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Installing SSD after HD?

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I'd like to raise a hypothetical because I fear that what I'm about to ask will happen one day. I'd like to know how to do this ahead of time if possible.

I was wondering how one would go about retroactively installing a solid state drive. When first building my rig and getting it running some time back in February I do believe, I didn't quite see the significance of SSD's. However, after seeing much talk about them I fancy the idea of maybe installing one some day. My main concern is running into complications with my existing HD since it already has my OS and other programs and games on it. Here are a couple questions that help to summarize my concerns.

1. What's the easiest way to install an SSD into a rig that is already running off of a HD?

2. Do my programs/games need to be on my SSD in order to use the power of said SSD to its full potential? I assume that answer is yes, but I'd like to be sure. If that is true, how would one go about transferring said programs/games from those drives?

Thank you for your time.
23 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about installing ssd
  1. you would need to get a ssd that is as large as the space you are currently using on your hdd then use one of these programs (the top one is the best)

    http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-drive-imaging-program.htm
  2. 1) The easiest way is to Clone the current drive onto the new SSD. Some manufacturers have cloning software available on their sites for download(obviously these versions only work with their drives). I use EaseUs which is free for home use and works like a charm. http://www.todo-backup.com/

    2) you want programs and games on the SSD. use the old drive for storage of your pics, videos etc.
  3. fkr said:
    you would need to get a ssd that is as large as the space you are currently using on your hdd then use one of these programs (the top one is the best)

    http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-drive-imaging-program.htm


    Couldn't I instead get a smaller SSD and simply pick and choose what I want on it? I want it mainly to speed up my boot process and certain programs as well. I don't want one just for storage which my HD does already. Otherwise, I would need an SSD over 500 MB which is bloody expensive.
  4. You're using all 500gigs? or is that the size of your drive?
  5. this is an inexpensive ssd that is 500gb

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KFAGCUM/ref=ox_sc_imb_mini_detail?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

    so if you wanted to get a smaller ssd then you would have to delete all of the software you did not want on ssd then clone the drive then wipe your old hdd then reinstall any software onto the hdd that is missing
  6. fkr said:
    this is an inexpensive ssd that is 500gb

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KFAGCUM/ref=ox_sc_imb_mini_detail?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

    so if you wanted to get a smaller ssd then you would have to delete all of the software you did not want on ssd then clone the drive then wipe your old hdd then reinstall any software onto the hdd that is missing


    I managed to find a step by step tutorial on this on the lifehacker website, and it seems pretty similar to what you have been describing, fkr. It looks fairly tedious, but I was expecting such considering the circumstances. The process makes me a bit nervous though lol. Hopefully the HD backup program is really good whenever I do decide to use it. Unless you are perhaps able of pointing out an even better place than lifehacker to learn about this kind of stuff, this looks like the time we part ways. I appreciate your responses. Yours too, drkatz42. The fact that what you two have been saying coincide with another source I found gives me new confidence about the idea of installing an SSD.
  7. Ideally, for performance and reduced possibility of fail, you do a full install on the new SSD.
    Yes, the various cloning/migration schemes usually work. Usually. The tales of woe here are many.

    With a fresh install of the OS, then you can pick and choose what you want to be installed on the SSD. Generally, though, anything except games WILL fit installing on the SSD.
  8. USAFRet said:
    Ideally, for performance and reduced possibility of fail, you do a full install on the new SSD.
    Yes, the various cloning/migration schemes usually work. Usually. The tales of woe here are many.

    With a fresh install of the OS, then you can pick and choose what you want to be installed on the SSD. Generally, though, anything except games WILL fit installing on the SSD.


    Is there a step by step tutorial on how to do a full install of an SSD when there is already a HD in use (operating system and all)? It just confuses me. The very idea of installing a drive that needs an OS when there is already an OS in effect baffles me. I read that you need to uninstall the OS from your current drive, but that doesn't mess with your files or icons does it? I'll just make a list of questions to make it easier.

    1. How do you go about installing an OS to an SSD when there is already an OS in effect? Wouldn't they clash?

    2. If in order to do question 1 you need to uninstall your OS from your current drive, does that mess up your files and desktop in any way?

    2.5. Does this process (full install or using the cloning process) mess with your icon arrangement in the desktop? Silly question, but hopefully you understand my paranoia.

