SSD Migration or Fresh System Installation – An SSD Primer

One of the first challenges new SSD users face is whether to migrate the system in place or to consider a fresh OS installation where one might start from scratch.

In many cases, users have several years invested in their system whereas, with others, the security of a fresh installation is a major step towards SSD happiness. The choice of SSD migration may seem the simplest answer but users should be aware that things may not go as planned, thus mandating a fresh install in any case.

This article is intended to provide a brief overview of system migration and some of the difficulties that may be encountered, as well as providing an alternative and comparison in completing a fresh OS installation with your  new SSD.


The most common issues we seem to tackle in most SSD migrations are those of new users who have completed the migration and their computer actually appears slower than when the hard drive was in place or, through performance benchmarks,  transfer speeds don’t seem to live up to posted specifications for the SSD.  Typically, we have observed new users try to migrate their new system, not realizing that their former was operating in IDE mode and the new system required its switch to AHCI where the end result displayed the infamous BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) or system crash.

In many cases, there is no rhyme or reason to problems experienced but substandard performance is obvious. We find that systems experiencing difficulties in IDE mode, for the most part, are older computer systems and the end result always seems to be a simple operating mode switch in BIOS and fresh installation to get back on the right track. Having said this, let’s be clear that the majority of system migrations are easy to complete and go just as they should at the end of the day, leaving the new SSD user with their old system and a new feel with lightning fast performance.


System migration is the process of transferring your present computer system to a SSD, removing the hard drive and carrying on as normal.  Many SSD manufacturers have done their best to facilitate this transition and include migration software along with very easy to follow migration instructions.  The obvious cog in the wheel, of course, may be the capacity required vs. the high cost of SSDs in comparison to the hard drive that can now be found in 1.5TB capacities at reasonable prices.  If a consumer SSD were available in that capacity, it would probably run in the area of $2000.

The good news is that SSD prices have dropped dramatically in recent months and we have entered an era where new SSDs are being introduced with prices below the $1/GB price barrier.  For example, most recently we posted of the new OCZ Agility 4 SSD where the 256GB version was available on first day of purchase at around $245.  Tied into this is the user’s consideration of whether they realistically need much of their data in primary storage or whether it could be moved elsewhere. As well, the vast majority of computer users are still utilizing systems with less than 256GB storage available in any case.

Our next thought with respect to system migration is an understanding that the original system was not created for an SSD and we already explored this a bit by touching on migration of older systems that function in IDE mode, as can be seen in BIOS settings.  I cannot count the number of times a migration was performed only for this to be discovered after the fact.  The true animal behind an SSD, however, is that it requires something called TRIM, whereas the hard drive doesn’t and some migrations, for one reason or another, don’t result in TRIM being enabled.  Briefly, when information is deleted from a hard drive and new information placed, it is simply a process of the new replacing the old.

blankSSD Migration kits typically include a detailed instruction manual, desktop adapter and migration software.  In the case of the Kingston HyperX and Monster LeMans above, we see additional inclusions such as mini-toolkits, an external case for the migration which can later be used for external storage by your hard drive and, most recently, Monster Disigtal has included a USB 3.0 to SATA 3 adapter which is one of the best add-ins we have seen yet.


For an SSD, the process of deleting and replacing data is a bit more complicated.  In fact, when information is deleted from an SSD, it truly isn’t but rather, the index that leads to that information is destroyed fooling the system into believing the information was deleted and space is available. When new information is to be stored, it is necessary to actually remove all the information from that space, discarding the deleted information and finding a new storage location for the good information that may have been present there as well.  Once that is completed, the space is available for storage once again.  As one could imagine, this slows performance dramatically.  TRIM, and another process called garbage collection, actually complete this process behind the scenes so, when you want to store data, the space is available without the complications of movement, relocation and deletion.

If we understand this just a bit and tie this into the fact that hard drives don’t utilize TRIM, we can see that we are trusting the new system to enable TRIM automatically even though it has never been required prior.  On rare occasions, this does not occur and the end result is substantial performance loss as a result of TRIM not having been enabled in the migration process.

