I am thinking of getting an SSD for my Win7 machine, but before I do - I wanted to see if I could move the Windows 7 installation from my existing drive to the new one. There are other things on the drive, so moving the entire disk wouldn't really be an option. It is an upgrade from Vista - Vista came pre-installed on the machine (it's an HP) that I upgraded (using the free upgrade) to 7 Home Premium.

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    you can install 2 hard drives use clonezilla and clone the windows 7 partition onto the other drive. It's not moving it's copying, it's a byte by byte copy
    – barlop
    Sep 14, 2012 at 13:40

5 Answers 5


There are different tools like GParted to copy your Windows 7 partition from the old drive to the new one. I've also heard great things about DriveImage XML which can copy your partition in Windows itself (no need for a boot disk).

Here are my instructions for using GParted:

Get the new drive, connect it to your machine and copy the partition over with Gparted (Gparted boots from a DVD or, if you wish, USB drive). Once the copying is done you should disconnect your old drive and make sure that you can boot into Windows 7 from the new one. I've see situations where Windows has trouble booting from a new drive, for whatever reason (missing SSD driver perhaps). I'm not sure how much better DriveImage XML is than Gparted in this step.

If it boots correctly and your Windows 7 files all look good, reconnect your old drive and boot again from GParted and delete your old Windows 7 partition.

Note that if your original Windows 7 partition is bigger than the new SSD you will have to resize it first. You can also use Gparted for this.

Please backup your data from the original drive before you start moving and deleting partitions.

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    This solution only works for the question as asked if the individual has multiple partitions on their hard drive, and has installed Windows onto one of those partitions, and has installed all their software onto another partition. However, the OP doesn't appear to have that setup. The OP is asking how to pull their existing Windows installation from the partition it is on, separating it from everything else that is on the SAME partition, and put JUST the Windows installation on the SSD.
    – Bon Gart
    Sep 14, 2012 at 14:28

You can't do, what you want to do. At least, you can't do what I think you want to do... because what you are not very clear with the details.


There are other things on the drive

That statement of yours covers a BUTTLOAD of ground. For example, if those other things on the drive were songs and/or movies... they could most CERTAINLY be moved off the main drive. In fact, it would be better for you to do so. Get yourself a portable external hard drive and move all that media off the drive, and onto the external storage. Then see how much space you have freed up. Most likely, what you have left would take up less space than the SSD you want to get. If that was the case, you could THEN use any number of partitioning editing suites out there to shrink your partition to a size that would fit on the SSD, then you could use one of many different cloning programs to copy ALL of your existing partitions onto the SSD.

Now... if these other things are actually programs and games that are installed on the drive, then you are out of luck. Why? Because once you put them on a separate drive letter from their original installation... chances are, the program won't work until it is reinstalled. Since you are looking to avoid reinstallation... that wouldn't work.


Here's the thing. You imply that the SSD is smaller than your existing hard drive. You don't say what model the laptop is, but I doubt it will allow you to have two hard drives in it. So, you would be completely replacing the existing drive with the SSD. So I'm confused. You pull the Windows installation somehow, off the existing drive, put it on the SSD, and then what do you do with the remaining data that is on the old drive? You didn't say you wanted to save it. If you did want to save it, you didn't say how you would access it. You didn't mention that you wanted to put the drive in an external enclosure and turn it into a portable hard drive. I point all of this out for a reason.

If you didn't care about all the extraneous data, and you intended to lose it when you switched to the SSD, but that since your existing Windows installation is a precarious one that you can't reproduce you REALLY want to avoid reinstalling it... then your best option is to DELETE the other data on the drive. Uninstall any programs you don't need. Free up the drive space. Then, again, shrink the partition to one that will fit on the SSD, and copy the entire drive onto the SSD.

It is important to note that I've been saying copy the entire drive. You did mention that it is an HP. That means Recovery Partition. That means that you already have multiple partitions, and you will probably want them all, should you face catastrophic failure in the future.


If you image an entire drive you'll also image the partition table; these partitions would likely be too large for your new disk. In this case you'll have to resize the partitions.

