Switching Primary Drives: Need Advice

Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
edited June 2016 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm looking to getting a replacement hard drive soon, to switch my 200GB primary drive for a larger SSD drive, most likely this one since it got recommendations, although I'm curious now about this larger and cheaper one.

The reason I want to make it my primary drive is so it has more space for when I'm using programs that require temporary drive space (my 200GB constantly fills up, even when I've deleted as much as I can), and so that I can take advantage of the SSD speed for opening Windows programs and browsing on the internet.

I just had a few questions on how to do this as painlessly as possible, since it's been quite some time since I've switched my primary drive.

1. Is it possible to swap the primary drive without resetting/losing any settings or files on my current drive?

2. If not, then what will be reset/lost upon installing the new primary drive, and how can I backup what can be transferred over afterwards?

3. Does the size of the drive matter, if it's 2.5 or 3.5? All of my hard drives are the latter, not sure how to check if my tower/mobo can use the former.

4. For installed games to take advantage of the SSD speed, does the game in its entirety need to be installed on the drive itself? Or can I put a certain portion of it while keeping the bigger files saved on one of my bigger drives?

5. Will I have to do anything else to make programs/games "SSD compatible", or will it work right out of the gate?

Edit: I use Windows 10 by the way.

ceres on

Posts

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited May 2016
    1.) Yeah, kind of but it will not go as smoothly as you would like and some things will not work correctly without an install anyway. I'd back up any files you want to keep but be prepared to reinstall any applications including windows.

    2.) What will be lost? Probably everything that isn't just data. Backing up installed programs doesn't work. The new windows install on the new drive will have it's own boot partition and settings. You don't really need to back up what you want to save, just swap out the drive and do your new windows install, get all the windows updates done and then drop your old drive in on another channel and copy the things you want to a temporary directory on the new drive. Format the old drive and copy the stuff back. Back up things like your important documents and images, etc.

    4.)Yes, the advantage of the SSD is the low access time. Not many programs will let you store the data in one directory and the executable on another drive somewhere. Even if they did, it wouldn't be worth it as the thing that takes up the space is the thing that needs to be on the SSD.

    5.) It'll work out of the gate. You shouldn't have to do a thing.

    There are ways to make an image of the drive and then copy that image over to the new drive... I just wouldn't bother. I'd put the new drive in as the only drive, format and install windows then plug in the old drive on another channel and copy over files you want/need, format the old drive and then move those files back and just use it as pure storage. If you had two drives of moderate size that were both SSD the argument could be made for having your operating system on one and your games and such on the other.

    Edit: I have the 1TB version of that Samsung drive and recommend it. Just be sure you get the size appropriate to mount inside your case, or make sure your case came with bumpers that let you adjust the size of internal drives you can mount.

    Edit2: The temptation to keep all your old hard drives will be strong. I in fact still have 5 drives mounted inside my case that, 4 of them aren't even connected. If I had to go looking for something, I can plug them in and dig around, but I'm sure I never will and I will just throw them away in a few years like every old hardware piece I save.

    dispatch.o on
  • TofystedethTofystedeth veni, veneri, vamoosi Registered User regular
    dispatch.o wrote: »

    Edit: I have the 1TB version of that Samsung drive and recommend it. Just be sure you get the size appropriate to mount inside your case, or make sure your case came with bumpers that let you adjust the size of internal drives you can mount.
    Or in a pinch you can just lay it somewhere in the case, or strap it to the side. No moving parts so it doesn't need to be held still. The only reason to immobilize it is so it doesn't bounce around when you're moving the computer. It's just a giant flash thumb drive.

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    dispatch.oShadowfireASimPersonGreat Scott
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    dispatch.o wrote: »

    Edit: I have the 1TB version of that Samsung drive and recommend it. Just be sure you get the size appropriate to mount inside your case, or make sure your case came with bumpers that let you adjust the size of internal drives you can mount.
    Or in a pinch you can just lay it somewhere in the case, or strap it to the side. No moving parts so it doesn't need to be held still. The only reason to immobilize it is so it doesn't bounce around when you're moving the computer. It's just a giant flash thumb drive.

    One of my drives is actually zip-tied to the mount for the very reason I didn't have the bay adapters and bumpers. I mean, it's fine but when I go to move one day I expect to hear a clink and then a loud thud as my drive breaks something on my motherboard :P

  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    I'm pretty sure my tower has slots for 2.5 drives. If I looked up the case online it would probably tell me, but I'm certain it does.

