Transfer old HDD contents to new HDD with a fresh install of Windows

Ceilingcat

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Apr 1, 2013
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My current HDD is on the fritz and I'm going to be upgrading it soon (it's 6 years old) to, most likely, a larger HDD.

My main question is: is there a way to put a fresh install of Windows 10 on the new HDD and then move all the data over from the old HDD, that also has Windows on it, without any issues? And what would be the best way to go about that?

I know there is the EaseUS tool for cloning the drives which would make things a lot easier, however I was reading that it can potentially cause issues down the road, is that true? I also saw something about people saying that it partitioned their larger HDD which I don't want to happen either.

I also have a second 2TB HDD where most of my games and what not are installed so I'm not sure if cloning the drive or getting a new HDD will cause any issues with anything on the second HDD that is set up as the E: drive.

Any help would be appreciated, either steps to move the data or other ways to complete this. I'm not a complete PC newbie but I've never had to or tried to move data from one HDD to another. I've always just done fresh installs and then re downloading whatever I needed to with an external for backup but if I can avoid that that would be a plus since my internet is pretty poor.
 

Darkbreeze

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Actually, there is NO way to do that. You have two options.

You can do a CLEAN install of Windows AND reinstall all your applications/programs etc., BUT, you can beforehand export your browser favorites, Windows settings and application settings so you can easily IMPORT those back into those programs and Windows after the new installation.

Or, you can CLONE your current Windows installation and everything will be intact as it currently is with no changes, but also no fresh installation of windows either.

Actually, there is a third option as well. You can clone your current windows installation to the new drive, and if you do not currently have your system updated to the latest build version, version 1809, you can THEN do an in place upgrade to THAT version, which we be similar but not the same, as doing a clean install, but you WILL have all your applications already there as well as most of your current configuration settings as well.


Windows clean install: Windows 10 Clean install tutorial


Windows clone to new drive using Macrium reflect: https://www.windowscentral.com/how-clone-your-pcs-hard-drive-macrium-reflect


Upgrade current installation to build version 1809 (Fall update) after doing clone (Click Update now on this page after cloning drive): https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10
 

Ceilingcat

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Would you recommend cloning or just doing a fresh install? It's not really anything I have to keep it's more so just an inconvenience and will take a decent chunk of time to download and reinstall everything. But if the issues down the road aren't going to be anything major then I'd rather just do the cloning and be done with it.

Do you have an experience with cloning a drive yourself?
 

USAFRet

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Moderator


I've cloned many drives.

Just like this...
(Where it says "SSD", substitute "new HDD". Exactly the same procedure)

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 as necessary.
Delete the 450MB Recovery Partition, here:
https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windows/en-US/4f1b84ac-b193-40e3-943a-f45d52e23685/cant-delete-extra-healthy-recovery-partitions-and-healthy-efi-system-partition?forum=w8itproinstall

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

Darkbreeze

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I too have cloned many drives, and with the exception of cloning SSD to M.2 PCIe SSD, never had any issues at all. USAFRet has shown you how to do it but if you need more in depth assistance the link I posted earlier should be helpful. If the new drive is larger or smaller, you might want to make sure than during the clone process you pay attention to the size of the new partition to be created.

Personally, I believe that if it has been a long time since you've done a clean install of Windows, or if you have been through one or more "spring or fall" major updates to Windows, then doing a clean install is the much better idea. It takes far less time to source and install your applications than it does to track down and fix problems that might come up due to an old windows installation or problems you aren't even aware of that crop up later.

Plus, the latest Windows build 1809 has some significant changes from prior versions and a number of fixes for things that were borked in version 1803.

 

Ceilingcat

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Thanks for the information, both of you, I'll probably just do a clean install of Windows to be safe and just deal with downloading stuff over again. Appreciate it!
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
For sure. When you DO the clean install, couple of things to pay particular attention to.

First, if you have any other drives connected, disconnect them until after the installation. You do not want any drive except the target drive for the OS attached to the system, not even external drives, until you are done with the Windows installation. This prevents yourself from accidentally removing a partition on another drive AND prevents any chance of the system deciding to install one or more of the hidden partitions on another drive, or seeing an existing boot partition on another drive and deciding it doesn't need to create a new one.

Also, if you have a fully UEFI compatible motherboard, graphics card and other hardware, which you likely do if your system is less than four years old, then I'd recommend disabling CSM (Compatibility support module) and enabling UEFI mode (Usually found in the Secure boot sub settings) so that Windows creates a full UEFI installation with a GPT partition type rather than a legacy MBR partition installation. If you have a non-UEFI legacy motherboard or graphics card, then you will want to enable CSM and disable UEFI mode. Obiously, this only applies to Windows 8.1 or 10 installations. Older systems will need to be non-UEFI.
 

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