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Home How ToHacks & Facts How To Move Your Data and Programs to a New Hard Drive.

How To Move Your Data and Programs to a New Hard Drive.

by Yvone Kendi
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top view photo of laptop near camera

How to Move Your Data and Programs to a New Hard Drive.

One of the best improvements you can make is replacing the hard drive on your laptop or desktop computer; it can in particular, help you extend the useful life of an ageing laptop. Upgrading to a larger drive gives you much-needed extra storage space, and you can also gain a significant productivity boost from faster hard drive speeds, especially if you are looking for a solid-state drive (SSD). Here’s what you need to do about your hard drive being replaced and transferring your data and programs to the new one quickly.

  • Choose the Right Replacement Drive

Do a web search for your current drive manufacturer and model to get the scale, thickness, and interface to find out the details of what kind of drive you can purchase (e.g., 2.5-inch, 12.5mm thick SATA drive). Many laptops use 2.5-inch drives, but make sure you review yours; you can find the details on the label of the drive itself.

  • Move Your Data, OS, and Applications to the New Drive

If you have an external hard drive or a network-attached storage (NAS) unit lying around, you do not need to buy anything other than a new hard drive. You can save an image of your current drive to your existing external drive by using applications such as Acronis True Image or Clonezilla Free.

Alternatively, you can copy only My Documents and other data files to the external drive if you want to start fresh with your laptop operating system and migrate only your data (documents, images, videos, etc.), switch out the old drive with the new one and install new Windows and your other software on the new drive in your laptop. Finally, copy the data/folders that you saved back to your new drive to your hard drive. This method can be made much easier by Windows’ built-in Quick Transfer tool:

  1. Open the Start menu on the laptop. In the search box, type Windows Easy Transfer.
  2. Select an External Hard Disk or USB Flash Drive as your target drive.
  3. For This Is My New Computer, select No, then click to install to your external hard drive. Windows will copy your data and settings to the external drive.

 Copying Directly from the Old Drive to the New Drive

As you can see, the above process requires the additional step of copying your drive to an external (intermediate) drive, then back to the new drive.

You can easily connect the new and old drives together using either a simple USB-to-SATA/IDE adapter or cable, a laptop hard drive enclosure (which holds the old hard drive and connects it to your laptop via USB), or a laptop hard drive upgrade kit if you don’t want to use an intermediary external hard disk or NAS to copy the data back and forth. There are two options available: cloning the old drive, and copying only the data.

CLONING THE OLD DRIVE

  1. Connect the new drive to the laptop with the cable.
  2. Then, use the cloning software to clone the old drive onto the new one.
  3. Finally, swap out the old drive with the new drive.

COPYING JUST THE DATA

  1. Install the new drive into the laptop.
  2. Install Windows and your other applications fresh onto the new drive.
  3. Connect the old drive to the laptop using the cable or enclosure, and copy your data folders (e.g., My Documents) to your new drive. (You can use Windows’ Easy Transfer tool first, as mentioned above, to streamline this process.)

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