Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How To Migrate From HDD to SSD For Acer 1810TZ

I didn't plan to upgrade the HDD of Acer 1810TZ to SSD. However, the deal I got from Newegg Malaysia was too good to turn down. Why OCZ Vertex 4? I did not study and compare the different SSD models, one of my friends did the study and concluded that Vertex 4 with Indilinx chip is the best performer as system disk (to run operating system) among other SSDs. So I can't provide the technicalities about SSD, instead jump straight blogging on installing it onto my lappy Acer 1810TZ. Although it's specific to 1810TZ, this guide is applicable to other lappy as well.

You can definitely go ahead replace the HDD with SSD if you do not bother keeping the hidden recovery partition and want to do a fresh install. If otherwise like me, this post guides you through on migrating the entire HDD contents to the SSD without doing fresh install. Hit the link to read more.

Tools you need:
  • Defrag software. The Windows built in defrag tool is suffice if you are not fussy
  • External USB 2.5" HDD case
  • Partition Wizard bootable software
  • A USB thumb drive or external CD writer with a blank CD-R or RW

Here's the summary steps:
  • Defrag the HDD
  • Install the SSD with an external case
  • Prepare bootable media
  • Clone the HDD
  • Replace the HDD with SSD

First, it's always good to defrag the HDD before migrate to HDD. SSD uses different mechanism to read/write data so we don't defrag SSD. You can use the built in defrag tool from Windows (right click on the disk in Windows Explorer > Properties > Tools > Defragment / Optimize), or buy/download any 3rd party defrag tool to get the job done.

Next, install the SSD onto an external case, most commonly is the USB external case...

Get a good case to ensure flawless migration. A cheap case i.e. ~RM20 may cause failure midway due to heavy read/write operations (this happened to my friend). I recommend USB3.0 case if you're buying one so that it's future proof.

Make sure the external SSD is detectable by Windows...

Select MBR if you're asked on dialog box above.

Now, click this link to download Partition Wizard Bootable CD. It's the last link at the bottom of the page. Continue the download even if you do not have CD writer to burn a bootable CD. It's an ISO image where you can use any ISO mount software to copy the files out from the ISO image to the USB thumb drive. If you're already on Windows 8, you can just simply right click on the ISO image and select Mount...

Now, we're ready to clone the HDD. Before you proceed to reboot to the bootable media you've just prepared, it may be advisable to make a full backup of the HDD if you make silly mistake.

Plug in the USB thumb drive (or insert the CD into the CD writer). Reboot. Press F2 when the Acer logo appears...

Change the option to show the boot up menu. This enables you to select which media to boot up from, other than the default internal HDD option. Make sure you "Exit Saving Changes". Press F12 when Acer logo reappears to get into the Boot Manager menu...

Select the bootable media you've created in previous step. Partition Wizard will boot now...

Please note that the following snapshots were from the Windows version of Partition Wizard than the bootable CD version. It's easy to snapshot using Windows software than taking photos on bootable version. Both versions share exactly the same interface. One difference is, you have to be very extreme cautious where the mouse cursor is in the bootable version, selection is made when the cursor hover over a selectable item (such as disk and partition) without click, so make sure you select the right item before any action.

Select Copy Disk Wizard on the left pane...

Follow the sequence of snapshots below. Ensure you select "align partition to 1MB" (read more here, here and here)...

Click Apply. Sit back and relax...

You can quit the bootable version of Partition Wizard once done and boot up to Windows as usual. The HDD contents (including all hidden partitions) should have been cloned to the SSD. You can verify it using the Windows version of Partition Wizard. You probably observe that the partition size is different between HDD and SSD. Well, you can resize the partition to exactly the same like HDD if you like.

There are many guides like this and this. These guides use multiple software to complete the same objective, whereas I find Partition Wizard is very user friendly and get the job done under one roof.

Now the SSD is ready to replace the HDD. Refer to this post on how to replace the HDD with SSD on an Acer 1810TZ.