Safely backing up data before moving to new SSD drives

SSD drives are gradually becoming more affordable and capacious, which is good news for users and businesses that have not upgraded from their HDDs yet, but are interested in ultimately procuring faster, more reliable flash-based storage. There are a few key considerations when moving to new SSDs, however, including proper migration of data, applications and operating systems. For individuals opting for new small-capacity SSDs, data archiving solutions may also be useful for backing up and storing their old files.

One of the key challenges to making the HDD/SSD switch is that SSDs, while offering better performance, have not completely caught up to the large amount of inexpensive storage offered by mass-market HDDs yet. Typically, a user migrating data to a new drive of any kind should buy one that has multiple times the capacity of the previous storage medium.

However, in the case of an HDD-to-SSD migration, not everything may fit onto the smaller drive, making it important for the user to archive personal data like documents and photos in order to ensure that the essential Windows install image fits comfortably on to the new SSD.

"Installing a solid-state drive is one of the best upgrades you can make to your computer, but migrating your Windows installation to a small drive can be tricky, because your data won't necessarily all fit on the drive," clarified Lifehacker contributor Whitson Gordon.

Backing up and trimming down drive contents
The first thing to do is to defragment the HDD one last time. This process will not be necessary after the new SSD is up and running, since it does not have platters or mechanical read/write heads.

After finishing, a full backup of the drive should be made. Users have a number of options here, including swapping out an optical drive for an additional SSD, creating backup discs with a Blu-ray burner, uploading files to a cloud or archiving the data for additional safety.

With the backup created, the contents of the main drive can be cleaned up so that the operating system will fit onto the SSD. Large files like music and uncompressed video can be safely removed since they have been duplicated elsewhere. Additionally, in a separate Lifehacker article a reader told Gordon via email that users should always check their C drives in Windows for additional space-consuming applications, such as virtualization solutions that sometimes store all of their virtual machines on the local drive.

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