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Summary

Some users said that it was very time-consuming to install an new operating system after replacing HDD with SSD. So, most users choose to directly clone HDD to the newly installed SSD. But some users don’t know how to make it. This article will provide methods about how to clone HDD to SSD (with smaller capacity) in Windows 10 quickly. Detailed instructions on installing an SSD will be provided as well.



Types of SSDs and How to Choose a Suitable SSD

There are two common interfaces for SSD: SATA and M.2. And we are going to mainly talk about SATA SSD and M.2 SSD.
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Overall backup schedule Support system redeployment/system backup/partition backup/disk backup/disk clone.

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1. SATA SSD

SATA SSD, an entry-level SSD, is equipped with a traditional SATA interface. But SATA interface is still widely used on mainstream SSDs. Besides, SATA SSD only supports SATA Express and uses AHCI protocol, but its performance is almost three times than that of traditional HDD.

SATA SSD

2. M.2 SSD

Compared with SATA SSD, M.2 SSD is smaller and thinner, particularly suitable for a laptop. M.2 SSD can not only use AHCI protocol but also NVMe protocol. And it supports both SATA and PCI-e express. But please note that not every M.2 SSD is faster than SATA SSD. Because data transfer speed depends on the protocol and connector that M.2 interface works with.

M.2 SSD

From the following chart, you will see that different interfaces working with different protocols will provide different data transfer speed. When M.2 SSD uses NVMe protocol, the data transimission speed is the best.

Types of SSDsConnectorProtocolData Transfer Speed
SATA SSDSATAAHCI550MB/s
M.2 SSDSATAAHCI550MB/s
M.2 SSDPCI-eNVMe3200MB/s
TipsYou could get the information about the protocol that the SSD uses via product description
If M.2 SSD uses NVMe protocol, it is usually labeled as “NVMe”. If marked with other information such as SATA M.2, the M.2 SSD usually adapts AHCI protocol.
Type of SSDs
After learning about the types of SSDs, you may have already decided the SSD. But it’s not enough to know the types of SSDs when you are going to get a SSD. Next, how to choose a suitable SSD according to the compatibility of motherboard will be introduced as well.

3. How to Choose a Suitable SSD

The key components of an SSD are controller, NAND flash memory and cache. NAND flash memory has a great impact on lifespan and data transfer speed of an SSD. Each type of NAND flash memory has its unique features which are appropriate for different users. For more details, please refer to the differences among SSD NAND flash memory: QLC/SLC/MLC/TLC.

From the perspective of installation and specific use of an SSD, it’s necessary to choose an SSD depending on the motherboard you are using and confirm what type of interface and connector that the motherboard supports. Generally, if there are only SATA ports on the motherboard, it’s suggested to use SATA SSD directly.

SATA slot on the motherboard

Whether M.2 SSD can be installed and used properly also depends on the compatibility of the socket, protocol and physical dimensions of an M.2 SSD. Most new motherboards basically support one or more M.2 ports, which offer different options for optimizing the PC.

Compatibility of Socket and Protocol of M.2

There are two common sockets on the host: Socket 2 and Socket 3. And there are three common keys: B key, M key and B & M key. Each socket has a unique mechanical key. Socket 2, related with B key, supports SATA or two PCI Express lanes. But motherboards that only provide B key are rare now.
Socket 3 for M key supports four PCI Express lanes which is used for high-end M.2 SSD.

M.2 module with B & M key is very common now. On the basis of B key, B & M key produces better compatibility. M.2 module with B & M key can fit in sockets for B key or M key, but it can only use SATA or two PCI Express lanes.

M.2 SSD key

M.2 SSD key and interface

Please note that M.2 module that only uses SATA lanes can’t fit in the M.2 slots that only supports PCI-e lane on the motherboard. So it’s suggested to confirm whether your motherboard has M.2 slots and supports both SATA and PCI-e lanes before you buy a new M.2 SSD.

M.2 slot on the host

M.2 SSD Physical Dimension

M.2 SSD comes in different dimensions, such as 2230, 2242, 2260, 2280 and 22110. Take M.2 2242 as an example, 22 refers to 22mm wide while 42 represents 42mm long. Most desktop PCs and laptops basically support the 2242/2260/2280 M.2 SSD.

