Migrate Windows 7 to SSD or install fresh?

Here’s a good question. Should you migrate Windows 7 to SSD or install fresh? And what about Windows 10? This is likely to be controversial and everyone has an opinion. I’ll weigh the pros and cons of each, as a guy who knows  a little about optimizing Windows, and who has been using SSDs since 2009.

Install fresh

Some people say to reinstall Windows every 6-12 months to keep it running as fast as possible. So by that logic, of course you should just install fresh, since you’d be due to install fresh soon anyway.

But in my own experience, I don’t need to install fresh anywhere near that often. I’ve run systems for five years or longer between installs. My secret is to not install software from dodgy sites, and only install what I really need. Why install 17 different web browsers if I’m just going to use Chrome?

The downside to installing fresh is that it’s time-consuming. You have to locate your data, migrate it somewhere, locate the installation media or files for everything you need, then reinstall Windows and all of the apps, and let them update. You can spend all weekend doing it.


The upside to migrating is that it takes a couple of hours, and sometimes a lot less. Connect your new drive, run a piece of migration software, then disconnect your old drive and move your new drive from a USB enclosure into the case.

The downside is your bloat moves with it. Fragmentation will be minimal, but you’ve still got your old registry and any cruft from ages past that was on the system when you started. Then again, the SSD minimizes those effects, and optimizing your registry only takes a few minutes. Spend a few minutes optimizing your browser too–that trick works with Firefox and Chrome.

More often than not, I just migrate and find I’m happy with how the system runs.

What about Windows 10?

What about Windows 10? It depends. If you upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10, you may want to reinstall. In my experience, upgraded systems usually are pretty draggy, even if you upgrade a fresh copy of Windows 7 to 10.

But if you installed Windows 10 fresh at some point, feel free to migrate it. For that matter, you can try migrating and see if it runs OK. If you’re happy with how it runs, I’m happy with it.

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