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How to Clone an existing drive to a new SSD

Posted by James on 12th Oct 2014

Got yourself a brand new SSD, but don't want to have to install Windows and all of your applications over again? Look no further, as we have all the detailed steps to clone your old drive right here.

**WARNING** - This tutorial contains information which will completely delete all usable data from a hard drive or SSD. Follow the instructions carefully and with caution. Proceed at your own risk.

Note, a small part of this information is specific to a system setup utilising the ASRock Z97 Extreme6 motherboard with a Samsung XP941 SSD (pictured below) installed securely in the onboard Ultra M.2 socket, but the process will be very similar for other PC systems, so long as they have a compatible M.2 socket on the motherboard. You could also connect the XP941 to the system (if you are upgrading from a smaller drive, for example), using an external M.2 PCIe - USB adapter / enclosure. If you are not sure if your motherboard is compatible, then see our famous M.2 Compatibility List for more details.

Image of Samsung XP941 SSD

Note, if you want to install Windows from scratch on an XP941 or any other SSD or Hard drive using a Windows Installation USB drive see how to install Windows 8.1 on the Samsung XP941.

1. BIOS and Hardware Setup

Clean the XP941 or other SSD if necessary

I had been practising doing a stand-alone installation of Windows on the Samsung XP941 SSD already, so I wanted to make sure that the drive was all nice and clean before I began. The Windows diskpart 'clean' command is perfect for this, and will effectively remove all MBR and GPT partitions or hidden sector information from the drive. Essentially, the drive is put back to an uninitialised state.

  1. Press the Windows key and 'R' together, then type cmd into the box, press Enter. This will open a new command prompt window
  2. Type diskpart and press Enter again.
  3. Accept the Windows security warning, then you should see a new command prompt window inside the Diskpart application like this:

    Image of diskpart command

  4. Next you will need to select the disk you want to clean. To figure out what disk number it is, type 'list disk' and enter.

    Image of diskpart command

  5. In my case, I've got an existing 128GB SSD, and the new 512GB XP941 SSD, so I select Disk 0. Take careful note which disk you should select. Type 'select disk 0' and press Enter. If your new SSD is situated at disk 1, then the command is 'select disk 1'.

    Image of diskpart command

  6. Just to be on the safe side, we are going to have a look at the details of the currently selected disk, to make sure we've got the right one. Type 'detail disk' and press Enter. Since I'm working with a Samsung XP941 model, then the first line should start with 'Samsung MZHPUxxx' .

    Image of diskpart command

  7. Now we need to clean the disk. ***WARNING*** - THIS WILL DELETE ALL VOLUMES AND PARTITIONS FROM THE SELECTED DISK. Hold your breath, type 'clean' and press Enter.

    As you can see below, the 'disk detail' command shows no volumes present on the drive, so it is now blank and ready for cloning.

    Image of diskpart command

2. Re-initialise the new SSD

Some drive cloning/imaging software may not require you to re-initialise the new SSD, but in my case I needed to. To do this, press the Windows Key and R together, then type 'compmgmt.msc' in the command box, and press Enter. Select the Disk Management container on the left. Immediately you should see a popup window asking you to initialise the disk, like below:

Image of disk management app

Simply select OK, and windows will initialise the drive so that it can now be seen by the imaging/cloning software.

3. Drive Clone with EaseUS

If you prefer, the video below will walk you through the entire cloning process and discuss possible pitfalls. Read on for the static content version.

How to clone an existing HDD/SSD to the Samsung XP941

There are many different ways to clone one drive to another, and many different software applications. Since the XP941 doesn't ship with any included imaging software I'm going to be using EaseUS Todo Backup, which is free for personal use at home.

Once you have downloaded and installed EaseUS Todo Backup, start the program, and select the Clone button. Choose your existing system drive as the source drive, which in my case is Hard Disk 1.

Image of Easeus

Click next, then select the target drive, which in my case is Hard Disk 0. If you are cloning to a larger drive like I am, you'll see that EaseUS will leave a considerable amount of free space on the target drive. Click the Edit link (top right) and drag the system partition to the right to resize it, then click OK, then Next.

Image of Easeus

Finally, we see a confirmation screen showing the source and target disk drives. . For now, just press the Proceed/Next button.

Image of Easeus

If everything went well, you should see the screen below once the cloning process is complete:

Image of Easeus

4. How to Expand the system partition (if you forgot to do it when cloning)

If you cloned your old drive to a larger SSD using EaseUS Todo Backup or other software, and didn't use the feature to extend the target partition at the same time, then you can still do it manually. This is a simple task with the built in Windows Disk Management Utility. To access it, press the Windows Key and R together, then type 'compmgmt.msc' in the command box, and press Enter. Select the Disk Management container on the left.

Now right click on the main system partition of the new SSD. Select Extend Volume from the drop-down menu.

Image of computer management

This starts the Extend Volume Wizard which automatically selects the free space after the selected partition. Click Next.

Image of Extend partition wizard

Now the partition has been extended.

Image of computer management Windows 8.1

5. Booting from the new drive

If you are simply upgrading from one drive to a larger one in a laptop, it's just a case of swapping the new hardware for the old, and then reboot into Windows.

In a desktop PC, the next steps will be similar to the ones I had to follow:

  1. Shut down
  2. Disconnect the original source hard drive or SSD
  3. Power On
  4. Enter the bios (F2 on most systems)
  5. Check the boot order, select the appropriate drive. In my case I needed to select 'Windows Boot Manager' which is the entry related to the UEFI installation on the XP941 SSD
  6. Save changes (F10 on most systems)
  7. Exit and Reboot into Windows.
  8. Now you should be able to shut down again, power off, reconnect the old source drive, then reboot. The original source drive will be assigned new drive letters by windows.

6. Potential XP941 Issues

If you are migrating from an old SSD/HDD to an XP941, you may get tripped up (like I did) with the partitioning scheme on your old drive.

For the clone to the Samsung XP941 to be successful, my testing so far has showed that the original drive must have an EFI partition, meaning it had Windows installed in UEFI mode from a USB drive, rather than in Legacy mode from a Windows DVD.

In the process of creating this tutorial I was attempting to clone an SSD with an MBR partitioning scheme to the Samsung XP941, and I was not able to boot from it, no matter which utility I used to attempt to repair it. You can see below my original source disk configuration, and that an EFI partition is absent:

Image of disk with non EFI partition - installed in legacy mode

Compare this to the image below, which shows my original SSD and the Samsung XP941, both using a GPTpartitioning scheme configured with EFI partitions. (Drive 0 was cloned from Drive 1.) As you can see the status of Drive 0 (the new XP941 SSD) has Boot, Page File, Crash Dump, indicating I've successfully booted to this drive after cloning.

Image of disk with non EFI partition - installed in legacy mode

Recognising a Legacy versus UEFI windows installation

Also note, in my ASRock Z97 Extreme6 motherboard BIOS the 1st boot device should always be set to 'Windows Boot Manager', which I've now come to recognise as a Windows installation with an EFI partition, created from a UEFI install. I find it's easier to use the F11 key when booting up to select an alternative boot device if necessary, which saves having to enter the bios.

When windows is installed with an EFI partition like the above, you can also turn off the CSM (Compatibility Support Module) in your motherboard UEFI if you don't need any legacy devices.

Update: Paragon include a MBR to GPT conversion utility in their Hard Disk Manager 14 Professional software. Unfortunately this utility isn't functional in the trial version, but it might be worth the cost for some.

Our personal thank you to Rod who wrote this excellent  tutorial.