    I'm more concerned about the required connection. Do 2.5 SSD drives use the same cable/port as a 3.5 HDD? Will the cable be included with the SSD?

    Also, I would only lose whatever files/applications are on the primary drive, right? All the stuff saved on my other drives will be safe? I'll back-up the irreplaceable stuff regardless.

    Any opinions of the 2TB Seagate I listed? It's cheaper and has way more space, so if it performs as well, that's the one I'm going to get.

  • AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    If your 3.5" HDDs are recent SATA drives, then they share cables.

    I just did a HDD > SSD migration today, so my experience below:

    1) Samsung's clone software did a good enough job. It moved everything over to the SSD. I then plugged the SSD in, unplugged the HDD, and all of them programs still work. What a wonderful modern age we live in.

    2) Except something went wrong and knackered my Windows install. Everything runs and runs well, except System File Checker insists files are corrupt and cannot fix them. My partitions are somewhat messed up. I also can't create system recovery media. In short, I should probably be hoping that nothing serious happens, cause otherwise there's not saving my current Windows install.

    3) In short, from what I've seen on the Internet, Samsung's software just doesn't seem to do a 100% job. Better to go with any other cloning software or do a clean install.

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited May 2016
    Akilae wrote: »
    If your 3.5" HDDs are recent SATA drives, then they share cables.

    I just did a HDD > SSD migration today, so my experience below:

    1) Samsung's clone software did a good enough job. It moved everything over to the SSD. I then plugged the SSD in, unplugged the HDD, and all of them programs still work. What a wonderful modern age we live in.

    2) Except something went wrong and knackered my Windows install. Everything runs and runs well, except System File Checker insists files are corrupt and cannot fix them. My partitions are somewhat messed up. I also can't create system recovery media. In short, I should probably be hoping that nothing serious happens, cause otherwise there's not saving my current Windows install.

    3) In short, from what I've seen on the Internet, Samsung's software just doesn't seem to do a 100% job. Better to go with any other cloning software or do a clean install.

    I've never seen cloning work perfectly to migrate a drive and installed programs. I know it works well for office environments where you have hundreds of machines with identical hardware, but to just copy one drive onto another and have it boot? Nope. You're better of planning on having to format and reinstall windows and the other software.

    I've had to return the last two Seagates I've bought. I never had problems with them back in the day, but their stuff has all dropped in price lately, perhaps at the cost of quality. That is also a HYBRID SSD, which means it's still largely mechanical and doesn't actually contain all SSD storage. It's a combination of mechanical and solid state that drops price. Hybrid SSD vs SSD. I don't see why you'd bother with a hybrid drive if your goal is performance, but maybe they're a good idea for something?

    dispatch.o on
  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    I'll most likely do a clean install myself. It would be safer and probably eliminate a lot of programs/data I don't use anymore.

    Only...how would I install Windows 10 to the new drive? My original Windows was 7, and that was a digital purchase. I recall using a program to look up the license key, but is there a cleaner method? I'd rather just straight install Windows 10 to the new drive.

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    hmmm... you can make an install disc through the Windows 10 website from Microsoft HERE. I do not know what information would be required to use it. Did you get a registration key when you initially upgraded? I think you may have to install Windows 7 and then Upgrade to 10. Either way you should write down your product key somewhere. Someone else probably needs to help you with that, I don't like Windows 10 and will stick with Windows 7 until I'm required to upgrade for some reason.

  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    That is also a HYBRID SSD, which means it's still largely mechanical and doesn't actually contain all SSD storage. It's a combination of mechanical and solid state that drops price. Hybrid SSD vs SSD. I don't see why you'd bother with a hybrid drive if your goal is performance, but maybe they're a good idea for something?

    I don't actually know anything about SSDs, so if that Seagate won't give me the full speed benefit, then forget it. The size was tempting, but 500GB is still an upgrade.
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    hmmm... you can make an install disc through the Windows 10 website from Microsoft HERE. I do not know what information would be required to use it. Did you get a registration key when you initially upgraded? I think you may have to install Windows 7 and then Upgrade to 10. Either way you should write down your product key somewhere. Someone else probably needs to help you with that, I don't like Windows 10 and will stick with Windows 7 until I'm required to upgrade for some reason.

    There was a third party program that looked up my Windows 7 key, so I could probably try that again. I'd rather just reinstall Windows 10 though.

  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    The only problem I have run into with cloning a drive is it will sometimes break licenses on programs if they are particularly strict about it.

