So I planned to upgrade my current 128gb SSD to 512gb SSD on my laptop. As my laptop has only 1 m.2 slot, is it possible for me to:

  1. Clone my current 128gb SSD (consist of Windows 10 and a few softwares) using EaseUS to my Sandisk Extreme Pro 128gb usb
  2. Then plug in my new 512gb SSD and boot up through my Sandisk usb
  3. And then clone the data from my Sandisk usb back to my new SSD?

Will this method work? And will the license key still be usable after the cloning?

  • Cloning a running system, even if possible, is very risky. Quite likely you'd get and unusable copy. – gronostaj Apr 27 '18 at 12:46

It could work, but it's not the right way to do it.

Windows 10 runs a check on hardware and may flip out on you if it detects it's on a USB stick. This is part of how it checks its license to make sure it's not been installed in a way that violates the license, such as two machines in the same home or in a piracy situation. Other software may behave similarly, or even invalidate cached license files on boot.

Everything else is also answered with "it depends". For example, if your motherboard BIOS isn't set to allow (or is specifically locked from allowing) a USB boot, it definitely won't work. If SanDisk's tool needs to detect a partition on the target drive and one doesn't exist, or if SanDisk's tool is only capable of saving the copy and not restoring it, you'd be in the same boat. If the tool restores the full volume information, you may end up with your drive having a 128GB partition with Windows and the remainder as unused space that needs to be partitioned, which may not be desirable.

After decades in IT, I can tell you, you don't want the OS you want to load being an integral part of your drive swap process. If one thing goes wrong, you lose everything. Use a boot CD, like the Ultimate Boot CD, which contains the tools to do your cloning and partition the drive how you want it partitioned. Presuming you have two USB ports on the device, you can easily load this as a bootable USB if you don't have a DVD- or BD-ROM, but I would use a traditional optical disk to avoid confusing your USB drives if you can. The UBCD can transfer everything to the new drive just fine, and Win10 will pass on licensing if the motherboard isn't different and you haven't swapped out most of the other components.

Also, if you can just reinstall Windows and the apps to the new drive and back up your user files and game saves from the old drive to your USB stick, that will save you a lot of trouble. Windows will pick up the login of your account (if you linked it to a Microsoft account) and allow some things to be restored, and licensing will still pass. Cloning a drive is really a process for saving long-term data, not cloning the OS.

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