SOLVED Move Windows 10 installation to another drive on the same computer


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I have 2 SSD's in my custom ( self built ) PC
* 256 GB (D:)
* 1 TB (c:)

Currently Windows 10 ( fully upgraded ) is installed on the 1 TB SSD along with my games. I want to reinstall Windows 10 to the 256 GB SSD , and use the 1TB SSD for my game library in order to separate the OS from applications. It will also free up space for more game files, and make it easier to backup or clone the OS drive as it will be significantly smaller than it is now.

I'm in the process of creating a recovery USB drive, and I'm wondering a few things about installing Windows 10 to a different drive.
1. Will Windows 10 see the exisiting OS install and force me to reinstall there? or will it allow me to install to a different drive?
2. Will Windows recovery install erase any files from the 1 TB drive, or will it leave them alone and only touch the target drive( 256 GB SSD ) ?

3. After the OS is moved, I realize that I'll have to reinstall most of my applications. Is it a good practice to install them on a different drive than the OS? The PC is just for gaming, but I have apps like Visual Studio code, Git, Chrome, 1Password installed.



I appreciate any feedback or advice that you may be. Thank you .
 
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Take a look at the Macrium Reflect software. It allows you to clone the OS. I have used it to clone a 1sd windows install to a 250 ssd drive And I lost nothing :)
 
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Take a look at the Macrium Reflect software. It allows you to clone the OS. I have used it to clone a 1sd windows install to a 250 ssd drive And I lost nothing :)
Macrium Reflect is another reason I wanted to get a dedicated OS drive. With all the games and mods on the same drive as the OS, backups took too long so I stopped doing them .
 
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Update:
As I feared , Windows recovery didn't prompt me for the drive I wanted to restore to. It basically let me select "recover from drive" and then wiped out my "old" c: drive( 1TB SSD) , which is exactly what I didn't want it to do.

I unplugged the 1 TB SSD, then I had to edit a file on the recovery drive to change the "minimum size" value that by default won't let you recover to a smaller SSD than the one you made the recovery drive from.

That done, I remove the unwanted Window 10 install from my games drive(1 TB SSD), at least I think that I did. I used diskpart to delete all of the partitions from the drive, and then I created a new ~1 TB partitions.

Luckily I backed up my game mod folders because I don't trust Windows (my distrust was justified! ) to a network drive . I copied them back ( about 140GB of files! ) to the games drive. I'm currently reinstalling applications, including games and modding utilities.

So , good thing is that I have a clean system and relatively small OS drive , which will speed up backups.
Bad thing was copying files back and having to reinstall and configure applications. My Skyrim modding tools will take the most time as Skyrim modding is an intricate and arcane science. In some cases it literal magic to get all the mods to work together!

Lesson learned,
  1. Give the OS it's own drive.
  2. When doing a recovery, disconnect any drives except the one you are recover 2
  3. Don't trust Microsoft software to tell you what it's going to do or ask you want you want to do. Apparently they already know what's best so prompting the user to select the target drive for recovery is completely unnecessary. No need to tell the user which drive is being erased or restored to , either. They'll find out after the system reboots.
 
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Like the old Unix/Linux adage. /home on a different partition or drive from /root and /swap. I wonder why Windows doesn't do that as an option at install time on an empty machine, split the main C: into OS and apps and data partitions or make use of a second drive if present. Automatically. I know it can be easily done by the person doing the install but I bet that most people just don't know or don't think about it.
 

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