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How to clone the drive in your Windows computer

Are you running out of free space on the drive in your computer? Or are you thinking about getting a faster drive for it? If so, cloning the drive in your computer might be just the answer, and here is how to do it.

How to clone the drive in your computer

Note: Drive cloning is a procedure that computer technicians perform regularly. If you do not feel comfortable doing any of the following procedures, please contact a local computer service company like Geeks in Phoenix.

When installing a new drive in your computer, you have two (2) options; you can perform a fresh installation of the operating system and all the programs. Or you can clone the current drive to the new one and preserve the installed operating system and programs.

Since many people do not remember how they installed their programs or where the installation media/software keys may be, cloning their existing drive is the best option. The complexity of cloning a drive depends on the type of drive, the form factor, and the current and new drive interface.

There are several types of drives; the most popular are SSD (Solid State Drive), HDD (Hard Disk Drive), and SSHD (Solid State Hybrid Drive). There are also several different drive interfaces; the most popular are SATA (7 pin connection cable) and M.2 (keyed socket). HDDs and SSHDs use a SATA interface; SSDs can use either SATA or M.2.

Different types of computer drives

There are several different form factors (physical size) of drives; HDDs and SSHDs come in 3.5" and 2.5" (width), SSDs come in 2.5" (width) when using a SATA interface, and 30 to 110 MM (length) when using an M.2 interface. Drives that come in 2.5" form factor can also have different heights (thicker); 9.5 MM is standard, and 7 MM is used in ultra-thin laptops.

 
Drive types
 
SSD
HDD
SSHD
Form Factor
3.5"
X
X
2.5"
X
X
X
M.2
X
Interface
SATA
X
X
X
M.2
X

If you are upgrading a laptop drive (2.5"), check with the manufacturer on what size is recommended. If you are upgrading an M.2 drive, check with the manufacturer (system/motherboard) on what interface (SATA 3, AHCI, or NVMe), key notch (B, M, or B & M) and length is supported.

Now the first thing you need to do is find out the model number of your current drive. Once you have the model number, you can search on Google and get all of its specifications. You can find the model number in Computer Management.

How to open Computer Management

  1. Left-click on the Start Windows logo menu
  2. Scroll down the list of programs and left-click on Windows Administrative Tools
  3. Left-click on Computer Management

or

  1. Right-click on the Start Windows logo menu to bring up the Power Users menu
  2. Left-click on Computer Management

Once you have the Computer Management console open, left-click on Disk Management and locate the disk that has the partition with the drive letter C:. Right-click the disk number (usually Disk 0) select Properties from the context menu. On the General tab, you will find the drive model number.

Once you have your existing drive specifications, it is time to decide on a replacement drive. Are you going to replace it with one that has the same form factor and interface or not. Your decision will determine how you clone your drive, and there are two (2) ways to do it.

Now it is just a matter of getting another drive with the same data capacity as your existing drive. You can get one with a smaller capacity, but you would have to shrink the partition(s) on the drive before cloning it. You can get one with a larger capacity (recommended), but you may or may not have to manually expand the partition(s) after you are done. Some drive manufacturers (WD, Seagate, and Samsung) cloning software will automatically do that.

There are two (2) different scenarios, upgrading your existing drive to the same form factor and interface or upgrading your existing drive from SATA to M.2. Doing an upgrade that involves just SATA drives is relatively simple; M.2 drives are a bit more complicated.

If you decide to upgrade to an M.2 drive, you will need to find out what type of M.2 drive your motherboard can support before purchasing it. You need to find out the local interface (SATA3, AHCI, or NVMe), width/length, and keying. You will also need the hardware (standoff and screw) to mount it to the motherboard.

SATA drives can be connected to your computer using internal SATA and power cables (desktop) or external USB docking stations / external drive enclosures (desktop or laptop). Since M.2 drives use sockets with PCI-e buses for power and transferring data, they have to be directly connected to the motherboard.