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  • Ark EvensongArk Evensong The NetherlandsRegistered User regular
    There was a third party program that looked up my Windows 7 key, so I could probably try that again. I'd rather just reinstall Windows 10 though.

    I think you can actually just use your Windows 7 product key to activate/install Windows 10. No personal experience, but I remember reading about it, and a cursory google check seems to confirm that it's a new thing since last October or so.

    Great Scott
  • DeShadowCDeShadowC Registered User regular
    My SSD came with a bracket that you installed it into, which then fits into the 3.5" bay on your tower. Similiar to this.

    You can use your 7 key to install 10, however if it doesn't work, you can live chat with Microsoft, you'll be given a link with the failed activation, and they will convert your 7 key into a 10 one. I had to do that two weeks ago, as my motherboard failed due to lightning, and upon replacing it Windows 10 considered this a new PC and required re-registration.

  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    Ordered the Samsung 850 EVO 500GB from eBay. Seller accepts returns and had good ratings, so if it ends up not being new or legit I can send it back. The tax from Amazon would've murdered me a little.

    Only thing I'm wondering about is how the Amazon description says that the SSD is Windows 10 compatible, while a reviewer comment from the eBay page claims that the included software won't work on Windows 10, meaning you don't get the full speed benefit. Is this true, or has it been updated since?

    The only thing I need to know about until it arrives is how to install Windows 10 on the new drive. On Microsoft's page there's a media creation tool, and according to the notes you don't need to punch in an activation key if you acquired Windows 10 as a free upgrade (which I did). Is that the case? I really want to make sure I follow the right steps to getting Windows 10 on the new drive.

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    ...I never install software that comes with drives. It's always just bloated shit that serves no purpose. You will be fine.

    ShadowfireTofystedethschussElvenshaeGreat Scott
  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    Akilae wrote: »
    If your 3.5" HDDs are recent SATA drives, then they share cables.

    I just did a HDD > SSD migration today, so my experience below:

    1) Samsung's clone software did a good enough job. It moved everything over to the SSD. I then plugged the SSD in, unplugged the HDD, and all of them programs still work. What a wonderful modern age we live in.

    2) Except something went wrong and knackered my Windows install. Everything runs and runs well, except System File Checker insists files are corrupt and cannot fix them. My partitions are somewhat messed up. I also can't create system recovery media. In short, I should probably be hoping that nothing serious happens, cause otherwise there's not saving my current Windows install.

    3) In short, from what I've seen on the Internet, Samsung's software just doesn't seem to do a 100% job. Better to go with any other cloning software or do a clean install.

    I've never seen cloning work perfectly to migrate a drive and installed programs. I know it works well for office environments where you have hundreds of machines with identical hardware, but to just copy one drive onto another and have it boot? Nope. You're better of planning on having to format and reinstall windows and the other software.

    I've had to return the last two Seagates I've bought. I never had problems with them back in the day, but their stuff has all dropped in price lately, perhaps at the cost of quality. That is also a HYBRID SSD, which means it's still largely mechanical and doesn't actually contain all SSD storage. It's a combination of mechanical and solid state that drops price. Hybrid SSD vs SSD. I don't see why you'd bother with a hybrid drive if your goal is performance, but maybe they're a good idea for something?

    The idea with hybrid drives is to get most of the performance of an SSD with the capacity of a traditional HDD at a price point closer to the latter.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum / Steam: noxaeternum
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    I'd probably either clone the existing drive to the new drive using a clonezilla live cd (disk to disk, beginner mode) and try to boot it. I haven't had issues with licensing when cloning, but sometimes have had issues booting the cloned drive and need to redo the image using custom parameters (advanced mode in clonezilla). But it's been a long time since I've encountered that. Once cloned then upgrade it to 10.

    Other way I'd do is go through the upgrade process with your existing disk to 10, and then either clone or do fresh install of new disk. The activation/licensing mechanism for 10 is pretty opaque. Your current system qualifies for upgrade (as does any currently licensed 7/8/8.1) and as best I can understand, during the upgrade process your system will send a hardware ID to MS. Once that has completed you can pull old drive, do fresh install on new drive, and it will become "activated" as the OS should seek out MS and confirm your hardware ID (generated earlier at upgrade and is linked to your machine). This article explains it more.

  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    Got the SSD installed, but I haven't figured out how to make that my new primary drive; I tried the cloning software included with the SSD, I tried running the Windows 10 media creation software...but it keeps using my old drive as the primary drive. What's the easiest way to have it point to the SSD as the new primary drive?

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited May 2016
    Take out the old drive.

