Migrating an installed Win7 System to SSD

I have decided to upgrade my laptop with an SSD. I have many programs installed, for some of that I doesn’t have any installer or serial anymore and my system is working very well too. So I didn’t want to install it from scratch, just transfer it to the new SSD. In my article I will show you, how you can do it on the simplest way. There are 3 main steps:

1. Clean up your system
2. Copy the filesystem to the new drive
3. Set up your system for the use an SSD.

1. Cleaning up your system has more advantages. Your system will be faster – even on the old HDD. You will have more free space on your SSD at the start. And you must transfer a smaller system, which means, it will be done faster :). There are also some tasks.

  • delete your unneeded files
  • uninstall unneeded applications (I had for example Adobe Creative Suite 4 and 5 installed parallel, so the CS4 has been uninstalled – 7 GB less to transfer 🙂 )
  •  if you use a mail program locally, it could be a good idea to delete unneeded mails, purge out the deleted items folder and compact the folders. It could bring also gigabytes for you.
  • purge out the temporary files
  • delete the content of the following folders:
    \users\<profile>\AppData\Local\Temp
    \users\<profile>\AppData\Local\Temporary Internet Files
  • delete the cache files for all your used browsers
  • delete the downloaded and installed microsoft patches/service packs.
    To do so, open a command line (windows+r -> cmd -> enter)
    type: dism /online /cleanup-image /spsuperseded
  • and – this is only an optional step – you can switch off hibernation. If you do so, the hiberfil.sys from the root folder of c:\ drive could be deleted too.
    open a command line (windows+r -> cmd -> enter)
    type: powercfg.exe /hibernate off -> enter
    Even if you want to use hibernation you could do this, because hiberfil.sys is a very big file (it has the size of your RAM in your system) to transfer and you can easily switch on again later with the /on switch

2. To copy the complete system you need a tool that can save/restore full disk images, partition tables. There are many tools for it like Acronis TrueImage, Norton Ghost, etc. I have chosen the live version of the GParted. It is relative small, free, and it is easy to make a bootable USB drive from it.
GParted can be download from it’s official website: http://gparted.sourceforge.net/download.php
To make a live USB from the .iso image I have used LinuxLive USB Creator (http://www.linuxliveusb.com/)

  • boot the system with the GParted Live USB drive
  • create a partition table on the SSD
  • create a 100 MB partition at the beginning of the SSD for the Win7 System (boot)
  • create a partition which is similar size as your own on the HDD to copy (actually a very little bit larger is better)
  • click on apply changes to proceed the creating the partitions
  • copy the 2 partitions to SSD (it goes simply through the copy/paste icons)
  • check the active  status of the first partition of the SSD. It should be active/bootable.
  • The Master Boot Record is not OK for the SSD and I haven’t found a solution to fix it via GParted. So, take a Win7 install media in your hands, boot your system with the install media (USB or DVD) and choose repair an existing installation. It will find your copy of W7 and also find the MBR error. Just a click (repair them) and your SSD is bootable.

3. Setting up the old system to work correctly on SSD

SSDs are working a little bit different than HDDs. Because of that some settings are different in Windows 7 if you use SSD. When you install W7 clean on SSD you don’t need to do anything. Windows knows the properties of the SSDs and set yourself for the use of SSD right. My situation is a little bit different, because my system was set up on a HDD. So I must check the properties whether they are correct for SSDs or not and eventually I should change it. These are:

  • defragment of the drive: SSDs don’t need it. Actually it lowers the lifetime of the SSD, so it should be switched off.
  • TRIM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRIM) should be switched on.
    Run a command line as Administrator -> type:
    fsutil behavior set disabledeletenotify 0 -> enter
    you can check the status of trim via typing:
    fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify
    Results explained below:
    DisableDeleteNotify = 1 (Windows TRIM commands are disabled)
    DisableDeleteNotify = 0 (Windows TRIM commands are enabled)
  • prefetch/superfetch off
    start -> type: services.msc -> find “előtöltés/superfetch” -> right click, then properties -> start type should be switched to disable
    start -> type: regedit -> find HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters -> the value of the EnablePrefetcher key should be “0

From the parameters above are the defrag and the trim settings needed, and the prefetch/superfetch settings only suggested. At your first start the windows will recognize the SSD as a new hardware, and writes that it installs the drivers for it. Actually windows switches the defrag off and the trim on. So you need only check it, but it will have the correct settings.

Actually that’s all. The article will be updated with some screenshots and speed test results after my system is copied to SSD :).

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