There are M.2 to USB adapters, but they can be expensive and only support specific key notches. For cloning SATA to M.2 or M.2 to M.2, I recommend using the drive-to-image method (see below).

  • Drive-to-drive. This is the method you would want to use if you are cloning your existing drive to another drive with the same interface (SATA to SATA).
  • Drive-to-image. This is the method you would want to use if you are cloning your existing drive to a different interface (SATA to M.2)

Drive cloning software

A few drive manufacturers have the software you can download to clone your drive, but at least one of the drives (source or destination) has to be one of theirs. And a few of the programs you can use to create bootable media. Here are a few of the drive cloning programs available.

Western Digital - Acronis True Image

Seagate - DiskWizard

Samsung - Data Migration

Ultimate Boot CD (bootable media)

R-Drive Image

Hardware required for drive cloning

  • Docking station
  • External hard drive
  • Flash drive for creating bootable media

Different hardware you might use when cloning a computer drive

Drive-to-drive cloning

This is probably the easiest way to clone a drive. The first thing you have to do is install the cloning software on the computer with the source drive you want to clone. If you decide to use the UBCD, you will need to create the bootable media.

Then connect the destination drive by either attaching using a docking station / external case (laptop or desktop) or shutting down the computer and installing it (desktop).

Once you have both drives attached to the computer, you can boot the system normally or use bootable media and start the drive cloning program. Follow the software instructions and be ready to shut down your computer as soon as the software completes cloning the drive.

You will need to remove or detach the source drive from the computer, as both of the drives will have the same boot signature. If you cloned a SATA drive to another SATA drive, connect the destination drive to the connection that the source drive was on. You should be ready to boot your computer on the new drive.

Drive-to-image cloning

This procedure does require a few more steps to complete, but it does also have more options. One of the advantages of this type of drive cloning is changing your computer's primary drive interface. The disadvantage is you may have to expand/recreate partitions manually.

The first thing you need to do is install the cloning software on your computer and then create bootable media using it. You will need the bootable media to restore the disk image or disk backup to the new drive.

The next thing you will need to do is use that same cloning program to create a drive image / drive backup of your primary (boot) drive to an external hard drive. Once that is complete, safely remove the external hard drive from your computer and shut it down.

Now that your computer is turned off, uninstall the existing drive and install the new drive. Once the new drive is in place, boot your computer using the bootable media you created and proceed to restore the disk image / disk backup to the new drive.

If the new drive is larger than the old one, the cloning software may prompt you to expand the primary partition. If it does, let the software do it. If not, you may have to expand it manually using Disk Management inside of Windows.

Windows creates a hidden recovery partition right behind the primary partition. If the cloning software does not put that hidden partition at the end of the new drive and expand the primary partition, you will have to do it manually.

I use R-Drive Image for drive cloning, and it allows me to restore a complete drive image or individual partitions. When I run into the hidden recovery partition, I usually will restore all of the partitions except for the last one, the hidden recovery partition.

Since the system does not require the hidden recovery partition to operate, I boot it up on the new drive and expand the primary partition using Disk Management to fill up almost all of the remaining free space.

I leave a little more than enough free space to restore the hidden recovery partition. I then boot the computer back up on the R-Drive bootable media and restore the hidden recovery partition into the remaining free space.

For more information on upgrading computer drives. click on the following links.

How to upgrade the hard drive in your computer

How to upgrade your computers hard disk drive to a solid state drive

How to clean up and reset Microsoft Edge

Keeping your web browser clean and free of adware and junk can be a daunting process. With malicious extensions and corrupt website ads, maintaining the safety of your browser can be tough. So here is how to clean up and reset Microsoft Edge.

How to clean up and reset Microsoft Edge

Microsoft recently decided to revamp its Edge browser and start all over completely. Well, kind of. The original Edge browser was not well received and did not get very much support from third-party developers. It had problems all the way around.

