How to migrate your Windows installation and data from a Hard Drive to Solid State Drive (SSD) without reinstalling

Date : March 14, 2021

A SSD (Solid State Drive) is one of the best bang-for-buck upgrades you can perform on an older computer, typically decreasing the boot time by well over half. It can truly bring a 3-6 year old PC back from the garbage pile to something very usable.

If you’re tasked with swapping a Hard Drive out for an SSD, it can seem daunting at first, but it’s far easier than you could imagine:

Determining which type of SSD you require

Computer SSD’s typically come in two form-factors: 2.5″ SATA, and m.2

The first step before committing to an upgrade would be to open the desktop or laptop computer to determine:

a) is the drive is physically accessible? This can be very fiddly with some laptops and all-in-one desktops- a quick search of the model on YouTube or searching for the workshop manual on Google will almost always give you the answer

b) which form-factor do you require? Most likely, the answer will be a 2.5″ SATA drive. However, you may find an unpopulated m.2 slot on the motherboard, allowing you to add an SSD alongside your existing drive.

Equipment needed

At the time of writing, these are the most popular 2.5″ SATA and m.2 SSD’s on Amazon

2.5″ SATA SSD’s:

m.2 SSD’s:

If you’re installing a 2.5″ SSD, you’ll also require a USB adapter to allow you to clone the data over from the old drive to the new:

Step 1 – Downloading the Cloning software

The go-to software for this has been Macrium Reflect Free Edition, and for good reason – it’s free for both home and commercial use, and it’s very reliable! (When downloading, there is no need to enter an email or register)

The installer is a little bit strange – it will download a downloader, which is used to download the application! It makes no sense to us, but it works and it simple enough to use; just press on the Download button at the bottom of the screen:

Click on the ‘Download’ button

Once you’ve followed the prompts and the software has installed, you’ll see a screen showing you the currently connected disks

Step 2 – preparing the clone

The source disk (and partitions) showing on the top, and the new/blank SSD on the bottom

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to connect your new SSD via the USB adapter.

As long as both of your disks are showing, click on ‘Clone this disk…’ and select your destination disk (i.e. your new SSD)

If your new drive is smaller than your source, you will need to manually click-and-drag the partitions from the top to the bottom drive, leaving the largest partition to last. This final partition will automatically resize to fit the remaining space on the disk.

Before clicking ‘Next’, it’s worth double-checking that you have the same number of partitions on both the source and destination disks. You don’t want any data left behind!

Next, you’re prompted to ‘Schedule this clone’ – ignore this and click ‘Next’ again.

Summary screen

The Summary screen is your final chance to check everything is set up correctly before the clone begins. Double-check your source and destination disks are set correctly. Once you’re happy, click ‘Finish’:

Click ‘OK’ to begin cloning

Click OK to proceed, and the cloning process begins!

Cloning in progress!

Step 3 – sit back and wait!

At this point, the cloning magic begins to happen! It’s worth observing the first few minutes and making sure no errors are presented. Once the overall progress reaches 2-3%, it’s a safe bet that everything is running smoothly and can be left unattended.

How long this process takes depend on where your bottleneck is (most likely the read speed of the source disk), and how much data needs migrating. In this instance, it took just under 2 hours to copy 100 GB.

After some time, you’ll be presented with a ‘Success’ message, at which point you can shut down your computer

Cloning successful

Step 4 – installing the new SSD in the computer

At this point, these instructions are going to be less specific as this process varies depending on your computer:

Desktop PC users are likely going to find this easiest as the components are easily accessible. Pop the side off the tower, grab a screwdriver and swap over the old hard drive with your new SSD. Hard Drives and SSD’s typically connect using the same SATA connector.

Laptops and All-in-one desktop PCs can be more fiddly:

  • often they will have an obviously removable bottom/rear panel which allows easy access to the Hard Drive and RAM. If not;
  • try a Google search for the workshop manual for your particular model. If that isn’t available;
  • try a search on YouTube for your model + “HDD replacement”

Step 5 – power on and witness the speed!

Power on your PC and you should immediately notice how much quicker and more responsive it is.

