How can you replace your computer hard drive with a solid-state drive and be significantly happier with your life?

If your new Windows 10 PC takes a long time to boot, it’s because it runs on a regular hard drive. This is also the case with most older computers. Did you know that replacing that hard drive with an SSD will make the machine run faster? Yes, a 5-year-old computer with an SSD boots up much quicker than a new laptop running on a regular hard drive. The good news is that swapping out drives is pretty straightforward and not too expensive, given the fact that SSDs are much cheaper now than they were a few years ago.

(A standard SSD looks like a traditional 2.5-inch laptop hard drive but is much faster)

This article will show you how to replace a Windows computer’s internal hard drive with an SSD while keeping the correct software, data, and settings. The computer needs to be running Windows 7, 8, or 10. Previous versions of Windows do not support SSDs. The steps in this post are done with Windows 10. It would help if you upgraded too soon.

General Instructions: The replacement process involves cloning the entire contents of an existing hard drive to an SSD, then taking the hard drive out of the computer and putting the SSD in its place. This is a similar process for both desktops and laptops, although it’s easier to work with desktop computers than larger chassis.

Depending on how much data you have on your computer’s primary hard drive, this project will take anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours. However, you will not necessarily be actively involved at this time.

A. Ready

There are a few things you need for this job.

First of all, you will need an SSD. While not all SSDs are created equal, all SSDs are much faster than any other type of regular hard drive. The difference between SSDs is insignificant for people moving from Hard Drive. That said, you will get a drive that offers the most capacity for the least money. To quickly find the best options, check out my current list of the best SSDs.

One important thing to note: make sure you get an SSD with a capacity more remarkable than the total amount of data currently on the hard drive you are replacing. That means, for example, if the main hard drive capacity of your computer is 1TB, but you only need to use about 200GB, then you only need a 240GB SSD. It never hurts to get a large SSD with the same capacity or even more significant as an existing hard drive, though, if you can afford that.

The second thing you need is software cloning. There are many of them in the market, and most of them work fine (some SSDs come with this software install), but my favorite for work is the free version of Macrium Reflect. This software allows you to clone an existing drive to a new one without restarting your computer. It also supports all types of challenging drive formats.

The third thing you need is a USB-to-SATA adapter. These adapters can be found online for around $ 15. If you have a Seagate GoFlex external hard drive, you can use the drive adapter for your work. Note that for desktop computers, as an option, you can skip this adapter and install the SSD as a secondary internal drive for the cloning process, which works much faster. Compared with connecting via USB.

And finally, you will need a small screwdriver. Choose the one that works with screws on your computer.

Additional preparation

This step is only necessary if you want to use a hand-me-down SSD (one that has been pre-formatted) to replace your existing hard drive on your computer. If you are using a brand new SSD, you can skip this step and move straight to the cloning process.

There are two types of drive formats, including the Master Boot Record (MBR), used in Windows 7 and earlier, and the GUID Partition Table (GPT), adopted by Windows 8. Note that Windows 8 and Windows 10 also work with MBR. If you want to use a pre-used SSD for your computer, you need to type the drive format like the one you had before, too—process mirror. If not, the system will not boot at the end.

If you upgrade the hard drive of a relatively new computer, one with a factory Windows 8 or 10 installed, chances are GPT is used. Dong Ngo / CNET

It’s easy to know if your computer’s current hard drive uses GPT or MBR. This is the way.

1. Run command prompt. (Search for it on Start Menu In Windows 8, type cmd directly into the Metro Start interface).

2. At the command prompt window, type disk part and then press Enter.

3. At the DiskPart prompt, enter the list disk and then press Enter.

You will see a list of currently installed drives in your system if the listed drive has an asterisk (*) below the GPT column, it uses GPT. If not, it’s an MBR drive.

And here’s how to make sure the SSD has the same drive format:

1. Run command prompt.

2. At the command prompt, type diskmgmt, and press Enter. This will open Disk Management.

3. In the Disk Management window, find the SSD to display as Disk 1 (or Disk 2, etc. depending on the number of drives you have in your computer). Right-click on the SSD and choose “Convert to GPT” (if it’s currently using MBR), or “Convert to MBR” (if it’s presently using GPT.) Just make sure it shares the same type of identity drive format as the existing hard drive.

B. Clone the drive

Now that you have everything you need, let’s begin the process. Plug the SSD into the computer’s USB port using a USB-to-SATA cable.

The steps will be slightly different for other versions or cloning software, so follow the software instructions, but it should be easy to understand. The idea is that you clone existing hard drive models onto the SSD, keeping all settings.)

1. Download and install Macrium Reflect Free.

2. After the installation is completed, double-click the Reflect icon on the Desktop of the computer.

3. Under the current computer’s graphics, click on Clone this disk. This will open the Clone window

4. In the Clone window, click Select a disk to clone to select the SSD drive connected to your computer via USB.

Additional Note: Here, you can verify that both drives share the same drive format (GPT or MBR.) If the hard drive currently has many small partitions and uses an SSD with a smaller capacity, you may run into the error saying not all sections can fit the SSD. In this case, you can deselect the partitions to the primary partition’s right, always containing (C ? in its name. This is the partition that contains the operating system.

5. Click Next and continue with the rest of the wizard to begin the cloning process. Then, sit back and wait for the cloning to complete.

Some laptops make it very easy to replace their internal drives. Dong Ngo / CNET

C. Replace the hard drive with an SSD

This final step involves removing existing hard drives. Most laptops make it easy to do this by positioning the hard drive next to the computer and making it so you can pull it out after unscrewing some screws down the bottom. Sometimes the hard drive is placed under the battery.

Generally easier for desktops, where the hard drive (3.5-inch version) is easily detected when the chassis of the chassis is opened. You should consult the user manual or the internet on how to remove your computer’s hard drive. Note that for desktops, some SSDs come with a 3.5-inch hard drive adapter to make them fit in the computer easily. However, if your SSD doesn’t, you can get away with a removable SSD hanging inside the computer. Since SSDs have no moving parts and a desktop computer is generally non-portable, there is almost no harm in leaving a loose SSD inside the chassis.

Once the old hard drive has been pulled out, you’ll want to reverse the process with the SSD. Make sure you use all the screws when installing the SSD. In my experience, if you have one or two screws left, you’ve done something wrong.

Now that the SSD is installed, keep the hard drive in a safe place as a permanent backup. Or you can use it with a USB-to-SATA adapter as a backup drive in progress. As for desktops, you can still use your old hard drive as a secondary drive if there’s room for it inside the chassis.

You will want to restart your computer a few times so that the operating system can get used to the new SSD. Don’t worry, and your computer will take a short time to start up now.