Clean install, clone disk, and migrate Windows

Hi, guys, after buying a new HDD or SSD, you might feel confused about ways to configure an operating system for the new disk, like the following man:

I just ordered a SSD from amazon and I was wondering if cloning will reduce performance compared to a clean install. I was leaning towards the clean install anyways, but it’s going to be a pain to get everything back. I have quite a few games, but they’re going to be on my HDD anyways. I was just curious if there’s really any difference in speed and performance if you clone instead of clean install.

— SevenForums

But now there is no need to feel upset, because we are going to introduce main features of Clean (fresh) Install Windows, Clone Disk, and Move Windows to SSD or HDD, which can help you choose the most appropriate configuration method with ease. Of course, steps to do these are also included in this post.

Exact Features of Clean Install, Clone Disk, and Migrate Windows to SSD/HDD

It should be noted that all these 3 ways could create a bootable Windows, but each one has its own features. By comparing their exact features, users can choose a proper way easily.
It should be noted that all these 3 ways could create a bootable Windows, but each one has its own features. By comparing their exact features, users can choose a proper way easily.

Tip: for most laptops users, they may have no choice but clone disk to SSD or HDD since laptops are always configured with unique SATA interface on motherboard. View Upgrade Laptop’s HDD to SSD to get more details.

Clean Install Windows 10/8./8/7 on SSD or HDD
clean install Windows 8
A clean install is an installation that formats the drive and then installs Windows OS via Windows installation disc, USB flash drive or other installation media. To clean install Windows, you are given a chance to get rid of any accumulated junk files, old install files, temporary files, and factory installed programs or bloatware, and it can also help you get rid of most corruptions, errors, and viruses, if there is something wrong with the current system. More importantly, it gives you the best performance compared with cloning hard disk and migrating Windows, because almost no factors that can slow down your computer or influence performance exist. Therefore, clear install gives you best performance.
Nevertheless, to clean install Windows on SSD or HDD, users need to do much extra work.
Firstly, create a backup for drive C since clear install will remove all files (including the current OS, all personal files or user data, installed programs, etc.) saved in this partition. Generally, we can copy our personal files and other important data to another drive to create a backup, but for installed programs, things become much complicated. If we want to go on using previously installed programs (especially paid programs) in new system, we should make a list of all needed applications before the clean installation, and install listed programs one by one after new Windows is installed.

Note: don’t simply copy and paste apps from old disk to new disk, because copied programs may not work properly due to the change of registry information.

Secondly, users have to install all needed and required updates to the new OS for correct running, and after a clean installation of Windows, some hardware drivers must be manually reinstalled. In newer Windows OS like Windows 8 and Windows 10, most drivers are reinstalled automatically by Windows, but in Windows 7 a few drivers should be manually installed before all hardware is working correctly.
To summarize, if you just focus on computer performance, clean install Windows. But if you do not want to do extra work, cloning disk or migrating system might be better.
Clone Disk to SSD/HDD in Windows 10/8.1/8/7 to SSD
clone disk to SSD/HD in Windows 7/8/10

Disk cloning is the process of copying all contents of one computer hard disk to another disk or to an “image” file, including Windows OS, later-installed system updates, programs, personal files, and other data.


That is to say, with cloning disk to SSD or HDD, we don’t have to install anything, and both operating system and installed programs can work correctly on new disk. In addition, all other files like your game records, downloaded movies, and office documents will keep intact. If you want to transfer all contents from old disk to new disk (users who plan to obsolete their old disk always have such a need), cloning hard disk is a good choice on the condition that your current system works well.
Nevertheless, cloning disk requires a second hard disk.
In addition, as disk cloning copies everything from old disk to new disk, it definitely clones junks, unwanted programs, and other useless or unimportant files. If there are so many data saved on old disk, 2 TB for example, disk cloning might cost you several or even dozens of hours. And during the long process, any accident like power outage might occur, which may make the clone failed. Of course, users can clear unimportant or useless data before the clone to reduce time, but it depends on how many data you can clear.
Furthermore, if Windows installed on old disk runs slow or has other problems, system cloned to new disk will have the same problems.
At last, to clone hard disk to SSD/HDD requires that new disk should have enough space to hold all contents of the source or old disk. If not, clone is not allowed.
In summary, we suggest cloning hard disk only when you are planning to transfer all things from old disk to new SSD or HDD. Of course, if you are using a laptop, to clone disk might be your only choice.
Well, what if users only want to move Windows and installed programs to new HDD or SSD, not including any other data? Below is a better solution.
Migrate Windows 10/8.1/8/7 to SSD or HDD
migrate Windows system from HDD to SSD
To migrate system is to copy all current partitions that are required to boot Windows from old disk to new disk, and it definitely contains your operating system, all installed programs, and data saved in the User folder.
Therefore, we do not need to install anything if we choose to move Windows. As to the remaining data, they will be kept intact on the source disk which could be used as a data disk. In addition, since we just transfer system related information to new drive, there would be much free space available on the new disk, which allows us to install more programs.
But unquestionably, migrating Windows should be on the condition that original Windows works well. If you migrate a questionable system, the migrated system is also questionable. In addition, a second hard disk is required.

