I've recently purchased a Samsung 870 EVO SSD to replace the HDD inside my laptop. To clone the drive inside my laptop to the SSD, I found that I can purchase a SATA to USB cable to facilitate the file transfer and then replace the HDD with my SSD. However, in the interest of saving a few dollars for buying this SATA cable, I was wondering if I could instead use my old external hard drive that already has a USB connector to act as a middle man for this file transfer.

The old external hard drive is a Toshiba HDTB120XK3CA that I can already connect to my laptop via USB. This uses a non-SATA cable to do the file transfer, so I cannot use that cable on my SSD.

Could I clone my current HDD to my old Toshiba HDD, swap out the current HDD to the new SSD, and then boot into my laptop with the external HDD and clone it onto my now internally installed SSD? I feel like I can accomplish this with any cloning software (I was thinking Macrium Reflect) but is there anything else I need to be aware of?

I should mention that the operating system is Windows 10. The Toshiba HDD currently has some files on it but I can empty it for any file transfer. Both the current HDD and the new SSD have 1TB storage, the Toshiba has 2TB storage.

Also, I know that Samsung has some Data Migration software I could use for the transfer between my HDD and my Samsung SSD, but I'm not sure this will work for the initial transfer between the two HDDs even though the current HDD is an old Samsung drive. I was wondering if there was any benefit to using the Samsung software for the second file transfer instead of the cloning software I choose for the first one. And is it even possible to use the Samsung software for transferring from external to internal because I've only found instances of it being used the other way around.


  • Yes, it will work. Why not? Cloned data is cloned data. You could clone your SSD to a half a dozen different hard drives and it doesn’t mater. The generic advice is based on people who don’t have multiple hard drives and the assumption is they only have two storage devices: New device and old device. You’re overthinking this. Mar 21, 2021 at 14:59
  • Samsung Magician features only work with their own SSDs. What software are you using to duplicate your HDD?
    – Ramhound
    Mar 21, 2021 at 15:01
  • @Ramhound I was thinking about using the free version of Macrium Reflect. Do you have any other suggestions?
    – Don Robin
    Mar 21, 2021 at 15:15
  • Questions seeking software-recommendation are out of scope. There is an existing question that already covers possible recommendations. My personal recommendation would be out of scope and wasn't the reason I submitted my comment.
    – Ramhound
    Mar 21, 2021 at 15:32
  • FWIW, you don’t need special software to clone data. Also, generally avoid any software that has the word “Wizard” or “Magician” in the title; the tend to be crap for various reasons. In this case, Samsung is basically locking the disk duplication process to only their devices. There is no reason to do that. Mar 21, 2021 at 17:13

1 Answer 1


I was able to complete the transfer using the external hard drive as the middle man but I had some complications that I felt I should describe how I solved and some suggestions to anyone trying to attempt cloning their current hard drive.

1: It is true that you cannot boot up windows off a USB connection. It has to be connected directly to the motherboard. To overcome this issue, I used Macrium Reflect's "Bootable Rescue Media" feature. With this feature, you are able to put the whole program into a USB stick and use that to boot your computer.

To be able to boot from the USB, make sure your BIOS is set so that "Launch CSM" is enabled and "Secure Boot Control" is disabled. These are the settings that were required on my ASUS computer, your's may be different.

I didn't realize there were so many programs that you could just boot into without Windows to complete the clone originally which is why I wanted to boot into Windows just to use Macrium.

I also tried Clonezilla (which is an alternative to Macrium Reflect) but because my external hard drive was twice the size of the SSD (even though all the data within the external hard drive could fit in the SSD and the rest of the data was unallocated), I faced some errors and, to be honest, it wasn't worth the effort since I found Macrium's Rescue Media to be much easier and better looking.

2: I also suggest completing the initial transfer from the PC's original hard drive to the external (or if you are doing it directly to your new drive) using the Macrium bootable Rescue Media as well.

When I completed the final transfer from the external hard drive to the SSD, I found that Windows was very glitchy: I couldn't connect to ethernet or wifi, the whole "Network and Internet" Settings crashed whenever I tried to go there to troubleshoot, the troubleshooter had some errors itself initially, and safe mode was not working either.

The issues were not there when I was using the original hard drive so I assume they came up because of a poor cloning process. Even though I was cloning with Macrium on Windows, I was not even using the computer, which I thought was good enough but not anymore.

If you do face these issues though, I was able to fix them by updating Windows. Since my internet was not working, I used another computer to download and install Windows Media Creation Tool. I was able to run this program and put the latest update on another USB stick by following the instructions shown. I then just put the USB in my glitchy computer and ran the setup.exe file and followed the instructions to update.

3: Another issue I faced after cloning the data over to my SSD was that, for some reason, I was only able to boot into Windows while the external hard drive was connected.

I suspect this happened because I rebooted the computer, right after the cloning completed, with the external drive still connected. If I were to do it again, I would have unplugged the external drive before rebooting it.

To fix the issue though, I followed the answer to a question with the same problem. I knew from Macrium Reflect that my external drive was using the letter "D" for it's partition but the new SSD was using "C". Going into the command prompt in administrator and typing in "bcdedit", I was able to see that, under Windows Boot Loader, device and osdevice pointed to my "D" partition. I followed the fix shown in the answer:

Bcdedit /set {default} device partition=c:
Bcdedit /set {default} osdevice partition=c:

and fixed that problem as well.

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