In this article, we will look at how to transfer an installed Windows from one hard drive to a different higher capacity drive, as well as transfer Windows from an HDD to a new SSD drive, or clone an installed and configured Windows to the other computer.
- Preparing the system for transferring to the other drive.
- How can I transfer Windows 10 to a different drive using the built-in tools?
- Using third-party software to migrate Windows 10 to a different drive.
- What should I do if important data is lost while I’m migrating Windows 10 to a different drive?
Often when buying a disk, users are guided only by the price of the drive, forgetting that over time, the purchased memory capacity may not be enough or a faster disk may be needed. Therefore, there are situations, when the user buys a new hard drive of a larger capacity or a new SSD drive to speed up the data transfer and the computer in general. Besides, cloning a HDD to SSD frees up space on the first drive to store other files. It is also a significant time-saver – you do not have to install on the other drive the OS from scratch and configure all the necessary drivers. These are significant advantages, especially since transferring an OS to an SSD can be done in a few simple steps.
Preparing the system for transferring to the other drive
Before you use one of the Windows 10 migration utilities, you need to prepare your computer for the migration process.
The first thing to do is to get your files in order. Delete unnecessary and too heavy directories, check the system for viruses, so that when you transfer the system to another drive, only the necessary things will be saved. It is also highly recommended to move multimedia files onto a different drive, as they greatly increase the time it takes to transfer the system to another drive.
Create a backup of your files. Just in case something goes wrong, you won’t lose important information. It is also a good idea to use not only additional drives such as thumb drives and external hard drives, but also cloud services such as Google Drive or Dropbox;
It makes sense to create a Windows restore point in case something goes wrong.
It is also recommended to clean the garbage on your disk and fix registry errors before system disk cloning or transferring the system to a different disk. It will greatly speed up the cloning or system transfer process.
To clean your system disk you need to make 3 steps:
- Uninstall all unnecessary programs installed in your the system;
- Clean the Recycle Bin;
- Use the built-in tools or third-party software to clear garbage from your disk;
The disk cleaning process is described in detail in article “8 ways to free up hard drive space”.
To correct registry errors you should:
Step 1: Right-click on “Start” and choose “Run” (You can also use the key combination “Win+R”)
Step 2: A small window will open in front of you. Type “cmd” and press “Enter”
Step 3: In the command prompt window, type scanreg /fix and press “Enter” again.
The process of scanning the system registry for errors and automatically fixing them will start. Do not click anything and just wait for it to finish. After that, your drive is ready to clone or migrate your system.
How can I transfer Windows 10 to a different drive using the built-in tools?
If you do not want to install new utilities on your computer, you can migrate your system to an SSD using the system’s built-in features. It does not require any in-depth computer knowledge and the process is not very complicated. However, transferring your system to another drive will require an additional disk to store an intermediate copy of your system.
The first step in the system transfer is to prepare the new drive for the system transfer and to enable the “ACHI” mode so that you can realize the full potential of the SSD drive. If we are talking about a normal hard drive, this mode should also be enabled.
To enable ACHI mode, enter your computer’s BIOS. Press the appropriate key when the boot screen appears. It varies by motherboard model but is always found at the bottom of the boot screen. It may be Del, F2, or F10.
After the system has booted again, you should create a new partition on your SSD drive with the correct disk partitioning.
To do this:
Step 1: Right-click on the “Start” button and select “Disk Management”
Step 2: In the window that appears, select the disk to which you want to transfer your system from the list of available drives and then specify the partition style. You should use MBR for a 32-bit system and GPT for a 64-bit system.
Your SSD disk will appear in Disk Management as “Unalocated Space”, right-click on it and select “New Simple Volume”.
Step 3: The New Simple Volume Wizard will start. Follow its instructions. When prompted to determine the size of the drive, choose the entire capacity of the SSD in megabytes.
In the “Format partition” window, check the “Format this volume with the following settings” option. Choose “NTFS” as the file system.
