Paragon Migrate OS to SSD 4.0 Review
There are several alternatives available that will move your OS to a new location, e.g. from a mechanical hard drive to an SSD. Several manufacturers include cloning software in the box (or a key to a downloadable version) when you buy a new drive, but you don’t always have this option. Moreover, there are no guarantees that the bundled software actually works.
It’s quite common that cloning solutions fall short in some area, such as being able to convert a larger partition to a smaller one, which is often the case with SSDs due to the significantly higher cost per GB. Another potential problem is when your source drive uses the newer GPT (GUID Partition Table) + UEFI boot mode instead if the old MBR (Master Boot Record) standard. Without going into detail about these acronyms, they can render a newly cloned drive unbootable.
As the name implies, Paragon Software’s Migrate OS to SSD is specifically developed for moving your stuff to an SSD, while also solving the above limitations; it lets you downsize partitions and also handles GPT-associated issues. We have successfully used a previous version of this software for moving our test system from drive to drive, but it didn’t support Windows 8.1 so it was due for an upgrade. Migrate OS to SSD has now reached version 4.0.
Note: We purchased the software directly from Paragon Software. If you are looking for a coupon code, PARAGON20 worked for us at the time of writing.
For testing the software we used a low-end ASUS VivoPC with a Celeron 2957U processor running at just 1.4 GHz, combined with a noisy, hot and painfully slow 500 GB 3.5” hard drive. Although a low-end system, it should become considerably more responsive after moving it to a 120 GB Intel 530 SSD using an external USB 3.0 adapter.[clone]
Installation and Use
Installing Paragon Migrate OS to SSD 4.0 (64-bit version) was a hassle-free experience. The interface is very simple and should be easy to use regardless of your previous drive-cloning experience. The same can certainly not be said for certain other alternatives, which tend to include USB boot drives and occasionally some manual labor with command line tools.
You simply choose a source and a destination. If the content of the source drive does not exceed the capacity of the target drive, the software goes right ahead with the cloning job. It doesn’t even require a reboot. When your source drive uses up more space than the SSD can hold you are given the option to exclude certain space-consuming files such as photos and video.[screen1]
In other words: if you don’t plan on immediately using the source drive as a secondary or external drive, you are likely better off moving your files off the drive manually to avoid losing access to the excluded content. Our system was a more or less fresh install of Windows 8.1, so the cloning procedure could get started right away.
You get the option to use all the available space on the new SSD for the OS partition, which is most likely what you intend to do. The software might still create additional, small partitions required by the system though. Since our source drive was an excellent candidate for testing due to its GPT+UEFI boot mode, we selected the other option as well, “Create new EFI boot entry for destination drive”.[screen3]
After about 20 minutes, the process was complete. The next step was physically replacing the drive inside the VivoPC (only one SATA port available), something that also happened to reduce this tiny device’s weight considerably. Paragon’s Migrate OS to SSD 4.0 told us to edit the boot order in the BIOS, which is a must if you have several drives – particularly if you leave the source drive in the system. We didn’t, so our single-drive setup booted without any changes.[screen2]
If you run into problems with your new configuration, Paragon also includes recovery software with the purchase (installed separately) that you run from a USB stick for troubleshooting. Again, this was not necessary in our case.
This is actually all there is to it, which is what makes Migrate OS to SSD 4.0 such an attractive solution. It mitigates the two major issues you could run into when migrating your system to a new drive and uses an exceptionally simple step-by-step process. While the primary purpose of the software is to move your OS from a mechanical hard drive to an SSD, it should just as easily be able to migrate bootable system partitions between two SSDs of different sizes (or hard drives for that matter). That’s why Migrate OS to SSD continues to be our software of choice for this task.
The end result? Even though it has nothing to do with the software as such, we naturally wanted some numbers from before and after the migration. The subjective user experience in terms of boot times, loading times and overall system responsiveness was considerably improved – as usual, when replacing a mechanical disk. However, now the poor performance of the Celeron 2957U is much more pronounced.[ssd-be]
Using the Windows task manager, it’s easy to see that this entry-level CPU is often running at full capacity when the drive is in use. AS SSD confirms that the (previously unused) Intel drive can’t deliver its full potential in our system, although it is of course several times faster than its mechanical predecessor.