How to Install an SSD without Reinstalling Windows

If you really want to move to a new SSD with the old Windows installation, you should pay attention to a special feature.

An SSD offers many advantages over a traditional hard drive. The memory cells can be addressed directly, resulting in very short access times. This has a positive effect on the Windows boot time . SSDs also offer higher transfer rates than hard drives, use less energy, produce less heat and are mechanically robust.

How to Install an SSD without Reinstalling Windows

Switching from a hard disk drive to the SSD – without having to reinstall Windows – is usually not a big challenge with the right tools. But before we explain how to mirror the hard drives to an SSD , we’ll describe how to use them Determine the speed of the previous system to have a before / after comparison, and what preparations are important, especially if the new SSD is smaller than the previous hard drive.

ssd without reinstalling windows

  1. Before moving Windows to SSD: Find the right SSD

For converting desktop PCs and notebooks, a 2.5-inch SSD is the right choice in most cases. In this design, there is the largest offer and therefore you will find here also the cheapest SSD variant to install it in an existing computer.

There are also more compact form factors such as M.2 or mSATA. An overview of the types of SSDs and their areas of application can be found in the box “Overview: Types of SSDs”.

The suitable capacity of the SSD depends on the intended use. If the flash disk is intended solely as a fast drive for Windows and selected applications, a size of 128 GB is actually sufficient. However, even in this case we recommend 250 GB disks, so that you are prepared for upcoming Windows updates. A flash memory of this size you get in the best case for about 80 euros, such as the SanDisk Ultra II SSD 240GB – so converted for 30 cents per GB.

In terms of performance, the low-priced variants fulfill their purpose, but they must be accepted in the scope of delivery, which is usually limited to an adapter frame. The warranty period is reduced to three years in these cases. On the other hand, more expensive SSDs can offer up to ten years of manufacturer’s warranty, as manufacturers use better flash components and more powerful controllers.

Do you want with the SSD to replace the existing hard drive completely, the highest possible capacity is required. The limit determines the wallet, but you should not go below one TB. A cheap representative from the PC world tests can be found in the Toshiba Q300 960GB with a price per GB of 30 cents. The current highest SSD capacity is four TB, such as the Samsung SSD 850 EVO 4 TB , Here is the price per GB at over 30 cents. That sounds cheap. However Convert him up to the capacity that remains SSD a real investment of around 1,000 euros.

  1. Before installation: Check connection and height

The majority of popular 2.5 “SSDs offer a SATA III interface. The official name is Serial ATA 6.0 GBit / s or SATA Revision 3.x. Sometimes you read also SATA-600, the number stands for the net data rate in MByte / s. If the PC in which you want to install the flash disk is a bit older, you may still have a SATA II interface.

You can still install SATA III SSDs. In most cases, upgrading through a SATA 6G card is not worth it to increase the connection speed, as you will not notice the difference in practice. The actual tempo boost comes from the change from magnetic hard disk to flash. If you are not sure which port is present, use a hardware diagnostic tool Speccy . Here you can see the interface under “Storage” and “SATA Type”.

The height of the SSD can prove to be a bigger hurdle than the interface , especially if you want to upgrade a notebook. In most cases, the mobile computer will fit 2.5-inch SSDs with seven millimeters of enclosure height. Older mobile computers can also have a 9.5-millimeter slot.

Balance the difference with the adhesive adapter frames that are usually included with the SSD . It is trickier with Ultrabooks, because in them either 2.5-inch SSDs with five millimeter height or even 1.8-inch Flashplatten stuck. If you are not sure how much space your mobile computer has, check the specifications before getting the new Solid State Disk.

  1. Before the conversion: Windows start times and benchmark

Windows logs for itself how long the startup and shutdown processes take. This information can be retrieved via the Event Viewer. Press the Win-R key combination, type eventvwr , and click OK. In the left part of the window go to “Application and Service Logs -> Microsoft -> Windows-> Diagnostics Performance -> Ready for Operation. Sort the list by clicking on the “Date and time” column header.

Event ID 100 refers to boot operations, 200 to shutdown. Click one of the ID 100 messages and go to the Details tab at the bottom. After “MainPathBootTime” you will see the time that Windows needs to start. Together with “BootPostBootTime”, which is the time that services and startup applications needed, the total value comes after “BootTime”. For Event ID 200, note the value after “ShutdownTime”.

More meaningful is an average, such as the last 20 startup and shutdown operations. Determine this with the tool PC-WELT-Performance . Extract the ZIP-Achiv into any directory and start the file RunAsAdmin.cmd. The script outputs the last start time in a window after “Boot Time,” and calculates the maximum of the last 20 startup and shutdown times.

The average Windows startup time should be between 30 and 60 seconds on a reasonably tidy and average performance system. Come an SSD For use, start times of 15 seconds can be achieved.

