Question Insert SSD into laptop, clone HD, then use SSD as boot drive - how to

AuctionHugh

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Nov 22, 2001
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#1
We have a few 3 year old 17" i7 Acer laptops that we run our business on. They run really slowly, especially when opening adobe programs. Task manager is constantly showing 100% disk usage, until things load. This seems like an obvious solution for upgrading to an SSD.

I've purchased PCLe M.2 ssd's to put into the empty SSD slots in these laptops that are the same capacity as the old style platter hard drives in them now.

What I want to do is clone the current old style boot drives onto the SSDs and have them become the C: boot drives. I don't want to start with a fresh windows install.

Inserting the SSD will be a challenge in itself (thanks Acer Aspire). But what steps will I need to take after that? Something like:

  • Turn on laptop.
  • Tell bios what kind of hard drive has been inserted.
  • Format hard drive?
  • Clone old internal hard drive directly to the SSD. *
  • Reboot, tell bios the SSD is the C: and Boot drive?

I think this is the general idea but I'd appreciate any more specific guidance.

*Note, it looks like Ease Us Partition Manager free version will do this step. https://www.easeus.com/partition-master/transfer-os-to-...

Thanks!
 

corkyg

Elite Member | Peripherals
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Mar 4, 2000
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#2
After cloning, I would physically remove the old drive - that way there are less problems booting. You don't have to worry - it becomes the C drive. After the machine boots off the new drive, you can keep the old as a backup (off line) or reformat it and use it as a data drive. For cloning, I always do that from bootable clone ware so as not to involve the existing OS.
 
Aug 25, 2001
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#3
If you bought Samsung or Crucial SSDs, I think that they come with cloning software. I think Team, Silicon Power, and PNY have cloning software available too.
 

Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
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#4
I've purchased PCLe M.2 ssd's to put into the empty SSD slots in these laptops that are the same capacity as the old style platter hard drives in them now.
Firstly, can these laptops even accept a PCIe drive with NVMe? M.2 can use both SATA and NVMe, but not all slots can use both.

You should be careful when switching controller types. Some cloning software doesn't handle that well. If you've purchased Samsung PCIe drives, just use their own Data Migration software. That also takes care of SATA vs NVMe for boot.
 

AuctionHugh

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Nov 22, 2001
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#5
I bought these: Intel 660p Series M.2 2280 1TB PCI-Express 3.0 x4 3D NAND Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) (https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820167462).

Supposedly my Acer V17 Nitro Black (Aspire VN7-791G-76Z8) does support both SATA3 or PCIe x4 Gen 3 SSDs. I'm hoping these SSDs will fit that spec.
 

Insert_Nickname

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May 6, 2012
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#6
Supposedly my Acer V17 Nitro Black (Aspire VN7-791G-76Z8) does support both SATA3 or PCIe x4 Gen 3 SSDs. I'm hoping these SSDs will fit that spec.
M.2 for SATA and PCIe are keyed differently, so if it fits, it should work as-is. Then you'll have to either clone or reinstall.

Intel has their own data migration software, so I'd just use that. To keep things simple.

https://downloadcenter.intel.com/download/27960/Intel-Data-Migration-Software?product=80098

(disclaimer, I haven't used it myself, so I don't know how good it is, or how it works)

If they're older installations, I'd consider doing a reinstall while you're at it. A good "spring" cleaning is sometimes a good idea. If you boot from a USB stick, it shouldn't take longer then a straight clone anyway. Just be aware you'll need to install in UEFI mode when you're using an NVMe drive.

If you need install media, MS has the excellent MediaCreationTool.
 

AuctionHugh

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Nov 22, 2001
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#7
I ended up cloning it with an external usb adapter and a Macrium Reflect software. It seems to have cloned perfectly. But when I insert it into my laptop (and disconnect the old drive), the laptop does not detect it. Acer support posted on amazon that the "M.2 slot supports SATA3 or PCIe x4 Gen 3 SSD". I have to think this drive fits those specs: https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820167462 so I am at a loss (and possibly out $129 x 2). Any ideas?