When everything is set up, click “Next”
The same actions must be performed for the intermediate HDD, to which the operating system clone will be transferred. For convenience, it should be named (labeled) “Backup” in the volume creation wizard
When the disks are ready and properly configured – you need to create a copy of Windows 10 and transfer it to the intermediate drive. The algorithm is as follows:
Step 1: Press Win+R key combination and type “control” in the window that opens. Then press “Enter”
Step 2: In the control panel that opens, select the “Large Icons” display mode and click on “BackUp & Restore”
Step 3: Click on “Create a System Image” in the left part of the window.
Step 4: Select the location for storing the archive. Check the “On a Hard Disk” radio button and select the HDD with the name “Backup” among the available media.
Now you need to restart the computer from the intermediate HDD. This is done through the boot menu, which must be accessed during the restart. When the drive boots, the installation wizard will open. Now, there are a few simple steps to follow:
Step 1: Configure the language options in the startup window and click “Next”.
Step 2: In the next window, select “System Restore”
Step 3: The “Select Action” menu will open. Select “Troubleshooting”.
Step 4: Click on “Restore System Image” and confirm by pressing “Enter”.
After repairing, the OS will automatically reboot and start from the SSD.
Using third-party software to migrate Windows 10 to a different drive
Although the Windows 10 toolkit allows you to copy your system to an SSD, the procedure is long and time-consuming. Fortunately, there are special programs that can perform the same operations. Some of these programs are free, while others have a trial version, which will be enough for a single Windows migration. We will use MiniTool Partition Wizard as an example.
So, to migrate your system to another drive you should:
Step 1: Download MiniTool Partition Wizard from the official website, install it and run it. In the opened window click the “Launch Application” button
Step 2: The main program window opens. In the table on the right, you will see all the disks connected to your PC. Click the “Migrate OS to SSD/HDD” button.
Step 3: Choose a transfer method. If you want to remove the HDD from your computer and replace it with an SSD, select option “A”. If you want to keep both drives – check “B”.
Step 4: Select the drive you want to migrate to – that is, your SSD. From the list of options select “Fit partitions to entire disk”. It will create one large partition on the SSD that will contain your OS – this is the best option for most users. If you want to transfer the system to a larger hard drive, choose “Copy partition without resize”. Click the “Next” button
Step 5: In the next application window, click “Apply”
The program will ask you to restart your computer – select “Restart Now”.
After restarting your PC, Partition Wizard will start again, but in console mode. The migration process will resume automatically.
When the operation completes a reboot will occur. Your system is ready.
Don’t forget to enter BIOS and set the computer to boot from the new drive.
What should I do if important data is lost while I’m migrating Windows 10 to a different drive?
It is not uncommon to encounter all sorts of unexpected situations when transferring a system to a different drive. It is especially common for inexperienced users. For example, they may often format the wrong disk or something goes wrong during the system transfer and disk cloning.
Unfortunately, it almost always ends up in data loss. Besides, it is not uncommon for users to neglect backups and, for example, an error occurs during the system transfer to the new drive due to a power surge, file system errors, or a drive malfunctioning.
So what to do if an important file is lost during a system transfer?
As practice shows, the best thing to do is not to take unnecessary actions, and immediately use a data recovery program.
The thing is that when a file is erased, it is not physically erased, and the system marks it as deleted and allows you to write other files in its place. The explorer just does not show it in the system. Therefore, unnecessary manipulation of the disk can cause the file to be overwritten.
RS Partition Recovery is currently the best data recovery program. It is simple to use, is not demanding to resources of the computer – accordingly problems with use RS Partition Recovery do not arise even for the skillful users.
To recover your file you need to perform a few simple actions:
Step 1. Install and launch the RS Partition Recovery.
Step 2. Select the drive or partition from which you want to recover data.
Step 3. Choose the type of analysis.
Fast scan you should use in case the file was lost recently. The program will scan the drive quickly and show the files available for recovery.
The Full analysis function allows you to find lost data, after formatting, disc resizing, or file structure corruption (RAW).
Step 4. Preview and select the files to recover it.
Step 5. Add the files you want to save to the “Restore list” or select the entire partition and click Recovery.
It should be noted that it is best to save the recovered file to an external hard drive or USB flash drive.
Once the file recovery is complete, you will be able to use the important data again.