Determine HDD and SSD Speed : With AS SSD Benchmark You can measure transfer rates and access times of your drives. After starting, select the desired drive in the upper left corner and then click on “Start”. When the test is complete, you can see the read and write performance of the drive in the “Seq” line.

Hard drives are around 100 MB per second. SSDs come to about 500 MB per second or more. Hard disks achieve typical access times of 10 to 16 milliseconds when reading data, whereas SSDs usually require only 0.05 milliseconds.

  1. Preparing for Cloning to the Solid State Disk

The risk of losing data is low when you clone or rebuild a hard drive. Nevertheless, you should always create a backup of at least the personal data. For example, you use Aomei Backupper. Use the tool to back up the system disk, individual partitions, or folders on an external disk, for example. In Aomei Backupper, see “Tools -> Create Bootable Media” for a feature that you use to create a rescue media. This restores Windows , even if the system should stop booting.

Cleaning up your hard drive: Most of the time your existing hard drive will offer more capacity than the new SSD. Then store anything you do not need all the time on a second hard drive. Also delete temporary files and uninstall unused applications. Of course, we also have an extensive guide to the topic ” Clean up Windows 10 “. Most tips and tools can also be used on Windows 7 and 8.

Moved folders: If you moved the user profiles or individual folders from your profile to a different partition or drive, undo these changes. The same applies to programs that you have installed on a drive other than “C:”. Otherwise, you must also clone this partition to the SSD . If this has only a small capacity, but that makes little sense.

Check Bios / Firmware Settings: SSDs only deliver maximum performance when the SATA controller is operating in AHCI mode. For newer PCs or laptops with pre-installed Windows 8 or 10, this mode is usually active by default, but not always on Windows 7 devices . Check the setting in the BIOS / firmware setup. Call it shortly after starting the PC with keys like Esc, F2 or Del (or Del). Windows users8 or 10 click on the symbol with the switch off button in the lower right corner before logging on. Hold down the Shift key, click Reboot in the menu, and go to the Troubleshooting -> Advanced Options -> UEFI Firmware Setting menu.

The SATA settings are usually found under menus like “Advanced” or “Integrated Peripherals”. For example, if “IDE” is configured here, set “AHCI” instead. If Windows does not start after that, undo the change and restart Windows . Now press the key combination Win-R, type regedit and click on “OK”. In Windows 7, go to the key “Hkey_Local_Machine \ System \ CurrentControlSet \ services \ msahci”, in Windows 8 or 10 go to “Hkey_Local_Machine \ System \ CurrentControlSet \ Services \ storahci”. Change the value “Start” to 0. After that, Windows shouldalso start in AHCI mode. But there is no guarantee for that, especially if special manufacturer drivers are installed. In this case, we recommend the Windows reinstallation on the SSD.

  1. Connect the SSD to the desktop PC or notebook

The easiest and fastest way is if the PC has a free SATA port to which you can connect the SSD . If this is not possible, use a USB SATA adapter, preferably for the USB 3.0 port. In the specialist and mail order you will find suitable equipment for about 10 to 30 euros.

Simple adapters consist of only one SATA and power plug and two USB plugs. Somewhat more robust are docking stations for one or more 2.5 or 3.5 inch drives. The investment is worthwhile in any case, if you continue to use the removed hard disk via the USB SATA adapter as an external drive.

If the motherboard offers a raid function, you could also install two smaller SSDs and connect them together as Raid 0. The available storage space then results from the sum of the capacities of both SSDs. Because it writes alternately on both drives, the transfer rate approximately doubles. However, in practice, the speed advantage is barely noticeable in most applications, and even Windows does not start faster because access times remain the same.

A Raid 0 also increases the risk of default. Because even if only one SSD is defective, all data is lost. Older chipsets or raid drivers also do not support the Trim feature needed to optimize the SSDs. For these reasons, we can not recommend an SSD RAID. Better use an SSD with the capacity you want.

  1. Mirror disk with freeware: transfer partitions from disk to the fast SSD

By downloading you will find two tools with which you can mirror the data from the hard disk to the SSD . You can find out which partition style exists in the Disk Management.

Press the Win-R key combination, type diskmgmt.msc, and then click OK. In the lower part of the window, right-click the system partition hard disk, for example, Disk 0, and go to Properties on the menu. Switch to the “Volumes” tab. If “Partition Boot Style” is “Master Boot Record (MBR)”, you can use Aomei Partition Assistant Standard Edition. On the other hand, if “GUID Partition Table (GPT)” pops up, use the English program Minitool Partition Wizard Free whose use we will describe below.

In the first step you build the SSD into the PC or connect the drive via USB SATA adapter (point 3). Disconnect from other internal or external hard drives, except for the system hard disk. This increases the clarity and there is no risk of accidentally selecting the wrong hard drive as the destination.

