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I need to get more perf out of my humble Dell Inspiron laptop, and I think the best way for me is to replace the hard disk with a solid state drive.

However, this machine is 'mission critical' to my business in that I use it all day every day and cannot afford to have it down for long.

How can I transfer my data and OS onto the new drive and carry on going? Does Windows 7 backup allow this, or do I need a drive image? If so what software do I need to get?

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Under Backup & Restore you can create a System Image you can then restore it using the Windows 7 Installation disc. Here is a short guide... expand the restore using installation disc option.

If you do not have a Windows 7 Installation disc I believe you can use the Windows Repair disc. Here is a short guide on how to create it.

If you want to use a third party tool I would recommend using Clonzilla

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+1 for CloneZilla, I've used it for exactly this purpose several times and it works like a charm. Prepare an external hard disk and you're good to go. Should only take an hour or so. –  slhck Apr 28 '11 at 21:12
    
Windows 7 system image will not transfer to a smaller hard drive, only equal or larger. –  Moab Apr 28 '11 at 23:41

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