Everyone has heard the phrase "If you can't beat them, join them," and Microsoft did just that with Edge. Since Google is using the open-source browser project Chromium as a base for Chrome, Microsoft decided to the same thing with Edge.

Cleaning up and resetting Edge

Some of the settings inside of Edge are the same as Chrome. You can even use extensions from the Chrome Web Store (more about this later in this article). But there are some differences between the two browsers.

All settings for cleaning up and resetting Edge are located in the Settings and more pull-down menu in the upper-right hand corner (three horizontal dots).
The Settings and more menu inside of Microsoft Edge
The first place we want to go to is Settings. You will find fifteen (15) categories; Profiles, Privacy and services, Appearance, On startup, New tab page, Site permissions, Default browser, Downloads, Family safety, Languages, Printers, System, Reset settings, Phone and other devices, and About Microsoft Edge.

The first category is Profiles and is where you set up synchronizing your data across devices. As with other browsers, you can sync your data like passwords, payment information, address, etc. You can also import data from another browser here.

The second category is Privacy and services and has several essential sections. These include Tracking prevention, Clear browsing data, Privacy, Help improve Microsoft Edge, Personalize your web experience, and Services. Let take a look a each separately.

Tracking prevention. This is how Edge handles cookies, and the default settings are recommended. You can turn off tracking prevention or completely block all cookies; it is your choice. You can also view the sites you block / allow tracking and enable or disable tracking prevention when using InPrivate mode.

Clear browsing data. As the name implies, this is where you clear the data from Edge. Like other browsers, you have a choice of what to delete immediately and when you close Edge.

On the right-hand side of Clear browsing data now is a button labeled Choose what to clear. When you click on it, a dialog box appears with several choices.
The Clear browsing data dialog box inside of Microsoft Edge
I go here when a customer calls and tells me that they are having issues with a website not displaying correctly.

On the top is the Time range, and below it are all of the different options. I usually set the time range to All time and leave the default selections checked. That often gets a website to working correctly again. Remember that if you clear any passwords or autofill data, it is gone for good, so be careful.

When you click on Clear browsing data on close, you bring up a page with several selections. These are personal preferences, but I like to clear out the cookies and cache when I close a browser. It is your choice.

Privacy. There are three (3) selections here; Send "Do Not Track" requests, Allow sites to check if you have payment methods saved and Manage certificates. Again, these are personal preferences, but I would enable the Do Not Track and disable the payment feature. The certificates are part of Windows, not Edge, so just leave that one alone.

Help improve Microsoft Edge / Personalize your web experience. The settings in these sections allow Microsoft to collect data from Edge. They are disabled by default, and I would keep it that way.

Services. The default settings for almost all of these sections should be perfectly fine. The only one I would look at is the Address bar. Malicious websites and extensions will try and change the default search engine used by a browser. If you do not recognize the search engine being used, or just want to change it, go into the Manage search engines section and make the changes.

The third category is Appearance and is mainly for personal preference. The only area I would look at is the URL under Show home button in the Customize toolbar section. If there is a web page you do not recognize there, Edge may have been hijacked. Go ahead and remove any unwanted URL's.

The next category is On startup. Here we have some more personal preferences. The one place I would look at for browser hijacking is the Open a specific page or pages section. Again, if you do not recognize or remember adding a page listed there, delete it.

The next category is New tab page. You can customize the new tab page here—another personal preference.

The next category is Site permission. This where you set the default actions for different media (Flash, JavaScript, etc.), hardware (camera, microphone, etc.), and other miscellaneous settings. The default settings are recommended.

The next category is Default browser. As the name implies, you can set Edge as your default browser here. Two settings might be of interest if you still use Internet Explorer (IE); Let Internet Explorer open sites in Microsoft Edge and Allow sites to be reloaded in Internet Explorer mode. A lot of people still use IE because a website they go to requires ActiveX and since Edge has an IE mode built-in, you just have to enable it.

