If you are still using traditional spinning hard disk drives(HDDs) in 2021, you sure are missing out on a lag-free, shutter-free, and blazing fast windows experience. You want to upgrade to a new and faster Solid State Drive(SSD) but don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up a new operating system from scratch. Besides, setting up a new operating system will require a new license. So in this article, we will discuss how to clone Windows 10 to SSD. In other words, fully transfer your windows operating system and data to an SSD from your old hard disk without losing your windows license, without losing any applications or windows settings.
How to clone Windows 10 to SSD?
Before we jump into the actual process, we need lots of preparations. Cloning your Operating system is a tedious process that requires lots of patience. First, let’s learn in which scenarios you’ll need to know how to clone Windows 10 to SSD.
Why do you want to clone your OS?
There are several possible reasons why you may want to do this-
- The most common of them all is to upgrade from your slow traditional spinning HDD to a faster, more reliable SSD.
- To replace a failing hard drive.
- To increase the storage capacity of your previous drive. For example, say you were using a 128 GB SSD but want to upgrade it to a new SSD with a higher capacity, e.g., 512GB.
- You may also want to do this in case of switching to a new PC. Let’s assume you’ve purchased a new laptop and want to set that up with the exact settings and applications as your previous PC. This process is called mirroring. But remember that you may not be able to use the old OS clone in your new laptop without a new license key as the license is somehow attached to the hardware itself. But if you already have a license key, you’d be better off mirroring your old operating system to the new laptop instead of setting everything up from scratch.
For whatever reason, you want to know how to clone Windows 10 to SSD; let’s discuss the prerequisite requirements to do this-
What things do you need to Clone your OS?
- A new SSD(of course): To clone your OS to a new drive, it’s obvious that you need to purchase a new drive, in our case, a new SSD. But before making a purchase decision, you need to make sure you get the right kind of SSD for your system. Different machines support different SSDs. There are different kinds of SSDs with different form factors, including SATA(2.5-inch format), mSATA, M.2, M.2 NVMe, PCI, etc. You need to be more careful if you are choosing an SSD for your laptop. Most laptops support 2.5-inch SSDs, but some ultrabooks have the slot of 1.8-inch SSDs or m.2 or NVMe SSDs. So first confirm what kind of SSD your machine supports and then purchase one. Also, make sure to purchase an SSD large enough to fit the entire contents of your system drive, at least the important ones. If you have music or movies stored in your system drive, move them to an external hard drive or somewhere else convenient. Uninstall unwanted programs or some games that you might have already completed or no longer play much. Just make sure the contents of your current system drive fits into your new SSD.
- A cloning tool: you need to have Macrium Reflect/Mini Tool Partition wizard, depending on which method you want to use from this guide.
- A USB to SSD connector: Just like different kinds SSDs there are different connectors or dongles to connect your SSD to your PC. This is only required if your system doesn’t have an additional slot to host another drive since for cloning from one drive to another, we need to have both the drives connected to the PC simultaneously. Most desktop PCs have additional slots, but if you are using a laptop, in most cases, chances are there are no additional slots for another drive.
- Lastly, a precision screwdriver box set to unscrew your system and replace your old Drive. You can check out a precision screwdriver set from iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit or
Now let’s start the actual Cloning guide-
Step by step guide on how to clone Windows 10 to SSD
Here in this article, we will discuss two methods of how to clone Windows 10 to SSD. Read the whole article till the end and decide which one suits you best. Both methods are fairly simple and well explained here. So let’s start-
Method 1:How to clone Windows 10 to SSD using Macrium Reflect Tool?
Macrium Reflect Tool is free-to-use software that you can use to clone your windows to a new SSD. Using this software is really convenient and easy with just one tricky part, which we will explain properly with pictures so that you won’t’ get any trouble following this guide. So follow the upcoming steps very carefully.
Step 1: Download Macrium tool and create rescue media
Download the Macrium Reflect tool downloader free version from this website below-
This will download a tiny program that will download the actual tool in its own window. After Uncheck the registration part because it’s not necessary while installing.
Before we start the actual cloning process, we need to create a rescue disk from this tool using a removable hard drive or in the PC itself. Sometimes, while booting from a clone SSD, you might encounter some problems or booting issues. If it ever happens, this rescue disk will help us solve all the issues later. This rescue Media will restore the windows boot partition. This isn’t a backup of any of your data. This is just a way to boot a windows recovery version of Macrium Reflect. To create a rescue disk, follow these steps.