M.2 2242 and 2280 are very common now and the smaller size M.2 2242 can be inserted into the standard slot for M.2 2280. If you don’t know how to choose the appropriate SSD, you could select it according to the M.2 slot on the motherboard where you could confirm which lengths are supported. If the motherboard is not labeled with supported width and length of an SSD, it’s suggested to confirm the dimensions by measuring the distance via the screw.

 

M.2 SSD dimensions

M.2 SSD slot on the motherboard

TipsAfter you buy a suitable SSD, please initialize or format the SSD before using. Please note that you need to choose the right partition table and file system when formatting an SSD. For more details, please refer to the considerations and suggestions of formatting an SSD. Generally, you could format an SSD via Windows Disk Management, but the whole process will takes a lot of time and this solution doesn’t provide disk cloning. If you don’t want to format and partition an SSD manually or intend to have all data migrated to the new SSD, it’s suggested to use the third-party cloning software.

SSD Installation Guide

SATA SSD and M.2 SSD are very common and popular today. So step of how to install SATA SSD and M.2 SSD on the desktop PC and laptop will be provided in the following.

1. Preparations and Precautions of Installing SSDs

Preparations of installing a SATA SSD and a M.2 SSD on the desktop PC and laptop:
PreparationsDesktop PCLaptop
2.5 inch to 3.5 inch hard drive adapterFor SATA SSD onlyNot required
SATA 3.0 cableFor SATA SSD onlyNot required
Cross screwdriverRequiredRequired
ScrewsRequiredRequired
Anti-static glovesRequiredRequired
install SSDs in the PC
  • When you install a SATA SSD on the desktop PC, 2.5 ” to 3.5″ hard drive adapter is required. If the bays for placing a hard drive is 2.5 “, then you don’t need to prepare an adapter. However, some desktop does not provide standard bays for hard drives. It would be better if you could prepare an adapter in advance.
  • Generally, when you buy an SSD, it doesn’t come with a SATA 3.0 cable. So you need to buy it separately. Please confirm if the SATA 3.0 cable is labeled with “SATA 3” or “6Gbps” when you buy it.
  • Cross screwdriver and screws are necessary. When you install SSDs on desktop PC and laptop, cross screwdriver and screws are used for fixing SSDs.
  • Installing an SSD could produce static. For safety, please wear the anti-static gloves before installing an SSD.

2. SSD Installation Guide for Desktop

Please power off your desktop and unplug the power plug before you install an SSD.

Option 1: Solution to Install a SATA SSD in Desktop

Step 1: Unscrew and remove the sides of your computer’s case. If you are not sure how to make it, you could refer to the instruction manual of your computer.

Step 2: Find out the SATA power cable and then connect it to the SSD.

SATA power

Step 3: Connect the SATA cable to the SSD and the other end to a spare SATA ports.

SATA cable

Step 4: Put the 2.5″ SSD into the 3.5″ adapter and then slide it into the drive bay. Finally, secure the drive with screws.

If the drive bay is 2.5″, the 2.5 ” to 3.5″ hard drive adapter is not required.

install SATA SSD in the desktop PC

Step 5: Put the sides of your computer’s case back together.

Step-by-step instructions of installing a SATA SSD in desktop:

Option 2: Solution to Install an M.2 SSD in Desktop

Please confirm your laptop has an M.2 slot before you install an M.2 SSD.
Step 1: Unscrew and remove the sides of your computer’s case. Find out the M.2 slot.
If there is mounting screw on the M.2 slot, just unscrew it at first.

install M.2 SSD in the PC

Step 2: Tilt the M.2 SSD about 25 degrees and then carefully insert and push it into the M.2 slot.

install M.2 SSD in the desktop PC

Step 3: Secure the M.2 SSD using the mounting screw. Finally, put the sides of your computer’s case back together.

M.2 SSD installed

3. SSD Installation Guide for Laptop

Please power off your laptop and remove the battery before you install an SSD.

Option 1: Solution to Install a SATA SSD in the Laptop

Step 1: Remove the access panel on the bottom of your laptop. And find out the hard drive slot.
The ways to remove the access panel usually vary from laptop model to laptop model. It’s suggested to read the instruction manual of your laptop.

Step 2: Unscrew the hard disk drive using cross screwdriver. Then pull it out.

