Installing Windows 8 on new SSD and transfer apps as easily as possible

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QUESTION :

I recently ordered a 128-GB SSD, on which I plan to reinstall Windows 8 as well as put applications, as well as a high quality 1 TB hard drive to replace my old, slow 250-GB hard drive. Once the transferring is done, I would format the old hard drive and use it for backup, probably.

Some applications, such as Adobe CS, take a very long time to install, and I’d like to save myself the pain of doing that by just moving selected apps to the SSD. Is it possible to do that?

I know that you can’t just move files around and hope all programs will still work. A few years ago, I formatted my old computer, having put some apps and games on an external hard drive, and when I moved those back to Program Files, they didn’t work. Error messages and/or bugs.

I know you can just clone a drive and it generally works well, but 1. the SSD is smaller than the hard drive and 2. I’ll be changing other pieces as well, such as my graphics card, and I wouldn’t want old drivers, useless things or bugs to come over. I’d like to start fresh and decide what I bring along.

Is there a way to do that, or do I just have to reinstall everything if I want to avoid problems?

ANSWER :

A smaller target drive’s not a big issue and can be handled, but in this case it’s best to reinstall IMO. That way you’ll be sure of a clean slate without leftover crud (uninstalling still leaves behind detritus as we all know). The system will not just be faster and more stable (since we’re talking about drivers as well), but the OS will also during installation detect that it’s being installed on an SSD instead of an HDD and enable related optimizations (details here).

Edit: Programs, especially huge complex ones such as Adobe CS, cannot simply be transferred since files and settings are generally littered all over the place including in the registry. It’s near impossible to track everything down, plus even if you do a program may refuse to work if it detects a change in hardware.

It is definitely possible to image to a smaller hard drive, just a lot more painful. I’m not sure of tools to do this under windows but if you’re somewhat linux savvy you can try partclone and just specify the partition you make on the new drive, and copy the first few mb of the disk to restore your windows recovery partition and MBR

When we switched to the Samsung SSD’s, we were able to move the OS and Apps over without a problem from a larger drive. So long as your data is less than the size of the SSD you should be fine.

Samsung offers a free tool to do this and we’ve had no problems in our office doing so. I always recommend running ccleaner first and making sure you remove any unwanted stuff first. Then do a clean boot.

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