I'm thinking of replacing my outdated C drive with a shiny new SSD. Last year I bought Windows 7 and I'm not prepared to buy a new OS just to replace my HDD (also I have several programs I downloaded with only 1 licence).
I came across the Windows 7 Back up and Restore option in Control Panel, is it possible to use this option to physically upgrade my C drive without buying new OS and software keys?
You don't need to buy a new OS or keys when adding/replacing a hard drive. You can reinstall the os to a new drive without a worry, which by the way is the recommended way to move to a new ssd.
You can use "System image backup" to transfer over to the new drive.
(1) When moving from old HDD to a New Boot drive, You should not have to buy new licence for operating system nor programs.
(2) Windows 7 Back up and restore work great, done it twice.
(3) Do I recommend it when going from a HDD -> SSD, NO. Reason is Partition offset, Trim Enabled (can editted Registry to enable), disabling of Defrag (but you can turn off), and Possible driver problem - Is your current HDD using MS AHCI driver, and is that the best driver, if using Intel chipset and you buy a SSD using the SF-1200 controller - answer = No. ALSO your current C drive MUST be = to or smaller than the SSD you get. (Might be able to shrink your current C drive if it is larger.
I used win Back-up to do clone my Intel G2 SSD -> new SF-1200 SSD. It worked, but performance was terrible, ended up re-installing win 7 and programs anyway.
(2) Recommend - (A) do a windows 7 back-up, just to play safe), (B) do a clean install to the SSD. When you do the clean install, first disconnect your HDD. After install you can reattach the HDD and daul boot to SSD or HDD (NO SOFTWARE boot manager) using Key to select which drive to boot to untill satisfied with SSD install.