The next category is Family safety. This is part of the Microsoft Family Safety program. You can find out more about it in the blog I wrote; How to setup Family Safety for Windows 10 using Microsoft accounts.

The next two categories are Languages and Printers. Pretty run-of-the-mill stuff here. Personal preferences again.

The next category is System, and there is one significant setting here. As with Google Chrome, Edge can continue to run in the background even after you close it. It can also run background apps when Windows starts up. I have seen adware/malware use this setting to run the browser when Windows starts up.
Enable or disable Edge from running after being closed
I recommend you turn off the Continue running background apps when Microsoft Edge is closed feature until you get prompted by an app to enable it.

The next category is Reset settings. With a couple of clicks, you can reset Edge back its original default settings. Everything but your favorites, history, and saved passwords will be deleted. Remember, if you reset the settings, you will have to go back and do all of the customizing all over again.

The second to the last category is Phone and other devices. This just elaborates on the synchronizing feature discussed in the Profiles category.

The last category is About Microsoft Edge. When you open this category, Edge will check for updates. Other than what version Edge you are running, that is all in this category.

The last place we want to check for browser corruption is the Extensions. Go back to the Settings and more pull-down menu and select Extensions. This will open a new tab. Extensions extend the functionality of Edge and usually are perfectly safe. You can install extensions from either the Microsoft Store or the Chrome Web Store (you have to enable Allow extensions from other stores).

But there are malicious extensions that want to use your browser for other things, like crypto-mining, for example, behind your back. If there are any extensions listed the Installed extensions that you do not recognize or do not remember installing, go ahead and disable them. If you find you do not need or want them, you can click on the Remove link under the extension name.

The last option to get Edge back to default and work correctly is to uninstall and reinstall it. I only use this option when all else fails to get it back to full functionality. It can take a little time to do, but if you need to get Edge fully reset, this may be the only option. There are two (2) ways to uninstall programs in Windows 10; the Settings app or the Control Panel.

Uninstall a program using the Settings app

  1. Click on the Start Windows logo menu, then Settings (the gear icon), then Apps, then Apps & Features.
  2. Scroll down the list of apps in the right-hand column until you find Microsoft Edge.
  3. Highlight Microsoft Edge and click on the Uninstall button.

Uninstall a program using the Control Panel

  1. In the search box next to the Start Windows logo button, type Control Panel, and click on it from the results.
  2. Select Uninstall a program (if viewing by category) or Programs and Features (if viewing by icons).
  3. Highlight Microsoft Edge and click on the Uninstall button.

Once Microsoft Edge is uninstalled, restart your computer. When your computer has rebooted and you are logged back in, you will need to remove any traces of Edge before reinstalling it. There are two (2) places where you will need to look for any leftover files; inside your user profile and inside the program files directory. The files inside your user profile are hidden by default, but you can get there quickly by bringing up a Run dialog box (Windows Logo key Windows logo key + R) and typing or copy / paste the following code:

%userprofile%/AppData/Local/Microsoft

This will open the File Explorer to the location of your Microsoft user settings. If there is a folder named Edge, go ahead and delete it. Next, you will have to navigate to the location of the Program Files directory and check under the folder named Microsoft. Its location is usually C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft, but it may be different if you installed Edge on a different drive. Once you get there, if you find a folder named Edge, go ahead and delete it. Now you can download and reinstall Microsoft Edge.

How to repair the Windows 10 Start menu apps

When it comes to using Windows 10, the Start menu app tiles are a popular way to open some of your favorite programs. But what happens if the app tiles stop functioning correctly? Here is how to repair the Start menu apps.

How to repair the Windows 10 Start menu apps

The Start menu apps are not standard desktop Windows programs; they are Universal Apps, UWP (Universal Windows Platform), to be exact. They are designed to run on all Microsoft devices, including Xbox, Surface Hub, and HoloLens. Microsoft has set quite a few of them as default apps in Windows 10 for opening photos, videos, music, etc.. So when they stop working, it can be a significant problem.

