How-to: Clone factory installed Windows 8 to a new empty SSD

Nowadays Windows 8 laptops are often not supplied with a Windows restore or recovery DVD. This makes it difficult to re-install Windows on any new purchased hard drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD). For instance if you want to upgrade your old, and perhaps sluggish, HDD in your laptop with a much faster SSD, how can you re-install Windows on the new SSD? One of the option is to purchase a full retail version of Windows 8. However in most cases you already have fully paid for the Windows 8 license on your laptop. We can imagine you do not like to pay twice for the same product.

In this how-to we’ll explain how you can clone the Windows 8 and manufacturer recovery partitions to a new drive, like a SSD, and get your laptop in the same state with all your applications and files without much hassle. We used a Lenovo Essential B590 with a Core i3 3110M. We already placed a new empty SSD in a The Lenovo B590┬áHDD Caddy and inserted in the laptop. Thus the laptop is equiped with a stock HDD Western Digital 500GB and a Samsung 830 SSD 128GB. We will use the free version of Macrium Reflect to clone the stock HDD to the new empty SSD. Of course you can use other cloning and imaging (paid) software, such as Acronis. If you do not have a HDD Caddy yet or you do not have a laptop-hard-drive-to-USB adapter to hook your new drive to the laptop, you can also create the image of the stock HDD first and then later copy (“clone” in this case) it to the new SSD.

Step 1: partitioning your new SSD

Go to control panel by opening file explorer and type control panel and hit enter.

Show small icons.

Go to administrative tools.

Open computer management.

Go to disk management.

Right mouse click on unallocated space.

Create new partition / volume. Continue till finishing the partitioning.

Your new SSD has been partitioned.

Step 2: Cloning with Macrium Reflect Free

Download and install free version of Macrium Reflect.

Open Macrium Reflect. You will see your two drives. The upper drive with different partitions is your stock HDD. It contains the Windows 8 partitions but also recovery partition from your manufacturer (in this case it’s from Lenovo but also Asus, Dell, Hp etc. have these recovery partitions). The drive below only has one partition. This is your new drive (in this case our SSD).

Click on clone this disk (see green arrow)

The stock HDD is actually much bigger than the SSD. For instance the Windows 8 partition is 449.06GB which will not fit by far on a 128GB SSD. Luckily Macrium Reflect allow us to shrink partitions. However you cannot shrink partition more than the used storage space. In this case the Windows partition is 449.06GB but only 28.49GB has been used. You can drag partitions to the new drive.

In this example we see that the whole new drive has been filled up with some of the partitions of the stock drive. The last partition, the recovery Lenovoy partition, does not seem to fit anymore.

Click on cloned partition properties to Shrink the windows partition to 102.54GB so we have some space left for the last partition.

All partitions can now be cloned to your new drive!

In this example, cloning took 48 minutes. We used a factory installed Windows 8 without additional programs. Now we turn off the laptop and swap the SSD and HDD from their positions. The SSD on the primary bay and the HDD is going to the HDD Caddy. When you reboot the laptop you’ll find it much faster now, thanks to the SSD :)

You can also check the whole cloning process in the video below:

  • zzip

    THanks, I was really in need of this guide… It seems that very few sites covers how to make an identical copy of hdd to sdd when using laptop and windows 8…

    Atm the Macrium Reflect tool is running and I followed every single step in your guide… Its about 40% now – I really hope its gonna work.. I had so many troubles switching harddisc and still keeping the original partitions and hidden factory partitions!

    Its hard to believe that the only thing I need to do is switching the HDD with the SSD and everything should work?

    I will let you know when its done and if it works :-)


  • zzip


    You are SO awesome… If I could donate you somehow, I would really do so…

    THanks man!!

    • HDDCaddy

      No need to donate :) Have fun with your new SSD!

  • Paul M.

    Thank you for the great information and instructions! I had been trying
    various other apps (Ghost, Acronis, X-Copy) to try to backup a HP
    desktop with Windows 8, and it’s 5 partitions. All failed. This was easy
    and very quick. It took 11 minutes to restore to a new drive from the
    39gb image file that this had created from the original hard drive.
    Awesome!!! Now I have a backup drive, and image file that can create more later on.

