By Ivy / Last update September 23, 2021

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Can I replace laptop HDD with SSD?

"There are different types of SSDs, with different connectors, sizes, thickness, interfaces. I don’t know which kind of SSD could be used on my Laptop. Is it even possible to replace a hard drive with SSD in Windows 10 laptop without reinstalling Windows? Any suggestion will be appreciated!"

disk

Surely you can! You just need to choose an SSD and the SATA to USB adapter. Most laptops will almost certainly use a 2.5-inch SATA hard drive unless you have an Ultraportable Notebook which may use a smaller 1.8-inch drive. As well, SSDs also have different thicknesses (either 7mm or 9.5 mm) and different interfaces (either SATA or IDE). Before you go out to buy an SSD drive for laptop, please check the manual or drive that’s already in the drive bay. 

Is it worth replacing HDD with an SSD in a laptop?

Definitely, you can find many ways to improve the performance of a lower laptop, but you may find that changing laptop HDD to an SSD is the easiest and fastest of all methods. Making the change will, in most cases, dramatically reduce the time to boot Windows, load programs, edit videos, play games, transfer large amount of files etc. Here are some obvious advantages can explain why SSD is the best choice for laptop hard drive replacement.

  • Faster speed:¬†SSD disks offer much faster speeds than traditional HDDs. When you upgrade hard drive in laptop to SSD, you will experience faster boot times and response times when loading your files or folders.

  • Rugged data protection:¬†SSD disks are much better at protecting your data from accidental damage caused by knocking or dropping the drive. This is because SSDs do not contain any movable parts like traditional HDDs which contain many.

On top of this, SSDs are lighter, quieter, more durable, produce less heat, and consume less power.

Common methods to upgrade laptop hard drive to SSD

Speaking of putting an SSD in my laptop, there are a variety of different methods you can use. Here we will show you two of the most common methods, namely clean install Windows 10/11 and clone disk with a free disk cloning software.

Method 1: Replace laptop hard drive with SSD and reinstall operating system

The very first way is to freshly install an SSD into the laptop with a new Windows installation. This method requires a Windows installation disk, or bootable USB. And, after reinstalling Windows, you need to install your favorite applications one by one.

A fresh install is very easy to complete and doesn’t take much effort (although it does take a lot of time). You simply need to insert the installation disk, change the boot order in BIOS, boot from the installation disk, and finally follow the on-screen instructions.

Method 2: Clone laptop hard drive to SSD directly

Many users will be put off by Method 1 due to the trouble of finding or creating an installation disk, and the reinstallation is time-consuming. How to upgrade laptop hard drive to SSD without reinstalling windows and applications? Luckily, there is another way to install SSD as primary drive without reinstalling Windows or your applications. 

You can clone HDD to SSD via USB to SATA cloning cable with specialist disk cloning software. After the cloning process is completed, you simply swap out the old drive and put an SSD in the old laptop, saving you both time and effort. The following will introduce this way in detail.

Trust and reliable HDD to SSD cloning software

Beside the basic preparations, you still need a free disk cloning software, which is the core of replacing hard drive with SSD in Windows 11/10/8/7/XP/Vista.  But how to choose a proper ssd cloning software? You can check the following criteria and use it as filter.

  • Ensure secure boot. If you clone laptop HDD to SSD including system, you can sucessfully boot your computer from the cloned SSD without any trouble.
  • Support cloning laptop HDD to smaller SSD by cloning only used sectors. As known, SSDs are smaller, and a few disk cloning software is able to clone large HDD to smaller SSD successfully.¬†Thus, it's essential for HDD to SSD clone.¬†
  • Work well in cloning all branded SSDs, such as, HP, ASUS, Samsung, Sandisk, etc. Therefore, you can replace Dell laptop HDD with SSD, replace HP laptop HDD with SSD, replace HDD with SSD in Lenovo laptop, etc.
  • Increase the performance of SSD with 4k alignment technology. In this way, you don't need to worry about the reading & writting speed of SSD after cloning.
  • ...

