How to move Windows 10 to an SSD without reinstalling

Ivan Jenic
by Ivan Jenic
Troubleshooting Expert
Last update:
Affiliate Disclosure

  • Moving your OS from a new SDD can improve the booting time and overall performance of the system.
  • In this article, we're showing you how to move an already installed system to an SSD, without performing a clean install.
  • While you're waiting for the transfer to complete, check out our full library of Windows 10 Guides. For sure you'll find something useful!
  • For even more guides, see our Laptop & PC Troubleshooting Hub.
easy methods to move Windows 10 to SSD without reinstalling
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Windows 10 already has improved booting time compared to previous versions of Windows, but moving it from a regular HDD to a new SDD will improve the booting time and overall performance of the system even more.

Many users are wondering if can they move the OS to an SSD without losing any data. 

There are a couple of ways to transfer your system data from your current HDD to a new SDD, and we’re going to talk about all of them in this article.

Probably the simplest solution is performing a clean install on the SSD drive, but you will lose all your data, and you’ll have to install all your programs once again.

And it could take even more time than moving an already installed operating system. But if you don’t like to experiment, you might choose this path.

Installing a fresh copy of Windows 10 on an SSD drive is no different than installing it on an HDD. You have to format your current system partition, and then just install the fresh copy of Windows 10 on an SSD.

A fresh Windows install can help you get rid of malware? Here’s how to do it yourself.

How do I move Windows 10 to an SDD?

But there’s also a way to move an already installed system to an SSD, without performing a clean install. All you have to do is to clone your system partition to the SSD, and you’re good to go.

In short, you need to back up your drive, reduce your disk space, copy your system partition to the SSD, and format the system partition on your HDD.

Is that all so simple? No, it requires some work on your side to move the OS properly.

And in the remainder of the article, we’re going to show you all the necessary instructions to move your installed system to the SSD drive properly.

But before all, you must backup your data, because if something goes wrong, you might lose it forever, and it will be required for the process.

When you backed up your drive, it’s time to get rid of the additional disk space, because SSDs have much less space than regular hard disks, so we want your system partition to fit on the SSD drive.

So, delete your personal files, music, photos, videos, and particularly all non-system files to make your partition as small as possible.

It’s okay to delete your personal stuff because you’ll be able to get it back from the backup, once the process is done.

It is also recommended to perform a defragmentation of your system hard drive before you move it on the SSD.

Your hard drive is too cluttered? These defrag tools can quickly save your HDD.

And now, it’s finally time to move your Windows 10 to the SSD! To do so, follow one of these steps.

How do I transfer my OS from HDD to SSD?

1. Use Laplink PCMover

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Laplink PCMover is a small desktop application that can help you to easily move all your files, settings, and user profiles to your SSD. All you need to do is download the software and follow the simple wizard steps.

With Laplink PCMover, the whole process is hasslefree, extremely user-friendly, and intuitive. The programs are installed and ready to use right away. 

Extremely important, you don’t need OS images, DVDs, download links, OS keys, or similar. You just need to configure the transfer and the tool will do the rest for you!

Laplink PCMover

Laplink PCMover

Laplink PCMover helps you transfer all essential files, folders, and apps from your PC to an SSD. No additional OS images, no CDs, or program keys needed!
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How do I use Laplink PCMover to transfer my OS?

  1. First, download Laplink PCMover on both your computer and your SSD. (Make sure the SSD is connected to your computer at all stages of the process.)
  2. Then, open the tool on both your PC and SSD.
  3. Choose which network method you will use to connect your systems for the transfer. Laplink recommends using WiFi.
  4. Then follow the on-screen prompts to allow the tool to discover the SSD (seen as New PC).use laplink pcmover to transfer OS
  5. Once the two are connected, open Laplink PCMover on the SSD.
  6. Click on Analyze PC, then follow the prompts to customize what you want to be transferred and allow the transfer to complete.transfer OS with laplink

It will take a few hours for the process to finish.

2. Use AOMEI Backupper

  1. First of all, you need to download and install the AOMEI Backupper to your machine.
  2. Then, you need to connect your hard drive to your computer.
  3. Now, go to Clone, then to System Clone to launch the process. AOMEI backupper system clone
  4. Your machine should now display a new window asking you where you want to move the OS files.  Select your SSD and confirm your 10 move SSD
  5. Hit Next and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process. It’s as simple as that.

If Windows won’t activate after the cloning process is complete, follow this guide to solve the problem.

And that’s about that, your Windows 10 is now successfully moved to the SSD drive, and it will perform a lot faster from now on.

AOMEI Backupper

AOMEI Backupper

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How to restore your personal files and user folders

Since you probably don’t have enough space on your SSD, we’ll have to restore your files to the old, formatted HDD drive.

First, go to your old drive (which is now completely empty), and create a new folder to store all your user folders and personal files. Name it whatever you want (we used WinReport).

Now, go to C:Users<your username>

You should see all your user folders there. Right-click on each one, go to Properties, and then go to the Location tab.

move windows 10 to ssd 4

Click on the Move button, and choose your newly created folder as the target.

And all your user folders, like Desktop, Downloads, Documents, Pictures, Music, etc. should all be placed on your old HDD Drive.

