1. Jas00555's Avatar
    So my friend built a PC last year and he used an HDD as opposed to an SSD (yeah, I know. I already smacked him on the head lol). Well, he wanted to buy an SSD and use it as the boot drive while keeping his programs and stuff on the HDD. He asked me if this was possible and I've honestly never heard of this before so I had absolutely no idea. Well, I figured someone here might be able to tell me. Is what he needs to do even possible or does he need to reinstall everything or what?

    Thanks in advance
    10-22-2014 07:28 PM
  2. a5cent's Avatar
    I may be overthinking this, mainly because I've never actually had to do this, but wouldn't he lose his Windows install? Like, can't the product keys only be redeemed once? Also, what would happen to his other copy of Windows? Are you basically suggesting a clean install of all of his stuff, files and all? Sorry, but I've just never heard of this before so I have no idea how he should approach it.
    You're not overthinking it.

    Yes, I'm suggesting a clean install of everything.

    I'm assuming these things:

    • your friend owns a retail copy of Windows (not an OEM version).
    • you are 100% sure that you have the correct license key on hand (on paper, not stored in an e-mail or elsewhere on the PC you'll be wiping clean).
    • you aren't swapping out or adding any other components except the SSD.

    If those assumptions are correct, then you have nothing to worry about. You'll be able to reactivate Windows as many times as you want (I've done so four times just in the last month myself).

    If any of those assumptions are incorrect, then let us know and we can tell you what you'll have to consider

    Also, what would happen to his other copy of Windows?
    I'm not sure what you mean by this. After having backed up his data he'd be well advised to format his HDD, which will wipe the copy of Windows he previously used out of existence. There is no other copy left at that point. Only the new one he installed to the SSD.
  3. Maaz Mansori's Avatar
    No harm in keeping both drives, provided there is room in the computer case and the power supply is adequate. There are ways of transferring from one drive to another without reinstalling, such as by using Symantec Ghost software. However, I recommend against it as it can cause stability issues, especially when you use drives of different types. Also sometimes it cause activation issues with Windows. So I would recommend doing a full reinstall if possible. I use my SSD as my boot drive as well as for all my apps; then my documents, music, pictures, videos, etc. are all stored on my HDD.
    Jas00555 likes this.
    10-22-2014 07:37 PM
  4. hysonmb's Avatar
    It is possible, I've kept my OS and data drives separate for years since it makes rebuilds and recovery from anything a snap.
    While there may be a utility or something to make it easy, I always do a clean install of Windows. The answers.microsoft.com site is full of info on different options you can use. I have come to keep my user profile and programs on the SSD but map the libraries (documents, pictures, etc) to the data drive.
    Jas00555 likes this.
    10-22-2014 07:37 PM
  5. a5cent's Avatar
    So my friend built a PC last year and he used an HDD as opposed to an SSD (yeah, I know. I already smacked him on the head lol). Well, he wanted to buy an SSD and use it as the boot drive while keeping his programs and stuff on the HDD. He asked me if this was possible and I've honestly never heard of this before so I had absolutely no idea. Well, I figured someone here might be able to tell me. Is what he needs to do even possible or does he need to reinstall everything or what?

    Thanks in advance
    Possible, yes, but in no way worth the effort. It can't be done automatically, you'll need a lot of expert knowledge, and even then it will be very error prone. You'll be much safer and faster reinstalling Windows to the SSD. I'd say he should install his programs to the SSD as well (assuming capacity allows).

    In my experience making sure you've got everything backed up before reinstalling is what takes the most time (program configuration files, documents, game save files, etc). Reconfiguring your programs is the second most time intensive task (at least for me). Installing the OS to an SSD is the simplest part and takes all of ten minutes.
    Laura Knotek and Jas00555 like this.
    10-22-2014 07:44 PM
  6. Jas00555's Avatar
    Possible, yes, but in no way worth the effort. It can't be done automatically, you'll need a lot of expert knowledge, and even then it will be very error prone. You'll be much safer and faster reinstalling Windows to the SSD. I'd say he should install his programs to the SSD as well (assuming capacity allows).

    In my experience making sure you've got everything backed up before reinstalling is what takes the most time. Reconfiguring your programs is the second most time intensive task (at least for me). Installing the OS to an SSD is the simplest part and takes all of ten minutes.
    I may be overthinking this, mainly because I've never actually had to do this, but wouldn't he lose his Windows install? Like, can't the product keys only be redeemed once? Also, what would happen to his other copy of Windows? Are you basically suggesting a clean install of all of his stuff, files and all? Sorry, but I've just never heard of this before so I have no idea how he should approach it.
    10-22-2014 07:53 PM
  7. jmshub's Avatar
    Your Windows license can be reactivated again and again, especially if you need to rebuild your install of Windows due to a hard disc failing or virus, or in the past, Windows would just run a lot better if you reinstalled it every year or two.

    I generally recommend reinstalling Windows fresh for a lot of reasons. You just get all of the benefits of a fresh installation, and maybe you won't install all of the crap that slows down Windows. But I have used various disc imaging software, and have always had success in migrating the system to a new drive without issue. My preference in imaging software is Drive Snapshot ( Drive Snapshot - Disk Image Backup for Windows NT/2000/XP/2003/X64 ), but Ghost works well and there are others that other people recommend.