If you image a partition you'll have to make sure you somehow acquire a partition table and MBR. You also have to keep in mind how these partitions are saved and if they'll fit onto your new drive. Oh, and there is a BOOTMGR partition you have to keep.

Perhaps you'll have to:

  • Manually create new partitions on the new drive; create the first partition identical to the first one on your old drive. Format them as NTFS.
  • Image/Copy the content of your system partition onto the first partition of the new drive.
  • Copy the Windows operating system along with whatever else you need onto the second partition of the new drive.
  • run fixmbr on the new drive
  • boot the drive!

Clone the drive, then delete the Windows files from the old drive and delete the files you are keeping on the old drive from the new drive.

After cloning, you may need to temporarily remove the old drive (just unplug it) and use the Windows recovery options to fix MBR and Windows Boot Tables (see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/927392) so that the new drive is seen as C:\ not D:\

  • do you mean clone the partition or clone all partitions on the drive? is there a particular cloning option that clones all partitions on the drive? or more than all partitions on the drive? literally cloning the whole drive? I've only ever heard of cloning a partition. But perhaps i'm out of date? He can of course just clone the windos 7 partition? But i'm still curious what you mean?
    – barlop
    Sep 14, 2012 at 13:38
  • This solution would fail. First of all, everything not directly related to the Windows installation would be on a separate drive. This means that (for example) what was PREVIOUSLY installed at C:\Program Files, would now be located at D:\Program Files (or whatever new drive letter) which would break all of those installations in relation to that copy of Windows.
    – Bon Gart
    Sep 14, 2012 at 14:31
  • @barlop yes, you can clone a whole drive, there are many options available to do this, both paid and free
    – Shevek
    Sep 16, 2012 at 10:12
  • @Bon Gart - Sorry, but you are wrong. If you temporarily remove the old drive, then run the Windows recovery options to fix the boot table and MBR if required, then the new drive will be treated as C: not D:
    – Shevek
    Sep 16, 2012 at 10:14

If partitions from your current HDD can fit on your new SSD then just clone the disk, with some of the above mentioned tools(ACRONIS, CLONEZILLA, etc.). Apart from cloning you could take image of your disk with Acronis and reaply it to your SSD, it should work even if your SSD is smaller in size, without hasle.

Acronis true image is free and it is my recommendation

But if you wanna to play around and learn something interesting - There is a cute tool from Microsoft called DISM.EXE which, among other things. allows you to capture and apply Windows image - DISM will capture only Windows OS partition:

  1. If you've booted into Windows, generalize the image so that it can be deployed to other devices. For more information, see Sysprep (Generalize) a Windows installation.

%WINDIR%\system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /generalize /shutdown /oobe

  1. Boot the device using Windows PE.

  2. Optional Optimize the image to reduce the time it takes your device to boot after you apply the image. Optimizing an image especially helps when you're building an image that you'll be deploying to many machines, like in a build-to-stock scenario. DISM /image:C:\ /optimize-image /boot

  3. Capture the Windows partition. For example:

Dism /Capture-Image /ImageFile:"D:\Images\Fabrikam.wim" /CaptureDir:C:\ /Name:Fabrikam

Where D: is a USB flash drive or other file storage location.

Now you can continue using DISM.EXE and apply that image on to your SSD or create an installation media based on that captured OS image, I'll give you hints for later:"

  1. Find USB 16GB or more, depending on your newly created .WIM image size (if you use /compress parameter during capture you could save a lot of space Dism /Capture-Image /ImageFile:"D:\Images\Fabrikam.wim" /CaptureDir:C:\ /Name:Fabrikam /compress maximum )

  2. Create USB bootable installation media for Windows 7

  3. Mount that USB into your OS navigate inside it and search for a file named install.wim or install.esd which one you will find depends on the installation source you have used(using DISM.EXE you can convert your FABRIKAM.WIM to FABRIKAM.ESD easily)

  4. Rename your FABRIKAM.WIM/FABRIKAM.ESD to install.wim/install.esd and copy it over(in place of) install.wim/install.esd on your before created USB installation boot media of Windows 7

  5. Use that USB to install your image to your new SSD - regular Windows OS installation

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