Main SSD upgrade

Some two and a half years ago I bought my current Dell XPS 13. It came with a 512GB SSD, which I immediately replaced with a Samsung 960 EVO 1TB drive, reasoning that such an upgrade would last me a long time.

Well, that time finished some two or three months ago. I was down to around 50GB free on my data partition (them damn *.CR2 photos from my DSLR, I tell ya, they’re 25+ MB each). Rather than replace the whole laptop, I decided to just buy a 2TB SSD replacement instead.

Except … some **** had just come up with YACC (Yet Another Crypto Currency) that, instead of requiring a barn full of gamer PCs trying to mine bitcoin and that used electricity like it was going out of fashion, used disk space, a great deal of disk space. Welcome Chiacoin. SSDs had suddenly become very sparse. The SSD I was looking at, the Samsung 970 EVO 2TB, had abruptly jumped up in price from just about $300, to well over $400, and that was if you could actually find one.

Grumble, grumble, but I had to wait. A couple of months went by, and the prices came down again and they slowly became available. Finally last week I bought the one I wanted from Newegg (a smidge over $300) and it arrived Thursday. Friday, then, was replacement day.

A quick bit of background: I use Acronis True Image as my backup app and have done so for many years. It performs really well, and more importantly, I know that restoring one or more files just works. Remember: if you can’t restore from a backup, the backup is useless. The other thing about True Image is that it comes with a set of extra tools, including one to clone a disk. Game over, you may think. Well…

Enter BitLocker. It seems that, even if you do everything correctly, Clone Disk doesn’t work on locked drives. So, after a couple of false starts, here’s what I did with much better success.

First: create a full backup of the current disk. I used a 2TB external SanDisk SSD for this. Since my disk has several partitions, this full backup is imperative.

Second: remove the existing SSD from the laptop and install the new SSD in its place.

Third: install the old SSD in an external USB enclosure. I’d bought a Sabrent one from Amazon ready for this process. It even came with a USB-C cable, ideal for my XPS 13.

Fourth: connect the external USB enclosure with the old SSD in it to the laptop and boot up the laptop. Believe it or not, it’ll boot from the USB drive as if the old SSD was still installed in the laptop. Nice!

Fifth: start up True Image and call it’s Add New Disk tool. Select the new drive and initialize it in GPT layout.

Sixth: plug in an external USB thumb drive, one that can be completely wiped, and then use True Image’s Rescue Media Builder tool to make the thumb drive bootable. It’ll also get initialized with True Image, the app, which we’re going to use in a moment.

Seventh: power down the laptop and unplug the USB SSD enclosure containing the old drive. Instead plug in the external drive with the backup on it. What you have now is: a laptop installed with a new empty SSD, a bootable USB thumb drive and the backup drive plugged into that laptop.

Eighth: boot up the laptop from the thumb drive. After a few seconds True Image shows up. Select the Recovery option, and then the Disk Recovery option. Select the Browse button and you’ll get a list of backups from that external USB drive that’s also plugged in. Select that latest backup you did in the first step, and then select the Recover whole disks and partitions option. Make sure you’ve selected all of the partitions in the next screen and then you can select the new disk to restore all this data to. It warns you that it will wipe the disk in order to restore all the partitions, so say Yes and then ask the app to shut down the laptop once it’s done. It’ll take a bit of time, so go mow the lawn or something.

Ninth: once the laptop has shut down after the restore is complete, unplug the bootable USB thumb drive, and then reboot the laptop. Since the restore process created partitions the same size as the original, I then had to go in and grow the last partition (my data partition) using the Windows Disk Management program to add in the unused space at the end. I now have just over 1TB free in my data partition. Score!

Fixing hardware

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