Question Is there a reason one should not clone HDD to SSD to move Windows 10?

britechguy

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I have noticed that there seems to be some resistance to using a disc clone to literally move an existing Windows 10 installation from an existing HDD serving as the system disk to an SSD intended as its replacement (or perhaps I'm just imagining this).

When upgrading HDDs to larger capacity ones over the course of several decades now this was always my technique for moving Windows (and anything and everything else) from the old HDD to the new HDD lock, stock, and barrel. I've even done that when going to a smaller system HDD when the total content of the original would still fit easily on a smaller capacity drive.

Am I incorrect in having the impression I have that "cloning is just not done," when the two disc storage technologies are not the same? To me, and I'd presume to the machine, a disc is a disc is a disc, and the underlying technology should not be important. But if I'm incorrect, about that, I'd love to know more about why.
 

Barty1884

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I tend to resist, and recommend others do the same, for one primary reason (which is true to HDD to HDD as it is to HDD to SSD; You clone the good, the bad and the ugly.

While yes, you've got Windows and applications over... You've also got all the potential bloat, registry errors, old driver remnants etc.

Given the time to do a clean installation is much, much faster than it was when HDDs were the norm, it makes the most sense to me.


IIRC, on older systems no configured with AHCI, you also lose TRIM support on an SSD too - but that shouldn't be too much of a concern in 2019.

Add to the fact we see a good number of people here who then "can't boot" from the SSD once cloning (ie they only cloned C, not the boot partition etc), it's also a little more foolproof.
 

britechguy

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Thanks for your reply.

In my case, I'm aware of the limitations, so that's not an issue.

When I have a client that wants to have "their machine, exactly as they know it" at the end I am far more inclined to clone. I'm talking about situations where there can be years of data, scads of installed programs, etc. Starting from scratch is really the least practical option, not because of installing Windows 10 itself, but all of the configuration tweaking, software installations, etc., that come afterward.

When working for clients (as opposed to myself, or for friends) money is very often an object, and a significant object. Cloning in a situation like I just described can cut hours off of the bill.

I also should have said when I say clone, that's precisely what I mean. Copying the content that resides under the C:\ file system to another drive is not cloning it. A clone is the exact image of the drive that's the source, boot sector and all. And this is a good place to note that this is what technicians mean when they say clone (and many end users don't realize that). One uses cloning software, or the cloning feature of backup & recovery suites, to do this. A straight drag and drop copy, or command line copy, of data is not, not, not a clone!
 

USAFRet

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It depends.

A 5 year old Win 8.1 install, with a whole lot of gunk in it?
Full wipe and start over.

Going from SATA to NVMe?
Can be problematic.
Try in once. If it fails, clean install.

Cloning a drive to be moved into a different PC.
That is no different than trying to move the original physical drive. Often fails.

And of course, the daily question:
"I want to move only the OS"
Obviously, can't be done.


The newer tools (Macrium, EaseUS, etc) are pretty good. They only take into account the actual data space, rather than the full drive or partition size.
But a clone can't 'fix' things in the process, as so many seem to want. It needs to start from a known good base.

I've personally done it many many times. But if/when it goes bad, don't expend any more time or brain power. Suck it up with a clean install.
 
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Barty1884

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I assumed we were just talking in a general sense, and that's why I brought up the failure to fully clone the drive etc - It's just something we see and leaves a clean install mostly foolproof.
Most people know what to do, and anybody offering it as a service will (should?)

And this is a good place to note that this is what technicians mean when they say clone (and many end users don't realize that). One uses cloning software, or the cloning feature of backup & recovery suites, to do this.
Unfortunately, from an end-user standpoint "cloning" software or features is far from foolproof. Typically you can choose which partitions to clone so, while the structure is there, if you didn't elect to clone the boot partition, it doesn't really matter.


When I have a client that wants to have "their machine, exactly as they know it" at the end I am far more inclined to clone. I'm talking about situations where there can be years of data, scads of installed programs, etc. Starting from scratch is really the least practical option, not because of installing Windows 10 itself, but all of the configuration tweaking, software installations, etc., that come afterward.

When working for clients (as opposed to myself, or for friends) money is very often an object, and a significant object. Cloning in a situation like I just described can cut hours off of the bill.
If you have a client who wants the system exactly as it was, and time is of the essence, cloning really is the only way to go.

However, there's probably an education piece relevant to a client under those circumstances regarding backups etc. While some users only have the bare minimum installed to do what they want/need to do day to day, almost every other system I've seen/worked on has at least a handful of programs that haven't been touched in years.
 

britechguy

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Let me be even more clear in framing my question.

