I'll try to make this short and to the point. I have a hard drive currently with all my programs, music, OS, etc etc on it. I bought a new SSD drive that I will be using for the OS and a program or two.
Main question, is there an easy way to keep the programs on my hard drive as is and just install the OS on the SSD (while getting rid of the OS on my hard drive)?
Second question is, are there really any major performance reasons to; back up this hard drive, reformat it, and copy the programs back on it?
If your ssd is large enough to hold the current contents of your "C" drive, you could clone the hard drive to the SSD.
Otherwise, uninstall your apps, and export your settings and perhaps some app files using windows easy transfer.
Disconnect the hard drive so your clean install on the ssd does not try to put a hidden recovery partition on the old hard drive.
After install, you can reconnect your hard drive and delete the windows files.
The reason your apps will need to be reinstalled is because they will have registry entries which are now located on the new ssd "C" drive.
My main concern is making sure I am able to keep certain programs. For instance, some programs I have from when I went to college. I was able to install them for free with a lifetime license but won't be able to anymore since I graduated a year ago. Design programs, coding software, Norton Anti Virus with lifetime subsciption (or at least as long as the university has a contract with them because my subscription is tied to the school's license with them).
Would I be able to unplug the HDD, install the OS to the SSD, and then reconnect the HDD and delete the windows/OS files from the HDD?
Yes, unplugging th hard drive until after you install the os on the ssd will be fine.
But, after reconnecting, you may not be able to run some apps that reside on the hard drive. If the app is only a file, then it will work fine.
But, if the app requires registry entries, then it will not run since the registry data can no longer be located.
As to anti virus, why not just dump Norton AV? Microsoft security essentials is free, unobtrusive and reasonably effective.
I have never tried it. I never had any major issues with it so I just stuck with Norton. Do you recommend Microsoft security essentials over it? Or at least equally as effective?
I use it. It seems to be reasonably effective. On acouple of occasions it has caught malware links.
It gets updated as needed as a byproduct of microsoft update. It will also update daily if needed or instantly if a suspicious condition should occur.
I figure MS knows what they are doing in this arena.