  • Professor C

    I’m about to receive my new Acer laptop, which has a 1 Tb HDD and an open slot for a second HDD or an SSD. I have the SDD ready to put in (a 120 Gb Sandisk Ultra), so I was looking for a good way to clone the HDD to the SDD and then reformat the HDD. This article gives me hope that I can do this, but I’m concerned about Windows 8 allowing me to alter the BIOS to assign the SSD as the primary (boot) drive. I’ve heard that Windows 8 somehow interacts with the BIOS in a way that makes it difficult to do this, but I don’t know for sure. Do you have any knowledge of whether or not it will be difficult to reassign the boot drive?

    • HDDCaddy

      Hi Profressor C. As long as you clone correctly it shouldn’t be a problem. After cloning move the SSD to the primary bay (in that case you do not have to change the BIOS settings). Also I recommend not to immediately format or delete the partitions on the original HDD (after some time of working and testing if everything works properly) in case you need to send the laptop back to the manufacturer.

      We are aware about issues with booting from a second drive because BIOS can restrict it (in newer laptops). For instance if you have a OS installed on the 2nd drive in the HDD Caddy. In that case you need to disable secure boot in bios and change UEFI/Legacy boot to “Both”. But this is not relevant for your setup.

      • Professor C

        Thank you for that on-point answer; it confirms several details about which I should be mindful in this operation, like swapping the drives so the BIOS need not be altered for a reassignment of the boot drive.

        My only remaining concern is finding a hard drive caddy so the SSD can seat securely in the primary bay. My efforts to find one for this particular model have proven fruitless, so far (third-party vendors are selling a unit that replaces the DVD drive), but I might be able to construct something.

        That aside, again, I am grateful for your response to my inquiry.

        • HDDCaddy

          If you purchase a regular laptop size (2.5″) SSD (e.g. Samsung 840 Pro or Crucial M4) with a thickness of 7mm or 9.5mm it shouldn’t be a problem to fit the SSD securely in the primary bay. I’m not sure which model Acer you are going to receive but you can also take out the hard drive and take it to a computer shop and ask for a SSD with the same dimensions. But it should be a regular 2.5″ hard drive unless it’s some really slim tablet/laptop hybrid.

      • Professor C

        I followed the instructions on your site and used the freeware edition of Macrium Reflect to clone the hard drive to the solid state drive. At first, Macrium Reflect reported that, although the SSD was detected, it wasn’t initialized, so I had to go to the file manager in Windows 8 and get to the SSD to initialize it.

        Once that was done, it took me a few tries in Macrium Reflect to get the mapping of the partitions from the HDD to the SSD right. Your instructions were fine; I just wasn’t paying attention to the sizes of the partitions on the HDD. Once I had allocated all the space on the SSD to the partitions from the HDD, I started the cloning process, only to have it stop dead with a “Clone failed” message and error code 0x8000ffff. The Macrium Reflect site explained that this was usually due to a VSS error. Finding out how to get to “Manage” in Windows 8 took me a few minutes, but sure enough, the VSS service starts manually, not automatically, in Windows 8. I started the service, went back to Macrium Reflect, did the mappings again, and the cloning process started,

        Twenty-eight minutes later, the job was finished.

        As you suggested, I then turned the computer off and swapped the HDD and SSD drives in their respective bays, and turned the machine on. (You were right that the SSD really didn’t need a caddy, but the little stick-on frame Sandisk included with the SSD did make the drive more secure in its bay.)

        Once the swap was finished, I turned the computer on. About five seconds later, it turned off. That, obviously, is a bad sign.

        I decided I’d turn it on one more time before swapping the drives back to their original bays.

        This time, the computer stayed on. It was fairly sluggish coming out of the BIOS, but all of a sudden, it snapped to the login screen and, once I’d logged in, it was on the desktop within a couple of seconds.

        I ran Belarc Advisor to see what it had to say about the health of the drives and all that. Everything came back fine, although I’ll need some utility more specific to ensure that everything really is okay.

        For now, though, after shutting the computer down and starting it again, the machine is racing to the desktop like I’ve never seen a Windows machine run.