SATA SSD installation

Step 3: Remove bracket or adapter attached to the HDD. Then connect one of them to the SSD.

install SATA SSD in the laptop

Step 4: Place the SSD in the drive bay and secure it using mounting screws.

install SATA SSD in the laptop

Step 5: Put the access panel door cover back.

Step-by-step instructions of installing a SATA SSD in laptop:

Option 2: Solution to Install an M.2 SSD in the Laptop

Please confirm your laptop has an M.2 slot before you install an M.2 SSD.
Step 1: Remove the bottom access panel door cover. And find out the hard drive slot.
The ways to remove the access panel usually vary from laptop model to laptop model. It’s suggested to read the instruction manual of your laptop.

install SSD in laptop

Step 2: Lift the M.2 SSD about 25 degrees and then carefully insert and push it into the M.2 slot.

install M.2 SSD in laptop

Step 3: Secure the M.2 SSD using the mounting screw. Finally, put the bottom access panel door cover back.
M.2 SSD laptop

How to Clone HDD to SSD without Reinstalling System

Generally, you will go on to reinstall the operating system after replacing an SSD. But it will take a lot of time to reinstall system. After that, you will need to transfer all files and data from the old hard drive to the new SSD, which is very complicated. Most users are more inclined to directly clone the operating system from HDD to the new SSD. And it will be more simple and convenient to make it with the third-party disk cloning software.

But there are different disk cloning software on the Internet. Which one is better? Here are 3 popular and free disk cloning software for your reference.

1. Brief Introduction of Disk Cloning Software

Clonezilla

Clonezilla is a freeware for partition and disk cloning. It doesn’t provide many functions, but it brings a good result. It requires virtual interface like Ghost to perform. And you need to use USB drive or CD to create a bootable virtual system. The whole process is so complicated and the operation interface could be hard for beginners to understand.

Clonezilla

Features

  • A free program allows users to backup and restore the entire hard disk or a single sector and to run it using USB drive or CD.
  • It requires that the destination partition must be equal or larger than the source one. But differential/incremental backup is not implemented yet.

Suitable for: Users know related professional knowledge

Recommend Degree: ★★☆☆☆

Renee Becca

Renee Becca is a professional and reliable free disk cloning software that provides backup, restore and cloning. It supports system / hard disk / partitions / files backup & recovery and also supports cloning and system migration for hard disk / partitions. The program allows users to schedule a backup plan and perform a differential or incremental backup. In addition, the operation interface is simple and easy to use, which is suitable for most users.

Renee Becca - Reliable Data Backup & Restore Software

Quick Backup files at up to 3,000MB/min.

Fullfill different backup needs Supports system backup, disk / partition backup, file backup and disk clone.

Intelligent Automatically analyze the differences between source and backup data.

Convenient Support VSS, allowing to freely view webpages when backing up system.

Highly compatible Supports various files and storage devices.

Quick Backup files at up to 3,000MB/min.

Fullfill different backup needs Backup for disk, partition and system. Save disk space by backing up incremental /differential data.

Highly compatible Supports various files and storage devices.

Free TrialFree Trial 2000 users have downloaded and enjoy Renee Becca!

main interface of Renee Becca

Features

  • Renee Becca provides automatic 4K alignment that improves SSD’s performance.
  • Besides, from the perspective of protecting personal data security, the built-in disk/partition eraser can help you remove data if necessary.

Suitable for: Beginners or the people who know related professional knowledge

Recommend Level: ★★★★★

Drive Image XML

Drive Image XML is a reliable program for imaging and backing up partitions and logical drives. The private version is free, but the commercial version requires a fee. The free private version can only be used on home computers and is not supported commercial use. Besides, the Drive Image XML interface is simple and easy to understand, which is suitable for beginners.

Drive image XML

Features

  • The program supports browsing and extracting files. It allows users to backup and restore drives and also to schedule a backup plan.
  • It’s especially helpful for partition backup, but doesn’t support system migration.

Suitable for: Beginners or the people who know related professional knowledge

Recommend Level: ★★★☆☆

2. Conclusion of Disk Cloning Software

ToolClonezillaDrive Image XMLRenee Becca
System backup and restore
Files backup and restore
System migration
Disk/Partition clone
Backup schedule
Disk Erase
As you can see, professional and reliable Renee Becca is more powerful and flexible, which is your ideal choice. Renee Becca can not only help you clone disk / partition and migrate system, but also provides automatic 4K alignment, which will save a lot of time. But as for SSDs, is 4K alignment necessary? In fact, it’s a must choice. If SSD is not 4K aligned, SSD will have an issue with slow reading and writing speeds. And the lifespan of the SSD will also be reduced.

