One way to speed up your computer is by swapping out your optical hard drive for a solid-state drive (an SSD). There’s a significant speed difference in this swap, because you’re moving from the traditional mechanical hard drive to an SSD, which operates off of flash storage. Flash is so much faster than the traditional mechanical hard drive — for example, your operating system might take a couple minutes to boot up with a mechanical hard drive, but can boot up in just a couple of seconds with an SSD because of that flash storage.
But how do you make the switch to an SSD without losing all of your data on the hard drive? If you follow along below, we’ll show you a couple of options for moving your HDD over to the SSD.
Clone Your Hard Drive
The first option that you have is to clone your hard drive. Cloning your hard drive over to your SSD allows you to essentially resume the state your computer was in on your HDD — you don’t have to reinstall anything that way.
If you purchased a Samsung SSD, it’s actually really easy to clone your hard drive. Samsung includes some software with the SSD that makes it as simple as following the steps found in the built-in wizard. If it didn’t come with your SSD, you can download the Samsung migration software for free here. To use the software, both the hard drive and the SSD have to be plugged into your computer in order to use it. Keep in mind that the SSD doesn’t have to be directly connected to your computer — hooking it up by way of USB should be fine.
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If you don’t have a Samsung SSD, then you won’t be able to use the Samsung Migration software — luckily, there’s some generic software that you can use to clone your hard drive over to an SSD. This software is called Macrium Reflect. Here’s a link to the free version.
Make sure both your hard drive and SSD are hooked up to your computer, and then you can run the software and follow the steps to clone your hard drive over to your SSD.
Editor’s Note: Before you clone any hard drives or move data over to your SSD, make sure that you create a backup of all your data before proceeding. You can do this through the Carbonite, create a Windows Restore Point, or just send your important files over to something like Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft Azure, or another service.
Move Data Over
You don’t have to clone your entire hard drive over to an SSD if you don’t want to — you could start with a fresh, clean install of Windows 10 if you so choose.
First, make sure your important files are backed up to a Cloud service like Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft Azue, or whatever your preference is. After all, during a clean install, you still don’t want to lose important family photos or invoices you need to keep track of for works. Any work-related documents or personal files you want to keep around can easily and quickly be backed up to those Cloud storage options, and then pulled down when Windows 10 is re-installed on your new SSD drive.
The neat thing about Windows 10 is that you don’t need to keep a product key on hand to reinstall the operating system. Windows 10 takes advantage of something called digital activation, which means you don’t need to keep a product key on-hand all the time. There are two methods to keep in mind for re-installing Windows 10 — for a simple re-install, you can check out this Microsoft Support page.
However, if you’re doing a hardware change like this, it might be a little more involved. You can check out this Microsoft Support page for it, but essentially, if you have a digital license, all you need to do is log in with your Microsoft account after the new Windows 10 install. Once the install finishes, you can do this by heading into Start > Settings > Update & Security > Activation, and then just select Add an account.
If you have a physical copy of Windows 10, you probably have a new product key. So in that Activation area, just select Change product key and enter your old Windows 10 product key.
As you can see, cloning your hard drive to an SSD is an easy process if you use the software that we outlined above. These programs will take you step-by-step through the process, but in some cases, you might just like to do a fresh Windows 10 install, which is fairly easy, but you may or may not need that product key on hand.