Tip: Many people use the whole hard disk as one partition, so all data will be saved to the unique partition. As a result, all their files will be migrated to new disk even if they choose to migrate system rather than clone the whole disk.

Now you would have found the best way to create an OS for the new disk. But how can we achieve clean installation, disk clone, or system migration? Below are some useful instructions.

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Simple Ways to Clean Install Windows, Clone Disk, or Migrate OS

How to Clean Install Windows to SSD or HDD
If you have a Windows installation media (CD, DVD, or USB flash drive), it can be very easy to do the clean install: set CD driver or USB drive as the first boot device in BIOS (if you are running Windows in UEFI + GPT mode, skip this step), boot computer from the installation disk, and install Windows by following instructions. Here, we recommend reading the post How to Clean Install Windows the Right Way to get detailed steps, if you haven’t made an installation before.
How to Clone Hard Disk to SSD or HDD
Here, we are going to introduce the simplest way – clone disk by using third party program, for such a kind of programs always simplify the process. Of course, freeware is much more welcomed, so users can try using MiniTool Partition Wizard Free.

Tip: Partition Wizard Free is designed for home users only. If you are running server operating system, please purchase the server edition at least.

After both hard disks (source disk and target disk) are connected properly, please download and install the recommended cloning software to your computer.

download partiton wizard freebuy partition wizard

Then, run and launch the program to get the main window below:
copy disk using MiniTool Partition Wizard
Step 1: select the source disk and choose “Copy Disk” feature from the left action pane.
Step 2: select the new disk to copy source disk to and click “Next”.
Step 3: choose a copying method and click “Next”. During this step, you are given a chance to edit partition size and location for the new disk.
Step 4: read the pop-up boot note and click “Finish”.
Step 5: click “Apply” button to execute changes.
For video help or more detailed steps, please see the tutorial guide Copy Disk.
Of course, if you are planning to clone HDD or SSD to new SSD, you can also check your SSD manufacturer’s website to see whether they offer a program to do disk clone. For example, Samsung provides users with Samsung Data Migration tool to transfer contents to SSD.
How to Migrate or Move Windows 10 to SSD/HDD
Here, you can also use MiniTool Partition Wizard to achieve the goal.
download partition wizard free

For users who are running more than one operating system, they need to start the one they want to transfer, because Partition Wizard migrates the one which is being loaded. Then, they can download and install the program to do the migration. For detailed operating steps, please see Migrate OS to SSD/HD.
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In the end, we have some tips for Legacy BIOS users and laptop users.

Pay Attention to These Tips If You Want to Boot New System Successfully

For Legacy BIOS users: If you are employing Legacy BIOS boot mode and want to start Windows from new disk, please set the new disk as the first boot device. If not, Windows installed on old disk will start by default. And you can google how to change boot order plus your computer model or motherboard model to get detailed steps to change boot order.
For laptop users: after cloning your current HDD to SSD or migrating system from HDD to SSD, you may get an unbootable Windows. Below are possible reasons and corresponding solutions.
As we know, most laptop are configured with only one interface for hard disk. So how can we connect the SSD to laptop? For SSD employing USB interface, we can connect easily due to laptop’s USB ports, but system created via this connection is always unbootable. Similarly, Windows might be unbootable if you connect SATA interface SSD using a SATA-to-USB converter. That is largely because SSD is much different from HDD in storage media, read-write speed, rotational speed, and so on.

Top Recommendation:
Laptop Failed to Migrate OS from HDD to SSD, Try This Way
Failed to migrate OS from HDD to SSD on laptop by using MiniTool Partition Wizard? Don’t worry too much about it, because you can find solutions from this post.

But don’t worry, because there are solutions that have been proved to be useful by a lot of people.
Solution 1: if you have a desktop available, take out the HDD from laptop, connect both HDD and SSD to desktop via SATA, and clone disk or migrate system to SSD.
Solution 2: if your laptop is configured with unique SATA interface, take out of the HDD, hook the SSD via SATA, connect HDD via USB using SATA-to-USB adapter, and then clone disk or migrate system by using MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable CD.
Solution 3: check your laptop to see whether there is another SATA or mSATA interface. Most laptops are configured with a SATA interface for CD-driver, and some of them are configured with mSATA . If there is, connect your SSD via the SATA or mSATA interface, and then do disk clone or system migration.
It’s time to get a high-performance SSD to upgrade your equipment. Now you can choose a proper way to create system. Should you have any troubles in clean installing Windows, cloning disk, or migrating system to SSD or HDD, just feel free to contact us at

or leave comments below.


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