Besides, some users reported that they bought a smaller SSD but didn’t know how to clone HDD to it. In this case, Renee Becca also can help you solve this problem! For more details, please follow a few steps as below to clone large HDD to a smaller SSD using Renee Becca.

download button win5

3. Precautions and Solutions of Cloning Large HDD to a Smaller SSD

Precautions of Cloning Large HDD to a Smaller SSD

Generally, new hard drive needs to be larger than the old one when we perform a disk cloning. But what if you have a new SSD of which the capacity is smaller than that of the HDD? Don’t worry and just confirm whether the used space on HDD is less than the capacity of the SSD. If the used space on HDD is smaller than the capacity of the SSD, then you could directly use the following Solution 1 to clone the entire HDD to the SSD.
Check the Used Space of the HDD via Disk Management
a. Press “Win” + “R” to open Run box and then type in: compmgmt.msc. Press Enter.
b. In the “Computer Management” window, click “Disk Management” in the left pane. Then you will see the details of disks and partitions.

For example, the HDD has a total capacity of 223.58 GB and has free storage of 103.67 GB. So the HDD is totally used 119.91 GB. In this case, only when you have an SSD that has more than 120 GB storage capacity can you perform the disk cloning.

clone hdd to ssd
If the used space on HDD is greatly more than the capacity of an SSD and many personal files can’t be saved to the smaller SSD, the entire HDD definitely can’t be cloned to the SSD with a smaller capacity. In this case, you could choose to delete or transfer some personal files on the HDD to free up the space. Besides, it’s suggested to use the following Solution 2 to migrate the system partition which is generally a C: drive from HDD to SSD. This way is more simple and prevalent today.

Solution 1: Clone the Entire HDD to the SSD

Renee Becca can equally create smaller partitions on the target SSD according to the partition size of the original HDD and transfer data from different partition of the HDD to the corresponding partition of the target SSD.
As for desktop PC, you may choose to directly clone HDD to SSD on the same device after you install an SSD. But as for the laptop, after installing the SSD, you may need to remove the HDD from the laptop and connect it to the hard drive enclosure, then connect the case to the PC and go on disk cloning.
Renee Becca - Reliable Data Backup & Restore Software

Quick Backup files at up to 3,000MB/min.

Fullfill different backup needs Supports system backup, disk / partition backup, file backup and disk clone.

Intelligent Automatically analyze the differences between source and backup data.

Convenient Support VSS, allowing to freely view webpages when backing up system.

Highly compatible Supports various files and storage devices.

Quick Backup files at up to 3,000MB/min.

Fullfill different backup needs Backup for disk, partition and system. Save disk space by backing up incremental /differential data.

Highly compatible Supports various files and storage devices.

Free TrialFree Trial 2000 users have downloaded and enjoy Renee Becca!
Step 1: Launch Renee Becca. Go to “Clone” function and click “Hard Disk Clone/Clone System Disk”.

select hard disk clone function

Step 2: Select your source HDD and target SSD. You will see the clone result on target disk via Virtual View. Then click “Clone”.

Renee Becca disk cloning

Step 3: After cloning process completes, select the SSD as the first boot option via BIOS settings next time when the PC boots.

After computer boots from SSD successfully, format the original system disk to make use of the disk space. Or you can remove the HDD after the PC shuts down. Start the PC from SSD and reconnect the HDD to PC for system disk formatting.

Solution 2: Migrate the System from HDD to the SSD

Renee Becca can transfer the system partition and boot information on the original HDD to target SSD.
As for desktop PC, you may choose to directly clone HDD to SSD on the same device after you install an SSD. But as for the laptop, you may need to remove the HDD from the laptop and install the SSD. Then connect the HDD to computer with the hard drive enclosure and go on disk cloning.
Step 1: Launch Renee Becca and click “System Redeploy” in “Clone” function.

Clone system to SSD

Step 2: Select the source HDD and target SSD.

select destination to migrate system

Step 3: After cloning process completes, select the SSD as the first boot option via BIOS settings next time when the PC boots.