And finally, the only thing left to do is restoring your personal files.

To restore your personal files to the old HDD drive, follow these steps:

  1. Open your backup (whatever you chose to be your backup destination, cloud, external storage, another partition, etc.)
  2. And now drag all your user files (documents, music, pictures, and other files) to your new My Documents, My Music, and other folders.

By doing this, all your personal files will be accessible, besides the fact that they’re not on the system partition. But you may need to change the settings of your favorite apps and games because they’ll probably save files in the old My Documents.

If you’re looking to reinstall your Windows 10 apps on the new drive, check out this guide for a seamless transition.

That would be all, we presented you a full guide on how to move your Windows 10 system from your old HDD partition to the SSD, and how to get everything to work.

If you followed our instructions, and successfully moved your system to the SSD, please tell us your impressions in the comments section below and we’ll be sure to take a look.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • We recommend using a third-party tool that will do this for you. Check out this guide on how to migrate your OS to an SSD.

  • It’s recommended to have at least 20GB of free space on your new SSD to transfer or install Windows 10.

  • There are a lot of options out there, but narrow down the list by looking at capacity, transfer speed, and of course, price. We have some recommendations in this updated list of the best SSDs on the market.

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I just want to clone my SSD that is in my surface book to a new SSD using an external SSD USB enclosure.

Can I assume this will all be the same aside the fact that I am starting with an SSD?

If you are having problems with the clone, you need to enable the admin account on your Windows and do it from that acc, it’s simple, just look it up on YouTube, worked for me.

Great instructions – Just had to make one change in the bios to boot from the SSD rather than another HDD. Used the System Clone function in EaseUS, and followed the instructions – Worked first time

With a Brand New SSD, right of the box, didnt format it in advance. I did exactly what was written in this article. I had no issues.

I was prepared to go into my Bios to change Boot Sequence. No need. Because I had unplugged my old HDD before starting up the computer again. Windows just saw my new SSD as the C drive. But this only happens IF!! you unplug your old SSD.

Also the original boot sector was copied over with the image. I didnt have to do what is written in these comments.

I did do one more step, that is use the existing Windows Disk Management Tool to change the letter of my old drive and reformat it.

My only thought for the reason why it went easy for me, is the tool used in this article seems to have been upgraded. It looks a little different.

I restarted my PC after the clone was done,
I shut my computer down, removed the HDD without wiping out the HDD, and started up my PC, worked completely fine.

This method as of 11/30/2017 worked great for me. Thanks!

If i do this method, does the softwares will be copied too or i have to re-install the softwares i installed on C?

the software is usaully installed in program files(and program files (x86) if you have 64-bit windows installed) so if you didn’t delete program files your programs are still there

My computer has a “hidden” recovery partition which affects the cloning. I don’t know how to remove it.

IT’S “AN SSD” not “A SSD”…you sound like an idiot.
Yes, I am the English police. Stop defending complacency.

this is not a hard and fast rule. SSD is an intialism and the first word is solid. “a solid state drive” would be correct, not “an solid state drive.” if you are intending SSD to be a time saving abbreviation of solid state drive and not a replacement in the vernacular, “a” could be considered to be correct. absolutes are for people who outsource their thinking.

This Failed. Cloned hdd to ssd. It did not mark the partition as boot. After I marked as boot. winload.exe gives a “digital signature not verified” error. Used windows 10 repair drive,but it failed to repair.

This didn’t work for me. I also get the same error, the new drive is not recognized as a bootable device. I tried making changes in the BIOS but I was not able to resolve the issue. I tried this with the original HDD disconnected and only the cloned SSD hooked up to the same cables as the original drive, no luck.

“New cloned SSD will not boot windows, disconnected old HDD and set new SSD as boot order #1 , get error that cloned SSD is not a bootable device. Please help.” (I’m quoting his because I don’t see a helpful response and I’m suffering from the same problem.)

New cloned SSD will not boot windows, disconnected old HDD and set new SSD as boot order #1 , get error that cloned SSD is not a bootable device. Please help.

There is NO boot sectors on the SSD. It will never boot.
Boot to a drive that works, Run bootsec.exe in a DOS box, type “bootsect /nt60 X: /mbr” without the quotes where X is the SSD drive letter.
This will install boot sectors to the drive.

yo, sorry no one has replied to you… but what you need to do is you need to restart your computer and when it turns back on you need to hold down F2, F8, or F12 until a screen pops up (I think its f12…)… but once that is up you need to move to a tab called boot sequence, then click on that, and then select and click on your ssd… basically what your computer is doing is it is trying to turn on using the hdd that doesnt have windows on it, and by making the ssd first in the boot sequence it will now check that first and run your computer normally…

I have done that, but I can’t delete windows from the original hard drive because it says it’s the one being used, even though the clone appeared to work properly. But I attempted to power on the device with just the new cloned ssd, and it gave me an error. I’m not home so I can’t look right now, but if I remember correctly it was saying the boot up file was missing, or something along the lines of that.

I upgraded from windows 7 to windows 10, so I don’t have the repair drive.

You need to remove the hard drive totally from the system and hook it up via a USB cable.
Windows 10 does a ‘check’ to make sure that NO Windows directory (I.E. C:Windows) is being touched even on a non-booting hard drive.