Steps to create a windows rescue media using a flash drive:
- Insert a removable flash drive of any size( 4GB is more than enough).from the Macrium Reflect tool window, Go to Other Tasks> Create Rescue media and select the removable flash drive from the options.
- After selecting the flash drive, click on the Build button. It will take some time.
- After completion, please Test the flash Drive as we may need to boot from it in a later part of our guide.
Now that you have the Rescue media file created let’s jump back to the actual process of how to clone Windows 10 to SSD.
Step 2: Select proper cloning method
Connect your new Solid State Drive with the supported USB to SSD dongle, or make sure your SSD is inserted properly in one of your additional slots and open the Macrium Reflect tool. On the Macrium Reflect tool window, you can see the C drive with all its 6 partitions and the new SSD that you have currently attached to your PC. The actual plan is to clone all the six partitions in the correct order in our new SSD.
Here comes the tricky part, there are two different ways to clone these 6 parts –
- First, if your new SSD is smaller than your current drive, and
- Second, while upgrading from a smaller drive to a bigger drive.
We will explain each scenario one by one in this How to clone Windows 10 to SSD. Guide. Depending on your situation, skip to that part which you need.
Method1. Cloning partitions when your new SSD is smaller than your current system drive:
- Click on the clone this disk option below your system drive.
- A new window will appear with two bars. The top bar represents your system drive where there are 6 partitions, and at the bottom, you have to select your new SSD by clicking on Select a disk to clone to option
- Next, you need to drag and drop each partition one by one to the new SSD. But as soon as you drag the 3rd partition(the actual OS partition), it takes the whole drive space leaving no space for other partitions to be placed. This happens because the actual OS partition is quite larger than the new SSD itself. The tool shrinks the partition to match the remaining free storage of the new SSD leaving zero storage to fit the remaining partitions. Here we’ve attached a screenshot for your better understanding-
- To get around this issue, we need to resize the bigger OS partition first. To do this, drag every other partition except the OS partition to the new SSD. Now drag the OS partition box. This will automatically resize the partition to its need to fit all the partitions in the new drive. But we need to arrange them in order, or we might encounter some issues later. So note down the new partition size of that OS partition for later use and remove all the partitions by using the Undo button.
- Now start placing the partition boxes again in chronological order, but when you drag the OS partition, click on the Cloned Partition Properties. This is where you can manually change the size of any partition on the cloned drive.
- In the partition size box, input the size you’ve noted down earlier and hit OK. This will resize the OS partition, and now you can easily place the remaining partitions on the new SSD.
Method2. Cloning partitions when while upgrading from a smaller drive to a bigger drive:
This is not as big of an issue as the previous one because since you are upgrading to a larger drive than the previous one, all 6 partitions will fit within the destination bar without any issue. But it will leave the remaining free space as unallocated space, which you can allocate later using the Disk management tool. Read our article on How to extend C Drive in Windows 10 without formatting?
But if you don’t want to leave anything for later, here is how you can manage this unallocated app using the steps below-
- The first two steps are the same as what we’ve described just in the previous scenario. So we are skipping those steps and directly jumping into the partition cloning process.
- Just like we had discussed in the previous method, drag all the partitions except the OS partition, which is to be dragged at the very end. You’d notice that the last part doesn’t expand to fit the whole destination drive even though we saw that it would shrink to fit. It leaves the remaining free space as some gray unallocated space. Here is a screenshot for your reference-
- You need to click on the Cloned Partition Properties option and click the Maximum Size button.
- Now change the units to GB, which will give you a number on the partition size box. Note down this number and close the window, and remove all the partitions using the undo button.
- Now start placing the partition boxes again in chronological order, but when you drag the OS partition, just like we did earlier, click on the cloned partition properties. In the partition size box, input the size you’ve noted down earlier and hit OK. This will resize the OS partition, and now when you place the remaining partitions on the new SSD, it will fit the whole bar without leaving any grey area.
Now that you’ve successfully cloned all 6 portions from the system drive to destination drive, the hardest part of the article is over. actually, it isn’t that hard while doing it; rather than explaining it here, we can continue with the next step-
Step 3: Start Cloning Process
Click on the Next button and then again click Next and finally click Finish. Now a window will appear with two options. Uncheck the Save Backup and schedule option and hit OK.
That’s it. This will begin the process of cloning the operating system to the new SSD. This process will take quite a while, depending on the amount of data you have stored in your C drive and your PC’s performance. Meanwhile, do something else or watch an episode of something.
