How to clone your Notebook / MacBook Hard Disk to an SSD

Introduction

Introduction
 
By now most of us will be fully aware of the benefits that using a Solid State Disk in place of a traditional mechanical Hard Disks brings. Improved performance, diminished noise levels, cooler operation and lower power consumption. This not only makes the SSD a worthwhile upgrade for the desktop PC as we've already waxed several times here on OC3D before, but as almost all SSD's are based on the 2.5" form factor it also makes them even more suited for use in portable Notebooks and Netbooks. In fact, I'd probably go as far as to say that users on the road are likely to see the greatest benefits out of any user group, with SSD's being light years ahead in performance compared to the clunky 5400RPM drives while also offering increased battery life. In short, you can work faster for longer.
 
But unless you fancy loosing all of your data there really is very little information on how to successfully move all of your files and operating system to a shiny new SSD. Today, after almost a week of downloading every single tool available on the internet I'm going to take you through the process step-by-step using only FREE software and cheap + readily available tools. 
 
So what a better place to start than the shopping list....
 
 
The Shopping List
 
OCZ Agility 120GBFirst and foremost you're going to need an SSD! There's literally hundreds out there to choose from these days with prices ranging from just over £100 to well over £500 depending on the size and performance you are looking for. Today I'm going to be using the recently released OCZ Agility 120GB SSD which is available for around £250 depending on the retailer. Obviously you'll need to make sure that your notebook is capable of accepting an SSD drive, but in most cases so long as the interface of your existing hard disk is SATA or SATA-II it will work.
 
Next up you're going to be needing an SATA-to-USB converter. As very few Notebooks support more than one Hard Disk, this will be used for plugging your new SSD drive into a spare USB port on your Notebook allowing you to access both your old hard disk and the new SSD at the same time. These little gadgets are generally very cheap(~ £5.00) on places such as eBay and the only decision you really need to make is if you just want the barebone device that will just get the job done, or if you'd also like to turn your old Hard Disk into a portable disk drive - much like a high capacity USB memory stick. Either way hop along to your localized eBay and do a search for "SATA to USB". Devices that look like this or this will do the job.
 
Now we come to the all important software. It is crucial to remember that these choices are FREE/GPL software and therefore they may not look the prettiest or be the easiest to use, but with the instructions over the next page, they'll get the job done.
 
SystemRescueCD is first on the list. This bootable CD contains way, way more tools that we'll ever need, but it is one of few freely available boot CDs that uses a totally graphical user interface. In fact the interface is actually a trimmed down version of Gentoo Linux and as such the disk has a whole host of useful software installed along with a copy of Firefox that you can use to access the internet! We're going to be using this tool for it's partition resizing functionality, but you only need to download this CD if the size of your SSD is smaller than the size of your original hard disk (for example your SSD is 64GB but your notebook currently has a 200GB disk installed). Now that we've cleared that up, here's a download link to the CD ISO.
 
CloneZilla is the second utility and as suggested by the name, its only purpose in life is to clone Hard Disks. Luckily for us CloneZilla is also based on Linux and therefore has built-in support for a massive range of  SATA and USB controllers, minimising our chances of running into any "Device Not Found" issues. Additionally CloneZilla also supports just about every major filesystem known to man, with the most interesting to us being NTFS (For XP/Vista/Win 7) and HFS+ if you happen to own a Mac. You can grab the CD ISO here.
 
The Tools
 
 
So, just to recap. You'll need:
• An SSD of your choosing. We're going to be using the OCZ Agility today.
• An SATA-to-USB converter. Either just the cables or a full 'caddy'. I'll be using the latter.
• Two blank CD's (or DVD's) and a CD Writer!
• A copy of the SystemRescueCD ISO. Only if your SSD drive is smaller in capacity than your existing Hard Disk.
• A copy of the CloneZilla Live ISO.
 
 
 
With all of this checked off the list let's move on to the next page where I'll briefly discuss burning the ISO files to your CD's and installing your SSD drive in its converter.
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Most Recent Comments

11-08-2009, 17:58:54

JN
"Swapping your Hard Disk for an SSD is one thing. But transferring all of your data and OS? Well that's something else. Join us as we walk you through the process step-by-step."

http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...215437125l.jpg

Read MoreQuote

11-08-2009, 18:18:45

zak4994
Quite an interesting read.

I like the graph readings at the end.

Truly powerful stuff SSDs are.Quote

11-08-2009, 18:35:46

Bungral
Nice one there Jimbo.... Very nice write up and not even a single typo that I could see ..

Tis good to see something a little different in an article on occasion.

*wants an SSD*

SSD I said!!!Quote

11-08-2009, 18:45:34

PeterStoba
Very well written and concise article Jim

I agree, it is nice to see something other than a review or news Quote

12-08-2009, 03:54:24

JN
Cheers for the feedback guys. Hope it wasn't too dumbed down for the intellectuals that frequent the forum

Truth be told it took about 1.5 weeks to put this article together because finding 'free' software that didn't trash my Windows install or completely knacker my Mac was hard to come across lol.Quote

12-08-2009, 04:06:26

tinytomlogan
Intellectual? Hmmmm.

