How important is it for me to defragment my Windows XP drive before I clone it to an SSD replacement?

Joe Videtto August 16, 2012
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I am going to clone my HDD with Windows XP on it to a replacement SSD. How important is a defrag in this process? Should I do it before? Or after?

Also – do I need to back up my main boot drive before I defragment it using Windows XP? What are the chances an accidental ‘shut off’ (e.g. power outage from a thunderstorm, electrical glitch) will cause the drive to become corrupt if it occurs during the defragmentation process?

Finally – about how long should it take Windows XP to defragment a boot drive having 150 Gb of programs/data ?


  1. Ewan Millar
    December 13, 2012 at 4:19 am

    I wouldn't recommend XP for a sdd drive. Xp isn't optmised for xp. windows 8 is best for ssd drives followed by windows 7. Vista has some sdd drive support. as far as defraging goes I would worry to much about that. I would run a Program call ccleaner which cleans history and temp folders. then run ccleaners error scanner and remove. system errors. sdd hard drive don't require defraging.
    Best and fastest way to copy hard is to clone the harddrive using software such as arconis true image. connect the new drive your pc using a storage adapter. once cloning of hard drive is completed remove the old hard and install ne harddrive. Your pc should boot.

  2. Jim Chambers
    October 6, 2012 at 2:25 am

    I think its more important to cleanup the crap files and uninstall old or unwanted programs followed by a reboot before cloning. CCleaner will do both. Windows 7 Disk Cleanup utility will deleat all but newest recovery points. When Disk Cleanup window opens select , select tab, click on button of System Restore and Shadow Copies section and click on .

  3. Ben Mordecai
    August 25, 2012 at 3:14 am

    It depends on your definition of "clone."

    If you are copying the old drive to the new SSD on a file by file basis, defragmenting will not do anything for you.

    If you are cloning the image on a binary basis, then you will simply copy your current level of fragmentation to the new drive. That's not a big deal. It will be faster to defrag on the SSD anyway.

    I vote, skipping the defrag.

  4. Mauro Vitali
    August 21, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    if you are going to use the integrated program for defragmentation it would probably take a bit...
    but there are some other free programs that work faster!
    i recommand you to do the defragmentation before the backup insted of doing it after... in my opinion it's always better...
    no, you dont' have to back up yout boot dirive :)

    August 20, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Hello, I just wanted to add a little something. Keep in mind that XP does not support the TRIM/garbage removal commands....You would have to use third party software to accomplish similar functions. If you just want to migrate your system, one of the best and easy tools to use is the following from Paragon:

    Paragon Migrate to SSD:


    Drive Copy Profesional:

  6. ha14
    August 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Realign Your SSD
    SSDs align their partitions differently than regular hard drives. A regular hard drive usually starts the first partition after 63 blocks, while SSDs require 64 blocks of data for optimal performance. This means when you copy your disk block-for-block from a regular drive, you can lose a lot of performance on your SSD.

  7. Oron
    August 16, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Regarding the need to defragment, there's no need. As Mike explained, only block-level cloning - which is very rare in the Windows world - would copy the fragments. Most cloning systems will do a file-based imaging, so are effectively defragging the system for you. Additionally, SSDs are not particularly affected by fragmentation.

    As for safety, with most (all?) defragmenters, the process is very safe so you shouldn't need to back up your system specially (that said, everyone should have some sort of backup of their system, or at least their data!). The programs use Windows' own hooks, which copy the blocks before "rechaining" them, so even a powercut is unlikely to cause more damage than would normally occur.

  8. Mike
    August 16, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    In general it depends on whether you perform a block-level clone or file-level clone.

    With a block level clone fragmentation would be "transferred" to the other drive (which doesn't matter for an SSD). With a file-level clone the resulting file system will be defragmented.

    Going from HDD to SSD you definitely want to use a file-level clone because for block level the target volume/partition would have to be the same size or bigger (which mostly isn't the case for an SSD). Also with a block-level clone blocks containing data of deleted files would be transferred to the SSD.

    The benefit of the block-level clone simply is the speed – it's usually a bit faster than file-level cloning.

    Both, Bruce and Kannon also brought up important points: Disk Alignment and OS optimization. Since you are running Windows XP and you perform a clone you will have to do it manually.

    * FYI foor others:
    During a Windows Vista/7 installation the SSD would be aligned automatically. Also, while not certain for Vista, Windows 7 does the optimization by itself. All you have to do is run the performance index and reboot the system. The necessary steps should be performaed automatically.

  9. Kannon Y
    August 16, 2012 at 5:22 am

    For some reason, I included part of my response to this in a response to another one of your questions. :-)

    I don't believe defragmentation has any bearing on cloning a disk onto an SSD. The only thing you want to do is make sure you have prealigned the SSD you're cloning the disk onto. I've never fully understood the mechanics behind why alignment is so important on an SSD, but I have seen the performance gains that alignment brings. It's substantial.

    The above link points to an article on how to manually align a disk before copying a cloned image.

    However, I'd like to note that even without alignment, an SSD still feels plenty fast.

    • Achraf52
      August 17, 2012 at 7:05 am

      An SSD use a grid of cells which can store data and you can address any individual cell electronically so no physical placement near to near is required .

  10. GrrGrrr
    August 16, 2012 at 4:07 am

    I agree with Bruce. Please backup your data before you do anything of this kind and magnitude.

    150Gb defragmentation means a couple of hours. Use Defraggler (link below) for this. It could defrag even individual files, unlike windows.

    IS your 150Gb drive not having any logical partitions? Is all your program, boot info (OS), and data on the same drive such has C:?

  11. Bruce Epper
    August 16, 2012 at 1:34 am

    Last question first: there is no definitive answer. It all depends on how fragmented the drive is in the first place, how fast the drive/controller are, the average seek times of the drive in question, and other factors.When cloning your drive to an SSD, defragmentation prior to the job shouldn't matter in most cases, but it will depend on the software you are using. For example, Paragon Software has a migration program to handle the process and results in a defragmented SSD upon completion. This functionality is also built into their Hard Disk Suite.If you want to defrag the source drive, it is okay to do so, but NEVER DEFRAG YOUR SSD! It is not required and it will greatly reduce the life of the drive.You should always have a current backup of any drive you intend to perform major operations on.

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