Question To a beginner in PC upgrades, would you recommend changing boot drives by OS migration or clean OS install?

GamerCyclops

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I've been looking into using EaseUS to migrate the OS from my hard drive to my new SSD so that I can use it as my boot drive, but it sounds almost too good to be true. I'm looking for a second (and more educated) opinion: what are the pros and cons of each approach, and which would you personally recommend?
Also, it is important to note that I currently have Windows 10 installed on a 1TB hard drive along with a ton of data I'd rather not lose. I would be able to create backups of everything if need be. As for the Windows install, would this "migration" maintain that install? And if I use a fresh Windows install on the new drive, what would need to be done to the old drive to remove its Windows install but retain the data? All help is appreciated!
 

USAFRet

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When it goes well, cloning is great.
If it fails, then you just fall back to a clean install on the new drive.

Some questions first:
What size/make/model are these drives?
What motherboard is this?
How much space is consumed on your current C drive?
 

GamerCyclops

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When it goes well, cloning is great.
If it fails, then you just fall back to a clean install on the new drive.

Some questions first:
What size/make/model are these drives?
What motherboard is this?
How much space is consumed on your current C drive?
I actually have the exact link from which I plan on purchasing the SSD. As for the hard drive, I'd need to run a Speccy scan when I get home tonight because I cannot remember off the top of my head. I think it's Seagate, but I could be wrong. I'm pretty sure I have about 800GB consumed on it, but that could very easily be cut down through deleting Steam games and backing up files to be less than the 512GB on the SSD if that's what you're getting at with the size. As for the motherboard, it is an MSI B250M Bazooka, and the SSD will be installed on its M.2 slot (I say will be because I haven't actually ordered it yet, awaiting confirmation on all this first).
So you talk about cloning. Is that copying all the contents of one drive to another? I'm open to taking that route, but the software I've been looking at promises to migrate nothing but the OS. I believe what you're describing sounds much more realistic and practical, so is the migration too good to be true?
 

USAFRet

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There are no functions or applications that will migrate "only the OS".
Anything that says it can do that is misleading, or outright lying.

What specific tool are you looking at that says it can do this?

When they say "the operating system", they actually mean the entire contents of the C drive. To most people, there is no difference.
But they cannot split out 'only the os'.

So, to clone into that 512GB drive, you need to reduce the actual consumed space to below 400GB.
We can go into detail once you get to that number.
 

GamerCyclops

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There are no functions or applications that will migrate "only the OS".
Anything that says it can do that is misleading, or outright lying.

What specific tool are you looking at that says it can do this?

When they say "the operating system", they actually mean the entire contents of the C drive. To most people, there is no difference.
But they cannot split out 'only the os'.

So, to clone into that 512GB drive, you need to reduce the actual consumed space to below 400GB.
We can go into detail once you get to that number.
The tool I'm looking at is called EaseUS, and I suspected it was too good to be true. Perhaps it is cloning the contents of the drive, but then they could have been more specific, unless I terribly misread it: https://www.easeus.com/partition-master/setup-ssd-hdd-and-change-os-disk-for-windows-10.html

Anyway, let's say I reduced the consumed storage to 400GB. What then? If I just looked up a tutorial for cloning drives, would that tell me all I need to know?
 

USAFRet

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Right:
"change their OS disk "
"a way to set new SSD/HDD as the system drive disk "

A bit misleading, and NOT 'just the OS'.
Some of the other tools have the same sort of misleading and not quite true text.
I prefer Macrium Reflect for this. Details below.
 
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USAFRet

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So, assuming you are under that 400GB consumed space number:

(as always, a good backup is a good idea)

-----------------------------
Specific steps for a successful clone operation:
-----------------------------
Verify the actual used space on the current drive is significantly below the size of the new SSD
Download and install Macrium Reflect (or Samsung Data Migration, if a Samsung SSD)
Power off
Disconnect ALL drives except the current C and the new SSD
Power up
Run the Macrium Reflect (or Samsung Data Migration)
Select ALL the partitions on the existing C drive
Click the 'Clone' button
Wait until it is done
When it finishes, power off
Disconnect ALL drives except for the new SSD
This is to allow the system to try to boot from ONLY the SSD
Swap the SATA cables around so that the new drive is connected to the same SATA port as the old drive
Power up, and verify the BIOS boot order
If good, continue the power up

It should boot from the new drive, just like the old drive.
Maybe reboot a time or two, just to make sure.

If it works, and it should, all is good.

Later, reconnect the old drive and wipe all partitions on it.
This will probably require the commandline diskpart function, and the clean command.

Ask questions if anything is unclear.
-----------------------------
 
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GamerCyclops

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So, assuming you are under that 400GB consumed space number:

(as always, a good backup is a good idea)

-----------------------------
Specific steps for a successful clone operation:
-----------------------------
Verify the actual used space on the current drive is significantly below the size of the new SSD
Download and install Macrium Reflect (or Samsung Data Migration, if a Samsung SSD)
Power off
Disconnect ALL drives except the current C and the new SSD
Power up
Run the Macrium Reflect (or Samsung Data Migration)
Select ALL the partitions on the existing C drive
Click the 'Clone' button
Wait until it is done
When it finishes, power off
Disconnect ALL drives except for the new SSD
This is to allow the system to try to boot from ONLY the SSD
Swap the SATA cables around so that the new drive is connected to the same SATA port as the old drive
Power up, and verify the BIOS boot order
If good, continue the power up

It should boot from the new drive, just like the old drive.
Maybe reboot a time or two, just to make sure.