The steps outlined in this article should be taken in the order listed. Remember to restart your computer between each step so that changes have a chance to take effect. The links to the blogs referenced in each stage are highly detailed and will open in new browser tabs. That way, you don't have to worry about trying to get back to this article.

Reinstall the Start menu apps

This step is one of the most straightforward procedures and should fix the Start menu apps most of the time. All you have to do is copy a string of text and paste it into an Administrative PowerShell console.

There are several ways to open an Administrative PowerShell. Here are a few of the most popular

  1. Open an Administrative PowerShell using one of the following procedures.
    • Bring up the Start menu by left-clicking on the Start Windows logo button.
    • Scroll down to the Windows PowerShell folder and left-click on it.
    • Right-click on Windows PowerShell and select Run as Administrator on the context menu that appears.
    or
    • Bring up the Power User menu by right-clicking on the Start Windows logo button.
    • Left-click on the Windows PowerShell (Admin) link.
    or
    • In the search box to the right of the Start Windows logo button type PowerShell.
    • In the right-hand column of the search results, left-click on Run as Administrator directly below Windows PowerShell.
  2. You will get a prompt stating Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device? Left-click on Yes.
  3. Copy and paste the following text into the PowerShell window.
    Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}
  4. When the script is done running, close the PowerShell window by typing exit and press enter.
  5. Restart your computer.

Don't worry if a couple of errors are generated while running the PowerShell command. It happens even on a clean Windows 10 installation. If numerous errors are generated, then you may need to proceed with the following steps.

I once had a system that the Start menu apps would not reinstall because the Windows Security Service would not start. I had to repair it before I could get the Start menu apps working again. Remember that once you complete any of the following procedures, restart your computer and rerun the PowerShell command.

Check the drive for errors

There is a possibility that the Start menu apps are not functioning correctly because there are errors on your C:\ drive. Running a quick standard disk check may be just the thing your computer needs to get the Start menu apps running again.

And even if it doesn't fix the problem with the apps, it is always an excellent procedure to do before the next step. Here's how to run a standard drive check in Windows 10.

  1. Open File Explorer using one of the following:
    • Left-click on the File Explorer icon (manilla folder) on the Taskbar.
    • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo + E at the same time.
    • Use the Power User menu by right-clicking on the Start Windows logo button and selecting File Explorer.
  2. In the left-side column left-click on This PC.
  3. In the right-side column right-click on the drive you want to check and select Properties.
  4. Left-click on the Tools tab.
  5. Under Error checking left-click on Check.
  6. Left-click on Scan drive.

If you get an error when trying to run a standard drive check, you may have to perform an advanced check. Here are all of the details on how to do it.

How to check your drive for errors in Windows 10

Check system files for corrupt or missing files

Now some of the files the Start menu apps require to operate correctly may be missing or gotten corrupted. Windows 10 has a utility called System File Checker (SFC) that can detect and repair problems with files required by Windows 10 for properly operation.

Let me forewarn you that you may have to run SFC more than once to fix some of Windows 10 files. You may even have to start your computer in safe mode to get SFC to repair Windows 10. Here's how to run a basic SFC scan:

  1. Open an Administrator Command Prompt using one of the following.
    1. Left-click on the Start Windows logo button.
    2. Scroll down the program list and then left-click on the Windows System folder to expand.
    3. Right-click on Command Prompt.
    4. On the context menu that appears, hover your cursor over More and then left-click on Run as administrator. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
    or
    1. In the search box next to the Start Windows logo button, type Command Prompt.
    2. In the list of results, the Command Prompt should be highlighted.
    3. In the right-hand column under Command Prompt, there is an options menu. Left-click on Run as administrator. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  2. Type sfc /scannow into the Admin Command Prompt and press enter.

