By Teresa / Last update July 5, 2022

SSD vs HDD, which is better for C drive?

Why do so many users want to transfer C drive to SSD (solid-state drive)? This is because SSDs have some advantages as boot drives while computers are usually pre-installed with HDDs by OEM (Original Equipment manufacturer). To be more specific, SSDs have the following strengths over HDDs:

  • Faster speed of reading and writing, which reduces the time of Windows OS boot up.

  • Lower power consumption, nearly no noise and heat produced.

  • Better portability and shock persistence, which decreases the risk of losing data caused by shake and strike.

Of course, HDD has its own advantages, such as no read/write limitations and more storage space on the same budget, so many users would also like to keep it as a storage device.

hdd vs ssd

Whether you want to upgrade laptop hard drive to SSD entirely, or use SSD for OS and HDD for storage, you will need to transfer C drive to new SSD. Here's a detailed guide for your reference.

Before you move C drive to SSD in Windows

Can you transfer C drive to new SSD? Absolutely Yes! But before you start, do some preparations:

1. Remember to backup system and data first.

The transferring process should not cause data loss, but you can't be more careful with data issue. Also, since everything on the target SSD will be overwritten, if it's not blank, be sure to backup it as well.

2. Prepare an SSD with enough capacity.

For desktops, an SSD with 60 GB capacity is usually sufficient. But the situation for laptops is more complicated, because you normally have only one disk bay. And if you move around a lot with the laptop, a bigger SSD (120 GB or 250 GB) may be better, with the budget allowing anyway. 

The most important thing is the storage space must be large enough to store your Windows OS (go check out use state in Disk Management). If not, and you don’t want to purchase a larger one, then uninstall some applications or files to minimize your C drive.

3. Choose a specialized migration tool.

The easiest way to copy C drive to new SSD is using 3rd party OS migration software. AOMEI Backupper Professional is reliable and all-around OS and disk cloning software. It offers you three clone modes:

System Clone: it allows you to clone C drive to SSD in Windows 11, 10, 8, 7 as well as previous versions.
Disk Clone: it enables you to clone a whole disk to another, such as clone hard drive to SSD, clone SSD to larger SSD and copy USB to USB, etc.
Partition Clone: you are able to clone specific partitions/volumes, including dynamic volumes.

Note that the software will copy only used sectors to target disk by default, which makes it possible to clone larger drive to smaller drive. But if you want to clone the system reserved recovery partition as well and make sure it works properly, it's recommended to perform a disk clone in sector-by-sector mode.

How to transfer C drive to a new SSD in Windows 10/11 (step by step)

How to move C drive to new SSD? In the first place, connect your SSD to your computer and make sure it can be detected by Windows. For a laptop, you may need a USB adapter.

Step 1. Click the download button below to install and launch SSD cloning software AOMEI Backupper. Select “Clone”-> “System Clone” to migrate C drive to SSD.

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

Choose System Clone

Step 2. Choose the new SSD as the destination disk to copy C drive to, and click "Next".

Choose Destination Partition

Step 3. Check the “Operation Summary” (the C drive and system reserved are selected by default, which can make sure normal boot from SSD). Tick "SSD Alignment" and click “Start Clone” after your confirmation.

System Clone Preview Align Checked

Step 4. After the cloning is complete, you should have moved boot drive to SSD successfully. Now, you can shut down your computer and change boot order in BIOS, or remove old hard drive to see if you can boot from cloned SSD. The second method is recommended.

Tips:

  • Sector By Sector Clone”: if you check this option, the software will clone every sector whether it is used or not. It also requires the destination SSD should be equal to or larger than C drive.

  • SSD Alignment”: since the destination disk is SSD, it is strongly recommended to check this option to improve SSD read and write speed and prolong SSD’s lifespan.

  • "Make full use of disk space": this option is available when you are moving C drive to a larger drive. It will add unallocated space to the cloned system drive automatically so that you can enjoy full capacity of the larger drive.

  • Besides transferring C drive, you can also use it to clone hard drive to larger drive, migrate Windows 10 to M.2 SSD, clone HDD to SSD via USB cable, clone Windows 10 to NVMe SSD, etc.

  • AOMEI Backupper Professional supports cloning both MBR and GPT disks, no matter it's a data disk or system disk. You can also clone MBR to GPT directly.

How to move boot drive to SSD by Windows built-in utilities

If you want to operate all of this by manual practice, try this solution. This solution is to transfer system drive to SSD using Windows tools and some manually practical operations (take Windows 7 for example).

Step 1. Shrink the C drive to fit on the smaller SSD because normally the HDD is much larger than the SSD.

Right-click “Computer” -> “Manage” -> “Disk Management” and right-click the C drive, select “Shrink Partition”. (In ‘Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB’ , enter a value that’s at least 10% smaller than the usable capacity of your SSD).

Shrink Volume

Step 2. Backup the shrunk C drive and its system reserved partition to another disk.

Head to “Control Panel” -> “System and Security” -> “Backup and Restore” -> “Create a system image”. After the backup image is made, it will ask for creating a repair disc. If you have Windows installation disk, then click “No”; if not, prepare a CD/DVD and click “Yes” to go through the wizard. Then, shut down your computer.

Create a System Image

Step 3. Install SSD and restore from the backup image.

Open your PC case and disconnect all drives except for the backup disk. Insert the repair disk or Windows 7 installation disk. After the PC boots from the optical disc, select “Repair your computer” -> “System Image Recovery” -> “Use the latest available system image”. 

Re-image Your Computer

Make sure there is only one hard drive that you want to restore because it will be erased. If there are other hard drives, you should exclude them. Click “Next” -> “Finish” -> “Don’t Restart” -> “Shutdown”.

Step 4. Plug all the drives back in except for the original OS drive to check out whether the computer will boot successfully or not. Boot your computer and open Disk Management. Right-click the new OS partition and select “Extend Volume” to fill the SSD. (Do not adjust the default value because Windows will automatically calculate it.) 

Step 5. Enter a single command via the command prompt in administrator mode.

Go to “Start” -> “All programs” -> “Accessories”, then right-click “Command Prompt” and run it as an administrator. Type in this command: Winsat disk. This command line makes Windows detect the new drive as an SSD and thus enables all the features unique to the drive.

Tip: As for the old HDD, you can wipe data on it and use it as secondary storage for your computer after you confirm the SSD works well.

Summary

Two different ways to transfer C drive to SSD. Choose the most suitable one for yourself and begin to try. Actually, you can do more things with AOMEI Backupper, for example, transfer files from SSD to HDD for backup in the future. To add extra protection for your system, you can create a bootable rescue media in case system fails unexpectedly.

Besides, AOMEI Backupper provides Server edition that can help you clone system drive to new hard drive in Windows Server 2008, 2012, 2016, etc.