To summarize, migrating provides the benefit of a significantly faster computer with the simplicity of a migration. Factors that need to be considered are storage requirements and the understanding that, although most migrations run very smoothly, difficulties may become apparent.


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    Hello guys,

    Why is it so important to make a fresh install of win7?
    The reason i’m asking is because i installed my Kingston Hyperx 3k 120GB SSD
    into my new HP dv6-7000 (Core i7 Ivy, 8GB ram, Nvidia geforce 650M…) without making a fresh install of win7 ( using a migration software) .
    The problem is that i don’t get the speeds like in many reviews…’s 25% slower.
    do u think that my SSD is faulty ?
    Should i be worried? i’m kinda new with SSD’s…


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      It is unlikely that your SSD is faulty but a fresh install makes it so much easier to get things right and stay away from EXACTLY what you are experiencing!

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      You need to modify a register value “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESystemCurrentControlSetServicesMsahci”, in the right field
      left click set the
      “Start” value to 0 (zero). Restart computer go into the BIOS->
      configuration->change the disk mode to “AHCI” (IDE is set as
      default commonly). Save the new BIOS configuration and restart so that Windows

      When Windows starts, it
      will detect the change, load new disk drivers, and does one more reboot to
      start up with them

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    Good article, just to add my 2 cents after migrating my OS from a 120gb Agility 2 SSD to a Sandisk Extreme 256gb SSD.
    Migration is certainly easier, especially from one SSD to another, but nothing beats a clean windows install and this is exactly what I did two weeks later.
    Windows 7 makes re-installation easy and quick, so why bother with a migration at all. I re-install windows every three months as I am constantly adding and removing hardware and software from my main rig. In my opinion only those users who do not have a decent backup regime are scared of re-installation.
    Keep up with the great articles.

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      Thanks for taking the time to relate your experiences Greg. Not only does that help others but it also gives us a vote of confidence which is great to see. If you ever find yourself needing a bit of help, dont be afraid to drop a note or hit our forums!

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      OS re-installs are not a problem for me at all, except for the 10/15/20gb game re-installs that also must happen. Steam is placing more games into their cloud system, so save games, at least for my Skyrim setup, are no longer an issue.

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    sweet, I’m a closet geek but I sale IT hardware…..I built a gaming/ media server back in 09′ and bought my 1.5 TB hard drive second hand and i just realized it has been the freeze culprit for the last three years….I will be installing a SSD drive and moving that to storage…..great info, love sites like this, you learn so much from people like your selves that explain things in la-mans terms….

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    Hello guys. I was refereed here by a tech support guy. After reading some information here, and wiki’ing what I did not understand. I have come to the conclusion I am doing a fresh install onto my new 120g 330 Intel SSD. I’m a gamer with hardware limitations, so I’m doing what I can to get most of my performance gain.

    My hardware and specs as of right now:
    Window 7 Ultimate 64bit
    Intel Quad-core Q6600 @ 2.40ghz
    4gb RAM
    XfX Nvidia 680i LT motherboard
    3x generic 200gb Maxter HHD
    1x 120gb Intel 330 SSD

    I was wondering if possible to have OS on SSD with Data on two of the three Hdd’s Raid0 and 1 HHD for OS back up, with my currant hardware limitations on my Mobo. I contacted Nvidia and they do not support AHIC, but I read in comments that if your in Raid config, then your in AHIC. odd to me, cause from what I understand I can not utilize AHIC due to my hardware limitations on the mobo (working on upgrade ofc).

    1.What would be the best way to get my OS on SSD and Data on in a Raid0 for data and maybe a drive for back up? Mostly looking for best storage drivers (Nividia offers nothing they recommend with SSD+Raid’s) you would recommend me look into, and if its all worth it with my hardware limitations (possibly No AHIC, No SataIII, low cpu rating). You guys have done a great job with guides on explaining the features, tweaks, and reasoning behind it all, so I think I manage the install.