    And especially with a desktop, having an SSD and an HDD is the perfect balance. The SSD gives you the performance, and the large HDD gives you the high storage capacity for all of your documents, and I love having your documents on a non-boot drive. That way, if needed, you can format the boot partition and reinstall Windows with little concern for backing up files and documents first.
    a5cent, Laura Knotek and Jas00555 like this.
    10-22-2014 08:02 PM
  8. a5cent's Avatar
    I may be overthinking this, mainly because I've never actually had to do this, but wouldn't he lose his Windows install? Like, can't the product keys only be redeemed once? Also, what would happen to his other copy of Windows? Are you basically suggesting a clean install of all of his stuff, files and all? Sorry, but I've just never heard of this before so I have no idea how he should approach it.
    You're not overthinking it.

    Yes, I'm suggesting a clean install of everything.

    I'm assuming these things:

    • your friend owns a retail copy of Windows (not an OEM version).
    • you are 100% sure that you have the correct license key on hand (on paper, not stored in an e-mail or elsewhere on the PC you'll be wiping clean).
    • you aren't swapping out or adding any other components except the SSD.

    If those assumptions are correct, then you have nothing to worry about. You'll be able to reactivate Windows as many times as you want (I've done so four times just in the last month myself).

    If any of those assumptions are incorrect, then let us know and we can tell you what you'll have to consider

    Also, what would happen to his other copy of Windows?
    I'm not sure what you mean by this. After having backed up his data he'd be well advised to format his HDD, which will wipe the copy of Windows he previously used out of existence. There is no other copy left at that point. Only the new one he installed to the SSD.
    Laura Knotek and Jas00555 like this.
    10-22-2014 08:33 PM
  9. Jas00555's Avatar
    You're not overthinking it.

    Yes, I'm suggesting a clean install of everything.

    I'm assuming these things:

    • your friend owns a retail copy of Windows (not an OEM version).
    • you are 100% sure that you have the correct license key on hand (on paper, not stored in an e-mail or elsewhere on the PC you'll be wiping clean).
    • you aren't swapping out or adding any other components except the SSD.

    If those assumptions are correct, then you have nothing to worry about. You'll be able to reactivate Windows as many times as you want (I've done so four times just in the last month myself).

    If any of those assumptions are incorrect, then let us know and we can tell you what you'll have to consider
    Ok, I think I get what you're saying now. Let me see if I understand what you're saying. You want him to:
    1) backup all of his files from the HDD
    2) wipe the HDD
    3) install the OS to the SSD
    4) put the files back onto his HDD or SSD as necessary

    Is that what you're suggesting? Because that's what I figured he would have to do, which, you're right, should be easy enough. I just didn't know if there was an easier way.

    I'm not sure what you mean by this. After having backed up his data he'd be well advised to format his HDD, which will wipe the copy of Windows he previously used out of existence. There is no other copy left at that point. Only the new one he installed to the SSD.
    I was under the assumption that you wanted him to put it on both at the same time, then wipe, which made me wonder how that would work since Microsoft could tell that the same product key was being used by two different PCs (I'm assuming that's how they do it), but I think I got what you're saying now.
    10-22-2014 09:46 PM
  10. Maaz Mansori's Avatar
    In my experience, if you have an OEM copy of Windows and you replace the hard drive, you often need to call Microsoft to get Windows reactivated. Basically just tell them it is the same system but you replaced the hard drive because they won't allow an OEM copy to install on a different system. The retail version should activate on the new drive without a problem.
    Secondly, in regards to having to back up and wipe the HDD, this isn't absolutely necessary. You can do so as a precaution if you wish. However, I've always just left my files on the HDD and accessed them from the new install on the SSD. In some cases, if your user account is different, you might need to take ownership of the files, etc. but you can delete the old Windows installation, etc. on the HDD. If you're not comfortable doing this, backing up and restoring might be easier.
    10-22-2014 09:59 PM
  11. a5cent's Avatar
    Ok, I think I get what you're saying now. Let me see if I understand what you're saying. You want him to:
    1) backup all of his files from the HDD
    2) wipe the HDD
    3) install the OS to the SSD
    4) put the files back onto his HDD or SSD as necessary

    Is that what you're suggesting? Because that's what I figured he would have to do, which, you're right, should be easy enough. I just didn't know if there was an easier way.
    Yup. You got it.

    That first one is the trickiest part. You really have to go through every bit of software and ask yourself: "does this have something I need to save?". For IE that might be bookmarks. If he uses Outlook he'll have a PST file somewhere. If he saves his usernames/passwords on his computer you'll need to back them up too. If he uses other software packages like Photoshop he'll probably want to backup his settings files and maybe he's written a few scripts. It's easy to miss something. This is where you really need to take your time and be thorough. If you do this type of thing often you get used to keeping all this data localized in one or two places, but if not it's often scattered all over the place.

    I was under the assumption that you wanted him to put it on both at the same time, then wipe, which made me wonder how that would work since Microsoft could tell that the same product key was being used by two different PCs (I'm assuming that's how they do it), but I think I got what you're saying now.
    Even that works, because you're only ever booting into one Windows installation. If only one installation with the same key is ever running, and as long as both installations are on the same PC, it's not a problem. However, there are situations where having a second Windows installation accessible/detectable during setup will cause the setup process to do things you probably don't want (set up a dual boot environment). That's why I'd recommend you boot Windows from installation media (dvd/usb), enter the advanced setup menu, and then format all your drives from there before proceeding to install Windows onto the SSD.

    Good luck!
    Laura Knotek and Jas00555 like this.
    10-22-2014 10:33 PM

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