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Introduction + Windows Setup
The Great SSD Migration
As we have detailed in our Great High-end SSD Shootout, there has never been a better time to go out there and get an SSD. There’s a great variety to choose from and prices are at all time lows. Of course the likelihood of it getting cheaper is certainly possible looking at recent trends, but the point is that prices are now more reasonable for the performance gained and the storage size offered that you can seriously consider upgrading without being overly concerned of the cost. For many years now, we've preached that in terms of system upgrades, nothing offers as appreciable and as noticeable a boost in performance than upgrading your storage component - especially when it's swapping out an old mechanical hard disk for an SSD. We’ve seen this in our review of the Western Digital VelociRaptor that despite being the one of the fastest mechanical hard disks in the market, it was simply no match for a typical SSD.
For those who are still sitting on the fence, maybe you are daunted by the prospects of having to re-install your OS and applications on your new SSD. Well, don’t be. Because in this special feature, we’ll show you how you can migrate your entire OS and applications to your new SSD, so that you won’t have to go through the hassle of re-installing your OS and applications.
Picking a Size
Generally, SSDs come in a number of capacity points - usually 64GB, 128GB, 180GB, 256GB and 512GB. Ideally, what you want is an SSD that can accommodate both your OS installation and your apps. This will ensure the best performance boost. However, if you have too many apps, what we recommend is that you keep only your most frequently used apps on the SSDs. For users who want the most fuss-free migration process, our recommendation is to get an SSD that has a bigger capacity than your existing drive.
If you have a desktop system, simply install your new SSD to any unused hard drive bay. For notebook users, who might want to invest in a hard disk enclosure to house your SSD while it clones crucial system files from your existing hard disk. For the actual cloning procedure, we recommend using the free to download EaseUS Partition Master and that's what we'll be using shortly to commence the process. But before that, there are a couple of preparatory matters to look into first:-
Before you clone your hard disk, the first thing we recommend doing is to defragment your current hard disk. Additionally, it’s also a good idea to backup all your data to another hard disk in case anything goes wrong.
After defragmentation, you will need to align your SSD. This step is necessary because traditional mechanical hard disks and SSDs store their data differently. Mechanical hard disks typically start the first partition after 63 blocks, while SSDs require 64 blocks of data for optimal performance.
To ensure they are aligned properly, we will use DISKPART. To ensure this is done properly, we need to open a command prompt with elevated privileges. To do so, hit the Windows button (assuming you're using Windows 7 or Windows XP), navigate to "Accessories" and right-click on "Command Prompt" and check the field that says "Run as Administrator".
Open command prompt and type in the following commands, in the following order. Be careful, especially when specifying which disk to align.
- Diskpart (this runs the DISKPART utility)
- List Disk (this lists the drives recognized your system)
- Select disk n (where n is your SSD’s drive number as provided for by the previous command)
- Create partition primary align = 1024 (this aligns the SSD)
- Active (this marks the drive as active)
Now your SSD is properly aligned.
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