How to Clone Windows 10 to an SSD

So you bought an SSD drive, and now you want to move your Windows 10 operating system plus all the data to the new drive. While Windows 10 doesn’t make this easy for you, there are ways you can clone and swap the OS install to an SSD. The best part about this process is once it’s done, it’ll make your system faster.

Here’s a guide that shows you how to clone the entire Windows OS with all files and settings intact over to the SSD drive.

Note: before moving your OS to the SSD drive, make sure you back up your data. This protects you in case something goes wrong, as the data is needed for the entire process.

Preliminary steps

Now that you’ve backed up your drive, here are a few other steps to take just before performing the cloning (migration) of Windows 10 to the SSD drive.

  • Shrink your disk contents to get rid of additional space, as SSD drives usually have less space compared to regular HDDs. This ensures your system partition fits on the new drive.
  • Delete any personal files, multimedia files like photos, videos, music, and non-system files so your partition is as small as possible. Don’t worry about deleting these files because they’re already backed up anyway.
  • Check that your system partition can fit on the SSD drive, and then you can begin the cloning process.

If you prefer, you can use Windows’ Disk Cleanup tool to prepare your system for a smooth, fast, and painless transition to your SSD drive.

To do this, following the below steps.

1. In the Windows search bar type Disk Cleanup, and click on its link.

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2. A box with a list of file types will open. Check the files you want to get rid of or delete. Most of them will be checked already, as they’re the files you don’t need like temp files and other data. Double check to make sure you didn’t include files you actually want to keep.

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3. Click “Clean up system files.”

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4. Click OK to begin the cleanup process.

Cloning Windows 10 to an SSD drive

There are different methods you can use to clone Windows 10 OS to your SSD drive, some of which will require third-party tools to get the job done. The most common third-party tools you can use to clone Windows 10 without a reinstall to your SSD are EaseUS and AOMEI Backupper.

Using EaseUS software

EaseUS is a free cloning software that allows you to migrate Windows 10 without reinstalling the system on your SSD drive.

1. Download EaseUS Todo Backup clone software.

2. Launch and run the software on your computer.

3. Select “Clone.”

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4. Select the disk partition you’d like cloned and the destination disk you want to save the cloned disk to, or to partition with data.

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5. Click “Proceed” to start the cloning process or partition now.

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6. Reboot your computer.

Note: in case you get an error saying the drive is too big, just delete more files from your HDD.

You can now continue using Windows 10 on your SSD drive. If you like, you can remove the old Windows HDD or use it as extra storage.

Using AOMEI Backupper software

AOMEI Backupper is another third-party tool you can use to move your OS to your SSD drive. It is easy to use, versatile, and offers data backup, disk cloning, disaster recovery, and file syncing solutions.

1. Download and install AOMEI Backupper Standard to your computer.

2. Connect your hard drive to your computer.

3. Launch the process by going to “Clone -> System Clone.”

4. A new window will open asking you where you’d like the OS files to be moved to.

5. Select your SSD drive.

6. Confirm your selection.

7. Click Next and follow the on-screen prompts to complete the cloning.

You have now successfully cloned your OS to the SSD drive.

The next steps

After cloning your OS to the SSD drive, restore your personal files and user folders to the old and formatted HDD.

1. Create a new folder in your old drive to store personal files and user folders – give the folder whatever name you want – for example, MyOldStuff.

2. Go to “C://Users/<username>.” (Here you’ll see all your user folders.)

3. Right-click on each folder and select the “Properties -> Location” tab.

4. Click “Move.”

5. Select the new folder as the target.

All your folders will now be placed in the old drive (HDD).

To restore your personal files to the old HDD, follow the two steps below.

1. Open the backup destination (can be external storage, cloud, or another partition).

2. Drag all user files to the new user folders like My Documents/My Music or other user folders.

All your personal files will now be accessible, even if they’re not within the system partition.

Were you able to clone your OS successfully to your SSD drive? Comment below.

Image credit: AOMEI Backupper, EaseUS

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3 comments

  1. Step 1 should be to make sure that Windows is in UEFI mode. If it isn’t, there is no point cloning. Step 2 is to make sure that the SSD ends up being formatted as 4k aligned. This is why when I get an SSD I have to do a fresh install, I installed Windows 10 on a drive that was already formatted from a different PC that was too old to support UEFI so it isn’t in that mode. I didn’t repartition and reformat because the drive has a restore partition on it that I may need for the original PC.

  2. Not one single word about *how* or *where* the SSD drive is connected! Should one put it in their back pocket and start the app or is the front pocket better? Also, Clonezilla isn’t mentioned, which is as easy to use. I would imagine trying to give the readers as many choices of apps to use, the better.

  3. I just plugged in my new drive, plugged in my flash drive with a new MX Linux, hit install. 20 minutes later I was back to work with all the apps I needed ready to go. I still have my old HDD with all my data, and my old OSes (Mint, Ubuntu MATE and maybe a Windows 7 which might still work).

    I’ve used Clonezilla and it works OK.

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