I just ordered a new laptop to replace my >5 year old one that's showing its age. The ultrabook I ordered has a 256 GB SSD, and I want a bigger one, so I'm also ordering a 500 or 525 GB SSD. Laptop should get here in the next day or so, the SSD a few days after that. I'll figure out the transferring of my personal files off my old laptop onto my new laptop after I get the SSD transfer done... right now I'm trying to figure out the logistics of the hard drive swap.
I've (barely) tinkered with computers in the past, but it's been a while since I've done something to a hard drive and/or OS reinstalls. I'm pretty sure the actual physical installation of the new SSD shouldn't be too complicated (it's a M.2 SSD, so I assume it'll be like plugging in some new RAM). Not sure what I should do about the software and Windows installation though.
If the computer is brand new with no real files, programs, or settings I care about, would it make sense to skip the cloning of the original drive and just do a fresh install of Windows 10 on the new one? Is it as easy as making a Windows recovery disk (or USB I guess), swapping the SSDs, and then somehow booting from the USB and reinstalling Windows? This will probably get rid of all the Asus software that comes preinstalled on the ultrabook, but if it's more bloatware than software, this may be a good thing. If I go this route, is there anything I need to do to the computer before I take out the SSD, besides creating the Windows Recovery Stick? Any drivers or software I need to prepare? I'm just concerned about plugging in the new SSD and something like the wifi or the USB ports not working properly. Anything to look out for?
I guess the other option would be to clone the old SSD and copy it onto the new SSD as if I'm replacing a previously used hard drive with a new one, but I'm not sure if this is better or worse.
In terms of hardware, I have my old laptop (with a pretty full HDD), a 160 GB external hard drive that I can do whatever with, and a few USB sticks of various sizes that I could probably use (though the bigger ones have stuff on them and couldn't easily be formatted as a recovery stick).
Any advice? Any good walkthroughs I can follow? All the ones I'm finding seem to be centered on a OS update as well (Win7 or 8 to 10), which wouldn't apply here.
As for prepping for the reinstall, windows 10 will probably have all the drivers you need, but if you have a spare usb stick it's not a bad idea to grab driver installs for your hardware from Asus' website. You can download a whole fresh current copy of windows 10 from here:https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10
Follow the instructions labeled "Using the tool to create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) to install Windows 10 on a different PC (click to show more or less information)"
I would do this instead of using the recovery media, as it will for-sure be current and free of any bloat.
Reading through the instructions for installing fresh on a new computer, it's saying I'll need a Windows 10 product key. I'm assuming my new laptop will have a key that I can use, either on the sticker on the laptop or in the box somewhere? Microsoft doesn't care that I'd be duplicating Windows onto two different hard drives (presumably the Windows on the 256 GB drive would still work)?
The product keys for windows are tied to the hardware. It should activate automatically as soon as it can connect to microsoft's servers.
Edit: you might want to boot the laptop and connect to the internet/do whatever first time setup there is before swapping out the drives just to make sure the hardware is registered with microsoft.
The license can also be tied to a microsoft account. If you have or create one, and then log into it via windows, it will show up on their account management page here. From there you can deauthorize an old computer (maybe one that was lost/stolen or broken) and apply it to a new machine. There are some limitations (it needs to be similar hardware; you can't apply a license from a tablet to a desktop for instance) I don't know all the transferability limitations but it's good to know it's there.
e: but definitely +1 for fresh install because, as LD50 says, it will be manufacturer bloatware free.
Sorry, not familiar with this. What's a manufacturer's recovery partition, a portion of the drive that Asus had reserved for their own uses for backups/recovery? Is there anything I should do to replace this when I get the bigger SDD installed?
2) I honestly don't bother trying to replicate or rebuild the manufacturer's partition if I fresh install on a different/new drive, so I wouldn't know the process to e sure 100% compatibility.
3) The manufacturer's recovery partition works about 25% of the time these days, especially on Windows 8.1 and later. There are ways to fix major problems, but they're usually better solved by either in-place upgrading to the current Windows build, or by wiping and starting over.
Even if you do a 'wipe and start over' install, modern versions of winows (7 and forward) will keep all your documents/program settings/whatnot and throw them into a file at the root of the new drive called 'windows.old'. There's no reason to use a recovery partition anymore.
I was looking at Asus' website for their drivers, and it did bring up something I've been meaning to figure out. My old Toshiba laptop was full of Toshiba-ware that replaced or duplicated typical Windows functions: power management was handled by Toshiba's Power Profiles software, there was some Toshiba Eco-drive that was running all the time, junk like that. I never liked that, and I'm glad that a fresh install should simplify who's in charge of this stuff. I'm just wondering if some hardware brand specific programs or drivers are actually better than the default Windows versions. Asus seems better than Toshiba at injecting themselves into these areas, but I do see that my new laptop uses Asus' gesture control center for the trackpad gestures and Asus branded drivers for Wireless Radio Control, USB charging, and "Splendid Video Enhancement Technology" that "Enhances your ASUS notebook PC screen, reproducing richer and deeper colors for visually stunning experience", whatever that means. Are these typically worth reinstalling over the top of a fresh install, since the hardware manufacturer has a better idea of managing or controlling these hardware focused areas (trackpad, usb hubs, wifi), or should I try my best to let Windows control everything?