    2.If you believe I will get no performance or reliability gain from going OS/SSD+ data/raid0+ Hdd for OS back up, what would be the ideal set up with my currant hardware?

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      If you are speaking of AHCI, it is supported by all, including NVidia. RAID, on the other hand does not support TRIM if you are using SSDs (rather than HDDs) in your RAID setup. Using an SSD as your OS and apps drive with data to a RAIDED set of HDDs and then a backup on another HDD is a pretty wise choice. The only concerns I might have are the performance degradation and long term affect on the SSD if you leave system restore and backup on and then filter the backup to a hard drive. That will slow things down visibly IMHO.

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    I always do a fresh install…..although, I’m a newbie when it comes to SSD’s…….however, my past experience with Windows tells me that it’s a “packrat” and why would you want to transfer all the mess/junk that has built up onto a new more efficient drive?…If I were to upgrade to SSD….come into it totally NAKED AND CLEAN…Am I wrong?

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    I see this is in the “Beginners” area, so I think I’m in trouble. I thought that the SSD (Samsung 830 256gb) would go into ahci mode when I did a fresh install on it. but it’s still listed as in IDE mode. When I tried changing it to AHCI mode, it caused a BSOD, and would not start until I returned it to IDE mode. Am I right to think that I will now have to re-install win7 AFTER I first change to AHCI mode? Thanks for any help.

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      There are ways around it but I ALWAYS suggest the fresh install because of things exxactly like this.

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        Thanks for the help. I was already set to re-install, but my previous OS setup seems to have jinxed the AHCI setting so that I got the BSod regardless, and it took another re-install of the OS to complete. Once I got everything back in order it now runs great, and my Win. Exp. score went from 5.9 to 7.9! I couldn’t be happier. Now I have to determine if the re-install of the OS or the new SSD is the reason why everything runs so much quicker. Yeah, I’ve had worse problems, heheh

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    For Vista or Win 7 there is a Microsoft “Fixit” just google IDE AHCI Fixit.

    Run it in Windows, then reboot and set IDE > AHCI and Windows will boot and find it.

    Then find the latest version of Intel RST (sometimes RSTe) that works for your controller

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      Another thing you did not mention in your guides. You can easily enable TRIM after the fact

      Start > cmd > Right click cmd.exe and run as Admin. Then use this command to enable TRIM

      fsutil behavior set disabledeletenotify 0

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    Hello, I presently have a 1.5tb hd in a HP Envy that i suspect is giving me problems or else it has corrupt data. It’s history is that it came with win 7, I did a system recovery to save software etc initially then i upgraded to win 8 pro. I only utilize 250 gb of the hd and that includes the d: recovery partition. My question is now that I want start over clean on a NEW Samsung 840 EVO 750gb ssd but keep all the HP software that exists on the recovery disks. Whats the best process for recovering with these disks to the ssd which I will then upgrade to win 8 PRO and beyond?? Any gotcha or is it as straight forward as I think? I’m asking because sometimes what I think isn’t necessarily the best thinking..if you get my drift. Any advice will be much appreciated!!

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    Is re-imaging from a Win7 back up the same thing as a fresh OS install? Thanks.

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    I’m wondering about an old OCZ SSD to a new & more capacity Intel, Extreme PRO or 850 EVO SSD

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    I am a nose picking, mouth breathing, neanderthal. I have just taken delivery of a Dell refurb E6420 w/Windows 10 and would like to add an SSD.
    I have not done a thing to this machine. It is “as delivered.”
    I don’t game, store music, movies or pictures.
    If I pull the HDD out and put a SSD in it’s place, boot from the Windows 10 COA disc and install Win10 what else is there? Will I need to switch over to AHCI from ADI? Do I do this prior to the install of SSD? Prior to install of Win 10?
    Is it so easy a caveman can do it?
    I have nothing on this machine that didn’t come with it. No files, pictures, etc.
    Any tips would be appreciated.

