By Delia / Last update October 28, 2022

Can I install an SSD without reinstalling Windows?

With the popularity of SSDs, more and more computer users would like to replace boot drives with SSDs for better performance. And usually, at this point, you can choose to install Windows 10 to SSD using installation media or disk cloning software. 

It may be a good idea to create an installation media and perform a clean install on the SSD, but those customized user profiles, system settings, personal files, and installed programs won't be brought to the new SSD. Besides, the installation may not go smoothly since many users have encountered various problems, not to mention the time spent on the whole process.

SSD

While for cloning, it will make a duplicate copy of the Windows installation on SSD, so you can use it just like in the old drive. And a professional disk clone software will take care of all the potential issues in this process, such as, cloned hard drive unallocated space left. If you want to install SSD without reinstalling Windows, follow the quick guide below and do this with disk cloning software.

How to securely install an SSD without reinstalling Windows

The process to install SSD in laptop without reinstalling Windows and replace HDD with SSD on desktop Windows 10 is a little different, so does to the necessary tools. For this part, you could refer to some installation tutorials of specific brands and models on Youtube or refers to the one-stop wizard for installing a second hard drive.  

After installing, choosing proper disk cloning software is also important. You could follow the guide to have a try, and some tips on cloned SSD won’t boot are also provided at the end.

Step 1. Connect or install SSD to your computer properly

Generally, you just need to install the SSD alongside the old hard drive. Open the main chassis after power down the machine, and then go through these steps:

  • Find the SSD power input interface which is flat type.

  • Find the SSD data input/output interface, i.e. SATA cable. It‘s also flat type, and narrower than the power cord.

  • Connect these two to the corresponding interface and the installation is almost done. Put SSD inside the chassis and close it.

  • Power up the computer and see whether the SSD has been detected by Windows. If no, disconnect it and retry. 

Note if you laptop has only one slot, you need to prepare a USB-to-SATA cable or SSD enclosure to connect the SSD as an external drive.

USB-to-SATA cable

👉If you want to install a new SSD:

For a brand new SSD, you may be asked to initialize it at first use. To do this, you can search for "Disk Management" in Windows search bar, and then right-click the new SSD, choose Initialize Disk to prepare it for use by Windows.

The partition style is the disk type for data storage. It should be compatible with the boot mode of your PC, that is, MBR for Legacy BIOS and GPT for UEFI

initialize disk

👉If you want to install an old SSD that already has data on it:

Note that the cloning process will overwrite the target SSD, so if there is any important data in it, please back them up first. This operation can also be done with the cloning tool below.

Also, if the partition style of the SSD is not compatible with your current boot mode, then it's recommended to convert MBR to GPT or vice versa in advance. Otherwise, you can only choose to use advanced cloning tool and switch the boot mode after cloning. 

To check the current partition style of a disk, just press Win + R to open the Run window -> type "diskmgmt.msc" and hit OK to open disk management -> right-click the disk you want to check and click "Properties" -> then, select "Volume" tab to check the "Partition style".

Disk Partition Style

Step 2. Clone hard drive to SSD without reinstalling Windows 

Now you can pick a powerful disk clone software since Windows lacks the feature - AOMEI Backupper Professional is an easy yet reliable option. It supports cloning entire disk, selected partition(s) or only operating system, and even allows you to clone larger drive to smaller drive as long as it is sufficient to receive all the used data. 

The software is user-friendly and suitable for both professionals and beginners. Download the free trial to demonstrate the cloning features:

Download Free Trial Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

👉This version works on all Windows PCs. If you are running Windows Server, please turn to Server edition

1. Install and run the SSD cloning software. Click Clone in the main console and then Disk Clone.

Disk Clone

Notes:
 If you want to clone only OS to SSD, please choose System Clone.
 AOMEI Backupper supports all basic disks entirely. As for dynamic disks, you can use Partition Clone to copy each data volume, and System Clone for system volume separately.

2. Select the current system drive as the source disk.

Select Disk

3. Select the new SSD as the destination disk.

Select Destination Disk

4. Tick SSD Alignment to improve the read & write speed of the target drive if you are cloning hard drive to SSD, and click Start Clone to execute the operation. Optionally, if the target SSD is larger or equal-sized, check Sector By Sector Clone to all sectors of the hard drive including the blank and bad sectors.

Start Clone

5. Wait for the process completes and shut down your PC.

Useful tips: 

You may find the cloned SSD not show full capacity after cloning disk to larger disk, whether HDD or SSD, since it will not adjust partition size automatically to fit on the larger destination disk. To make full use of disk capacity, try the following 3 practical options in Edit Partitions feature:

👉 Copy without resizing partitions: It will not resize the partition size.

👉 Add unused space to all partitions: It will reallocate the unallocated space to each partition of the target disk, appropriate for the disk size.

👉 Manually adjust partition size: It allows you to extend unallocated space to any partition on the destination disk you want. 

Copy Without Resizing

👉 Besides, you may see Convert the destination disk from MBR to GPT, or vice versa, it depends on the source and destination disk type. The core of it is to be sure both disks have the same partition style, so you can replace SSD without losing OS and switching boot modes. 

Step 3. Boot from the cloned SSD securely

For PCs with more than one slot, you don't necessarily have to remove the old hard drive right now. Just shut down the computer, keep pressing the specific key (depends on the manufacturer) to enter BIOS, set the SSD as the first boot option and save the settings.

Change Boot Order

If your PC successfully boot from the cloned SSD, you can choose to use HDD for storage, or remove and discard it completely.

For laptops with only one slot, you need to replace the hard drive with SSD physically. Shut down your laptop and try following steps:

  • Disconnect the SSD carefully. Disconnect all other external connections and remove the battery.

  • Open back cover of laptop. You may need the help of a screwdriver.

  • Find the hard drive and uninstall it with the screwdriver. Remove it then.

Remove hard drive in laptop

  • Install SSD to that place and connect each interface accordingly. It should be easy to match since the interface is quite different.

  • Close the back cover, re-connect other devices and reboot your PC.

If everything works fine, you can reformat the hard drive for other purposes. What worth mentioning is that above steps also apply to replacing a hard drive without reinstalling in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows XP and Windows Vista.

What if cloned SSD won’t boot successfully?

In a few cases, the cloned SSD won’t boot up normally. In a nutshell, there are several possible causes to explain.

  • Cloned SSD is not the boot device. Change the boot order in BIOS to solve.

  • Boot with the wrong boot mode. Please change Legacy to UEFI if you cloned to a GPT disk.

  • The source disk contains bad sectors which may be cloned to the SSD. Please run CHKDSK to check.

There may be other reasons for the bootup failure. For more information, please refer to this page: cloned hard drive won’t boot.

Conclusion

Actually, it is fairly easy to install an SSD without reinstalling Windows as long as you follow the instruction strictly.  AOMEI Backupper enables you to migarte the entire disk or only system drive(s) to SSD with several clicks. And you still can upgrade M.2 SSD without installing Windows with the same steps, and transferring Windows 10  to M.2 NVMe SSD is a great option because this mode of SSD has the fastest writing and reading speed.

As a comprehensive data protection software, AOMEI Backupper also provides complete backup and restore features, like schedule backup, incremental and differential backup, etc. And you can achieve the same effect with the backup and restore method by creating a disk backup and then restore system image to new SSD without boot issue. It also works for restoring system to different computer