M.2 for SATA and PCIe are keyed differently, so if it fits, it should work as-is. Then you'll have to either clone or reinstall...
 

Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
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#8
Firstly, though it may seem obvious, check the drive is seated properly. It's easy to not push the drive completely into the M.2 connector.

Second, does the BIOS/UEFI detect it? If it doesn't get detected in there, you may have clear the CMOS, since it could be a configuration error.
 
Oct 27, 2006
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#9
At the risk of making this hard, I have to advise you perhaps change your approach. You can actually get far better results with a totally clean pure W10 1809 install.

1- Keep your original HDD and external USB adapter put aside for later.

2- On another PC with a USB 16GB drive, download and run the ISO bootable media creation tool. It will make a bootable installer for your OS, but up to current date and with no old crap or OEM junk.

3- Boot from the USB W10 flash, and remove ALL of the partitions listed. The OEMs invariably divide the drive into a bunch of unnecessary partitions, which when directly cloned to an SSD just waste precious space. Create one single new partition, and let W10 install and update. It will activate your 2014/2015 laptop from UEFI stored license automatically.

4- Get the bare minimum of drivers afterwards from the IC source instead of Acer or OEM. Eg; Intel website for Intel HD, Nvidia for GeForce, etc. Then, OEM website for the trackpad and any bios update, and sometimes memory card reader.

5- Install your preferred apps and such.

6- Connect the old HDD via USB, and copy the desired content, usually from C:\Users\Profilename\Desktop \Documents \Downloads etc.

7- Still connected, when you're sure you have everything, run and admin command prompt, and type :

Diskpart
List disk
Select disk 1 (if 1 was the identified external HDD)
Clean
Exit
Exit

This will completely wipe the old drive.

8- Reinsert the original 2.5" HDD into laptop, boot, disk management, initialize, format with one clean partition.

9- Enjoy a much cleaner and less wasteful installation of Windows, that will probably be faster and more stable as well.

*- If you want to get deeper you can look at how to transfer your browser profile from the old appdata folder for Chrome and/or Firefox if that matters to you. Otherwise it will be pretty easy to copy the bookmarks alone.
 
Aug 25, 2001
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#10
I ended up cloning it with an external usb adapter and a Macrium Reflect software. It seems to have cloned perfectly. But when I insert it into my laptop (and disconnect the old drive), the laptop does not detect it. Acer support posted on amazon that the "M.2 slot supports SATA3 or PCIe x4 Gen 3 SSD". I have to think this drive fits those specs: https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820167462 so I am at a loss (and possibly out $129 x 2). Any ideas?
Does the M.2 SSD show up in the BIOS/UEFI at all? With a modern UEFI BIOS, bootable OS have to "register" themselves, with an entry in the UEFI, it's not enough just to have the on-disk structures in place for booting, like was the case with the older Legacy/MBR booting. The clone-ware may have "Cloned" the on-disk structures perfectly, but not created the UEFI entry for the resultant cloned drive. Therefore, you need to investigate how to re-install the "Windows Boot Loader" UEFI entry into your UEFI, I think.

Edit: One way to do so, might be to "trick" the system, by using a blank M.2 drive, and a USB containing a Win10 installer, and actually install a fresh copy of Win10 onto it, then do the clone to the M.2 drive, after wiping it, and maybe the "Windows Boot Loaded" would still be registered in the UEFI, pointing to the M.2 drive, which would allow booting it (the clone).

Hope that you installed NVMe drivers onto the OS before cloning it (Win10 should have them built-in, Win7 needs them added).
 
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AuctionHugh

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#11
...the bios did not recognize that I had an M.2 drive installed.

The acer community forum reminded me that this model does not support NVMe drives.

The newegg page did not state that it is an NVMe drive, but looking on the amazon page for the drive, sure enough it is.

Newegg was kind enough to accept a return for the (not in brand new untouched condition) drives.

I used AOMEI Partition Assistant Free to thoroughly wipe the SSD drives (overwriting all data with 0's).

