I have a 256 gig harddrive in a laptop working under Windows Vista. How can I best transfer everything on it including programmes, data and settings to a new bigger SSD drive under Windows 7? Many thanks.
You can't directly do that in one easy step. However, you can Clone your laptop HDD using a Cloning utility from you new SSD manufacturer, or any number of 3rd party cloning utilities as long as the SSD is the same size or larger than the older drive. That places everything from the old Disk bit for bit on the new Disk, not just the system partition but all partitions on the disk.
Once that is done, you can upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 (same 32 or 64 bit system) which will give you the Windows 7 OS with all your appllications and data intact.
If you want to go from a 32 bit OS to 64 bit Win-7 system, then you will need to cleanly install the new OS, transfer over your data using the Easy Transfer Wizard, but will have to reinstall your application programs, like Office, Photoshop etc.