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I have bought a larger SSD for my Windows 10 machine and an external USB enclosure and now I would like to transfer the content of the Windows 10 system disk onto the new SSD and eventually replace the system disk with this new SSD.

Problem: The Samsung Migration tool only prints an unspecific error when cloning the disk. As expected, this Software is unusable, and I also do not feel comfortable cloning the disk of a running Windows 10 system.

How can I do this?

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    I always create a system image to an external hdd, swap the ssd, boot from a Windows 10 installation usb stick created with Rufus and then restore the system image. Added bonus: You now have a full backup on an external hdd.
    – Heinzi
    Mar 26 at 11:01
  • Use the native tools Windows has to do so [Dism], which I cover here. Any third-party solution is not going to be as efficient since all lack the compression capabilities and parity WIMs benefit from, combined with the fact there is zero purpose to a partition-level/disk-level image (contains offset, alignment, block size, etc.) on Windows since NTFS has been the default filesystem for two decades.
    – JW0914
    Mar 26 at 15:23
  • @JW0914: Using DISM is inefficient and usually not feasible since you need an additional temporary disk to store the image on, and one more copy step. The source disk and the destination disk is all which is necessary for the task. Is there a built-in dd equivalent for Windows? Mar 27 at 8:57
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    @ThorbjørnRavnAndersen Nope. The filesystem was 100% clean. The Migration tool is just trash. It promises to be able to take a copy of a booted live system, which is a hard thing to do, and it fails. It admits it fails when you look at the FAQ where lots of tips are like "disable feature XYZ if you have problems". I was surprised the problem to take an image and migrate it to another disk is not yet solved in 2022 without using Linux base solutions. Thus I wrote the question and the answer so other people can find what I did, and all the other useful answers (except for the DISM answer). Mar 28 at 21:50

4 Answers 4

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I will only use Linux as I am used to it, if someone has a better way using other tools feel free to add an answer.

You can only clone your boot drive if it is not mounted. For this you will need to create a bootable USB drive with Rufus. You will need either a second M.2/SATA connector in your PC or an external case to connect your new drive while you are copying the data. Note that this process will only work as-is if there is no encryption in place.


0. Backup your data. This is the most important step.

0.5 Check if the backup was successful, and if it's possible to retrieve the data


  1. Download Rufus from Github
  2. Download SystemRescue from their Website
  3. Connect an empty USB Stick with a minimum of 4gb of storage to your PC, note that any files on it will be erased
  4. Start Rufus as Administrator and select your USB, the Systemrescue-x.xx-amd64.iso you've downloaded and click Start. Wait for the process to complete.

Rufus

  1. Shutdown your computer, boot into the boot menu and select the USB you've just created. You might need to enable legacy boot and the bootmenu in your BIOS settings.

  2. Select the first entry and press enter on Systemrescues boot menu. systemrescue grub

  3. Type "startx", press enter and wait for the GUI to load.

[startx5

  1. Click on the little black icon on the lower left to open a terminal window

terminall

  1. In the window which opens type "lsblk" to show all connected drives, your drive descriptors may vary. I will use sda as the current smaller drive and sdb as the new bigger drive. lsblk

9.1. We will use dd to write the data from one drive to the other, bit by bit. You need to make absolutely sure that you don't mix up the input and the output drive, as otherwise your data will be overwritten with 0s from your new, empty drive! Make sure you identified your drives in the previous step without any doubt before continuing! If you are using an external enclosure you can disconnect it and run lsblk again, the drive which disappeared is obviously the one you've disconnected.

  1. Clone your harddrive with dd: dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb status=progress bs=4M && sync where if is the input device and of is the output device. You will need to use the identifiers for your drives instead of sda and sdb obviously. Wait patiently until the process has finished.

dd

  1. When finished, you will notice that your new drive now has the exact same partition structure as your old one. Now we will resize and expand the partition to be able to use all of the storage space. Remember your "main" partitions number for the following steps. In my case it is sdb2.

same structure

  1. You'll want to run ntfsfix /dev/sdb2 to make sure your filesystem is clean before the next step.

  2. Start parted in terminal and type select /dev/sdb to select your new SSD. Type print to get an overview over your partitions. You'll want to work with the last, probably biggest partition, in my case "2".

parted print

  1. Type resizepart then 2 then `100%. Let parted finish its job. The partition now should take the maximum amount of availible space on the device.

resizepart

  1. Now type quit

  2. It can be necessary to extend the filesystem on the grown partition in order for windows to recognize the new size correctly. In order to do so, first run ntfsresize -c /dev/sdb2 to check the filesystem, followed by ntfsresize -x /dev/sdb2 to do the actual expanding.

  3. Run ntfsfix /dev/sdb2 again, just to be sure.

You're done at this point.

  1. As a last command type poweroff

  2. Swap your drives and boot windows.

Disclaimer: I don't take any responsibility for user error, data loss or nuclear war after following this guide.

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  • Sometimes Arch ISO comes in handy and is often more useful than others.
    – iBug
    Mar 26 at 12:03
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    @iBug that statement is entirely opinion based. A tool is only an extension of your hands and of your mind. There often exist different tools for the same job, but in the end it only matters if you can use them well. Mar 26 at 12:09
  • Silly question. Why do you start a GUI from the console and then proceed to only use console commands from the terminal?
    – Greg W
    Mar 28 at 0:22
  • @GregW Not a silly question, it had silly reasons: when I started writing this I was not sure if I would use a graphical partitioning tool to do the resizing or use the commandline. In the end I kept it that way as I thought inexperienced users might be less scared if they type text into a black box on a GUI instead of a black box directly on their machine. Mar 28 at 0:30
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    @JW0914 around 20-30 minutes maybe. I'm not sure, as I wrote this answer a while ago, for basically the same question, just without any mention of a specific software, which got closed because of "asking for software recommendations". Mar 30 at 22:01
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There is a tool made exactly for your task

Clonezilla

You can install it on an USB flash drive, boot it and go next-next-next.

