Given the usual lifespan of a PC and the ease with which parts can be swapped out, it's likely that your current machine didn't run Windows 10 when you bought it. 

Purchasing the software from the Microsoft website costs at least £119.99, and it feels like an unnecessary extra spend when upgrading your hard drive to an SSD. 

But there are plenty of benefits to making the switch, including faster data transfer speeds and improved reliability. Microsoft doesn't officially provide the functionality though, so you'll need some technical expertise to make it work. 

1) Get your device ready

It's highly likely that your PC has accumulated lots of unnecessary data that will make the whole process longer and more complicated. 

Fortunately, Windows 10 has a built-in tool to make removing some of this clutter much easier. Open 'Disk Clean-up' by typing it into the search bar next to the Start Menu and clicking the relevant result. 

Windows 10 disk clean-up

From here, you'll see a list of file types that you potentially want to delete. Be sure to check the list and see if there's anything you might need here though, as there's no going back. You may need to enter the administrator password to authorise any 'Clean up'. 

2) Download a migration tool

Unfortunately, that's where the native support ends for this tutorial. You'll need to download third-party software to help with the migration. 

If you'd expect this to be a one-off, our top pick is AOMEI's Disk Cloning Software, which is completely free to download and use. There's also a useful guide on its website if you've never used software like this before. 

AOMEI Backupper

There are some great alternatives which are also free, including two from EaseUS: EaseUS Todo Backup Free 12.5 and EaseUS Partition Master Professional 14.5

Once downloaded, this is a great time to back up your PC.

3) Connect your SSD and set it as the destination

The next step is to connect the SSD to your PC.

If you're updating the internals of the computer, you'll need to plug it into a free spot on the motherboard. The easiest way is via a SATA cable, which is relatively inexpensive from retailers such as Amazon if you don't already have one. For an external SSD, you'll just need to find a suitable USB port to connect. 

Depending on which application you've chosen in Step 2, the option you're looking for may be known by some variation of 'Migrate' or 'Clone'. In the AOMEI software, it's 'Clone' then 'Disk Clone'.

AOMEi Backupper

On the following screens, select the hard drive you're moving from and the destination SSD you've just connected. Ensure it has enough free space, and click 'Next'.

4) Change partition sizing

You should now see a summary of the cloning process that will be taking place, but before you begin it's worth resizing partitions. A partition is another name for a drive or volume, essentially a smaller section of the overall hard drive - think of the C: drive as an example. Each partition can be customised in order to suit the types of files within it. 

On this final screen before proceeding, you should see an option to edit partitions for the destination location. On AOMEI's Disk Cloning Software this will be in the bottom-left of your screen. In most cases you won't have to adjust these manually, just click an option that says 'Optimize', 'Resize', or similar.

The whole cloning process will take some time, so it's worth going off and doing something else while you wait for it to finish. We'd recommend keeping the power supply connected and ensuring you're not blocking any fans to prevent overheating. 

Once complete, you should restart your PC to apply the changes. 

Check out our best SSDs chart for more inspiration on great solid-state drives for your PC.