According to the given criteria, I highly recommend you AOMEI Backupper Standard to replace hard drive with SSD. It fully meets the above requirements and its professional version has more advanced features, such as, adjust partition size of destination disk with "Edit Partitions", clone MBR disk to GPT and vice versa, transfer only Windows 10/11 to SSD with "System Clone", etc.

How to clone HDD to SSD in laptop without reinstalling Windows

Here are two tutorials to install SSD in laptop without reinstalling Windows, you could see the video tutorial for quick understand and then get details from the graphic tutorial.

Note: If you have done a deep research online, you may find that there are many example bout cloned SSD won't boot. So, please create a system image or disk backup in case unexpected system failure.

Video Tutorial:

Graphic Tutorial:

In order to clearly show you the entire process to replace/clone HDD with SSD in Windows 7/8/10/11, we divide it in 4 steps, from preparations to secure boot. 

Step 1: What you will need  

Before you start, it is suggested to run through our quick checklist below to make sure you can successfully and smoothly clone a laptop hard drive to an SSD. 

Prepare for laptop computer

  • Verify the warranty of your laptop. If your laptop computer is under the warranty, changing HDD to SSD is considered an unauthorized change, please take it into serious consideration.
  • Check if your laptop has a removable panel. Be sure your laptop has a removable panel, so you can easily take out your disk or swap hard drive in laptop with a new SSD. If your laptop is an Ultrabook or it does not have this kind of easy access to hard drive, you need to consult with your laptop manual for instructions to get access to the drive.¬†
  • Check the BIOS settings for¬†SSD compatibility. You need to ensure if the SATA controller mode is setcorrectly. AHCI is a newer inface than IDE and has much faster transfer speed. It can be a good choice you are using an SATA SSD. If your new SSD is an NVMe SSD, you could use NVMe protocol.

Prepare for the disk

  • Prepare a screwdriver.¬†You can use it to open removable panel, take out old hard drive or install new SSD in laptop after cloning laptop HDD to SSD.
  • Prepare a connector for cloning.¬†¬†Usually, the laptop only has one slot, so you need to connect SSD externally via¬†SATA-to-USB¬†adapter or encloser.¬†Compared with USB 2.0 and 1.0, the USB 3.0 version has a faster transfer speed.¬†

Enclosure or Cable

  • Get an SSD with right form factor and interface. Please check the thickness and interface of hard drive in laptop, so you can get a proper SSD for upgrading laptop hard drive. If it's not initialed, please initialize the disk in the disk management.
  • Clean disk for more space.¬†In theory, if your new SSD does not have enough disk space to hold all the data on old disk, the cloning process fail. Thus, it's necessary to uninstall¬†the programs no longer in use, clean up temperary files or non-system files with "Disk Cleanup", or transfer larger files (eg: documents and videos) to another drive etc before¬†cloning¬†hard disk to smaller SSD.

Step 2: Clone HDD to SSD in a laptop directly

Follow the steps below to clone laptop HDD to SSD with disk clone software - AOMEI Backupper Standard. It is also applicable to replace hard drive in ASUS laptop, migrating Windows 10 to M2 SSD, cloning Samsung SSD to larger SSD, cloning Dell hard drive to SSD etc. Please backup files in advance, because the target disk will be overwritten finally. 

1. Physically connect the new SSD to your laptop.

Put the new SSD in the enclosure or connect it to a SATA-to-USB or adapter, then connect it to your laptop with USB cable. And it will be recognized in a few minutes. 

Connect SSD

2. Download AOMEI Backupper Standard Edition, a specialist free disk cloning software, then install and launch it. In the main window, select "Clone" and then "Disk Clone"  in order.

Download Freeware Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Disk Clone

Notes:
‚Äʬ† The free version SSD cloning software¬†- AOMEI Backupper Standard only supports cloning MBR system disk to MBR disk. If you want to¬†clone GPT to GPT, MBR to GPT or GPT to MBR, you need to upgrade to the Professional edition.
‚Äʬ† To check partition style between the hard drive and target SSD. You could go to disk management, right-click the hard disk or the SSD, choose¬†Properties¬†->¬†Volume ->¬†Partition Style, then you will see its partition style, either MBR or GPT.

