Cloning Windows 10 from HDD to SSD for FREE

A free way to clone your OS from HDD to SSD
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One of the easiest upgrades for an old PC with the highest returns is to upgrade a hard disk drive (HDD) to a solid state drive (SSD). The hard drive is often the slowest component in a computer, so upgrade it to a solid state drive will almost always improve boot up speed and overall computer operations.

The cleanest way would be to purchase a new copy of Windows 10 and re-install all your applications. But not everyone has the time/energy or the pocketbook to spend extra money on a new copy of Windows 10. That's where cloning gives you the advantages of an exact copy of your existing drive onto a new drive. Here are few other tidbits:

  • The target (new) drive can be smaller than the source (existing) drive.
  • The used space from the source (existing) drive should be less than the size of the target (new) drive.
  • Depending on the size of your drive, expect the process to take several hours.
  • Use freemium software "EaseUS Todo Backup Free" (though there are paid features, this process only requires the free ones)
  • Before starting, always make a backup of any important data, as it's possible for any process to run into problems.

Note that I first downloaded and installed AOMEI Partition Assistant (also freemium) first, but was unable to get the clone process working with their free tools. I ended up uninstalling it and using EaseUS Todo Backup Free.

Installing a SSD Drive: every desktop and laptop is different

If you have a laptop, you need to confirm you can remove your existing hard drive. To reduce space, some laptops (generally the ultralight ones) have hard drives that are soldered directly onto the motherboard. This may result in removing the backcover of your laptop to take a close examination. If this is too much, stop and have a techie friend help you out.

If the hard drive is not soldered to motherboard, check if you have an extra slot for a second drive. If not, you may need an external hard drive adapter (example) to facilitate the cloning process. With this setup, you'll be cloning your HDD to SSD, then replacing the HDD with the SSD drive for boot up.

If you have a desktop computer, you almost certainly have an extra slot to install a solid state drive and this should not be an issue. But it's worth double checking.

Cloning Windows 10

Assuming you have both drives installed into your machine, I'll assume you have Windows 10 booted up with both a HDD and a SSD installed and the disk drives are visible in "My Computer". Note that it took me about one hour to clone a 100GB HDD to SSD on a i5 6th generation CPU.

  1. Download and Install EaseUS Todo Backup Free (click customize to make sure no bloatware is installed)
  2. Find "Clone" icon. (Note I did NOT use "System Clone", which requires a paid upgrade)
  3. For Source, select the entire drive, even if there are other partitions that are part of the drive. Click "Next".
  4. Click "Advanced Options" and check the box for "Optimize for SSD". Click "OK".
  5. For Target, select the entire drive, even if there are other partitions (they will deleted). Click "Proceed".

When EaseUS Todo Backup Free complete:

  1. With the computer turned off, unplug the source (HDD) to confirm you can successfully boot from the target (SSD). If it does work, make sure you set that drive to always boot at startup in the Bios.
  2. If you plan on keeping your hard drive as additional storage space, turn off your computer and plug in you hard drive. Again, if you are certain your SSD drive is working, you can then wipe your HDD partitions to start fresh.
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