And in the worst-case scenario, you may have to replace a corrupt file or two manually. Luckily there is a way to determine what files SFC repairs and what ones it cannot. The following article has all of the details on how to go about using SFC to its fullest potential.

Check Windows 10 system files with System File Checker

Perform an in-place upgrade of Windows 10

The next step to getting the Start menu apps to working again involves doing an in-place upgrade of Windows 10. Even though it sounds kind of scary, it is relatively simple.

When performing an in-place upgrade, your documents, pictures, and videos stay perfectly safe. And you can keep all of the installed programs too. The only downside is the default programs for specific file types revert to Windows 10 defaults. To me, that is no biggie. The following article gives all of the details on how to do an in-place upgrade.

How to repair Windows 10 by doing an in-place upgrade

Reset Windows 10

This step is the completely last resort to fixing the Windows 10 Start menu apps. I defiantly don't recommend it, but I do have to suggest it (reluctantly) as an option. With resetting Windows 10, you can keep all of your documents, pictures, and videos. But all of the programs that did not come with Windows 10 will be gone. The following article gives all the details on how to reset Windows 10.

How to reset Windows 10

Provide remote assistance in Windows 10 with Quick Assist

Do you have a family member or friend who is always calling for help with their Windows 10 computer? Do you wish that you could easily connect to their system and take care of their problems fast? You can do just that with the Quick Assist program inside of Windows 10.

Provide remote assistance in Windows 10 with Quick Assist

Now there is nothing new about being able to establish a remote connection from one Windows computer to another. The Remote Assistance program has been in Windows since Windows Vista, but it does require some detailed setup before you can use it.

On the other hand, Quick Assist is installed in Windows 10 and is pretty much ready to go when you need it. The requirements for it are quite minimal: both computers have to be running Windows 10, and the person assisting needs to have a Microsoft account.

Quick Assist does have a few great features. The first one has to be how easy and straightforward it is to use. It comes already installed, and all you have to do is start it up and follow the prompts.

The second feature that stands out is the ability to restart the remote computer you are giving assistance to and having the connection restart automatically. This feature is handy when you install and uninstall software on the remote computer.

A couple of the other great features are the ability to view a single monitor or all of the monitors on the remote computer. You can annotate (draw) on the remote computer screen (great for illustrating how to do something). And there is even a button to start the Task Manager.

There are two (2) features that are not included that most remote connection software you pay for include. The first one is being able to transfer files between the two computers directly.

You can get around this by using cloud-based file storage like Dropbox or Google Drive. All you have to do is use a browser on the remote computer to log into your cloud storage and download files you uploaded from your computer.

The second feature that is missing is a shared clipboard. Quick Assist does include a chat window (instruction channel) that you can transfer links and text between the computers.

The downside is that the chat window gets cleared with every message that is sent. You can get around this problem by enabling the Clipboard history on the remote computer.

Then in the chat window on the remote computer, you can click on the Copy button, and have all of the pieces of text you send to the remote computer saved to the Clipboard. For more on Windows 10 Clipboard features, follow the link below.

How to use all of the Clipboard features in Windows 10

How to start a Quick Assist session

1. Open Quick Assist program by either:

  • Left-click on the Start Windows logo button and scroll down to Windows Accessories. Left-click on it to expand the contents and left-click on Quick Assist.
    or
  • Using the search box on the right side of the Start Windows logo button, type in Quick Assist, and left-click on it in the search results.

Once Quick Assist is up on your screen,
The Quick Assist setup screen
there are two choices: Get assistance and Give assistance.

If you are getting assistance

  1. Enter the 6-digit security code from the person assisting you and left-click on the Share screen button.
  2. You will be prompted to allow access to your computer.
    The Quick Assist share your screen dialog box
    Left-click on the Allow button to share your screen.

