Clone an SSD and install?>>> Qs???

solid tom

Mar 19, 2011

I am considering purchasing a 120gb ssd, but I have some concerns. To be sure, my motive is simply speed. I don’t want to go through the expense of purchasing an entirely new computer, so I’ve settled upon buying an SSD and adding it to my existing computer. I haven’t even made the purchase and I have encountered problems.
I do not want to purchase a new operating system at all. I have Vista 32 bit and I am not happy with it (no TRIM support, recognizes all but 4GB of memory), but I don’t want to spend $100 on a new OS. My computer is on its last legs (it is over 4 years old) and I do not wish to sink much money into it. However, the hard drive is constantly seeking and this infuriating slow process is driving me mad. What I would like to do is to somehow ‘clone’ my existing hard drive over to the SSD. Is this possible? What hiccups or concerns should I be on the alert for? To be clear about what I wanted to do was to move over all the data on my existing hard drive, then use the SSD for booting windows and using all of my other programs without having to do a new install.
However, with that plan I have already encountered a problem. I have a 320gb sata II HDD, and I have tried deleting as much as I possibly can, and Windows shows that I am using 110 gb of used space. But when I open the C: drive and select all the files and folders there, it shows the size off all the files and folders to be 68.6 GB (?). That’s an over 40 GB discrepancy. What gives? This is the major problem I’m speaking of as it may affect my ability to clone my HDD to an SSD.
My question is, how would you approach this problem? Your thoughts? Also, do I have to change anything in the bios to install an SSD?
1) my wife's PC is 5 years old, and an SSD brought it right up to speed. CPU speed is generally not the bottleneck for everyday computing (unless you are doing something other than light games, internet, and office programs). I think the SSD is a good choice.

2) cloning to SSD can be done, but so far it has mixed results. Personally, when I make big changes like this it is generally time to reformat windows and give it a fresh clean start. Maybe someone else can point you to a specific program that has good results. I hear Acronis works well, but have not used it for this specific use before.

3) Don't let TRIM support bring you down. Most modern SSDs have good enough GC (garbage collection) built into them. They would be better with TRIM, but they will still blow HDDs out of the water. If I am not mistaken, Marvel/Indilinx controllers fair better without trim than others.

4) do a few more things to get more mileage from your system; Run CCleaner's cleaner, and registry checker. Run msconfig and kill background programs that you do not need running all the time (read; adobe/mac/java updaters). Run malwarebytes and get rid of any malware/toolbars/other annoying software that just eat system resources with no real benefit.

5) consider getting a dedicated caching SSD that does not rely on Intel's RST to work properly instead of a normal drive style SSD. This will give you a huge boost to your most used programs and files, while avoiding the hastle of a complete reinstall or image. It is not what I would do, but it is an option.

6) Seriously consider getting Win7 or 8 64bit and it will utilize your computer more effectively (offloading interface to the GPU, TRIM support, more than 4GB of ram, etc.). It is a serious step up from Vista, and a tremendous leap ahead of Vista 32 (make sure you have 64bit drivers for all your hardware before making the switch). My wife's machine made the jump from Vista 32bit to 7 64bit and it was like taking the chains off the system. Adding the SSD last year was like adding rocketboosters.

7) On my wife's PC, with 4GB of ram, we have Win7 64bit, Office, several utilities, tools, and browsers, some other productivity software, plus some music writing software and it takes a grand 30GB of space on her 60GB SSD. Obviously, if you have games then those will take up more space, and all of her documents and big files live on a 500GB drive (which you can use your old 320GB drive for). She also only uses ~2.5GB of ram most of the time, because we run a nice tight ship. But again, if you are running games then it will obviously take more memory. But even my system, which is currently running Windows, a few browser tabs (~15?), antivirus, Word, driver/hardware related software, and steam is only taking up 2GB of ram. And most games (though not new blockbuster titles) only get that up to ~3.5GB of usage, so really 4GB of ram is still plenty by today's standard (provided that you are not infected by tons of spyware, and that you keep your startup processes down). Skyrim, (which I just started... and it is AWESOME) gets my computer up to ~6GB of ram usage, and that is with HD graphics, and everything maxed out (not mods yet), so again, 4GB is not bad. Depending on what you are doing 8GB may be better, but in all likelyhood, more ram will not solve your issues.
My own system has windows, office, utilities/browsers/etc, Adobe's video editing suite, some other productivity software, and a few games, and it sits at 63GB of space used (I then also have my small documents, music, and pictures on it which bring it to 145GB, but I purchased a larger drive).

What I would do:
Get a 120GB ssd.
Do a fresh, clean Windows install to it (unplug the HDD while doing this so that you do not break something by accident).
do some of the suggested SSD optomizations (limit caching, disable virtural memory if possible, etc.)
Delete all the old windows and program files off of the HDD (saving the documents) and using it as your documents drive.
Enjoy life, and start saving up for a new mobo/cpu/ram within the next year or two, as well as a modern copy of windows.

best of luck!