The context I am referring to, and it is the only context I am trying to discuss, is replacing the system disk in a given system with an alternate disk in that same system.

There will be no two computers involved, ever, only one.

In addition, there will be no change of OS involved. Though I did say "Windows 10" we could drop the 10. If someone had Windows 8.1 and wanted a bigger capacity drive, or an SSD rather than an HDD, the clone would be of that Windows instance to be placed right back where it was on new disk hardware - nothing else.

I think I already have my answer for the conditions I have outlined above and previously in the topic. My thanks for those who have contributed, including the additions regarding circumstances outside those outlined here. I just want to make very precise situation description about what I mean.

P.S. to Barty1884: Not that your point about end user mistakes is not valid. But if an end user does not make a clone then they have not made a clone. A clone of a full disk must include all partitions on said disk (unallocated space doesn't matter - just the defined spaces - and all of 'em). If you don't have this you don't have a clone, you have a partial copy.
 

USAFRet

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I have noticed that there seems to be some resistance to using a disc clone to literally move an existing Windows 10 installation from an existing HDD serving as the system disk to an SSD intended as its replacement (or perhaps I'm just imagining this).
I've personally talked hundreds of people here through the process.
As evidenced by my copy/paste list of tried and tested steps.

When it works, great. But don't skip steps.
And when it fails, move on.
 

britechguy

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While some users only have the bare minimum installed to do what they want/need to do day to day, almost every other system I've seen/worked on has at least a handful of programs that haven't been touched in years.
Often very true for home users, in which case I try to go the route of "fresh" unless I meet with really strong resistance after educating.

Very often not true in small business settings. They've gotta have everything, they've gotta have it now, they want no changes in their familiar UI. And we agree that cloning is what's needed in that case.
 

Barty1884

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Very often not true in small business settings. They've gotta have everything, they've gotta have it now, they want no changes in their familiar UI. And we agree that cloning is what's needed in that case.
While true, there's an education piece for small businesses too. They should have a (fairly) up to date system image, which can allow for a smoother reinstall. Depends on the company size, of course - smaller businesses don't typically implement.... Doesn't mean they shouldn't though.
 

britechguy

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Barty1884,

The following is not meant as a pot shot at you, but we clearly live in different worlds or have very different definitions of "small business."

I guess I should have said true "mom and pop" small businesses where I consider myself blessed if, upon first meeting, I find they even know what an external backup drive is and have a backup protocol in place.

There are a lot of tiny-small businesses out there that are no better than your average ill-informed user is about doing what should be done. And, sadly, many of them will not change their practices even when educated about the risks.

My personal experiences with the concept embodied by, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink," are far more vast than I wish, particularly in the technology realm. Rationality and the application of same via logic and reason are sadly lacking, and really always have been, and in all arenas.
 

Barty1884

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The following is not meant as a pot shot at you, but we clearly live in different worlds or have very different definitions of "small business."
No, I don't think we do have a different definition of "small business".
As I mentioned:

smaller businesses don't typically implement.... Doesn't mean they shouldn't though.
"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink,"
Seems like we're on the same page.
It's probably even more of a concern for the true "small", mom & pop businesses. They potentially have their customer records, tax information, accounting etc on the same system they use to browse the web for personal use.

So, not only might they lose tax information etc...... Their customer data could well be breached, which can lead to substantial fines in some areas.

So, despite the perceived expense of a backup implementation, or system images etc.... Compare that to the cost of an audit from the taxman &/or a fine for improper storage of customer data that was then breached.... That's the educational piece I'm talking about.
 

LinuxDevice

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If the clone doesn't work, then you still have the old drive. Unless you've wiped the old drive it doesn't hurt to try. For me I've cloned from old style hard drive to SSD, and a lot could have gone wrong, but it didn't. If something had gone wrong, I'd still have the original drive. Just don't throw away or wipe the old drive until you know the SSD is working as you want.
 
I used acronis to do this going from an old 250gb HDD to a samsung 850 evo. I had no issues what so ever, which was my first time transitioning from a HDD to a SSD and I was impressed with the performance difference. You can always do the clone and if it doesn't work out to your satisfaction, format and reload.
 

britechguy

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A thank you to all for the most enlightening input.

And I don't mind when folks extend beyond the context if the distinction between the exact circumstances being asked about, and other possible ones, is clear. It's how we all learn.

My core question was long ago answered, and the extension riffs are interesting to me at this point.
 
My two cents...
I am a fan of the Samsung ssd migration app.
It works with any of the Samsung ssd products, including nvme drives.
It is not a true bit for bit clone but a Windows C drive mover.
To date, it has not failed to do the job for me.

I keep the original device around as a known good image copy.
 

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