disk to SSD with third-party Windows OS migration software
  2. 2. Clean install from a Windows bootable media created by Microsoft

Ⅱ. Migrate OS or Clean Install: Which Suits You Better?

If you're looking for a hassle-free way to move your OS installation to an SSD, cloning is the way to go. This will create an exact replica of your current system on the new drive, including all your personal files and all currently installed programs. 

The second method: clean install Windows 10 from scratch, gives you a completely fresh start. If you choose this route, you'll have to reinstall all your programs and copy over any personal data you want to keep. The upside is that everything will be nice and clean, with no junk files or unwanted programs cluttering up your system. 

To help you make a decision, here are the pros and cons of each method:

1. Clone Windows 10 to SSD

✔ Pros:

  1. 1. Saves time: All your programs and files will be copied over to the new drive automatically.
  2. 2. Keeps everything intact: Your personal files, preferences, and programs will all be exactly the same as they were on your old hard drive.
  3. 3. No need to reinstall Windows: You won't have to go through the trouble of a clean install and set up everything from scratch.

✘ Cons: 

  1. 1. Requires a lot of free space: In order for this method to work, you'll need enough free space on your SSD for an exact copy of everything on your current hard drive. 
  2. 2. Cannot exclude programs and files in the system disk: When you clone a system drive (unless you do a clean before migration), you clone all contents along with the operating system to the destination drive.

2. Clean Install Windows 10 on SSD

✔ Pros:

  1. 1. Gives you a fresh start: A clean install will remove all the files and programs from your current hard drive, giving you a blank slate to work with. 
  2. 2. Ensures compatibility: This method is more likely to ensure that all your programs will work properly on your new SSD. 

✘ Cons: 

  1. 1. Takes longer: You'll have to go through the trouble of reinstalling all your programs and copying over your personal data. 
  2. 2. Requires reinstalling programs, games and moving personal data:  You'll have to do a bit of work to get everything set up again the way you want it. 

So, to sum up,  if you just want to move Windows 10 to your new SSD with the least amount of hassle, cloning is the way to go. But if you're looking for a clean slate, or if you're having compatibility issues with your programs, a clean install might be a better option. 

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To know more about how each method works, refer to the featured article Migrate OS to SSD vs clean install.

Ⅲ. How to Migrate OS from HDD to SSD

To clone your system disk to SSD without reinstalling Windows and programs, you'll need third-party Windows migration software like EaseUS Todo Backup. With its "System Clone" feature, you can move all contents on your current hard drive including the operating system, installed applications as well as personal files to another drive. 

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Here's how it outweighs other choices on the market:

  • Support Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP
  • Intuitive interface and incredibly easy-to-use
  • Automatically optimize SSD by 4k alignment during the cloning process.
  • Support all brands of SSDs including Samsung, Kingston, Crucial, Intel, etc. 
  • Support all types of SSDs including M.2 SSD, SATA SSD, NVMe PCIe SSD, etc. 
  • Capable of cloning MBR system disk to GPT SSD without converting disk styles in advance

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M.2 SSDs are the latest generation of solid-state drives. They are designed to be more compact and offer higher performance than regular SSDs. M.2 SSD is available in both SATA and NVMe versions, which makes it more difficult to install than an old-fashioned SSD. However, we have an exclusive post for you to migrate OS to M.2 SSD.

m.2 ssd

Note*: Why is it important to do 4k alignment if clone OS from HDD to SSD?

The 4k alignment refers to the way data is organized on a solid-state drive, and specifically to the alignment of data at 4-kilobyte boundaries. Data that is not properly aligned can cause performance degradation on an SSD.

why do 4k alignment after cloning os from hdd to ssd

EaseUS Todo Backup, as reliable OS migration software, can help align 4k to optimize SSD while cloning OS from HDD to SSD. This helps to ensure that the SSD is running at its best possible performance. Here's the video guide to cloning Windows operating system to SSD from beginning to end.

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Note*: EaseUS Todo Backup has been upgraded to the 2022 version. In addition to enhancements of primary functions & bug fixes, the user interface has also been modernized and redesigned to be more friendly. For the most recent version's guide, please follow the article on how to migrate Windows 10/11 to SSD.

In addition, the EaseUS system clone feature also plays like a Windows-to-go creator that allows users to create a portable Windows USB drive and make it bootable on any device. Below are the benefits of having a bootable USB drive with a customized operating system on it.

