Best way to upgrade to SSD- clean install or clone?

I built my first machine about 2 weeks ago. I didn't jump for an SSD right away, because I felt the price was beyond my range, but Newegg just ran a deal for a Corsair S300 128GB for $200, which combined with a $20 gift card, made it a very attractive deal. I bought it when there was about 1/2 hour left on the sale.

When I set up my original Windows 7 install on my 1TB HDD, I put it in a 64GB C: partition, with the rest in the D: partition, thinking it would be easy to just transfer the C: partition to a new SSD if I ever decided to upgrade.

What would be the best way to go about transferring Win7 to the new SSD? Should I use cloning software or should I back it up? I think I read somewhere that cloning it doesn't transfer everything.

I guess what I'm worried about is whether or not that hidden system drive will transfer over. I'm also concerned about cloning a 64GB partition to a 128GB drive. I have done a notebook HDD upgrade a while ago, but I had problems managing partitions.

I guess another option would be to just reinstall Win7 on the new drive, but I'm not looking forward to re-downloading all the windows updates and drivers. I've also got programs already installed on my C: drive that I don't want to have to reinstall.

I've tried searching several threads to see if others were in this situation, but I've come up empty so far.

Any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
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  1. Well, i guess you got the same deal as I got it from newegg, i actually received my drive like two days ago, too.

    I initially tried to follow a guide and use the native image utility from win7, but failed. It looks like win 7 utility will not accept an image from a larger drive (yes, even if you only chose a partition that's smaller than the SSD), from extensive reading online, whoever succeeded by using that guide were all going from smaller drive to a larger drive (not all of them were going from HDD to SSD tho)

    After like 10 hours of trying and failing, i decided to screw it and find another way. So somehow i came across to hear about this software called Paragon migrate to SSD (something like that), and it took like 20 minutes top to transfer my OS partition over from old HDD, which literally pissed me off one more time thinking about those 10 hours of wasted time.

    Anyway, give it a try, i easily found some free version by googling, i bet you can, too.

    I was extremely pleased with the result considering it only took 20 minutes or less, except for the alignment issue: AS SSD shows that the alignment is ok, but by using that famous SSD alignment calculator, it says alignment by erase blocks was misaligned, so i'm aiming at this issue right now.

    hope you good luck
  2. Thanks for the reply! It's unfortunate though that your experience hasn't been smooth, I figured I wouldn't fare much better. I haven't received my drive yet, I'm hoping I can get as much info as I can to ensure a smooth install.
  3. Acronis will image to smaller drives without issue so long as the actual data size is less than the destination drive. IOW, it auto-shrinks the partition to fit the destination drive.

    And with SSD, fresh starts are always best since finding driver issues(SSD IS quite different than HDD for compatability at times) and other conflicts can be very time consuming which eats up the time saved from imaging pretty darned quick. Usually amounts to one of those "shoulda, woulda, coulda", scenarios.
  4. I too am going for a new SSD SATA III 6.0 as my Hatachi 2 Tb SATA 6.0 is the same speed as any other 7200 HDD. But I would think that a clean install would keep things tidy and neat and not have read and write issues all over the place on the new drive. I was going for one program at a time, starting with OS Win 7 Signature addition, Norton Anti-virus and games and my AVS software as that is all I need lightning fast. Is your mobo set up for SATA III? I am curious as to just how fast it will be when you get it installed? Please post so I can have an idea of what to expect. I decided to get the SSD over the 1100T 6 core and stay with the Phenom 965. I found out on Tom's that my bottleneck is my HD's, not my CPU.
  5. I have done this twice.

    The first time, I used Acronis true image to clone my hard drive to a new SSD, an Intel X25-M g1 80gb. It worked perfectly. I cloned the full drive which was not full, and the contents fit on the SSD. You can download the free trial version which should be OK. It is a good program, and I bought the dvd.

    Just recently, I did it again using an Intel 510 120gb. This time, I was aware of the need to make the install align on a 4k boundary. Unfortunately, my original install was not aligned. You can check alignment by running the AS SSD benchmark program. If the drive is aligned, it will show up in green, otherwise in red.

    I tried to run the stand alone acronis DVD to clone. I figured it was worth a try, and I would just check to see if the results were aligned. Unfortunately, there was a bug where the stand alone acronis program could not detect my mouse cursor on my P8P67-M Pro motherboard. I think the linux os could not manage the uefi bios.

