Yet another guide on HDD to SSD migration

Samsung-830-Series

Just swapped my laptop HDD with an SSD as i have promised myself to do from a year ago. Looks like my prediction on the price of SSD came true – I managed to get a 128GB SSD for US$90 (S$110), well under the S$150 price point i was hoping for. The result of using an SSD instead HDD? Boot up time fell to under 15 seconds from more than a minute before, which was getting unbearable.

If you were to search the internet, you’ll find thousands of entries on how to perform an HDD to SSD migration (specifically, migrating the Windows OS drive which is typically called the C drive). After sifting through some information, i took the plunge and opted for the following course of action:

Preparatory work before migration

  • Ensure that the used space on the drive to be migrated is smaller than the target SSD capacity. You should clean up the drive prior to the migration
  • Run AS SSD Benchmark to see if your current harddisk partitions are alignned correctly (ok, i admit i didn’t really bother to fully understand what that means and you don’t really need to either) and if you have AHCI enabled. You will see green colour “OK” if your status for these are correct (see screenshot below). The first item listed tells you whether you have AHCI enabled. The possible readings you may see here are “iaStor”, meaning you’ve previously installed the Intel Rapid Storage Technology drivers, or it could be “msahci”, meaning you’re using the default AHCI drivers from Microsoft. The impression i got from reading various comments was that the Intel RST drivers might give you slightly better performance, but either way you’re fine. If you don’t have AHCI enabled, you can follow this tutorial to get it done (may require changing BIOS setting). The second item tells you whether your partitions are aligned correctly. I’ve read somewhere that if your partitions alignment is already correct, when you perform the migration, it will remain correct. Here’s how to rectify the problem if it’s not correct.

AS SSD Benchmark

  • Get ready your hardware/software tools. If you’re migrating from your laptop HDD to SSD, you will likely need to put the SSD in a harddisk enclosure (it’s unlikely that your laptop comes with more than one SATA connector). Some SSDs are sold with a “migration kit” included. This is nothing but a SATA to USB adaptor, which, if you already have a harddisk enclosure, you have no need for the kit. In fact, it is more useful to buy a harddisk enclosure than to get a SATA to USB adaptor (unless you’ll like to use an SSD as an external drive in its bare form, which could be appealing actually.. hmm). As for software, it seems like most of the free “Home” or “Lite” version of commercial tools come with the OS migration function. Instead of going for the popular choices – Acronis, EaseUS or Ghost (which actually came with my SSD package), i went with Aomei Partition Assistant, simply because its installation file size is 3.43MB instead of the 43MB – 227MB for those other software. It worked flawlessly, and has a comprehensive user interface, highly recommended!

Perform the migration

  • Launch Aomei Partition Assistant and run the “Migrate OS to SSD or HDD” task from the “Wizards” listing. Click Apply to start the task. The computer reboots to perform the task in Pre-OS mode. Once finished with cloning the drive, the computer will reboot again. Before the computer starts up running off your original harddisk from which you are migrating from, unplug the harddisk enclosure containing the SSD. This is to prevent Windows from tinkering with the SSD which we want to preserve in the original form of being the exact “duplicate” of your source harddisk.
  • Proceed to swap the HDD with the SSD. Start the computer and witness how amazing the new boot up time is.

After the migration

  • Turn off the disk defragmenter schedule, since SSDs don’t need to be defragmented.
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