        Cloning a hard drive to a solid state drive and then making that SSD the boot drive is a daunting prospect, but it can be done with relative ease thanks to your clear instructions and abundance of screen shots. Over the years, I have learned that only a few computer advice sites actually provide sound, relevant, on-point advice. Yours is one of the few I will recommend, particularly to anyone planning to make an SSD the primary, boot drive on a computer.

        I thank you.

        • Professor C

          Yes, I spoke too soon. Somehow, the BIOS has managed to turn the HDD back into the boot drive, even though, as I wrote above, I physically swapped the drives in their bays. Even more interestingly, I am sure in Macrium Reflect I designated the secondary drive as “B” (with the primary as “C”), but now the file manager is reporting the primary (that HDD) as “C” and the secondary (the SSD) as “E”. The way it looked when I exited Macrium, the primary was “C” and physically in the right-side bay, and the secondary was “B” in the left side bay, so that when I swapped the physical drives, the SSD would called “C” in the right bay, and the HDD would be called “B” in the left bay.

          Everything I’ve done today–getting rid of bloatware, installing programs, migrating files, etc.–was being done on the HDD instead of the SSD.

          Any advice, or should I just give up?

          • HDDCaddy

            Can you enter in BIOS and check the boot order of the drives? Is the SSD set as first?

            Also, is there an option in BIOS to disable secure boot and change “UEFI or Legacy OS” to both?

            Your drive letter changes according to which operating system(OS) is getting started from your drives. If I understand correctly you now have an OS installed on both drives. So you can start from the SSD as well from the HDD depending on the settings of your BIOS.

  • Lee Fowler

    Hi friend. Thats so much for your instructions. I have successfully cloned the 1TB hard drive out of my HP ENVY TouchSmart 15. However after a few hours and a few restarts, it now brings up a blue screen saying “Your PC ran into a problem… PROCESS1_INITIALIZATION_FAIL” and just restarts. The SSD drive is a 500GB Samsung 840 series. Seems strange that it worked perfectly but then fell over after a few restarts? Any ideas would be much appreciated. Thanks :-)

  • Lee Fowler

    Hi and thanks for your fantastic tutorial. I have successfully cloned the 1TB hdd from my HP ENVY TouchSmart 15 to a 500GB Samsung 840 Series. It worked fine for a couple of hours and a couple of restarts but now it blue screens with PROCESS1_INITIALIZATION_FAIL. Any ideas on why that may have happened and what the next step would be? Should a attempt the clone again?

  • Natthaphon Takhap

    hi i did all step by step and i though it seems to work fine but it didnt. i get in to my windows 8 with ssd drive but i just wanna check that my recovery works also so i can format my original hardrive and use it as a storage drive. but my recovery on ssd it didnt work it.. i got erro code and after that i cant get in to windows 8 on ssd anymore just erro code 0xc0000225 any idea?

    • HDDCaddy

      Did you format and create new partition on your SSD in the beginning?

      • Natthaphon Takhap

        well i format it but this ssd is not new ssd i got it from a friend of mine. its look like this after i farmat it. its in swedish if you wonder

        • HDDCaddy

          I’m not sure if you did this: before cloning, the SSD must be empty, all partitions removed, then re-create one new partition that covers the whole SSD and format this partion. After that you can start cloning. If you do not do this, you’ll get errors.

      • Natthaphon Takhap

        i did. it look like this after i format it…and this sdd is not new sdd drive so…i took it from my old laptop and put it to the new one
        its in swedish if you wonder

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  • Lukasz Fluges

    Hello i switched my system hdd against a samsung 850 ssd.
    i want to use ur guide but then came a software (Samsung Migration) within the SSD.

    it works very fine, i switched the two disks because im waiting for my hdd caddy.

    the system works, it boots without any problems or crashes.

    the migration btw. the copy (mirroring) of the hdd took a half hour for round about 150 gb.

    its going very fast.


  • Ambrose Unoje Ohi

    I have hp15 core i3. 500GB with factory Win8. If I clone this laptop with another HDD (500GB) will it work perfect on another HP15 Celeron without asking for another Win8 Key?

  • HDDCaddy

    Hi Ambrose, it will most likely not work since your other HP has a different configuration. Also, it will asked for the key unless that other laptop has a valid Win8 key embedded in BIOS.