In this instance, the PC went from 6 minutes boot time to just over 1 minute; much better!

Finishing touches

Open a command prompt window and paste in the following command:

fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify

This should give you the same output as below:

If the result is not 0, enter the following command to force the change:

fsutil behavior set DisableDeleteNotify 0

And you’re all done! Enjoy the speed!


Deploying WPA2 WiFi profile (including Pre-Shared key) using Group Policy

Date : April 13, 2019

Problem

Whilst there is a setting in Group Policy Preferences to deploy WiFi settings, this does not include the WiFi Pre-Shared Key (PSK).

The following method will allow you to also push out the Pre-Shared Key:

Solution

From a PC that already has the WiFi profile installed:

Open command prompt (as admin) and run the following command. Make a note of the name of the profile you want to export:

netsh wlan show profiles

Run the following command, replacing the profile name with the one you wish to export, and path to an existing folder where an XML file will be created

netsh wlan export profile name="MyWiFiSSID" folder=C:\WLAN key=clear

Note that the key=clear is vital for this to work.

Copy that XML file to a network share that is accessible from the computer accounts. Do bear in mind the WiFi key is visible in plain text within this file, so consideration must be taken as where/how to store it.

The following command is used to install the profile:

netsh wlan add profile filename="\\servername\share\Wi-Fi-MyWiFiSSID.xml" user=all

… however, this will reinstall and reconnect the WiFi each time.

From my experience, the best method is to create a Computer Startup script GPO that will only run once. This one does the trick:

IF EXIST C:\WiFi.txt GOTO END

netsh wlan add profile filename="\\servername\share\Wi-Fi-MyWiFiSSID.xml" user=all >> C:\WiFi.txt

:END


Canon MFD: “Could not verify the information specified for Department ID Management”

Date : July 21, 2017

Issue

You get the following error when printing from a client:

Could not verify the information specified for Department ID Management or User Management. Printing will be canceled. Refer to [Troubleshooting] in Help for more information.

You have a Canon copier/MFD setup in a print server/client scenario. You also have Department ID’s requirement enabled.

 

Solution

You need to install the Canon Driver Information Assist Service on the print server.

The installer is called “DIASsetup.exe” and resides in the “misc” folder on the driver installation directory.

Printing should work fine from clients once this service is installed on the print server.


Accessing the BIOS on Lenovo V110-15ISK laptop

Date : June 15, 2017

Accessing the BIOS and boot options are critical for installing Windows or PXE booting. If I’m being honest, it took me a few attempts to get into the BIOS for this model of laptop. If I put this info here it may help a fellow techie elsewhere..

 

To access the BIOS..

press Fn+F2

 

To access the Boot Menu..

press Fn+F12


Migrate shares from one Windows server to another

Date : March 19, 2017

If you need to migrate your shares from one Windows server to another, the Microsoft documentation will give you the “proper” process (by way of File Server Resource Manager). This is a much quicker and dirtier method that I’ve used many times.

Perhaps you’re migrating your file server, or simply setting up another one; everyone at some point will need to migrate SMB shares and permissions. Luckily, it’s a relatively painless process:

Firstly if you haven’t already done so you should copy the data to the new server, keeping permissions and attributes intact

 

Steps:

  • On the old server: open regedit and browse to: HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Shares
  • Export the key
  • On the new server: check the same key and see if any shares already exist and need to be kept. If they do, export the key and keep it safe.
  • Transfer the exported registry key to the new server and double-click to import it.
  • (if you need to reinstate the original shares, re-import the new reg key over the top)
  • Reboot the server and that’s it!

 

I told you it was easy!


How to establish PowerShell connection into Office 365 Exchange

Date : March 4, 2017

We all know how important PowerShell has become, so it important to be able to establish a connection to Office 365.

Some things just can’t be done through the web-based GUI that Microsoft provides (or take a lot longer to do. Think repetitive tasks).

 

The 3 commands you will need to connect are:

 

$cred=Get-Credential
$session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri "https://ps.outlook.com/powershell/" -Credential $cred -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection
Import-PSSession $Session

 

Enter these one at a time, and you’ll then be connected to Office 365 Exchange!