  • Never be without your favorite tools and games. 
  • Make computing on the go easier than ever before.
  • Access your files, programs, and settings from any computer.
  • Travel the world and stay productive no matter where you are.
  • Carry your entire windows 10 installation with you on a single USB drive.

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Still curious? Click here to learn about how to create a portable Windows 10/11 USB drive.

Ⅳ. Additional Tip: How to Migrate OS to SSD Without Cloning?

The only way to move OS to SSD without cloning is with the help of the Windows media creation tool. It is a free program from Microsoft that allows you to create a bootable USB drive or DVD with the Windows 10 installation files. This is useful if you want to install Windows 10 on a new hard drive or SSD, or if you want to create a backup installation disk. However, this method has several disadvantages. 

  1. First of all, it takes a long time since you have to reinstall the operating system and programs from scratch. 
  2. Secondly, it's more complicated than using cloning software and there's a greater chance that something will go wrong. 
  3. Finally, you'll lose any personal files or data that isn't backed up, so make sure you have everything you need before starting. 

If you're willing to take on challenges, however, here are the detailed steps: 

Step 1. Go to Microsoft's website and download the Windows Media Creation Tool for Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7.

Step 2. After downloading Windows 10, for example., run the tool and select "Create installation media for another PC". 

choose create installation media for another pc

Step 3. Choose your preferred language, edition and architecture (64-bit or 32-bit). 

Step 4. Select "USB flash drive" as the media to use and click "Next". 

choose usb flash drive as the media to install windows 10 on ssd

Step 5. Choose the drive you want to use and click "Next". 

Step 6. Wait for the process to finish and then move on to the next section. 

Step 7. Boot from the USB drive you created and follow the prompts to install Windows 10 on your SSD. 

Step 8. When asked, select "Custom: Install Windows only (advanced)". 

Step 9. Choose the SSD as the location to install Windows 10 and continue with the installation process. 

Step 10. Once everything is finished, you'll have a clean install of Windows 10 on your new SSD! 

LEARN MORE

Looking for a more elaborate guide on how to move OS to SSD without cloning? The linked article provides users with more specific instructions from creating a Windows installation media to installing Windows 10 on SSD which is illustrated with pictures.

Ⅴ. How to Boot from SSD After OS Migration or Manual Install

After you move Windows 10 to SSD or perform a clean install, you'll need to change the boot order in your BIOS to make sure your computer boots from the SSD. 

Step 1. Restart your computer and enter the BIOS. This is usually done by pressing F2, F12, DEL, or ESC when your computer first starts up. 

Step 2. Find the "Boot Order" or "Boot Priority" setting and change it so that your SSD is listed first. 

set ssd as the boot drive by chaning the boot order in BIOS

Step 3. Save your changes and exit the BIOS. Your computer should now boot from the SSD! 

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Still curious about how to enter the BIOS or change the boot order on your particular computer? Try to follow this comprehensive guide on how to boot from SSD, even if you come across tricky issues like cloned SSD won't boot, this guide got you covered.

Ⅵ. Hard Drive Retention Advice After Clone

Once you move Windows 10 to SSD, the old hard drive can be used as a data disk. If your computer only has one hard drive bay, you'll need to use an external hard drive enclosure or USB adapter to connect it to your computer. 

If you're not sure what to do with your old hard drive, we have some advice on what you can do with an extra hard drive. 

  1. 1. Use it as a backup drive 
  2. 2. Give it to someone else 
  3. 3. Sell it online 
  4. 4. Use it as a media server 
  5. 5. Donate it to a school or library 
  6. 6. Use it for storage 
  7. 7. Recycle it  

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Unless you set up your mind using only one hard drive in your computer, try to make full use of the old bigger hard drive and the new faster SSD together. Read through the 1+1>2 solution to use HDD and SSD together, and you'll clearly know the benefits in practical use.

Ⅶ. Wrapping Things Up 

Now you know how to move Windows 10 to SSD without reinstalling the operating system or losing any data! This is the easiest and quickest way to upgrade your hard drive to an SSD, and it will make your computer much faster in the process. With the right tool like EaseUS cloning software, it's not difficult to do and we hope this guide has helped you out.

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Updated by Jean

Author Jean has been writing tech articles since she was graduated from university. She has been part of the EaseUS team for over 5 years. Her special focuses are data recovery, disk partitioning, data space optimization, data backup and Mac OS. By the way, she's an aviation fan!

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