If you are giving assistance

  1. Left-click on the Assist another person button. You will be prompted for the email address and password associated with your Microsoft account.
  2. Once you are logged in, a security code will appear.
    The Quick Assist share security code dialog box
    There are some options on how to deliver the security code at the bottom of this dialog box. But the majority of the time, you will have the person you are assisting on the phone. Give them the 6-digit security code.
  3. The next screen will ask you what sharing option you want.
    The Quick Assist sharing option dialog box
    You can choose between Take full control or View screen. Make your selection and left-click on Continue.

Make your computer faster by upgrading the hardware

One of the most frequently asked questions is, "How can I make my computer faster?". It may seem like a simple question, but it does not have a simple answer. Let's take a look at how you can make your computer faster by upgrading the hardware.

Make your computer faster by upgrading the hardware

In previous articles, I have discussed how to use software to speed up a computer. This time around, I will talk about how to get a computer run faster by upgrading the hardware.

Now when it comes down to what makes a computer fast, it boils down to how quickly can all of the different components process data. Let's take a look at all of the parts of a computer that affect the speed and see what we can upgrade.

Note: Some of these upgrades may require complicated disassembly of your computer. If you are not comfortable performing any of these upgrades, please contact a local computer repair service like Geeks in Phoenix.

Motherboard

The motherboard has the most bearing on the performance of a computer. The motherboard bus is what oversees the transferring of data between the various components. The faster the bus speed, the quicker the data travels through the motherboard.

The motherboard bus connects the Central Processor Unit (CPU) to the Northbridge and Southbridge chipsets. The Northbridge handles the graphics bus and memory bus. The Southbridge handles all of the Input/Output (I/O) components, such as SATA and M.2 drives, USB ports, onboard audio, and network adapter. And the speed of the CPU and memory are based on multiplying the bus speed.

Upgrading your motherboard

This is one upgrade that requires serious consideration. If you have a laptop, all-in-one, or a brand name desktop computer (like Dell or HP), a motherboard upgrade is impossible. Only machines that use off-the-shelf components can have the motherboard upgraded.

The first thing to think about is your existing hardware. Will the CPU and memory work on a new motherboard? You would probably get better performance if you upgraded the CPU and memory too.

The second thing to think about is software. You will have to reinstall the operating system and all programs completely. And if you are running Windows, you will also have to get a new product key, as your existing key is bound to your current motherboard.

Technically speaking, you can upgrade any component that attaches to the motherboard and not have to reactivate Windows. Change out the motherboard, and Microsoft sees that as a whole new computer. It is in the EULA (End User License Agreement).

So upgrading the motherboard is probably out of the question. But there are a few other components that you can improve to get better performance from your computer.

CPU

Upgrading a CPU is an excellent way of gaining some speed on a desktop computer. Sorry laptop owners, the majority of laptop computers have the CPU soldered to the motherboard. The same holds for some all-in-one systems too.

Upgrading your CPU

If you are thinking about upgrading the CPU on your motherboard, you will need to do some research. The first thing to do is find the manual/specifications for your motherboard. It would be best if you found out what the CPU socket type it has. For example, Intel CPUs use LGA 1151, LGA 2066, etc. socket types, AMD CPUs use sTRX4, AM4, etc. socket types.

The second thing you will need to do is verify with the motherboard manufacturer what CPUs the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) supports. Installing a new CPU may require updating the BIOS firmware. And you will need to do this before installing a new CPU.

All of this information should be easy to find on the manufacturer's website. If you can't find it, give them a call. Once you have a list of supported CPUs and the BIOS versions to run them, you should be ready to go.

Remember to get some thermal compound when you order the new CPU. The existing compound will more than likely spread across the current CPU and cooler. Clean off the old compound on the CPU cooler and apply some new compound to the new CPU and then reinstall the cooler.

Memory

Upgrading the memory in a computer has always been the biggest bang for the buck. This applies to all types of machines; laptop, desktop, and all-in-ones. And the majority of the time, it is pretty simple.

