Upgrade windows hard drive

So, you have a Windows 10 (this probably applies to Windows 7 and forward) computer and you want to replace your system drive because you have a bad feeling about the health of the current drive, or you just want a larger SSD.

If you start searching on Google (or Bing) for this, you will get so many crappy answers: plenty of companies want to sell you tools, and Microsoft provides so much information that is hard to make any sense of. This is a simple and (quite) safe procedure that worked for me.

What you need

  1. A new hard drive, larger than the previous one
  2. A USB key, at least 8GB
  3. A USB hard drive, with enough space for backing up all your files

All drives should contain nothing of value as they will all be reformatted in the process.

Steps

  1. Create a Recovery Drive to the USB key (2)
  2. Create a System Image to the USB hard drive (3)
  3. Turn your computer off
  4. Replace your current system drive with the new one (1)
  5. For safety, unplug drives that you don’t want restored
  6. Start computer from your Recovery Drive (2)
  7. Choose Advanced
  8. Plug in System Image drive (3)
  9. Restore System Image
  10. Restore to your new hard drive (1)
  11. Profit!

This is a safe way to upgrade hard drive because:

  • You always have your original system intact and you can put your old hard drive back if anything goes wrong.
  • You completely only use standard Windows tools. From Windows/Microsoft perspective your original hard drive broke, you were smart enough to have proper backup, and you simply restored your backup.
  • It is anyway a good thing to always have (2) and (3) in case of disaster.

Problems, Annoyances, Caveats
The process is quite annoying.

  1. Just finding out where in Windows to create Recovery Image and System Image is a pain.
  2. Creating the Recovery Drive is very slow, despite you have a fast USB Key
  3. I did not click Advanced after starting the Recovery Drive. That ended up formatting a non-system-drive that was plugged in (I realised my mistake too late).

References
Howtogeek

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