By Ivy / Last update December 24, 2021

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 connector for cloning. 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 of using SSD as a 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 laptop hard drive to SSD 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. And, after installing, you need to install your favorite applications one by one and copy files from original hard drive to new SSD.  This method requires a Windows installation disk, or bootable USB. If you don't have any of them, you can choose to create one with the Recovery Drive feature or Media Creation Tool. 

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, select Install Now and Custom, then follow the on-screen instructions.

Select Installation Type

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. Except for that, you still need to copy files you will use to new SSD. Then, how to upgrade laptop hard drive to SSD without reinstalling? 

You can clone HDD to SSD via USB to SATA Cable or adapter with specialist disk cloning software. For M.2 PCIe or NVMe SSD, you need a M.2 to PCle adapter. 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. And it keeps everything as it was in the old drive, so you can use it as usual. The following will introduce this way in detail.

Want to start cloning disks right away? Don't be in a hurry, you need to check the upgradability. It's to 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. Otherwise, you can only choose to reinstall Windows on SSD.

Prepare for laptop hard drive replacement 

You can easily replace laptop HDD with SSD in Windows 10 or 11 as long as you can access your old hard drive. Note that if your laptop computer is under the warranty, changing HDD to SSD is considered an unauthorized change, please take it into serious consideration. Besides, you still need to prepare for other things necessary for cloning.

  • Get a new SSD with right form factor and interface. As for the best SSD for laptop,  it's suggested to choose a M.2 PCIe or NVMe SSD if your laptop is compatible with. Samsung 980 Pro, WD Black SN850, Kingston KC3000, etc can be a great option.
  • 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 a connector for cloning. Usually, the laptop only has one slot, so you need to connect SSD externally viaSATA-to-USBadapter or encloser.Compared with USB 2.0 and 1.0, the USB 3.0 version has a faster transfer speed.

Enclosure or Cable

  • 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.
  • 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 uninstallthe 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.

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. And the most important factor is it is able to ensure boot if you clone laptop HDD to SSD including system. And below are helpful features for disk cloning:

  • Intelligent Sector: It support cloning only used sectors on a hard drive to another, thus you can easily clone large HDD to smaller SSD without boot issue. And this is what few disk cloning software can do.
  • Hot Clone: With it, you can easily clone disk without interrupting or shutting down Windows and other running applications. 
  • SSD Alignment: It allows you to accelerate the reading & writting speed of SSD with 4k alignment technology, not only for cloning HDD to SSD in laptop, but also cloning SSD to larger SSD
  • Great compatibility: It works well in cloning all branded SSDs, such as, HP, ASUS, Samsung, Sandisk, etc. 
  • ...

If you still don't which one to use, it's recommended to use AOMEI Backupper Standard to replace hard drive with SSD. It not only supports secure boot as well as these helpful features, but also allows you to clone hard drive with bad sectors. And it has a user friendly interface, so even beginners can use it like a professional. 

How to clone HDD to SSD in laptop without reinstalling Windows

Follow the steps below to clone laptop HDD to SSD with disk clone software - AOMEI Backupper Standard. It applies to replace Dell laptop HDD with SSD, replace hard drive in ASUS laptop, replace HP laptop HDD with SSD, replace HDD with SSD in Lenovo laptop, etc.

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.

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.

Disk Clone

Notes:
•  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.
•  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 the laptop HDD as source disk, then click Next.

Select Source Disk

 4. Select the new 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 ✎...
• "Sector by sector clone": This feature will clone all sectors of your old drive including the unused sectors to a larger HDD or SSD. But if it does not have enough space to hold everything, the cloning process will fail. 
• "Edit Partitions(advanced version)": It allows you to manually add unused space to all partitions or let it fit automatically while cloning disk to larger disk

Is it over after cloning? No, you still need to check if your computer can boot from the cloned SSD successfully with content in the next part. Otherwise, you cannot use it to replace old hard drive in laptop when something bad happens. And after confirmation, you can choose to format HDD and use it for storage

Swap laptop hard drive with SSD and boot from it

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

4. Now, the new SSD is lying on your laptop, you can try to boot from it. Connect power cable and all the other cables previously removed.  

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

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

Bios

7. 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. 

Video Tutorial:

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 are 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 SSDreads 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

The process of replacing laptop HDD with SSD in Windows 10 or 11 is very simple as long as you follow the tutorial in this article. And you may find that your computer will run much faster after adding an SSD to laptop, that's a brand-new experience. 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

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. More so, you can use the backup image to restore a new computer with dissimilar hardware using its Universal Restore in the advanced version.