Next, install and start Minitool Partition Wizard Free; Click on “Launch Application”.

Variant 1: If you only want to mirror the partitions of the operating system, click under “Wizards” on “Migrate OS to SSD / HD Wizard”. In the list, select the SSD as the destination drive and click “Next”. By default, the option “1. Fit partitions to entire disk “. Partition Wizard Free then creates partitions on the SSD proportional to the previous size. Y

ou can simply accept the suggestion or select the “Edit partitions on this disk” option and adjust the partition size. For example, for the recovery and EFI partition, you can use the previous sizes. These usually do not have to be changed. Is the SSD big enough, you can also make room for another partition, such as personal data. This facilitates the backup. Finally, click on “Next” and “Finish”.

Variant 2: If there is another data partition on the hard disk, which should also be on the SSD , go to “Copy Disk Wizard”. Click “Next”, select the disk you want to copy and click “Next”. Select the SSD as the destination drive and click on “Next”. Then you have the same partitioning options as described under “Variant 1”. Finally, click on the “Next” and “Finish” buttons.

To apply the changes, click “Apply” and confirm with “Yes”. Partition Wizard Free first copies the unlocked partitions. Since files are open on the Windows partition, they can only be copied before the Windows startup. The program informs you about this and you click on “Restart Now”. After rebooting, Partition Wizard Free will automatically resume its work. When the process is complete, Windows restarts . Because of the optimal alignment of the partitions (“alignment”) you do not have to worry, because the tool does it automatically. Check if all files have arrived on the SSD .

  1. Install SSD in desktop PC or mobile computer

Before installing the SSD in the desktop PC, turn it off and unplug the power cord before opening the case. If your PC does not have a special slot for a 2.5-inch SSD, use a mounting frame that is either included in the SSD or sold separately for about six euros. Place the SSD in the frame and screw it there. Then fix the frame in the hard drive bay of the computer.

Before you install the SSD in your notebook, shut down the mobile computer and remove the battery. See the datasheet or manual to see exactly where the hard disk is located. Turn the notebook over and unscrew the cover.

Remove power and data cables from the old hard drive, and lift them out of the slot. Then plug the cables into the new SSD and place them in the free space. Screw the cover back on. Some notebooks can accommodate an additional SSD in M.2 format such as the Aldi mobile computer Akoya E6416.

Note the length and the connection in the notebook – see box “Overview: Designs of SSDs”. In this case, you just have to move the system to the SSD and save the detour via an adapter or docking station. Upgrading costs you from 75 euros – for example, for the Crucial MX300 275GB.

  1. After cloning: The first Windows startup

If you have replaced the old hard drive with an SSD , Windows will automatically detect the new drive automatically. For older computers, it is recommended to connect the flash memory to the SATA connector of the old disk, as older BIOS versions otherwise confuse the startup sequences. It may also be the case that the bios may log on the first boot and display the new disk. You simply confirm – and Windows starts as usual.

If you leave the old disk in the computer, it happens that the computer continues to boot from it. Changing the boot order in the BIOS setup solves the problem. Call the setup shortly after starting the PC via keys such as Esc, F2 or Del. The key varies depending on the computer. You can find out from the manual of the PC or the motherboard. The boot settings can be found in the menu “Advanced BIOS Features”, “Boot Features” or “Memory”. Look for an option like “HDD Boot Priority” or “Boot Order” and put the SSD first. Confirm the setting with the corresponding key – for example “F10”.

  1. Usage tips for the old HDD and the new SSD

If you want to reuse the old hard disk after the computer with the new SSD runs smoothly even after a few days, you can delete partitions that are no longer needed, such as those of the system. In Easeus Todo Backup Free, use “Tools -> Delete Data”. Here you put the unused partitions with a checkmark and click on “Confirm”. After a warning that all data is lost, the deletion process begins.

An SSD does not need to be defragmented. Instead, the Trim command ensures that unused memory blocks are freed. This recognizes Windows since 7 actually automatically. For safety, however, check the defragmentation. To do this, press the key combination Win-R, type in the field “dfrgui” and confirm with “OK”. For Windows 7, the system drive should have the message “Never executed” in the “Last executed” column.

If you want to be absolutely sure and only have one SSD in use, click on “Configure schedule” and uncheck “Run on schedule (recommended)”. Click on “OK” to exclude a defragmentation. at In Windows 8 and 10 you see “optimize drives” instead of defragmentation. The media type is “Solid State Drive”. Drive maintenance is done automatically by the operating system.

You can initiate an optimization immediately or set an interval when the system should perform an optimization operation by clicking “Change setting” in “Scheduled optimization”. The options are “Daily”, “Weekly” and “Monthly”.

How to Install an SSD without Reinstalling Windows
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