tech post: HP how to migrate system volume to SSD Windows 7

Below is a email I would have sent to HP – had they not given me a fake email address when I asked for a address to send them the solution to.

I’ve worked tech support. I know how hard it can be. And I know that no tech support person would *ever* want to walk someone through the steps I outline below. But you shouldn’t lie to your customers. I’m sure the person I talked to knew it was possible. He could have told me “I’m not allowed to answer that question because HP would rather not spend money on my time to walk you through this.” Which would have been the truth, and I would have been all right with.

The company I worked for doing tech support had a policy of lying to customers. They would commonly tell them they needed a special type of printer cable for “bidirectional” support, when in fact the majority of the problems the customers were having had nothing to do with that.

They also lied to vendors.. but that’s another story. Anyway, I don’t really blame the individual I talked to, and while I started to vent my frustration at him for either A: lying to me or B: not knowing what he was talking about, I quickly reined myself in because I realized I had zero interest in hurting him or making his day worse, and he was the victim of a much larger system as much as I was.

That said.. if anyone else out there is trying to do this migration, here’s how I made it work. Took me about a hour and a half to figure this out – if I can save someone else the trouble, great!


I called tonight (from XXX-XXX-5701) to ask how I could install Windows 7 from the system disk that the computer shipped with (1.5T) to a high performance SSD (Smaller. But much larger than the 40G in use). Your technician, while very polite, was pretty much clueless. He was able to identify that the reason I wasn’t able to use your recovery utility was that the disk geometry was wildly different, but he couldn’t tell me any solution other than purchasing windows install disks for $200.

I thanked him for his time, and offered to email him the solution once I found it. (I’m a career sysadmin and programmer. I knew it was possible. Just not how, yet.) Here it is.

Next I did what I really should have done first, and googled for my problem. The first hit was, which describes how to do exactly what I’m doing. Of course, there are caveats.

To do this, you need a external USB disk with enough space to fit all the bloatware that HP installs on the system. 64G is probably the minimum I would do – but I had a 1T lying around, which let me keep several instances of the backup to try out.

In order to make the NTFS partition *fit* on the SSD, it needs shrunk. This can be done from inside disk manager (see, but first you have to disable system protection, virtual memory, and hibernation. (links to how to do all that included)

(optional) You also have the option to delete the system restore partition. I know, tech support is groaning at me about this, but remember your average person bright enough to know they want a SSD is also bright enough to write that data off somewhere else first. Remember that SSDs are *expensive* – you want every gigabyte to go to something you’re going to use, if not every day, at least occasionally. So yes, obviously, make a backup first. (In fact, that’s kind of the whole point of the first article. You’re using the Windows Image Backup tool to make a backup and restore it onto your new media). Then delete it. You can always restore to your original system disk with that partition once you’re done with this exercise.

For a boot disk (the windows backup tool asks you if you want to make one) I suggest using nonvolatile media like a DVD, as I discovered to my chagrin that if you pull the USB drive while shutdown is occuring using USB restore media, you don’t have USB restore media any more. I like my restore media to stay restore media.

Obviously, this is not something you want to walk Grandma through over the phone. But for advanced users, you could forward this email to them rather than telling them that it’s not possible to do what they want to do. SSDs are a great improvement over spinning disks, speed wise, because they have zero seek time – and as the cost drops, you’re going to see more and more people wanting to do what I just did. (Of course, eventually the capacity will be large enough that this issue won’t come up)

Finally, the Vertex SSD I had purchased came already formatted NTFS. For some reason, the system restore utility – even though it said it would partition and format the disk.. got very upset about this. So, I followed the directions in to use the recovery console to wipe the disk.

Also, of course, most of us can figure this stuff out. 😉 I just hoped that calling tech support would save me having to run down all the information myself.

P.S. the computer now takes longer to go through the BIOS stuff than it does to boot the OS. 😉 Windows 7, from 0 to fully online in 6 seconds. Now perhaps you understand why I bothered?

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