If it works, and it should, all is good.

Later, reconnect the old drive and wipe all partitions on it.
This will probably require the commandline diskpart function, and the clean command.

Ask questions if anything is unclear.
-----------------------------
Alright, it's mostly clear except for one thing. My SSD is not a SATA drive, it's an M.2 drive. Rather than plugging it into the same SATA slot as the original drive, could I just change the boot drive in bios to be the M.2 slot? Like, change the priority? I'd of course still ensure it's the only drive connected to the motherboard.
Also, while I'll aim for that 400GB mark if given nothing else, would Macrium Reflect warn me if my storage consumption is still too high or would it just fail and corrupt all my data?
 

USAFRet

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Yes, just be sure you disconnect the HDD before you boot up .

It won't corrupt the data on the original HDD, so you still have that as a fallback position.
Any of the other cloning tools will have the same restriction.
If this were a Samsung drive and using the Samsung Data Migration, it wouldn't even start the process if the source were too full.

Also, there may be some considerations going from a SATA drive to NVMe.
Read here if it fails to boot up:
 

GamerCyclops

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Yes, just be sure you disconnect the HDD before you boot up .

It won't corrupt the data on the original HDD, so you still have that as a fallback position.
Any of the other cloning tools will have the same restriction.
If this were a Samsung drive and using the Samsung Data Migration, it wouldn't even start the process if the source were too full.

Also, there may be some considerations going from a SATA drive to NVMe.
Read here if it fails to boot up:
I decided to look up the drivers for my particular SSD in case I ran into this issue, and I actually found a page which includes what appears to be disk cloning software which they themselves suggest. If Macrium fails on me, would Acronis be a good shot? It's very possibly just some software bundle that they've been paid to include on their page, like McAfee on Dells back in the day. Would you happen to be familiar with it? Also, I don't see anything clearly labeled as a driver. Would the "SSD ToolBox" have that? Sorry that these are specific to this one product page, I don't expect you to miraculously have these answers, but hopefully, you can make a more educated guess than me.
 

USAFRet

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I decided to look up the drivers for my particular SSD in case I ran into this issue, and I actually found a page which includes what appears to be disk cloning software which they themselves suggest. If Macrium fails on me, would Acronis be a good shot? It's very possibly just some software bundle that they've been paid to include on their page, like McAfee on Dells back in the day. Would you happen to be familiar with it? Also, I don't see anything clearly labeled as a driver. Would the "SSD ToolBox" have that? Sorry that these are specific to this one product page, I don't expect you to miraculously have these answers, but hopefully, you can make a more educated guess than me.
Acronis is also a good cloning tool.
I recommend Macrium, because that's what I use. I've not used Acronis.

The SSD Toolbox is for management and health monitoring of the drive.
 

DSzymborski

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I tend to prefer full installs where possible. In many cases, people talking about whether to clone or reinstall have had their current installation long enough that they'd probably benefit from a clean start.

One thing that trouble me:

"Also, it is important to note that I currently have Windows 10 installed on a 1TB hard drive along with a ton of data I'd rather not lose. I would be able to create backups of everything if need be. "

You should already be backing up the "ton of data [you]'d rather not lose." In multiple places, preferably. There are two types of data that aren't backed up, data that has been lost and data that will be lost. Whether your decided to go with a clone or a full reinstall, this is an important issue to take care of, as backing up important data is a basic part of PC upkeep, no different or less crucial than changing the filter in your furnace of the oil in your car.
 

GamerCyclops

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I tend to prefer full installs where possible. In many cases, people talking about whether to clone or reinstall have had their current installation long enough that they'd probably benefit from a clean start.

One thing that trouble me:

"Also, it is important to note that I currently have Windows 10 installed on a 1TB hard drive along with a ton of data I'd rather not lose. I would be able to create backups of everything if need be. "

You should already be backing up the "ton of data [you]'d rather not lose." In multiple places, preferably. There are two types of data that aren't backed up, data that has been lost and data that will be lost. Whether your decided to go with a clone or a full reinstall, this is an important issue to take care of, as backing up important data is a basic part of PC upkeep, no different or less crucial than changing the filter in your furnace of the oil in your car.
I appreciate the response. All my photos are backed up through Google Photos, and my document-related tasks are all done through google drive and its associated services at this point. However, when it comes to things like raw video and Adobe projects from my (amateur/hobbyist) creative work, I could definitely use a backup. I haven't taken the care to back it up because I could live without it, but there's always that voice in the back of my head telling me I may be indifferent now but will care a lot more after it's lost.

So yeah, you're right, and I'll get right on that. Also, the fresh restart is duly noted. No matter how hard I try, over the course of a few years Windows always gets filled up with a bunch of crap...
 

Flouro Flibboflasm

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This is a classic case of why it is a good idea to go with a fast SSD as a boot drive and then go with HDs for data.

With the SSD you get fast boots- but their rates of pulling up data are disappointing- and they do poorly with secure shredding. Making files truly gone-for-good is more difficult on them.

With the HDs you get toughness, capacity and if you go with more than one you can have multiple layers for backups. File shredding works better as they handle large writes better.

Then, lastly, in situations like this when the data(documents, downloads, pictures, music, video...) is on another drive it cuts the complication of procedures like this dramatically.

If you want just the OS and/or programs on the boot drive you get them and just them.
 

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