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I have a new SSD drive, I want to use it to replace the old mechanical hard disk drive in a laptop.

The laptop had a new O/S (Windows 7 64-bit) installed about 9 months ago and I want to know if it's worth the effort to reinstall the O/S or if I can just clone the old HDD.

I have read discussions about differences between platter alignments in the HDD and memory/data pages in the SSD. I believe you can reconfigure the SSD to handle the problem of platter/page alignment, but even so the advice is coming down on the side of a reinstall because:

  1. Cloning can cause a misconfigured SSD and thus not achieve the maximum performance boost I am looking for.
  2. The misconfiguration is actually damaging to the SSD and will result in a reduced lifetime.

Is there quantified measure of the expected performance degradation for cloning (with or without reconfiguration)?

Is there a quantified measure of the any possible damage to the SSD and the reduction in its lifetime?

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Specifics of what tools you will use for "cloning" would be helpful here. –  malcolmpdx Jan 26 '12 at 17:25
    
I deliberately didn't mention the tools I was intending to use/had looked at using because I didn't want this to become a how-to do a clone a drive because I had seen plenty of those already. I don't want to direct the answers, am looking for an answers in the format, "cloning is fine if you use the right software" or "don't do it regardless because there is a risk". Life is never black or white so if it will help my current tool is Ghost (it came with the SSD) and I may use diskpart should re-aalignment be necessary. –  Johnny Maelstrom Jan 26 '12 at 18:05
    
I asked because different tools will handle things like alignment differently. Also, for a lot of people, apparently, clone is a synonym for "copy everything" and not an actual "clone". :). –  malcolmpdx Jan 26 '12 at 18:24
    
No problem, your questions are totally valid. We're all learning the vocabulary and meaning behind the question, if the question didn't need clarifying it probably wouldn't make a good question. I.e. it'd be easy to solve without the massed minds of ServerFault. I mean clone in the sense of an exact bootable copy. Like using dd to make an exact bit copy of a drive. –  Johnny Maelstrom Jan 26 '12 at 19:52

3 Answers 3

It would seem that this would not be an issue. Kingston, for example, includes software in their kit to clone the drive. They state "For notebook or desktop users, switching to SSD or adding it to your system is simple with upgrade kits that include everything you need as well as software to clone your files and OS in just minutes. Kingston SSDNow drives are backed by a three-year warranty, live 24/7 tech support and legendary Kingston reliability."

Intel also offers a tool to manage the drive as well.

Intel says about their Data Migration Software "Download this free utility to help you install an Intel SSD in an existing PC system. With minimal steps, this useful tool replicates the operating system and all files from a PC’s hard drive or SSD to any Intel SSD. The Intel Data Migration Software supports Microsoft Windows* 7, Vista*, and XP"

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Interesting. My drive is from Samsung and the user manual says, " Samsung recommends that you do a fresh OS install to ensure an optimal operating environment for your new SS" –  Johnny Maelstrom Jan 26 '12 at 20:00
    
On completing my clone, I have a new partition with an offset of 1205MB, not the 1024kB you are recommended to have with an SSD. I am not particularly happy with Ghost at this point. –  Johnny Maelstrom Feb 1 '12 at 13:14

I would do reinstall of system. While cloning will work just fine you will have to fine tune your Windows to actually start using SSD features (or stop using them - like defrag). When installed cleanly Windows should confgiure most of the stuff for you.

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Looking at it from a theoretical perspective, there should be no issue. SSDs already have a layer of abstraction between the "sector" they report to the controller and where they actually write, so any questions about alignment become irrelevant. The sector size is relevant, but assuming you follow best practices for your drive (as documented in the instructions) you will be fine. Or else the manufacturer will replace the drive.

I would recommend that you reconfigure your OS to better utilize the new storage, though. This means keeping swap files (if needed) off the SSD and avoiding defrag jobs, mostly. Most of the advice you'll see revolves around avoiding unnecessary writes, as this will increase the life expectancy of your new drive.

As Dave also answered, enough drives come with off-the-shelf cloning technology that there's no low-level reason not to use it.

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One of the things I would like this question to cover in the answer is something about sectors and offset/alignment. My cloning tool (Ghost 15) has created a partition on the SSD with an offset of 1205MB. I have read that this is not optimal and can damage the drive. I want to know if this is true. In addition, I believe my drive is not delivering the speed it can. 145MB/s instead of 445MB/s when I run a speed test. –  Johnny Maelstrom Feb 1 '12 at 13:18

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