Now it is back to the drawing board to figure out what non-NVMe M.2 1tb drive I can use in our laptops.

Note: I really, really do not want to create a fresh install of windows and try to get everything we use installed on it and working. Cloning the drive, while definitely not the obvious way, will save a ton of time.
 

UsandThem

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May 4, 2000
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#12
Note: I really, really do not want to create a fresh install of windows and try to get everything we use installed on it and working. Cloning the drive, while definitely not the obvious way, will save a ton of time.
Just about every major brand of SSD comes with cloning software (WD, Sandisk, Crucial, Samsung, Intel etc).

Just buy one of these (lowest cost options right now) and use the included cloning software:

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820250092

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820156178
 
Oct 27, 2006
19,670
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#13
Understood about the cloning. It's so much easier than a reload.

At the same time, it's good practice to build a list of software, licenses, and sources for safekeeping in the event a computer and/or drive fails. A well organized loadset usually just involves a text document and a flash drive which can hold all of your installs. Call this your emergency plan.

Combine this with a policy to always immediately flatten any OEM PC you get (Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc) and this way you start out of the gate with cleaner/faster PCs that have zero wasted space or random nonsense partitions. Microsoft and the UEFI licensing standard have made this easier than ever, you don't even need to have a Windows key written down, a fresh install using the latest W10 build from the Microsoft website will install and activate automatically the latest version you have (Home/Pro).

A recovery list might look like this :

HP Envy Touchsmart 15, bought 7-15-15
Windows 10 Pro (came with unit, license in UEFI)

MS Office 365 Business Premium
(Username/Password for account)

Adobe CS Subscription
(Username/Password for account)

Foxit Phantom PDF vXX.X
Purchased 8-17-16
License 12456-ABCDEFetc
Installer msiFoxitPDFPro.exe on Flash\Installs\Foxit vXX.X

(Keep installers! You may need an original version later that matches the build when you bought a license, and some vendors may make it hard to locate old versions!)

Etc etc

Once you have a list like this, particularly on SSD and modern PCs, a full reload or move to a new PC is super fast and efficient. :)
 
Oct 27, 2006
19,670
159
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#14
Just about every major brand of SSD comes with cloning software (WD, Sandisk, Crucial, Samsung, Intel etc).

Just buy one of these (lowest cost options right now) and use the included cloning software:

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820250092

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820156178
I second the WD Blue. For a non-nVME M.2 SSD, they're absolutely fine.

Note, there is zero performance advantages to choosing an M.2 SATA SSD vs 2.5" SATA SSD. The utility of it is exactly as your case involves : gaining an extra drive in an otherwise 'full' system. I actually did something similar with an undocumented use of an mSATA SSD in my Dell Latitude 15" Haswell lol. Hidden in an odd spot was a slot intended for the second network card. But lo and behold, an mSATA SSD actually works perfectly there, so I plopped a 512GB SSD in that, and used the 2.5" bay for a 2TB spinner/storage.
 

AuctionHugh

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Nov 22, 2001
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#15
That is a great low cost solution, but my SSD slot is an "M" key, those appear to be "B & M" key. Will they be compatible?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.2#/media/File:M2_Edge_Connector_Keying.svg

Just about every major brand of SSD comes with cloning software (WD, Sandisk, Crucial, Samsung, Intel etc).

Just buy one of these (lowest cost options right now) and use the included cloning software:

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820250092

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820156178
 

UsandThem

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May 4, 2000
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#16
That is a great low cost solution, but my SSD slot is an "M" key, those appear to be "B & M" key. Will they be compatible?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.2#/media/File:M2_Edge_Connector_Keying.svg
That page also states:
For example, M.2 modules with two notches in B and M positions use up to two PCI Express lanes and provide broader compatibility at the same time, while the M.2 modules with only one notch in the M position use up to four PCI Express lanes; both examples may also provide SATA storage devices.
It probably would be easiest if you gave us the model number of the laptop, so we could directly at its specs to see. Hopefully Acer publishes detailed specs like Dell and HP do with their PCs.

