Windows 10: Cloning to SSD then swapping drive letters

Discus and support Cloning to SSD then swapping drive letters in Windows 10 Installation and Upgrade to solve the problem; I have a new computer. I want to clone the system to a new SSD. Can I change the drive letter of the SSD to C: after cloning? My new computer (an... Discussion in 'Windows 10 Installation and Upgrade' started by SamHobbs, Feb 17, 2016.

  1. SamHobbs Win User

    Cloning to SSD then swapping drive letters


    I have a new computer. I want to clone the system to a new SSD. Can I change the drive letter of the SSD to C: after cloning?

    My new computer (an ASUS) currently has Windows 8.1. I intend to upgrade to Windows 10 before I do anything more. I will move the old Windows elsewhere before cloning if that is possible.

    I have the SSD installed physically but it is not formatted or anything. I intend to use the Samsung Data Migration tool to do the clone. During the clone, the SSD will of course not have the drive letter "C". After the cloning, it must have the drive letter "C", correct? I know we can assign drive letters in Disk Management. I am familiar with partitions and I know that the boot drive/partition is marked as "Active".

    Can I re-assign drive letters in Disk Management and delay the change until the next boot? This is just a guess, but it makes sense that the feature might exist. In other words, after the clone, can I change the drive letter ("C") of the current drive to something such as "T" and the SSD drive's letter to "C" and then the change will be effective upon the next boot? The hard drive has a second partition that is empty and is the "D:". It will be confusing for others to have the SSD partition as "C:" and the first partition some other letter and the second partition as "D:" but I understand and I am the only one that will use it. That is a minor detail.

    I do not intend to use the old Windows after the successful clone unless I need to remove the SSD for return to ASUS. My new computer had a bad motherboard when I received it but I hope I do not need to return it again.

    I know that some people will suggest that I do a fresh install. (I see: Clean Install Windows 10 Directly without having to Upgrade First - Windows 10 Forums.). I want to avoid doing that if possible. I am not sure that I can install everything else that ASUS installs but hopefully that is possible. If however I can simply swap drive letters after the clone then that should be the simplest solution.
    *

    :)
     
    SamHobbs, Feb 17, 2016
    #1

  2. How can I initialise an SSD?

    The SSD's manufacturer should have a cloning app on their web page. Hook up the SSD as an external drive, clone the existing drive to the SSD, then swap the drives.
     
    Brian Tillman [MVP-Outlook], Feb 17, 2016
    #2
  3. Swapping drive letters, including boot volume

    I have a new computer. I want to clone the system to a new SSD. Can I change the drive letter of the SSD to C: after cloning?

    I have a new ASUS M52BC with:

    • 1 TB hard drive with a Windows (CCloning to SSD then swapping drive letters :) and empty data (DCloning to SSD then swapping drive letters :) partition
    • Windows 8.1 (I will upgrade to Windows 10 very soon) on the hard drive
    • Samsung SSD 850 EVO (physically installed but nothing more done to it)
    What I want to get to is:

    • 1 TB hard drive with the data (DCloning to SSD then swapping drive letters :) partition and (for the old Windows partition) the drive letter of the C: changed to something else
    • Windows 10 on the SSD as the C:
    I don't intend to boot to Windows on the hard drive after I get Windows working on the SSD unless I need to remove the SSD for return to ASUS for repair. (My new computer had a bad motherboard when I received it but I hope I do not need to return it again.)

    I want to clone Windows to the SSD using the Samsung Data Migration tool. During the clone, the SSD will of course not have the drive letter "C". To boot from and use the SSD after the cloning, it must have the drive letter "C", correct? I assume the Data
    Migration tool cannot change the drive letter used by the software it clones.

    After the clone, how do I swap the drive letters? I assume I cannot change the drive letter of the hard drive Windows partition when it was used to boot from because it would be the boot drive, correct?

    I know that some people will suggest that I do a fresh install. I want to avoid doing that if possible.

    I see
    Migrate system partition to a new disk
    . I think that describes doing what I am trying to do, but unfortunately he does not know how he did it.
     
    Simple Samples, Feb 17, 2016
    #3
  4. Cloning to SSD then swapping drive letters

    Hello SamHobbs Welcome to the Ten Forums!

    First of all when booted from one OS drive that is the present "C" drive with any other being seen as D. E. F. G, H, etc. depending on how many you have either as far as mutiple primaries on just a pair of drives or when having two or more physical drives to work with. You can change the D if not already used by the optical drive to any other drive letter not already in use.