3. Select your existing HDD as source disk, then click Next.

Select Source Disk

 4. Select the connected SSD as destination disk, then click Next.

Select Destination Disk

5. Check the operation summary and click "Start Clone" to clone laptop hard drive to SSD without reinstalling. Remember to tick "SSD Alignment" to increase the read and write speed of your SSD. 

Start Clone

Notes ‚úé...
‚ÄĘ "Sector by sector clone": This feature will clone all sectors of your old drive including the unused sectors to target disk, here is a new SSD. But if it does not have enough space to hold everything, the cloning process will fail.¬†
‚ÄĘ "Edit Partitions(advanced version)": This feature is to resize partition size of the target disk to enjoy full capacity while¬†cloning disk to larger disk. You can choose to manually add unused space to all partition or let it fit automatically.¬†
‚ÄĘ Please Don't format HDD until you can successfully boot your computer from cloned SSD. After that, you can choose to use¬†SSD for OS and HDD for storage¬†to gain both great performance and big capacity.

Tips ‚úé...
‚Äʬ†Beside HDD to SSD clone, you still can use it as SSD cloning software to clone SSD to larger SSD, clone NVMe SSD, copy data from one SSD to another, etc.

Except for cloning, you still can use backup and restore method to achieve the same effect of upgrading HDD to SSD. It's suggested to backup Windows to NAS and then restore it to new SSD using a bootable media. 

Step 3: Swap laptop hard drive with SSD after cloning

1. Prepare your laptop for hard drive swap. Turn off your computer completely, disconnect the power cable and any other cables, then remove the hard disk bay cover with a screwdriver.

2. Find the screws holding the hard drive into place and unscrew them. Keep the screws in a box so that you can find them easily and quickly later.

Unscrew Drive

3. Lift your hard drive up about 35 or 45 degrees and pull it out the drive bay.  Then, in its place, install the new SSD as if you were removing the HDD, but with the steps reversed. Please remember to secure it with the previously removed screws and replace the back panel. 

Remove Drive

Step 4: Boot from the cloned SSD disk

After changing HDD to SSD in laptop, the new SSD is lying on your laptop. Is it over? The answer is NOT, and you still need to do some important finishing touches, namely, check if the SSD is successfully cloned, and be sure that all the previously installed applications and store data are kept intact. Below are the detailed steps:

1. Connect power cable and all the removed other cables.  

2. Restart your computer and press the prompted BIOS key in the first screen. It's usually ESC, Dell, F1, F2, F12 etc.

3. In the BIOS settings screen,  go to the Boot tab and set the cloned SSD as the first option. 

Bios

4. Save changes and let Windows boot from the new SSD. If your computer boot normal and all the programs and data are there (except much faster), you've done this operation successully. 

More about replacing laptop HDD with SSD

1. Does changing HDD to SSD make laptop faster?
Due to the unique construction of SSDs, it does not have any removing parts. The biggest advantages of it is its excellent performance, and you can enjoy faster boot times, faster transfer speed, shorter loading time while playing games, etc. 

2. Can I add SSD to my laptop without removing HDD?

In most cases, laptop only has one slot, so you can only connect one drive in the drive bay. But you can connect the HDD externally and use it to store files as you like.

3. How much SSD is enough?

To ensure your computer always run smoothly, the SSD needs to be at least 256GB or 500GB. Since you may install many new programs or store various data in it.

4. Is a 256GB SSD better than a 1TB hard drive?

For capacity, 1TB hard drive stores four times as much as a 256GB SSD. For performance, the SSD reads up to 10 times faster and writes up to 20 times faster than a hard drive. So, The question now is whether you need high capacity or super high performance the most.

Summary

That's all for how to easily replace laptop HDD with SSD in Windows 11/10/8/7 without reinstalling Windows and your application. And you may find that your computer will run much faster after adding an SSD to laptop, that's a brand-new experence. Moreover, its "SSD Alignment" makes full use of 4k alignment technology to achieve the best performance of SSD. Also, you can use it to replace HDD with SSD in desktop. 

Meanwhile, it's suggested to keep AOMEI Backupper installed on your computer to protect data and system continously. It supports full backup and restore solutions, such as, file backup, disk backup, system backup, incremental/differential backup, create bootable disc, universal restore etc.