    There may be something odd going on with your bootloader. If you clone drive C and it points to C as the primary drive, the bootloader on the D(clone of C) will still point to C.

    Put in new drive, take out old drive, let windows do a repair may be the easiest way. The Windows loader doesn't behave for me ever. My solution has always been to yank the drive I'm not making primary.

    dispatch.o on
  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    edited May 2016
    Actually, all I had to do was go to BIOS and have it point to the SSD. It's now listed as primary, and I was able to format the old (former primary) drive.

    It seems the cloning software included with the SSD worked as intended. I'm still tempted to do a clean install, but this does save me a lot of time, so I'll probably leave it as is until a problem arises (hopefully there won't be).

    And yeah, so far the SSD works as intended. Windows 10 booted up in about a minute and a half, versus five to six minutes before :)

    Professor Snugglesworth on
    dispatch.o
  • MalgarasMalgaras Registered User regular
    edited May 2016
    You probably already did this but one thing to note, when you clone a drive to a larger drive, typically the partitions won't get extended for you. Make sure you do that or Windows won't actually be able to use any of your new space.

    Malgaras on
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  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    How do I check to see if it's been done? Or, if I have to do so, how do I?

  • MalgarasMalgaras Registered User regular
    edited May 2016
    1. Type "disk partitions" into the quick search box and you should see something like "create and format hard disk partitions".
    2. Look at the new drive, see if there is a block listed as unallocated. If there isn't, you're good to go. If there is, you need to allocate it.
    3. Assuming you have a standard setup, the drive will probably have a couple tiny partitions and one or more partitions for "lettered" drives (which are what you are going to want to add the unallocated space to). To add the space to a partition, right click that partition, click extend volume, then follow the prompts.

    A better reference than I can give in a forum post:
    http://www.howtogeek.com/101862/how-to-manage-partitions-on-windows-without-downloading-any-other-software/

    Malgaras on
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  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    I've got another drive arriving tomorrow to replace my 250GB (old primary) drive. Ideally I'd still like to keep this dive, the more spare GB the better, but I think I've used up all my SATA slots on my motherboard.

    I was wondering if there was such a thing as splitter cables for SATA. Otherwise, it's no big deal.

  • TerrendosTerrendos Decorative Monocle Registered User regular
    I've got another drive arriving tomorrow to replace my 250GB (old primary) drive. Ideally I'd still like to keep this dive, the more spare GB the better, but I think I've used up all my SATA slots on my motherboard.

    I was wondering if there was such a thing as splitter cables for SATA. Otherwise, it's no big deal.

    You are limited by the number of slots on your motherboard for SATA slots. That said, most have like 6. What else do you have hooked up?

    Shadowfire
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    I've got another drive arriving tomorrow to replace my 250GB (old primary) drive. Ideally I'd still like to keep this dive, the more spare GB the better, but I think I've used up all my SATA slots on my motherboard.

    I was wondering if there was such a thing as splitter cables for SATA. Otherwise, it's no big deal.

    I'd probably just buy a pci slot card for additional SATA channels. They're like 26$ I don't know how the transfer rates measure up but if it's for raw storage it should be fine.

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Your thread title has been driving me nuts for nearly two weeks so I fixed it.

    Okay carry on.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    Tofystedethdispatch.oKick_04TNTrooperBlazeFireShadowfireSkeith
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    I've got another drive arriving tomorrow to replace my 250GB (old primary) drive. Ideally I'd still like to keep this dive, the more spare GB the better, but I think I've used up all my SATA slots on my motherboard.

    I was wondering if there was such a thing as splitter cables for SATA. Otherwise, it's no big deal.

    You won't be able to run multiple drives on a sata port ... maybe you could, but you'd have to engineer something to present as a single port but handles read/write to an array. Interesting problem, but probably a bigger deal than you want to deal with.

    PCI card is where you'd get more sata ports. But realize it's a bus. So traffic from your hard drive is contending with all the other PCI devices. Fine for storage and stuff like playback, but I wouldn't run the OS or heavy games over it.

  • SoggybiscuitSoggybiscuit At the edge of spacetime lies a path with no end.Registered User regular
    For cloning a drive, I use Macrium Reflect. I have the pro version for work, but I've used the free version at home to clone a couple of drives. I've replaced 7 or 8 HDDs with SDDs now without issue. Usually, after you first boot with the new drive it will install the driver, restart and be good to go from then on out.

    If you don't have anymore spare SATA ports, I've used these (for 2.5" drives) for people that want to keep the old drive around. And if you have a 3.5" drive, this should work.

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