Migrate Windows 10 to SSD

By | January 25, 2016

My desktop Dell XPS 8700 is a beast even after more than 2 years of the official release. The problem with it is that in a typical big corporate fashion it contains an unbalanced set of hardware:
* A very fast processor
* 16GB of memory (4x4GB so not so up-gradable to the 32GB maximum)
* A good motherboard but without any extension slots (one 4x PCIe + one 1x PCIe is not “up-gradable system” as the stupid commercial said)
* A slow 1TB drive. I am glad I did not went for the “SSD option”. The Dell’s idea of SSD system is: the same slow 1TB drive + a 32GB mSATA drive in the motherboards mSATA slot used as drive cache.
* An OEM graphic card (GeForce GTX 745) not the top of the line for gaming. Has all the stupid cost cuts of the OEM cards that transform a great hardware in a mediocre one.

As you can see there are plenty of things to upgrade.

In order to bring new life into the desktop I got a very cheap deal for a huge SSD (Samsung SSD 850 EVO 1TB) to replace my Dell XPS 8700 main drive. This is a very fast drive my estimate is that is 4x faster than the original Dell drive. This is in raw speed not counting the SSD optimizations that increase even more the performance.

Steps to migrate my Windows 10 to the SSD using Samsung Data Migration

Install the SSD in an available place in the desktop case. It helps to have an adapter from 2.5 inch to 3.5 inch drive.

Go to the Samsung SSD mini site and download the latest version of Samsung data Migration and Samsung Magician Software. Install both of them.

Start the Samsung Data Migration and start the cloning. The interface is very simple you only have to select the source disk and the destination disk. The problem is that almost certain the cloning will fail. The constant error I got was :
"Failed to retrieve source disk information. 201109[031195]"

This step involved a lot of curse words and several restarts. Basically you have to stop any Windows software that has anything to do with: back-up,snapshot, restore, snapshot, indexing drive optimization. I had to remove indexing on C: , stop the Dell backup/restore software (the only way it to kill it), stop the windows services that do the volume snapshots etc. There is a hint how to do that in the help provided by Samsung to this error code.

Finally after several changes and restarts the cloning started. Note that this is not a true clone, all the hidden Dell recovery partitions are not copied so make sure you do a mirror of the original drive for safe keeping.

Remove the old drive and make the SSD the primary boot device.

Steps to migrate Windows 10 to the SSD using a Fedora Live USB/DVD

The following steps are an alternative of the easy solution from above. Note that the following steps are easy to be done if the SSD is at least as the original disk or bigger.
In fact I used this procedure to migrate a Windows 8 installation on a laptop from a small 64GB mSATA to a 256GB mSATA.

Boot the targeted machine from a Fedora Live USB/DVD. Look at the Fedora site how to create a boot-able USB or use an ISO to create a DVD.

Add to the machine an external USB disk that can hold the entire disk you want to migrate.

Start gnome-disks. This is an amazing piece of software that makes it very easy to do a bit-copy of a partition. Then simply select each partition of the disk to be migrated and do “Create Partition Image”. This will create a bit-copy of the partition in an .img file.

Insert the new SSD instead of the old SSD/disk and boot again from the Fedora Live image

Start gnome-disks, then simply select each saved partition image of the disk to be migrated and do “Restore Partition Image” on the new SSD. This will create a bit-copy of the original partition to a new partition on the new disk.

Resize any of the partitions or create new ones with gparted or your favorite partitioning utility.

Boot your Windows with the new disk.

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