    3. Why wouldn't games fit on the SSD (generally)?

    3.5. In relation to games, all I've been reading here is using the SSD for "all" of your games. Is it not possible to pick and choose which games you want to run on that drive while putting the lesser games on the HD?

    4. And finally, is there a step by step tutorial that covers most if not all of my questions somewhere?
  9. Best answer
    1. Just like installing on any other drive, mostly
    2. All your application that live on the original drive will need to be reinstalled with the new OS
    2.5. Yes. It is a new install, which knows nothing about your old desktop
    3. It all depends on what size SSD you get. For instance, my 120GB SSD is currently ~67GB used space. My meager Steam folder that lives on a different drive is around 70GB. Won't fit. And I have NO recent games.
    If I had a 500GB SSD, decisions would be different.
    3.5. Yes. It is easy to designate what games you want where. Steam in particular gives the option of multiple locations. At each install, direct that game to the place where you want it. For all other applications and games, just select Custom or Advanced when you install. Select where you want it to go.

    For further info on SSD space management, see these:
    Win 7 & 8: http://www.tomshardware.com/faq/id-1834397/ssd-redirecting-static-files.html
    Win 8.1: http://www.tomshardware.com/faq/id-2024314/windows-redirecting-folders-drives.html
  10. while USAFRet is correct that starting anew is a full proof way of doing this, I still would try the cloning first using the steps i said such as trimming down what you do not want on your ssd then cloning that hdd to your ssd

    1. How do you go about installing an OS to an SSD when there is already an OS in effect? Wouldn't they clash?

    take the old hdd out then plug in the ssd and install the OS


    2. does not matter, what drive the OS is on only matters at bootup otherwise the old hdd if the os just has a bunch of useless files on it unless you choodse to boot from it at the bios

    2.5: cloning a drive takes all of the info off of your other drive and exactly replicates all the 10101010101010. so no nothing will change

    3. they take up to much space and really you do not need games to load 10 seconds faster

    3.5 when you install a game you can chose your directory. at this point the games you play the most often will go the the ssd and other games will go to the HDD. anyway if the game does not have loading screens then you do not need it on the SSD only games that have to load levels could benefit from being on the SSD and the only time you will see an improvement while gaming is when a lvl is loading
  11. USAFRet said:
    1. Just like installing on any other drive, mostly
    2. All your application that live on the original drive will need to be reinstalled with the new OS
    2.5. Yes. It is a new install, which knows nothing about your old desktop
    3. It all depends on what size SSD you get. For instance, my 120GB SSD is currently ~67GB used space. My meager Steam folder that lives on a different drive is around 70GB. Won't fit. And I have NO recent games.
    If I had a 500GB SSD, decisions would be different.
    3.5. Yes. It is easy to designate what games you want where. Steam in particular gives the option of multiple locations. At each install, direct that game to the place where you want it. For all other applications and games, just select Custom or Advanced when you install. Select where you want it to go.

    For further info on SSD space management, see these:
    Win 7 & 8: http://www.tomshardware.com/faq/id-1834397/ssd-redirecting-static-files.html
    Win 8.1: http://www.tomshardware.com/faq/id-2024314/windows-redirecting-folders-drives.html


    All right. I appreciate the input. So you don't need to uninstall the OS from your current drive, and you only need to install it on the new one? That is what I am getting from the info you shared anyways. Anyways, besides that slightly foggy area I think I am more comfortable with this whole process. I'm definitely going to read more on it first starting with those links you sent.

    Oh! I forgot. Do you also need to assign one of the drives as a main drive and the other as slave? Ok now I'm done lol.
  12. fkr said:
    while USAFRet is correct that starting anew is a full proof way of doing this, I still would try the cloning first using the steps i said such as trimming down what you do not want on your ssd then cloning that hdd to your ssd

    1. How do you go about installing an OS to an SSD when there is already an OS in effect? Wouldn't they clash?

    take the old hdd out then plug in the ssd and install the OS


    2. does not matter, what drive the OS is on only matters at bootup otherwise the old hdd if the os just has a bunch of useless files on it unless you choodse to boot from it at the bios

    2.5: cloning a drive takes all of the info off of your other drive and exactly replicates all the 10101010101010. so no nothing will change

    3. they take up to much space and really you do not need games to load 10 seconds faster