    I possibly could have installed acronis on windows, and then clone, but I decided to do a clean install. I used Windows easy transfer to copy my user data and windows settings. It worked well, excepting for windows live e-mail. I also decided it was a good time to clean up things and get a clean registry. Installing Windows on a SSD goes much faster.
  6. yep i also believe that clean install can avoid many potential headaches. However, i really do not have much time to re-configure the windows after a clean install yet, especially those registry-related softwares and things like iTunes identity and such...

    I'm just trying to get the most out it as I'm planning on upgrading to a desktop in couple months and do a clean install by then.
  7. There are 3 problems with attempting to restore an HD image to a SSD:

    The partitions on the SSD are not correctly aligned for best performance, causing up to 50% less performance.
    Windows does not configure itself for the SSD, such as turning off defrag.
    Most programs require the SSD to have the same or larger capacity than the HD.

    Doing a clean install of Win7 will correctly do #1 and #2.

    Acronis True Image 2011 does not do #1, and there does not seem to be a work around. See this page: 2699: Solid State Drive Support in Acronis Products.

    Norton Ghost 15 may do #1, if you follow certain steps for the restore, like using Diskpart. See this thread: Norton Ghost 15 & SSDs.

    I saw other products mentioned, like Clonezilla and Paragon. I would need to dig more to see if they really work.
  8. So far, cs2901's Paragon option looks to fit my needs the best:

    I should be getting my drive tomorrow, but I probably won't install it until I do a little more research as I'm still on the fence on what exactly I want to do. Hopefully I'll have it up and running by the end of the week, and I'll share whatever experience I've gained from it.

    Thanks to all who've replied for the info!
  9. With near 400 images to date using Acronis 2010 I can state a few things to be fact here. Windows 7 aligns correctly on HDD just fine at the 1024k default(all you need do is use diskpart to double check it as Acronis will not repair a bad alignment and carry it through). This W7 default alignment is carried through by Acronis on 2010 versions as long as you use the backup/recovery option and avoid using the clone tool feature since it has caused many to lose alignments. 2011 has been said to fix the cloning issues and should be fine now, though I don't use it yet.

    While W7 won't configure the image automatically for native HDD installs that are imaged to SSD's it can be done after the fact. This is because Windows is SSD aware and typically makes the adjustments at install wheras all that needs to be done after the fact(HDD to SSD image) is to run the Windows Experience Index for it to realize the added throughput and make the necessary adjustments on its own after you're operating from the SSD.

    Again,.. as long as Acronis is used to recover a backup image that contains less logical data than the destination drive it will automatically shrink the partition to fit the smaller destination drive(the SSD).

    Use these 2 settings and follow the simple instructions(backup/recover the entire drive including the bootpart) to successfully move from an HDD to SSD without issue.

    Recovery disk option is nice and flexible too with no OS required so long as you have the backup image handy on an attached storage drive. Acronis 2010 or newer works slick and highly recommended.

    PS. many have used Paragon Alignment Utility(PAT) to repair lost alignments as well and many of my friends use the app linked here too which has it bundled in with the suite. Can't go wrong either way especially with free trials.
  10. Woo it's been a while. I was just checking around and saw the new replies...

    Like the last poster mentioned, i used PAT to correct an alignment issue, which is very minor, because AS SSD shows green "OK", while this famous alignment calculator shows that only Partition Offset ÷ NAND Erase Block Size was misaligned. I searched around and asked crucial community and most people thought it wasn't a big deal at all, but being born obsessed, I decided to get things to work perfectly. So i tried PAT and it was garbage, at first. SO i contacted their tech support in Germany intending to get a refund. But yanowut, these Germans just can get things worked out all the time, either in a professional way or a amateur way. They happened to find me a older version of the software which addressed my issue.

    Anyhow, too much bullshit just now, just wanted to let you guys especially OP know this in case someone's facing the same problem.

    The SSD right now is aligned and i did some of those, again, famous win7 tweaks to finish the job that was supposed to be done by win7 itself under a clean install. I'm going to a desktop anyway, so a clean install is coming :D

    p.s., to the last poster, Acronis was perfect in everyway, except for when i only want to choose only one partition, iirc, in this case, i only want OS and Boot partition to be cloned, and i couldn't do it.
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