Find Win 10 in non-partitioned C:


I want to clone my Windows 10 OS from my existing HDD C: to a new SDD. Unfortunately, it looks as if the OS was not initially isolated into a separate partition on C: Is there any way to isolate the OS so I can clone only the OS to my new SDD?


I don’t see how you can isolate the OS if there are also installed apps in that same directory. If you only want the OS, then presumably you have already decided to spend time reinstalling / recustomizing all your apps in your new SSD? If so…

  1. Clone your HDD to your new SSD.
  2. On SSD, do a Win 10 reset (or download fresh Win OS and install) onto SSD
  3. Install apps on SSD

The point of #1 is for Microsoft to recognize your existing Win 10 OS.


Thanks for your reply, ReadandShare. I can’t clone my HDD (1TB) to my SDD (256GB). but I see your point.


Yeah, you can only clone a drive to another one that’s as big or bigger. In this case, assuming the contents of your C drive is way less than 256GB, just do a “system image”, restore that image to your SSD, and boot from there going forward. Your HDD can serve as a backup drive.

Now, once complete and booted using your SSD, you can do a Windows Reset from there - and start fresh. Of course, you will then need to reinstall all apps. This might be the time to think about carving out three partitions (which is what I have): OS, apps, and data. Will make future OS resets much, much simpler - esp. if you use portable apps as much as possible.


Yes you can, as long as the total used space on the HDD is less than the size of the SSD. I have done this more than once, for instance from a 1TB HDD to a 500GB SSD using Samsung’s Data Migration Tool and from a 500GB HDD to a 128GB SSD using Mini Tool Partition Wizard.

If the used space on the HDD is greater than the SSD you can uninstall some programs and/or move enough non-system files to another drive so that the system can still be cloned.


Since my HDD is almost at capacity, a disk image won’t help be since it will still be bigger than my SSD. I’m going to do a clean install on the SDD.


Thanks for your comments, Gordon_Hay, but you can see in my earlier reply that it seems that my easiest course will be a clean install on my SDD.


Not sure if Microsoft will make you pay to activate a clean copy on a new drive?? Maybe someone who knows can chime in.

But I know you can do a reset or even a complete clean install on a drive that has an existing Win 10. A clean install will remove your apps, old Windows files, etc. - and you can clone that to your SSD.


Microsoft does not consider the replacing of a drive as changing “the device”. I have replaced HDDs with SDDs in several Win10 PCs and never run into a reactivation problem as a result.


Thanks to ReadandShare and Mark8 for the comments. I cannot do a reinstall on my existing HDD and clone it to the new SDD since my current C: is over a TB full and the new SDD is only 128GB. I’m doing to do a clean install to the new SDD drive and see if all goes OK…then I’ll worry about rebuilding my programs,


I would stay away from partitions and just stick with keeping separate drives. It is too easy to make a partition too small and then run into issues later when you are trying to increase the size.


Thanks, Larry. I agree…I’ve done a clean install on a new SDD and am going to use my other HDDs for apps.


One thing to keep in mind is there are some apps like games that will perform much better if installed on the SSD. Even a simple game like the Hearthstone card game has a noticeable difference.

I like to get a large enough SSD that can fit both my OS and games, and then use a HDD for data and for those programs I know won’t benefit from the extra speed of the SSD. Still, not all data is created equal; if you do a lot of video editing you are going to be able to import clips into your video editor much faster if you were pulling the data from a SSD or an even faster NVMe.



If your SSD is plenty big, do take advantage by partitioning it into two: one for OS and the other for apps. No sense devoting an entire SSD to the OS if you’ve got plenty of room, and then needlessly relegating everything else (apps and data) to the slower HDD.

But why not just install apps and OS all together in the same SSD drive and using just one partition? Cause that will make future Win 10 fresh reinstalls / resets much, much more painful, tedious, time consuming… than need be.


There is no guarantee that separating the OS and Apps will make reinstall’s less painful in the future.

You could reinstall the OS on its partition/drive and find that none of your Apps launch due to missing registry entries that were on the original OS installation. Data, on the other hand, makes perfect sense.


Thanks again, guys. I think I’ll try using the SDD for the OS and programs and another drive for all data.


That will certainly work, and that’s how a lot of people do it (myself included until just recently).

But answering Larry above… I was frankly tickled when I did a full Windows clean install - after partitioning and moving out both apps and data – and realized how much easier reinstallation became! But, of course, there’s a caveat. What I did:

  1. I replaced my apps with “portable” equivalents where possible - especially focusing on those that require lots of time to re-customize (think reinstalling and recustomizing browser and myriads of extensions or Office with customized ribbons/toolbars). Luckily, Chrome, Firefox, LibreOffice, and tons of other apps have portable equivalents! One caveat: I don’t really play computer games, so I don’t know about those.

  2. Of the minority of apps I used that didn’t have portable substitutes, most all of them were trivially easy to reinstall because there’s very little customization involved.

Anyway, just food for thought. It’s now easy to simply backup my apps and data partitions. I also find it “cool” that I can now add/delete most apps as easily as data files!


Now that’s an idea I had not considered. I’m not sure how portable versions of apps differ from installed ones, but my needs are minimal so “portable” may be the way to go. Like you, I am not a gamer so I won’t need lots of space for game apps, either. Thanks.


More on portable apps…

You can enjoy the simplicity of portable apps with or without a separate partition. But the bad thing about putting apps in same partition as the OS (even if under separate directories) is that upon OS reinstall, everything gets wiped out! Hence, better to put apps and data in separate partitions from the OS. And if you backed up your Start Menu and Taskbar shortcuts, you only need to paste them back after reinstalling Windows. No more need to spend time rebuilding / reorganizing shortcuts.

A good read on portables here.

A great selection of portables here.


Lots of good stuff here. That’s my plan and I’ll certainly check out those links as I am unfamiliar with “portable” apps. I just spoke to a super-geek friend of mine and he concurs with your suggested plan, too. Tell me, please, exactly where do I find the files to back up the start menu and Taskbar shortcuts. And where do I paste them?