Great little article though, its something Ive never done so found it a really good read.Quote

12-08-2009, 04:38:36

FarFarAway
Nice article Jimbo, will be very useful mefinksQuote

12-08-2009, 07:43:22

montydog
Thanks for the article, it's always nice when people go through death defying procedures to assist others.

Years ago I once trashed a system using Norton Ghost not realising it didn't support SATA. The really stupid thing was a few years later I repeated my mistake. The Norton CD was very quickly destoyed.Quote

12-08-2009, 10:00:26

BloomerzUK
Nice Article Jim. I'm sure this will be read alot in the future by lots of people upgrading to SSD's.Quote

12-08-2009, 15:55:34

Judderman
Hi Jim

Thanks for the ace article which is actually very relevant to me as I am going to buy a OCZ Aguility 60gb SSD next week for my system.

Quick question thou can you clone a RAID0 array and then put the image onto an SSD.

Just wondering as I currently have 2 x 36gb Raptor drives in RAID0 and was wondering if I could tranfer this onto the SSD.

Many thanks for any help Quote

12-08-2009, 16:14:54

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Judderman'
Hi Jim

Thanks for the ace article which is actually very relevant to me as I am going to buy a OCZ Aguility 60gb SSD next week for my system.

Quick question thou can you clone a RAID0 array and then put the image onto an SSD.

Just wondering as I currently have 2 x 36gb Raptor drives in RAID0 and was wondering if I could tranfer this onto the SSD.

Many thanks for any help
Glad to be of some assistance

The cloning of a RAID array is definitely possible, but it does depend on what RAID controller you are using (ICH10/Jmicron/Marvell/Adaptec...etc) and whether the software I mentioned supports it.

As your Raptor array is smaller than the SSD you wont need to do any resizing, so the only thing you need to worry about is support for the array in CloneZilla.

I did notice that it supported a LOT of adapters so you might be lucky.Quote

13-08-2009, 13:50:12

Rastalovich
Yeah, ur issues start when u want to clone from a single drive to a raid array, other way around works fine. Generally cos when people install their OS they don't have ACHI enabled, or set to IDE, which means that the OS install inherently doesn't install the controllers drivers. Setting it to atleast ACHI and installing ur OS (setting it to IDE afterwards) is the correct way. But u'll not find a dozen people who do it. I don't myself, but I know the issues it causes when u don't.

Great guide Jim. Just to variate the theme, the Mac OS stuff can be done completely from DiskUtility - this is ofc if u have ur OS cd/dvds. Personally I prefer to make a TimeMachine entry, install the OS fresh, and migrate from the entry.Quote

13-08-2009, 14:50:39

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Rastalovich'

Great guide Jim. Just to variate the theme, the Mac OS stuff can be done completely from DiskUtility - this is ofc if u have ur OS cd/dvds. Personally I prefer to make a TimeMachine entry, install the OS fresh, and migrate from the entry.
Yeah funnily enough I Did give DiskUtility a go as you can make images of the drive and then restore them on to another drive. Unfortunately it didnt work from me downsizing from a 300GB to a 120GB. Mebe I missed sommitQuote

13-08-2009, 14:54:39

Rastalovich
2 options I can think of off the top of my head, is that u could have either resized the 300g to 120g, which is a simple grab of the partition outline and move it. Or when doing a backup image, do a file version. Not tried the latter tho.Quote

14-08-2009, 03:51:10

Judderman
Many thanks again Jim

The RAID controller is just the onboard RAID controller on the AMD chipset. I only really put the 2 x 36gb raptors in RAID as I wanted to have a play with RAID and the drives were sat on a shelf.

My overall plan is to buy 2 x 60gb OCZ Aguilty and put them in RAID0 for o/s and installed programs, then have 4 x 1.5tb WD Green drives in RAID5 for storage. Problem is I only have the money to buy 1 x SSD drive a month.

Many thanks also to Rastalovich as I didnt know about AHCI, least now I should hopefully be able to transfer everything from RAID0 to single SSD then back to RAID0 on 2 SSD's

Happy days Quote

16-09-2009, 04:20:42

Johnbear
Tis good to see something a little different in an article on occasion.

-Quote

27-09-2009, 15:19:32

Juicy6
Just cloned my 500G WD to Intel 80G SSD using the clone option of Acronis True Image Home 2009. Worked like a charm. 25 minutes to clone 45G of data and then 5 minutes to switch the disks in this Dell E6400. Shorter boot time, about 50% quicker program starts. I'm a happy camper now...

ChristerQuote

27-09-2009, 17:21:39

Diablo
Yeah I was going to say Acronis is pretty decent for a simple clone operation, plus its free trial for 30 days.Quote

28-09-2009, 01:16:42

Juicy6
Yup and if you choose Manual Settings it can shrink the partition to fit the new (often) smaller SSD disk. So no changes at all are made to the original disk!

ChristerQuote

25-12-2009, 09:05:54

Pyr0
nice guide, but there's no mention of partition alignment...

does clonezilla keep partition alignment or break it like acronis, ghost, et al. ?Quote
Reply
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