After computer boots from SSD successfully, format the original system disk to make use of the disk space. Or you can remove the HDD after the PC shuts down. Start the PC from SSD and reconnect the HDD to PC for system disk formatting.

Make Sure the SSD Works Properly

You are ready to use the SSD after installing an SSD and clone HDD to it. In order to make sure the SSD will work properly, it’s necessary to update or reset some settings at first. In addition, if you intend to optimize the SSD for top performance, you could update some settings such as enabling AHCI and TRIM.

1. Change Boot Order via BIOS Settings

Enter BIOS utility and select the new SSD as the first boot order. Then the PC will boot from the new SSD.

Step 1: Power on the PC. When the startup screen appears, constantly press the hot key to trigger the BIOS settings. Generally, the hot key is F2, F8, F12 or Del.
Please use the correct hot key to enter BIOS according to the brand of your PC.

Step 2: After you go into BIOS, use the arrow key to choose the “Boot” tap and select the SSD as the first boot option.

Boot the PC from SSD

Step 3: Press F10 to save the settings. Then restart your PC.

2. Update or Change Boot Mode via BIOS Settings

There are two types of partition style: MBR and GPT. MBR works with the startup mode Legacy. And GPT works with UEFI. Setting a correct boot mode will make SSD run normally.

Step 1: Power on the PC. When the startup screen appears, constantly press the hot key to trigger the BIOS settings. Generally, the hot key is F2, F8, F12 or Del.

Please use the correct hot key to enter BIOS according to the brand of your PC.

Step 2: Use arrow key to choose the “Boot” tap and select “UEFI/ BIOS Boot Mode”. Press Enter. Then select “Legacy” or “UEFI” according to your preset partition style.

UEFI/ BIOS Boot Mode

Step 3: Press F10 to save the settings. Then restart your PC.

3. Enable AHCI

AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) is a technical standard defined by Intel that allows software to communicate with SATA storage devices and SATA storage devices to activate advanced SATA feature. Turning on the AHCI mode can improve performance of an SSD.

Step 1: Press “Win” + “R” key to open “Run” box. Then type in: regedit. Press Enter.

enter regedit in run

Step 2: When “Registry Editor” pops up, navigate to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\iaStorV

Step 3: Expand the “iaStorV”, then right click the “StartOverride” and click “Delete”.

remove startoverride

Step 4: Create a Text Document. Copy and paste the following command to the document and save as AHCI.bat.

reg delete “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\storahci\” /v StartOverride /f

enable AHCI

Step 5: Right click the AHCI.bat file and select “Run as Administrator”.

enable AHCI for SSD

Step 6: In the command prompt, type in: Yes. Press Enter.

turn on AHCI

Step 7: Restart the PC and enter BIOS settings. Press right arrow key to select “Main” tap and press down arrow key to select “SATA Mode”. Press Enter. Then select “AHCI” and press “Enter”.

Please press F10 to save the settings after the above step completes.
enable AHCI in BIOS

4. Enable TRIM

Enabling TRIM can optimize an SSD, keep to get the best performance and also speed up the PC.
TRIM represents that once a file is deleted, the system will mark the data blocks. Then SSD will immediately wipe out the data blocks which are no longer used after receiving the command. In this case, SSD will not have to erase the data block and data can be directly written to these data block next time, which will save a lot of time.
Following will introduce how to enable TRIM via Command Prompt. This way requires administrator privilege. If it is not available, it’s suggested to create an administrator account at first.

Step 1: Type “cmd” in the search box. Right click “Command Prompt” and select “Run as administrator”.

run cmd as administrator

Step 2: In the Command Prompt, type in: fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify. Press “Enter”.
If the result shows DisableDeleteNotify = 0, TRIM will be enabled successfully.

enable TRIM with command prompt

5. Fix a Cloned SSD That Won’t Boot

If SSD has an issue with booting, you could refer to the reasons and solutions of cloned SSD not bootingto troubleshoot the problem. Sometime you may encounter an error screen on startup, such as 0xc000000f, 0xc000014C, 0xc0000001, 0xc0000034, 0xc0000098, which is caused by the incorrectly configured BCD file by disk cloning software. If you use Renee Becca, you will be free from such trouble. Because it can automatically format/partition the hard drive and also configure boot information correctly.

pc needs to be repaired