How to Move Windows to SSD

Easily migrate an existing Windows installation to a Solid-State Drive

What to know

  • We recommend using EaseUS ToDo Backup Free to transfer files to the SSD. Select Clone > Source > Target drive > Next > Proceed.
  • Before you begin, delete anything you don't need from the source drive and back up what you want to save from the SSD.

This article shows the best way to move Windows 10, 8.1, and 7 from an existing drive to a new SSD, as well as addressing any problems that may occur after the fact. The screenshots below are from Windows 10, but the instructions also apply to Windows 7 and 8.1.

Prepare Your Source Drive

Before you clone Windows 10 to SSD (or Windows 7 or 8.1) you need to make sure that both the source drive, the one you're cloning from, and its destination SSD are ready. With the source hard drive, you want to remove any unnecessary data that you don't want to bring with you as you clone it. That not only saves space on the new drive, but can speed up the cloning process.

There are a number of great tools to use for cleaning a drive. Windows own Disk Cleanup is a great place to start, though you may also want to consider the Free Up Space tool for more advanced disk space cleaning.

As important as it is to get your source drive ready to move your OS to the SSD, you also need to prepare the destination drive. If your SSD is brand new, it shouldn't need any real preparation—the cloning process can handle that for you. If it's an older drive, or one you have stored data on previously, though, it needs more consideration.

Firstly, if there's anything you want saved from it, make sure to create a backup of that data. That can be on an external drive or a cloud storage service, but in either case, make sure your data is protected. Once the hard drive cloning process is complete, you won't be able to get it back without serious help—possibly only with professional recovery services.

Once you've done that, it's a good idea to do a complete format of the drive. While a typical format might be fine in most cases, writing zeros to the entire drive will not only ensure complete destruction of any data that was there previously, but help reset the performance of the SSD back to its brand-new state—or as close to it as possible, depending on the age of the drive.

Using a Migration Tool to Move to an SSD

There are a number of excellent applications that can help you more Windows 10 to an SSD, as well as Windows 7 and 8.1, but one of the most easily recommendable is EaseUS ToDo Backup. There is a professional version (for which a free trial is also available) that gives you some useful options, but for most looking to move their OS to an SSD, EaseUS ToDo Backup Free will suffice.

  1. Make sure that both the drive you want to clone, and the SSD are connected to your Windows PC.

  2. Download EaseUS ToDo Backup Free from the official website and install it like you would any other application.

  3. Select the Clone icon.

    The clone button highlighted in EaseUS Todo backup client.
  4. Select the hard drive that you want to clone—the Source drive. Then select Next.

    Hard disk 0 highlighted in EaseUS ToDo application.
  5. Select the SSD that you want to clone the Source drive to—the Target drive. Then select Next.

    Hard disk 2 and Next button highlighted in EaseUS ToDo application.
  6. Select Proceed to begin the cloning process.

Depending on the size of the Source drive, its read speed, and the write speed of the Target SSD, this process can take anywhere from a few minutes, to several hours. Once it is complete, however, your SSD should be (at least with regards to the data it contains) identical to that of your SSD.

To test that it works correctly, attempt to boot to the SSD and browse its data. If your settings are correct, it should appear the same as your original Source drive.

Change the boot drive

If you can't seem to boot to the new drive, it may be that your PC doesn't know to use it as the preferred boot drive. You can confirm this by accessing your BIOS/UEFI. The command is motherboard specific, so check your manual to be sure, but most computers require that immediately after turning it on, you press the Esc, Delete, F1, F2, F10, F11, or F12, key.

Once you're there, look for the Boot order menu and change the preference to your new drive using the on screen commands. Next time you restart, you should boot to the new drive.

For more information, here's a complete guide on changing the boot order.

Activating Windows

It's possible that the change of drive will cause Windows to think that it has been reused on another PC. To rectify that, you may need to re-activate your copy of Windows 10, 8.1, or 7. To do so, follow our guide to your respective operating system here.

Reinstall your Drivers

Any time you make changes to your hardware, it's advisable to reinstall your main system drivers. Even if you have only changed the SSD, some drivers may need to be reinstalled. If you have moved your installation to an entirely new PC, you will certainly need to do so.

That involves removing older drivers—typically with Windows' own tools, though bespoke utilities do exist—and installing the latest versions. For a full break down on how to do that, check out our guide to updating drivers in Windows.