How to install a new SSD drive and clone the content from the old harddisk

I recently bought a new SSD drive for my gaming computer and did not want to go through the hassle of reinstalling Windows 7 and all my games so I looked for an easy way to clone my old harddrive.
Turns out it is fairly simple to do using only freeware but there are a few very important steps not to miss during the preparation for the cloning.

  1. First of all SSD drives are still very expensive and it is likely you will buy a drive that is of less capacity (120GB in my case) than the one installed on your machine (500GB for me) so you must shrink its partition to be able to transfer it. I used the very good “Partition Master 9.0”  program from the folks at www.easeus.com
  2. Then I created a Windows Image System backup that I put on an external USB drive and a bootable recovery CD using the Windows 7 Backup and Restore. The built-in Windows programs work very well (amazingly) and that’s all I needed.

This blogs outlines the exact procedure to follow http://www.ssdfreaks.com/content/664/how-to-clone-hdd-to-ssd-with-windows-7s-own-software
Pay particular attention to the very first action “Move data off any non-OS partitions from OS HDD and delete these partitions”. I didn’t and when I tried to restore my System Image, I got an obscure Windows error that took me a couple of hours to understand. So make sure you only have 1 (one) partitition on your source drive. 

By the way, this single step of replacing my old disk with an SSD drive put a new life on my machine. Litteraly. For me it was better than changing the CPU, adding more memory, changing the motherboard…. And much less expensive.

This can be the single action to perform that will provide you with the most bang for the buck.

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