Windows 10: Migrate from 1TB HDD to 250GB SSD

I recently bought a Windows 10 laptop (Dell Inspiron 15) and I wanted to upgrade the 1TB spin drive to a spare 250GB SSD drive that I have.  It’s been 8 years since I made the switched to Mac and using a PC again brings back a lot of memories, not all positive though.

First of all, PC land is still full of landmines — e.g. spyware, adware, and PUP (potentially unwanted programs!), a lightweight version of adware.  There are so many FAKE sites disguised as resources and they all try to recommend to install some kind of apps.

I was looking for a way to migrate all the data from the brand new Dell Laptop to the SSD drive, and I came across 10+ sites with various degrees of information and fake information.  It’s crazy.

On Mac, it’s simple and I only need to use 1 app:  Carbon Copy Cloner.  I’ve migrated my computer so many times across various HDDs and SSDs.  Carbon Copy Cloner has never failed me.  On PC, it’s a mess.  There’s no official guide whatsoever, and the “official-looking” guide from is an upsell on their EaseUS products (DON’T install it!).

I tried Samsung Data Migration (the SSD is a Samsung 840), Macrium Reflect, MinTool Partition Wizard, Acronis True Image, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, and finally settled with buying Paragon Drive Copy Advanced.

I did consider Clonezilla, the free opensource tool can clone the drive, but the requirement is that the drive’s partitions have to have the same size.  I tried resizing the main drive using Windows 10 Disk Management tool, but for the 1TB drive, the smallest it can resize to was around 400GB, so it was a dead-end.

Just the list of software I have to jump thru to do a simple HDD clone is astounding.

I started with the free Samsung tool first.  It was able to copy the drive, but it didn’t seem to copy everything, and the boot process was hosed.  Then I embarked on the journey of finding a way to clone the drive.

I had the worst experience with the EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.  The darn free installation installed a bunch of craps to the machine.  It installed the “chromium” and “WebDiscovery” adware in the background on the main drive while pretending that it was cloning the disk.  It took about 3 hours to clone, but the result was bad.  And my machine was infected with adware.  The new drive wasn’t even recognized.  The whole adware-bundling puts such a bad taste in my mouth.

Welcome to the Windows wasteland.  It’s 2018 and Windows 10, and yet Spyware is still so rampant.

After wasting almost a day cloning data multiple times using various apps, even got infected with adware and PUP from EaseUS, and still unable to boot the drive, I ended up purchasing Paragon Drive Copy Advanced for $29 (and then found out that there’s a coupon available, oh well).  I’ve used apps from Paragon before so they are a reputable company, no adware.

The cool thing about Paragon Drive Copy Advanced is that it can go from a bigger HDD drive to a smaller SSD seamlessly.

I waited a few hours for Drive Copy Advanced to clone the drive, then installed the new drive in place of the old one, and booted up the machine, and nope, still didn’t work.

For the last 7 years, Windows has changed a lot, and I was a complete ignorant of the PC land.  I love my 2012 Mac (the best Mac currently) and there’s no reason for me to use PC.  But the downside is that I’m now a noob when it comes to all these boot options.

Anyhow, to cut the story short, I tried a bunch of things, including booting up to the recover USB that I created using Windows’ tool (Dell: why don’t you just include the recovery USB? What’s wrong with you? Why are you so cheap?).  Luckily, the command prompt works, and I was able to play around.

I checked the new drive and all the files seemed to be copied over correctly.  So that means that it’s just something whacky with the boot options.

It turned out that I forgot to check a checkbox in the Paragon software before I did the clone, so the drive was cloned, but it wasn’t made bootable.  But all the components were there.

As luck would have it, I found a page with a bunch of commands, and one caught my eye:

bootrec /fixboot
bootrec /fixmbr
bcdboot c:\windows

I tried the last one in the rescue terminal, bcdboot c:\windows, and it said successful!  A quick restart and now the machine was able to boot correctly.

What a journey!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.