SSD Migration or Fresh System Installation – An SSD Primer


The question of preference with respect to migration or fresh install has been asked a million times and my response has always been that the fresh install cannot be beat.  In my next breath, however, I always speak to the fact that we probably do 10-20 system migrations a week in our testing to ensure that the operating system between the SSDs we may be comparing is exact.  Conversely, each new system created for use as a site test bench is always built from the ground up with a fresh installation performed each and every time.

The benefit of a fresh installation is that, at the end of the day, you will have built a very stable SSD environment that will provide you with significantly higher performance than you could ever have imagined.  As a bit of an indication, start your computer right now and time it from the push of the button until the computer is ready to go.  Now imagine that process taking only 15 seconds as is typical of a SSD. In addition, a fresh migration alone will show you a considerable capacity improvement, however, following our SSD Optimization Guide will take you that much further.

The SSD Optimization Guide is the most popular SSD resource on the internet today and has been read by over a million SSD enthusiasts. It is very simple to follow, offers explanation for the most important optimizations and also guides you through the process of increasing the performance of your system while discovering additional space for your data. The last issue that must be considered in a fresh installation is that of finding and installing necessary system drivers required for your systems hardware.

In many cases, Window’s Update will take care of most of these automatically, however as we have found, when the drivers for your wireless adapter are not there initially, downloading them from your system diver disks or heading to the manufacturers support site may be necessary.

To summarize, a fresh install will take longer than a migration, may be a bit more difficult and may even force you to dig up your original Windows 7 disks, but it guarantees a more stable system, higher performance and additional space available for your programs and data.  The fresh install does one other thing, however, that one would never have expected.  It teaches you the intricacies of the SSD, how it works and provides an understanding of SSDs that can never be achieved through migration alone.


In my experience, I have assisted in a  great deal more troubleshooting scenarios through migration than  have ever through a fresh install.  Regardless of your decision, The SSD Review Forum is a free resource  where the community can tackle any SSD concern or installation problem you may experience within a very short period of time.  Our community is filed with ‘SSD Geeks’ and you can be assured that someone has worked their way through the problem you are experiencing at some time in the past.


The decision to move to move to an SSD from a hard drive, in itself, is one of extreme difficulty for most and we hope this paper has assisted somewhat. Whether the reader is a typical user or IT manager overseeing a business, a solid state drive will always provide a very visible improvement in the systems performance which means one of two things; time on the computer decreases or productivity increases.

The decision to migrate your present operating system or start new with a fresh installation is next on the list and, regardless of the many who have experienced difficulties in migration, ten times that number have made the successful transition with little to no effort and are very happy with the end result.  Our support of the fresh installation is obvious, not only for the fact that it guarantees a rock solid system, additional storage and higher performance, but also, it provides the new user with a solid knowledge in their transition to the lightning fast world of solid state drives.

Check out our Amazon SSD Store and utilize search terms such as a particular SSD brand and the word ‘kit’ to zone in on some great SSD migration packages.


In case this article has reached you through one of the many search engines, we should mention that this is the third in our series of SSD Primer articles meant to help us all along in our understand of solid state drives.



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  1. blank

    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.

    • blank

      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.

      • blank

        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

      • blank

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

      • blank

        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.

    • blank

      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.

    • blank

      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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