I am replacing my windows 10 SSD C:\, and since I only have one M.2 slot I have to reinstall Windows on the new one.

However, I barely put anything on this drive; I installed every program to my HDD D:\ that allowed me to do so. However, I suspect that they probably still put something on C:\, such as what I can see in \AppData\Roaming.

When switching out C:\, will I have to reinstall all of these programs for Windows to 'see' them, or can I get around it by copying over some files? Cloning the whole SSD is not possible since I can't have them both connected simultaneously. Or, is this entirely application dependent?

3 Answers 3


No, you will generally need to reinstall your programs for them to work properly. They either won't work or might (but don't have to) cause a bunch of issues otherwise.

The system drive contains a lot of information about applications:

  1. Anything in the registry, for example:
  • uninstaller locations
  • shell extension associations or context menu entries
  • autostart commands
  • configuration
  • licenses

  1. Data (configs, databases, plugins, etc.) scattered in a bunch of different folders, not only the one you mentioned:
  • few locations in user folder(s), for instance APPDATA (C:\Users\[user]\AppData\Roaming), LOCALAPPDATA (C:\Users\[user]\AppData\Local), etc.
  • ALLUSERSPROFILE (C:\ProgramData)
  • sometimes even any random dir in the root of the system drive

  1. There can also be crucial dependencies installed to %PROGRAMFILES% (C:\Program Files), %PROGRAMFILES(X86)% (C:\Program Files (x86)) and any other location in the system disk. Such as proper .NET version or any other framework.

You can attempt to backup some of the important data from both registry and files if you want to preserve the configuration of your applications, but their locations differ per application and you'll need to either find them online or manually.

Finding a way to clone the disk would be a much more optimal/faster solution. You can do it with help of a HDD connected through USB, if you own one and it has enough space. You don't need to connect 2 SSDs.


If you wish to avoid reinstalling all installed products, it would be best to clone the C: disk. You can do that while having only one disk connected at a time, using an external USB disk as intermediary.

I suggest the following procedure.

With the old disk :

With the new disk :

  • Boot AOMEI from USB, using the boot-menu feature of your BIOS/UEFI
  • Restore the C: disk
  • Boot from the C: disk.
  • Is the same thing possible with Macrium Reflect? I haven't heard of aomei backupper before. Jun 5 at 8:04
  • This same procedure is probably also possible with Macrium Reflect. AOMEI is more oriented to Windows, so in some cases has better results. I don't use Macrium Reflect, so I don't know if its backup image is small enough for the USB and how it restores to a different-sized disk. AOMEI only backups used sectors and can also compress the data, so it generates relatively small backup files.
    – harrymc
    Jun 5 at 8:22

Or, is this entirely application dependent?


Some applications the installer is just a convenience and is not really needed. Others will install their own stuff into windows system directories and/or the windows registry which they will not run without. Still others will install their own stuff in a relatively stand-alone way but will require various Microsoft "redistributable" packages to be installed before they will work, if you use the installer then it will handle these for you but if you don't use the installer some will need to be installed by hand.

  • You can't explain a downvote so I'll show you how it's done. This answer basically states what I wrote with less details, except not stating that leaving apps installed is clearly not the way to go in this case, as the vast majority of apps do leave entries on the system disk.
    – Destroy666
    Jun 5 at 19:50
  • The vast majority of apps do leave entries on the system disk but there is a big difference between leaving those entries and actually needing them to run.
    – plugwash
    Jun 5 at 19:55
  • My experiance is that a substantial proportion of applications work just fine without being installed.
    – plugwash
    Jun 5 at 19:57
  • You can also drive a car without 1 tire, it'll cause potential issues, but it's possible. I don't really see your point. Missing many registry entries is the perfect way to make the newly installed system unstable in a way or another.
    – Destroy666
    Jun 5 at 19:59

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