Almost all motherboards (that I have seen) that have a M.2 slot that accommodates the 2280 sized drives, supports SATA M.2 with B & M keys. Although there have been a few I've seen that only support either a NVMe or SATA device (which from what you said earlier yours does not support NVMe drives). My Dell laptop from 2016 only supports SATA M.2 drives as well, while the Dell I just got about two weeks ago, supports both NVMe or SATA drives in the same slot.
 

AuctionHugh

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Nov 22, 2001
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#17
Sure, thanks!

Acer V17 Nitro Black (Aspire VN7-791G-76Z8)

According to Acer (in an amazon product page answer), this laptop "supports both SATA3 or PCIe x4 Gen 3 SSDs" but "not NVMe".

Product page (pretty sparse): https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/support-product/5615

Where I found the M.2 specs (in an answer by acer support here): https://www.amazon.com/ask/questions/asin/B00WJSQREY/1/ref=ask_dp_iaw_ql_hza?



That page also states:


It probably would be easiest if you gave us the model number of the laptop, so we could directly at its specs to see. Hopefully Acer publishes detailed specs like Dell and HP do with their PCs.

Almost all motherboards (that I have seen) that have a M.2 slot that accommodates the 2280 sized drives, supports SATA M.2 with B & M keys. Although there have been a few I've seen that only support either a NVMe or SATA device (which from what you said earlier yours does not support NVMe drives). My Dell laptop from 2016 only supports SATA M.2 drives as well, while the Dell I just got about two weeks ago, supports both NVMe or SATA drives in the same slot.
 

UsandThem

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#18
Yeah, Acer apparently isn't very forthcoming with detailed info. But I Googled your laptop model, and it seems you shouldn't have any issues with a SATA M.2 drive like the WD or Crucial I linked to above.

Some users on Acer support pages linked to a chart which showed the maximum size for the M.2 drive was 512GB, but 1TB drives should work as well (provided Acer didn't put some kind of weird artificial limit in their UEFI for some strange reason). I don't think I came across anyone installing a 1TB drive in there, but that was likely due to the high price of those drives when the laptop was released.
 

AuctionHugh

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#19
Thanks!

I did not find much on the support pages either. I've read various places that a PCIe x4 Gen 3 is much faster than sata. Should I aim to find one of those?

And you think that a B&M key SSD will work fine even though the port on the board is a "B" key?

Yeah, Acer apparently isn't very forthcoming with detailed info. But I Googled your laptop model, and it seems you shouldn't have any issues with a SATA M.2 drive like the WD or Crucial I linked to above.

Some users on Acer support pages linked to a chart which showed the maximum size for the M.2 drive was 512GB, but 1TB drives should work as well (provided Acer didn't put some kind of weird artificial limit in their UEFI for some strange reason). I don't think I came across anyone installing a 1TB drive in there, but that was likely due to the high price of those drives when the laptop was released.
 

UsandThem

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#20
Thanks!

I did not find much on the support pages either. I've read various places that a PCIe x4 Gen 3 is much faster than sata. Should I aim to find one of those?
Yes they are much faster, but you would have the same issue as you had before. PCIe drives are NVMe drives, so since your laptop only supports SATA drives, it wouldn't work.

And you think that a B&M key SSD will work fine even though the port on the board is a "B" key?
It should be fine. Having only the M key just limits the type of device the M.2 slot supports (no USB, audio, etc which are supported by the B key). The M key supports PCIe X4 and SATA devices.

Edit: I had my answer focused on the M key, when you asked about the B key. The B key supports SATA and PCIe X2 as well, so you will be fine.
 
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Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
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#21
According to Acer (in an amazon product page answer), this laptop "supports both SATA3 or PCIe x4 Gen 3 SSDs" but "not NVMe".
That is very clumsily written since (almost*) all PCIe drives are NVMe. Since your laptop hasn't been able to even detect an NVMe drive, I think we can safely discount that it supports PCIe storage at all.

The other posters have done a good job of recommending alternatives, so I don't think I can add more there.

*There were a few early PCIe AHCI drives on the market. But they're impossible to find today.
 

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