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      There are plenty of articles demonstrating successful migrations with this systems including this Youtube video in fact:

      There are also articles to assist you if you run into troubles migrating this system on Google but, if you have any difficulty, take it to our Forums and we would be glad to help.

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        Hi Les,
        Thanks for the reply.The mechanical switch doesn’t bother me. I don’t have enough knowledge to know if (or how) a fresh install will put my machine back to an “As delivered state”
        Everything I read about it takes off into partitioning, moving files etc. things I don’t think apply to me.
        Beings I have not added anything to this machine it stands to reason (To someone who doesn’t know) all I need to do is what is shown on the video you sent and then load the disk and install windows 10, switch to ahci and I’m done.
        I am assuming all the drivers are on the disc and everything it needs will install with the Win 10 .
        Thanks again

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        If it is a fresh install, you wont have to worry about switching to AHCI

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        Hi Les,
        Thanks again.
        It looks to be a put it in, boot from disk and install Win 10 and I’m done.
        So simple a caveman can do it.
        Thanks again for your help.
        I’ll be going at it Friday and look forward to the boost from the SSD.

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    At the moment I am trying to decide between a fresh install of Windows 10 (I have the disk that came with my new Dell pc last year; or migrate my Windows 7 Pro (which is what the Dell pc came with) to the SSD, or perhaps even do the free upgrade of Windows 10 now on my HD and then migrate that onto the SSD. I am not experienced at doing anything inside the pc so I need step by step instructions on how to proceed. One little thing at a time 🙂 I have a LOT of programs and would not like to have to reinstall everything, BUT I am certainly willing to do that to avoid trouble later on. Any suggestions?
    Here is a screenshot of my partitions: My SSD is 240 GB and I plan to put only my OS and programs on it, and keep all the rest of my data (music, videos, docs, etc.) on my 2 TB HD that came with the pc.
    I do not know how to put a drive into my pc, but I did buy the 2.5 bracket that was recommended and also a cable. I am actually afraid to do this myself but have no choice I guess.
    I’ve read your posts about ACHI and IDE and I have no clue what that means or where to find it. 🙁
    I’ve used the Dell backup a couple of times but now the free version has run out. The most recent back up was done a couple of weeks ago. Nothing major has been added since by me. Maybe some updates to Windows 7 Pro though.

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      Replacing a hard drive isn’t very hard at all. YOU CAN DO IT! Watch a few youtube vids on it and make sure to ground yourself (very important). ACHI is in the bios. Just take your time and you will be fine.

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    Great article! Migration is usually the primary option as it will keep the previous settings and data, although if more performance is needed then making a backup and doing a fresh install may be required.

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    love the article, i just had a samsung 970 evo plus installed and used their image software to to move windows 10 to it from my old drive. all went well except i can not get the magician software to see it and the samsung NVME driver says there is no samsung drive in system. i have found out that my alienware bios is set to raid for some dumb reason and dell will not tell me why saying they can not support me since i put new drive in computer.
    how do i turn off the raid? i tried turning it off in bios but windows would not load. i have googled it and have not seen an easy solution for this. i hope you can help!! other than this the drive functions fine but i would like to be able to use the samsung software with my drive.

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      The advise I always give is a fresh install, but as you are saying, the bios isn’t even recognizing it? What is your system model number? Windows not loading when you change from RAID to AHCI is par for the course and….requires a bit of rather advanced knowledge for a work around…or a fresh install. If I were you, I would simply install the drive, switch to AHCIU and try a fresh install.

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    Have a client using Win7 64bit. Wants to upgrade system to SSD. Would executing a SYSPREP command on the source-image drive before cloning assure proper hardware matching when booting from the SSD image -OR- is the fact Windows 7 no longer supported by MS likely to cause trouble if the OS needs files from MS during the REsetup process that is part of a SYSPREP process?

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