    3.5 when you install a game you can chose your directory. at this point the games you play the most often will go the the ssd and other games will go to the HDD. anyway if the game does not have loading screens then you do not need it on the SSD only games that have to load levels could benefit from being on the SSD and the only time you will see an improvement while gaming is when a lvl is loading


    One more thing again xD... Last thing for real because I have to go very soon. After installing the OS in the SSD and putting it at number 1 on the boot priority list in the BIOS, could you hypothetically at any time put the HD at number 1 again to have your old desktop back (assuming the files are unchanged in the HD)? I know that is unnecessary. I don't even plan on doing that myself, but I am asking to get more familiar with how the installation process works and how the SSD and HD work together.
  13. Qu9ke said:


    One more thing again xD... Last thing for real because I have to go very soon. After installing the OS in the SSD and putting it at number 1 on the boot priority list in the BIOS, could you hypothetically at any time put the HD at number 1 again to have your old desktop back (assuming the files are unchanged in the HD)? I know that is unnecessary. I don't even plan on doing that myself, but I am asking to get more familiar with how the installation process works and how the SSD and HD work together.


    Yes, but...
    When was the last time you had to revert back to an old drive with an old OS install? I'm thinking.....never.
    An SSD is just another drive. Way faster, and actually more reliable than an HDD.

    And if you leave the old Windows install on the HDD, that's just wasted space. You will never, ever use it.
  14. Qu9ke said:


    Oh! I forgot. Do you also need to assign one of the drives as a main drive and the other as slave? Ok now I'm done lol.


    With SATA drives, there is no more master/slave. Whatever is in the BIOS boot priority is it.
  15. USAFRet said:
    Qu9ke said:


    One more thing again xD... Last thing for real because I have to go very soon. After installing the OS in the SSD and putting it at number 1 on the boot priority list in the BIOS, could you hypothetically at any time put the HD at number 1 again to have your old desktop back (assuming the files are unchanged in the HD)? I know that is unnecessary. I don't even plan on doing that myself, but I am asking to get more familiar with how the installation process works and how the SSD and HD work together.


    Yes, but...
    When was the last time you had to revert back to an old drive with an old OS install? I'm thinking.....never.
    An SSD is just another drive. Way faster, and actually more reliable than an HDD.

    And if you leave the old Windows install on the HDD, that's just wasted space. You will never, ever use it.


    Well like I said, I myself don't plan on doing that. That question I asked wasn't one to find out whether or not I could do such a thing and then doing it. It was one to test my own knowledge of how HDs and SSDs work up to this point. It would have been surprising if you said that it actually wouldn't work. It would be then that I would start questioning myself.

    Also the SATA thing reminded me of something. My SATA cables branch off along the way until it reaches the port on my motherboard. I assume using the same SATA cable for both my HD and SSD is fine. I would assume so considering the fact that that's the only reason I know of as to why the cable branches off like that in the first place... .to save space.
  16. Qu9ke said:


    Well like I said, I myself don't plan on doing that. That question I asked wasn't one to find out whether or not I could do such a thing and then doing it. It was one to test my own knowledge of how HDs and SSDs work up to this point. It would have been surprising if you said that it actually wouldn't work. It would be then that I would start questioning myself.


    Overall, the SSD is just another drive. Just way faster, quieter, cooler, and more reliable.

    But as far as swapping old drives back in to use?
    I have an old Dell laptop. 2 drives for it, Win2000 and PuppyLinux. Absent one of the drives failing, I can swap them in and out as needed. The laptop does not care.
    It would work exactly the same for your SSD and HDD.
  17. fkr said:
    while USAFRet is correct that starting anew is a full proof way of doing this, I still would try the cloning first using the steps i said such as trimming down what you do not want on your ssd then cloning that hdd to your ssd

    1. How do you go about installing an OS to an SSD when there is already an OS in effect? Wouldn't they clash?

    take the old hdd out then plug in the ssd and install the OS


    2. does not matter, what drive the OS is on only matters at bootup otherwise the old hdd if the os just has a bunch of useless files on it unless you choodse to boot from it at the bios

    2.5: cloning a drive takes all of the info off of your other drive and exactly replicates all the 10101010101010. so no nothing will change

    3. they take up to much space and really you do not need games to load 10 seconds faster

    3.5 when you install a game you can chose your directory. at this point the games you play the most often will go the the ssd and other games will go to the HDD. anyway if the game does not have loading screens then you do not need it on the SSD only games that have to load levels could benefit from being on the SSD and the only time you will see an improvement while gaming is when a lvl is loading