Be sure not to have both copies of a single bootable Windows partition connected to your computer when booting into Windows.

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  • Could you add more detailed information about the cloning process? Both software recommendations as well as link-only answers are undesired on SU. Mar 27 at 18:41
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    I find Clonezilla quite tedious to use. I tried it and immediately got the feeling, this tool was not made for such a simple tasks. This answer lacks lots of details. How can I move the last partition to the end of the new disk? How can I extend the size of the system partition? How can I safely connect both copies? Mar 29 at 23:32
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If you roughly know how to use Linux, do:

  1. As always, when messing with disks, backup all your important data. Otherwise you may be sent into the valley of tears.
  2. Install a live Linux system onto a USB stick, for example SystemRescue, Gparted Live or Rescatux.
  3. Boot the live Linux system from USB on the Windows 10 machine.
  4. Connect the new SSD (in the external USB enclosure).
  5. Open a terminal if necessary (e.g. by searching for Terminal).
  6. Type lsblk to get the names of the disk devices (old and new disk). Look at the sizes.
  7. Transfer the content of the old system disk to the new SSD using:
    • sudo dd if=/dev/sdX of=/dev/sdY bs=1M status=progress
    • (Replace X and Y by the old and the new drive, respectively. Getting this the wrong way round will erase your system disk!)
  8. sync
  9. Disconnect the disk and reconnect it.
  10. Start gparted to grow the Windows 10 system partition.
  11. Move the last partition to the very end of the disk. You may need to leave about 1 MB of space after the last partition due to bugs in gparted.
  12. Increase the size of the Windows 10 system partition (the biggest one) to occupy all the space. It may not be possible to occupy the last 1 MB of the free space, leaving a 1 MB gap, due to bugs in gparted.
  13. Apply the changes.
  14. Wait until this completes and a couple of seconds longer.
  15. Shut down the computer and install the new disk. Do not connect the old disk because it has the same disk id.
  16. Power-on the computer. It should now boot Windows 10 from the new SSD and show the increased disk space.
  17. If you want to continue to use the old disk, e.g. to use the data on the system partition on the old disk: Change the disk ID so Windows 10 does not get confused:
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  • How long did this take start to finish?
    – JW0914
    Mar 30 at 4:40
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    The actual copying of the data (the dd command) took 25 minutes for a 500 GB SSD copied onto a 2 TB SSD (about 330 MB/s). Before that, 5 minutes to create the Linux USB stick. And after that about 30 minutes messing with the annoying gparted bugs (not allowing to move the last partition to the very end and not allowing the new partition to occupy all space. The wasted space it 2 MB in total to negligible and I accepted it in the end. Perhaps using the command line version of gparted (parted) is better. I was so annoyed that I wrote this question and answer so that others do not have to fiddle. Mar 31 at 8:22
  • Once again for the 100th time: Kali is not a suitable distro for any usage besides penetration testing. While it would definitely work to use Kali for disk operations, in my opinion it is irresponsible to recommend it for any use other than the one it was designed for, especially on a question that is more suitable to beginners. Jul 11 at 15:01
  • @mashuptwice: Please be more constructive: Which Linux distro would you recommend for this task? All the data recovery distributions I could remember were heavily outdated. The requirements are: Must be a live system. Must be a small image. Must have parted or gparted installed by default. Should come up with a terminal. Ubuntu does not have parted/gparted by default and does not come up with a Terminal and does not even present the user with an intuitive option to start a terminal (the search has to be used). The Kali image is recent, relatively small and meets all of these requirements. Jul 12 at 21:33
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    @mashuptwice Thanks for concretely recommending the recovery systems. I will add these. The sole reason why I mention Kali in this answer is just because I really used it for this task and so I know it works. Jul 14 at 6:50
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If you're not comfortable with using Linux to clone your disk then you can do this entirely with Windows tools, although you may need two additional storage devices.

If you don't already have a bootable DVD or USB stick, you can create one. Run "control" to open the old Control Panel. For a 16GB USB stick, select Recovery, then Create a recovery drive. For a DVD, select Back up and Restore (Windows 7), then Create system repair disc.

From the Control Panel, Back up and Restore (Windows 7), select Create a system image, and back it up to an external hard drive. Then, replace the old internal drive, boot from the DVD or USB stick, and select Repair your computer. This will allow you to restore the system image from the external hard drive.

Note that your partitions are restored to the same size as they were on your old internal drive. If your original system partition is not the last partition on your disk (typically because of a recovery partition), you won't be directly able to enlarge it from Disk Management. If you don't want the recovery partition, you could just delete it, or you could use a third-party tool to relocate it, and then enlarge your system partition.

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  • Is this functionality also compatible with non-windows partitions? Mar 27 at 18:42
  • @mashuptwice Sorry, I've never actually dual-booted, so I don't know.
    – Neil
    Mar 27 at 19:39
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    I tried this approach, and as is almost always the case with Microsoft software, the restore failed, and no reason was given. The world would be a better place if Microsoft believed in testing..
    – Chris
    Jul 9 at 19:42

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