While there are a wide range of disk and partition cloning utilities available, many users may not realise that Windows 7 has its own disk imaging utility that is just as effective, but with the advantage of not costing anything to use. The user just needs either an external HDD or a second internal hard disk, the SSD to clone to and either a blank CD-R or the Windows 7 OS installation disc.
Ideally, to get the most out of an SSD, it is best to start with a clean OS installation. However, this is not a choice for everyone, especially those who may not have the original OS or software discs, such as with a consumer PC/laptop that does not come with OS/software installation media.
To clone from HDD to SSD with Windows, the process is summarised as follows:
- Move data off any non-OS partitions from OS HDD and delete these partitions.
- Shrink the OS partition to fit the new SSD.
- Make an image of the OS partition to a 2nd or external HDD.
- Install the new SSD.
- Restore the OS image from the 2nd or external HDD.
- Resize the OS partition to fill the SSD capacity.
- Have Windows re-rate the OS drive so it recognises it as an SSD.
- Optional: Set up the original OS HDD as a drive for data.
Once complete, Windows 7 should behave exactly as before, with all software and settings intact, but with the exception of running much quicker thanks to the SSD.