After completion of the process, all that is left is configuring your BIOS. That too, only if you use the new SSD in an additional slot. Otherwise, your system will recognize the replaced SSD and automatically boot from it. By configuring your BIOS setting, we mean to set the new SSD as the first priority in the boot options menu.
But we are not finished yet. Remember that Rescue Media we’ve created on a USB flash drive? Now it’s time to use that.
Step4 (optional): – Fix errors while booting from SSD
It’s not necessary to do this if your system is not giving any errors while booting from the new SSD but to make sure that no errors encounter in upcoming days, we will do this anyways. To do this
- Insert the USB flash drive, restart your PC, and boot into the one-time boot menu using the specific key assigned to your system. (It’s different for every system; in our case, it’s the F12 key.)
- Now using the down arrow select the removable flash drive. Press any key to boot from the flash drive. It will take a little while to boot, so be patient.
- After successful boot, you’ll get the Macrium Reflect rescue disk window running in a Windows PE environment.
- From the left panel, select Fix Windows boot problem. On the next window, click Next and then click Finish.
- Now restart your PC. This will solve any issue related to booting from the new SSD.
So this was the first method of our guide on how to clone Windows 10 to SSD. Now let us discuss another method of How to clone Windows 10 to SSD.
Method 2: How to clone Windows 10 to SSD using MiniTool Partition Wizard?
Disclaimer: The second method of how to clone Windows 10 to SSD was also a free method till some days ago. But the last time we checked the Minitool Partition Wizard website, they have removed the Migrate OS to SSD/HD Wizard option from the free version. The option is still available in the free version and worked fine in our testing, even though they've said they made it a feature for the pro version. You can still try at your own risk by backing up everything beforehand or, to be on the safe side, download an older version of the software from a 3rd party source.
- Step 1: First, you need to download MiniTool Partition Wizard and install it on your PC. You can download the offline installer from below- Download MiniTool Partition Wizard Offline Installer.
- Step 2: Now, Connect your new Solid State Drive with the supported USB to SSD dongle, or make sure your SSD is inserted properly in one of your additional slots and open the MiniTool Partition Wizard.
- Step 3: On the MiniTool partition wizard window, you can see the list of all the different drives you have currently attached to your PC in numerical order with additional information like the capacity of the drive, used and unused space, etc. Usually, the C drive or your system drive is located on the top with all its partitions. But, in our case, it’s Disk 2. Click on the Migrate OS to SSD/HD Wizard button from the left panel.
- Step 4: On clicking it, you’ll get two options to choose from, as shown in the screenshot below. The first option allows you to copy your entire operating system and disk partition from your current disk to a new disk. In contrast, the second option offers you only the partition with your operating system to your new drive. So, if you will replace your old hard drive, we will choose the first option because it offers a total migration of your windows OS and all the applications, personal files, folders, and Windows settings to your new SSD. The second option allows only your operating system to be moved to your new drive leaving your applications and personal files on the old drive after the migration. This option is useful if you are using an additional slot for your new SSD and planning on keeping the old drive intact with the PC. For this guide on How to clone Windows 10 to SSD, we choose the first option and hit next.
- Step 5: Now, it will ask you to choose the destination drive, in which case select the new SSD drive from the list click next to continue.
- Step 6: On the next screen, you’ll again get two options to choose from. You can choose either 1. To fit entire disk or 2. Copy partition without resizing. Choosing the first option will resize the partitions accordingly so that you won’t get any unallocated space in your new SSD. That’s the option we recommend and using on this guide. You can also choose the second option, but in this case, if any unallocated space remains, you’ll have to create a new partition out of it manually. To learn how to make another partition using unlocated space, you can read another article: How to partition C drive without formatting. After choosing the first option, click on the finish button.
- Step 7: To confirm the operation, click on the Apply button located in the bottom left corner. This will begin the process of cloning the operating system to the new SSD. At this point, make sure to close all the apps or windows currently running so the tool could perform the cloning operation successfully without any hiccups. Even after closing all the apps, some programs might be left behind that are still running in the background, so that the tool might give you an error message in this case. But don’t worry, click on the Restart now button located in the error message window if it ever happens. This will restart your PC and perform the cloning operation in the startup window without booting the operating system completely. This process will take quite a while, depending on the amount of data you have stored in your C drive and your PC’s performance.
- Step 8: After the restart, the MiniTool Partition Wizard will complete the cloning process. As we did in the first method, you have to configure your BIOS to boot from the new SSD.
So this was the second method of today’s article, How to clone Windows 10 to SSD.