I usually recommend looking at the existing memory and seeing how to get the maximum amount in the computer. This time around, I recommend looking at the speed of the current memory, and if you can install faster memory.

Installing faster memory could mean having to replace all of the existing memory modules. But doing that would make your computer run faster. Remember that you can not mix memory of different speeds, they all have to be the same speed and clock timings.

Upgrading your memory

There are three things you will need to find out. The first and most important is what type of memory does your computer take. The majority of computers nowadays can use memory that runs at different speeds. Remember that the memory speed is a multiple of the motherboard bus speed.

The second is memory slots; how much memory can each handle and how many does your computer have. Again, you can find all of this information in the motherboard/system manual. It would be best if you were able to find these on the manufacturer's website.

The third is how to access the memory slots. Getting to the memory slots in a desktop is pretty straightforward. Laptops and all-in-one systems may be tricky. I have seen some MSI laptops that had to be completely disassembled to get to the memory slots.

For more details on memory upgrades, check out the following article.

How to upgrade or add more memory to your computer

Drives

Having a drive that has a fast transfer rate will make a difference with the speed of a computer. Merely upgrading from a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) to a Solid State Drive (SSD) can be a game-changer. You would be amazed at the difference in performance between them.

Now HDDs and some SSDs use a SATA connection on the motherboard. The standard SATA connection has a transfer rate of up to 6 Gigabits per second. An HDD doesn't come close to that transfer rate, but most SSDs do.

And then there is the M.2 drive. It does require a particular slot on the motherboard, as it requires direct channels to the Southbridge chipset. But the transfer rate of 32 Gigabits per second will blow your socks off.

Of all of these recommendations for making your computer faster, this procedure will take the most time. Depending on the upgrade route you choose, the total time can be a few hours to a couple of days.

Upgrading your drive

There are two ways of upgrading your primary boot drive; cloning the existing drive or a fresh installation of the operating system. Each of them has its pros and cons.

Cloning your existing drive

  • Pros: This can be the fastest way of upgrading your drive, and you do not have to reinstall the operating system and programs.
  • Cons: You may run into a problem with resizing partitions and with getting your computer to boot correctly from the new drive.

There are two ways to go about cloning a drive; disk-to-disk or disk-to-image / image-to-disk. If you have a desktop computer, you can do either type of drive cloning. If you have a laptop or all-in-one computer, cloning to an image is the only option. And if you are upgrading from a SATA to an M.2 drive, cloning to an image is recommended.

For more details on disk cloning, check out the following article.

How to upgrade the hard drive in your computer

Fresh (clean) installation

  • Pros: You get a brand-new operating system and programs with that right-out-of-the box experience
  • Cons: This can take some time to get all of the software installed and personal files restored

This is the most time consuming of the two cloning procedures, but it has some significant advantages. What will take the most time is finding all of the software that you will want to reinstall. For more information on performing a clean installation of Windows 10, check out the following article.

How to perform a clean Windows 10 installation

Customer service is #1

Here at Geeks in Phoenix, we take pride in providing excellent customer service. We aim to give the highest quality of service  from computer repair, virus removal, and data recovery.

Bring your computer to us and save

Diagnosing PC problems can be time-consuming. From running memory checking software to scanning for viruses, these are processes can take some time. We base our in-shop service on the actual time we work on your computer, not the time it takes your computer to work!

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Geeks in Phoenix
Professional service at an affordable price!
4722 East Monte Vista Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85008
(602) 795-1111

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Geeks in Phoenix is an IT consulting company specializing in servicing laptop and desktop computers. Since 2008, our expert and knowledgeable technicians have provided excellent computer repair, virus removal, data recovery, photo manipulation, and website support to the greater Phoenix metro area.

At Geeks in Phoenix, we have the most outstanding computer consultants that provide the highest exceptional service in Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, and Tempe, Arizona. We offer in-shop, on-site, and remote (with stable Internet connection) computer support and services.

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