    Hey man. Thanks for the feedback. It really helps. Apologies for the delayed response, but I honestly didn't know you replied until just now haha. The moderator replied after you did, so that was the one I saw. You are all a big help though.
  18. USARef has been doing great work here for a long time so if I ever say anything that contradicts what he says I would trust him. but please feel fr4ee to ask any other questions
  19. fkr said:
    USARef has been doing great work here for a long time so if I ever say anything that contradicts what he says I would trust him. but please feel fr4ee to ask any other questions


    Hmmm. Well I am reconsidering getting an SSD myself only for the reason that games don't seem to reap too many benefits from one except for ones with a lot of loading screens. That's what I have read anyways. The only thing that would really speed up it seems is the boot which isn't exactly a problem for me at the moment. That is more of a luxury than necessity. If I may ask, what kind of programs is recommended for an SSD if not games? I read that even your personal files like music, pictures, videos, etc go into your HD which is understandable. Where does that leave the SSD then? Is it there just to speed up miscellaneous programs on your desktop?

    EDIT: Adding on to what I have said, without the reason for speeding up loading times in games it seems that all an SSD would be for me is a means to speed up startup. Other than that it would be a constantly empty drive sitting in my cage (besides the operating system of course). That is of course unless there are other unknown programs that would make the SSD of more use that I don't know about.
  20. In all honesty the SSD really just makes everything snappier when loading and using software. It is a luxury item and one that makes everything better in my opinion.

    it is like going from a $15 mouse to a nice gaming mouse, it really does not do anything but it improves the user experience, same as a nice mechanical keyboard or a good gaming mouse pad. or maybe even getting your first 4-core smart phone, it just makes computing let frustrating.

    I spend to much time on my computer and because of this getting these unnecessary parts really makes everything a little better.
  21. Consider this:
    I use Excel a lot. In depth. A moderately complex Excel file (multiple worksheets, complex formulas, etc)....the file lives on one SSD, Excel itself lives on the main SSD.
    The file open in about 0.5 sec
    That exact same file on my work PC (of not to dissimilar spec) opens in about 8 sec.

    Now...you may think that is not a lot of difference. But it is 'open as fast as the mouse clicks', vs 'waiting...ah, there it is'.

    If all I did was gaming on this? Maybe not so much with the SSD. But it makes the whole system fell snappier.
    And SSD's are proving to be more reliable than HDD's.
  22. fkr said:
    In all honesty the SSD really just makes everything snappier when loading and using software. It is a luxury item and one that makes everything better in my opinion.

    it is like going from a $15 mouse to a nice gaming mouse, it really does not do anything but it improves the user experience, same as a nice mechanical keyboard or a good gaming mouse pad. or maybe even getting your first 4-core smart phone, it just makes computing let frustrating.

    I spend to much time on my computer and because of this getting these unnecessary parts really makes everything a little better.


    USAFRet said:
    Consider this:
    I use Excel a lot. In depth. A moderately complex Excel file (multiple worksheets, complex formulas, etc)....the file lives on one SSD, Excel itself lives on the main SSD.
    The file open in about 0.5 sec
    That exact same file on my work PC (of not to dissimilar spec) opens in about 8 sec.

    Now...you may think that is not a lot of difference. But it is 'open as fast as the mouse clicks', vs 'waiting...ah, there it is'.

    If all I did was gaming on this? Maybe not so much with the SSD. But it makes the whole system fell snappier.
    And SSD's are proving to be more reliable than HDD's.


    Then I will probably stick with my HDD for now. While I have read that some games can benefit from SSDs, the change doesn't seem significant enough to merit getting one for now. I don't really use anything else on my pc except for my browser and other miscellaneous programs. I don't use office applications either. If I were to get one, it would be a very small one just for the OS and web browser. There may be other programs, but none come to mind at the moment. Anyways, it's something to think about. Right now though I think I will hold off on getting one. I understand where you are coming from though. That few second difference does indeed make a... difference for lack of a better word. However, that luxury is something I can live without for now.
  23. they do make some cache drives that are about 30 gigs or so and cost less than $50 and that will speed up all of your HDD's.

    it just basically finds all of the files you most commonly load and keeps them temp on the small SSD
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