    Once you boot into the second drive's OS the "C" then becomes the D, E, F, G, H, or other next available drive letter in the same fashion. The C is reserved strictly for the drive you are booting from at the present moment. In years past someone might made a registry edit like with XP to see a second OS drive get the "D" drive letter in order to push the optical drive's letter over to another. Or some mishap while Windows was being installed would see that happen requiring a registy edit afterwards to get things sorted out.

    As for cloning and not simply seeing a fresh copy of 10 go onto a second OS drive in case of wanting a dual boot of 10 with a previous version, Windows 10 - Dual Boot with Windows 7 or Windows 8 - Windows 10 Forums you will find that will take much longer then simply seeing the first drive have a full system image backup created and stored on a 3rd drive and then restored to the second SSD OS drive.

    Did that here on the first day 10 was out and the upgrade over the cloning attempt wasn't anything you would want! Then the clean install of 7 to the second drive saw(finally after unplugging all other drives) another disaster with the initial successful upgrade repaired by another upgrade over that! After the first week that got dumped fast for a fresh clean install recently upgraded first by a Windows Insider Preview build to be followed by the November 11th Threshold 2 Update type of upgrade install which went smoothly for a change!

    When adding a new drive in since you are intent on a dual boot the clean install of the newer version when first seen is the usual advice given for the obvious reasons of avoiding the setbacks when upgrade installs turn out buggier then all Heck breaking out! Ask any long time custom system builder as well as experienced Windows users about that one! Buggy buggy buggy buggy.....!!!

    As for any Asus wares you would want to be looking at any updated for 10 versions of the same OEM apps you can download from the support site which would be more suitable for the new version if available. In many cases you may see 7, 8, 8.1, 10 being listed in the release notes.
     
    Night Hawk, Feb 17, 2016
    #4
  5. SamHobbs Win User
    Tomorrow I will study further what you said, Night Hawk.

    Many years ago, like in XP days, my system booted from a "S:". I am nearly certain that I assigned the drive the letter S using the Disk Manager. I understand what you are saying about assigning drive letters sequentially but I think it is not that simple. We can assign drive letters that will permanently be the drive's letter. Perhaps the permanent assignment only applies to non-removable drives and removable drives are (probably) assigned dynamically as you describe.
     
    SamHobbs, Feb 17, 2016
    #5
  6. SamHobbs Win User
    I want to make it clear that I probably do not want to dual boot. I will leave the first copy on the drive but make the SSD volume active. That is different from dual booting. I understand that (after the installation process of the SSD) the only way I would be able to boot the first (non-SSD) copy of Windows is to use something like Disk Manager to change the active partition. I think that is possible and that is what I want. I don't need to boot the hard-disk copy of Windows unless the SSD is (to be) removed.
     
    SamHobbs, Feb 17, 2016
    #6
  7. jimbo45 Win User
    Hi there.

    1) in the BIOS simply change the boot order of HDD's to select the SSD as the boot device --you shouldn't have to do anything else.

    2) If the device doesn't boot the probable reason is that it doesn't have an active partition on it.
    In this case re-boot back into the other (active) OS and make the boot partition on the SSD active and then try again.


    I prefer actually using a bootable copy of Macrium reflect to IMAGE rather than CLONE HDD's - on restore you can re-size partitions etc etc.

    It's a good idea - especially with an SSD to only have the OS and programs on it and keep DATA (music, documents, video, etc) on different HDD's - then if you need to recover the OS again you don't have to restore all your data. If you do video editing or have a program like Photoshop assign the temporary (scratch) files also to the SSD -- you can set those usually in the application program's editing / preference / settings menu.

    A program like macrium can run - especially when using an SSD blindingly fast --- it's a slightly more complex process using IMAGE rather than CLONE as you have to backup first to an image and then restore - but it works in any situation (where the target is large enough) whereas with cloning you need both HDD's to have the same geometry and you don't always want to copy the entire data volume.

    I know there's endless discussions on CLONE vs IMAGE -- just choose what you prefer --I've always found IMAGE better as it's always worked and given me much smaller image files and can be restored to totally different HDD's - even on different machines. Some versions of Macrium allow deployment to different hardware (Server edition - Technicians USB for example - expensive though for a home user !!!). Base functionality is free however with Macrium reflect (Free edition).

    Cheers
    jimbo
     
    jimbo45, Feb 17, 2016
    #7
  8. SamHobbs Win User

    Cloning to SSD then swapping drive letters

    I hope it is that simple, but if the SSD is not the C: then the software configured for the C: will fail. Windows uses symbolic names and special names so it might be immune to a change of drive letter but I am concerned that not all software is like that.
     
    SamHobbs, Feb 17, 2016
    #8
  9. Software shortcuts where on the Start menu or pinned to the main taskbar if not on the desktop will always go by the target line as for the location of the program folder and main executable files. Software installers at least the more evolved will see options for custom installs where the program folder(s) can be on a separate drive while the shortcut will still be created on the Host OS drive. There's no automatic way around that.