 

You can verify the connection with the very simple command to show you a list of all your users:

Get-Mailbox

 

Happy PowerShell-ing!


Cannot print to network printer: “Win32 error code returned by the print processor: 5. Access is denied.”.

Date : December 2, 2016

Issue

Cannot print to network printer. Print jobs appear and disappear as expected in the print queue, however no data is sent to the printer.

Event viewer shows the following:

The document Test Page, owned by USERNAME, failed to print on printer PRINTER. Try to print the document again, or restart the print spooler.
Data type: RAW. Size of the spool file in bytes: 145189. Number of bytes printed: 0. Total number of pages in the document: 1. Number of pages printed: 0. Client computer: \\SERVERNAME. Win32 error code returned by the print processor: 5. Access is denied.

If you run Process Monitor with “process name = printfilterpipelinesvc.exe” you’ll see the following:

CreateFile    C:\Windows\System32\spool\PRINTERS\*.tmp    ACCESS DENIED

Solution

Give modify permissions to Everyone on the following directory: C:\Windows\System32\spool\PRINTERS\


Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP2 failed with error: -2068643838. Sophos Enterprise Console installation error

Date : October 26, 2016

I was trying to install Sophos Enterprise Console on a new server (a process I have done many, many times) and got hit with a very generic error message, prompting me to look at the installer log file.

I had a look, and all looked happy until it tried to execute the following command to install SQL Express:

 

INFO : Running command line: C:\sec_541\ServerInstaller\pre-reqs\sqlExpress2012SP2\SQLEXPR_x64_ENU.exe /Q /HIDECONSOLE /IACCEPTSQLSERVERLICENSETERMS /ACTION=INSTALL /FEATURES=SQL /INSTANCENAME=SOPHOS /SQLSVCACCOUNT="NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM" /SQLSYSADMINACCOUNTS="BUILTIN\Administrators" /NPENABLED=1 /TCPENABLED=0

 

Then this:

ERROR : Command: Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP2 failed with error: -2068643838

Darn!

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Migrate files from one Windows server to another, keeping permissions and attributes intact

Date : October 26, 2016

Need to replace one of your file servers? Maybe you’re migrating from Server 2008 to 2012/2016.

Use this command to copy your files from one server to another keeping ACL permissions, owner info, timestamps etc. intact:

robocopy source destination /E /ZB /DCOPY:T /COPYALL /R:1 /W:1 /V /TEE /LOG:C:\copy.txt
(remember – robocopy knows how to handle UNC paths, also)

Best of luck with the rest of your migration!

 

Explanation of switches:

/E – copies subdirectories, including empty ones

/ZB – use restartable mode; if access denied use Backup mode (useful for locked files)

/DCOPY:T – copies timestamps for the directories

/COPYALL – copies: attributes, timestamps, ACL permissions, owner info, audit info

/R:1 – number of retries

/W:1 – wait time between retries

/V – verbose output

/TEE – output to console, as well as log file

/LOG:C:\copy.txt – log file location


How to install Hyper-V in Windows 10

Date : October 19, 2016
How to install Hyper-V in Windows 10

Ever since Windows 8 and newer, Microsoft have been kind enough to include their Virtual Machine platform, Hyper-V

However, try and find it on your computer and you may struggle. Whilst it is included, it is not installed by default. Fear not – it’s dead easy to install.

  • Head to Programs and Features (appwiz.cpl)
  • In the left hand column, select Turn Windows features on or off
  • In the list, locate Hyper-V and tick it (this will also install the sub-features of Hyper-V, which you will likely need)

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How to disable IE Enhanced Security Configuration

Date : October 18, 2016

With a fresh Windows Server installation you are unable to browse the web by default, thanks to Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration. This “feature” essentially disables browsing in IE outright. There is a good reason for this, as browsing the web exposes the server to the outside world, and with that comes potential security risks (especially with a non-updated version of IE).

ie_enhancedsecurity_01

However, it is possible to disable this feature:

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