    I don't think anyone has been trying to change C to something since XP/Vista days anyways! And with old softwares C was always the mandate! If your OS was on D forget it! Hardly any with the exception of dos apps would go on unless with a very few you saw the custom option to allow for changing the default location.

    Once the boot loader is on the drive the order can be changed by switching the data cables around between drives so the first C then becomes the G drive while G becomes C. That is seen unless going from one type of drive like Sata 3 requiring different ports to another in that respect. A Sata II SSD wouldn't be plugged into any S3 ports. The order of drives from top to bottom is what is changed in the bios hard drive section order there with the first being the default. The boot loader can also be changed to point to another drive however as the default OS drive.

    As far as seeing a working clone of 8.1 onto a second drive to be upgraded to 10 the first drive would still be active and available unless unplugged to be removed entirely from the equation. If not seen added into the 10 BCD later as a dual boot you would call up the F12 or other boot device menu to simply select the first drive for the one time only boot session if that had been changed in the bios order of drives moved down from the top of the list of hard drives. That would end up being a bios managed rather then boot loader managed dual boot!
     
    Night Hawk, Feb 17, 2016
    #9
  10. topgundcp Win User
    @SamHobbs
    What you want done is very simple and can be done in short period of time. Here's my suggestion:
    There's 2 modes that Windows can be installed: UEFI and the old legacy MBR. Open Disk Management, look at the disk where your C drive is, if there's a
    • EFI System Partition, your Windows was installed using UEFI.
    • System Reserved partition, your Windows was installed using MBR
    Next, Connect your SSD to an available Sata port (no need to format or do anything). Download: Macrium Reflect Free . Install and run. Follow the steps below:
    • From Macrium, click on image this disk under your C drive and save it to either an Internal or External Drive. This will create a single backup image of the whole disk containing your C drive.
    • Again, from Macrium, click on Restore tab and select the image created from step 1, Select your SSD as the destination drive, click Next->Finish
    • Exit Macrium. If your Windows was installed using MBR, Open disk management and make sure the SSD is marked "Active" else go to next step.
    • Shutdown your PC. Disconnect the HD containing Windows C drive then connect your SSD to it.
    • Reboot. Your PC should boot and the Windows should have C as the drive letter.

    NOTE: The procedure above is to backup your Windows to an image file then copy it back to the SSD. This ensures proper cluster size aligment for the SSD. In addition, Macrium also perform Trimming for the SSD. This is more preferable than cloning.
     
    topgundcp, Feb 17, 2016
    #10
  11. jimbo45 Win User
    Hi there

    @topgundcp : I've always preferred imaging to cloning -- thanks for adding info that seems to make imaging a better choice -- there's stuff all over the Internet on which option to use -- I'll stick to "Imaging". Thanks for that extra bit of info when using SSD's.

    Cheers

    jimbo
     
    jimbo45, Feb 17, 2016
    #11
  12. SamHobbs Win User
    Please see Change, add, or remove a drive letter - Windows Help. That describes how to specify a drive letter for a drive. The assigned letter will remain assigned to the drive even if it is offline.

    I am posting this because some members are not aware of it. We can control what letter is used for a drive instead of getting whatever Windows assigns to it.
     
    SamHobbs, Feb 17, 2016
    #12
  13. NavyLCDR New Member

    Cloning to SSD then swapping drive letters

    However - drive letters stick only in the operating system running at the time. In your case you have Windows on a HDD and you want to clone it to the SSD. After cloning - but still running Windows from the HDD you can assign the Windows partition on the SSD any drive letter you want EXCEPT C:. Then when you change the boot order to the SSD and actually run Windows from the SSD, the Windows partition on the SSD will change to C: and all your other HDDs and partitions will get new drive letters.

    Likewise once you boot from Windows on the SSD - you can assign the old Windows partition on the HDD any drive letter you want EXCEPT C:. If you then go back and boot from the HDD - the Windows partition on the SSD will revert back to the drive letter you first assigned to it when you were running Windows from the HDD previously and your HDD Windows partition will be C:.

    The partition that the current Windows is running from will almost 100% of the time get drive letter C: when Windows is loaded from it.
     
    NavyLCDR, Feb 17, 2016
    #13
  14. SamHobbs Win User
    SamHobbs, Feb 17, 2016
    #14
  15. SamHobbs Win User
    That is not how it worked for the person in the discussion I just linked to, right? Dženan says "the SSD has drive letter F:" even after booting from it, correct?
     
    SamHobbs, Feb 17, 2016
    #15
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Cloning to SSD then swapping drive letters

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