Cloning old hard drive to new SSD increases performance immensely


The story of an epic almost-fail

PC performance is hugely important when you use Dragon. So I felt inspired to share my adventures in trying to avoid buying an extra computer, while still getting a system with good performance.

The background is that I need an English Windows system, so that I can provide proper video tutorials for you, my English audience. It doesn’t really work if Windows and all applications are in my native Dutch.

Quest for a fast computer on a budget

What happened before: I already have an English language system, but my work requires me to have Dragon running as well as screen recording software and Webinar software for my tutorials. That PC is from 2011 and it wasn’t up to the work load. So I decided to not buy a new computer, but solve it with my current Dutch computer, which is nice and fast, and an extra SSD drive.

I was so proud to report last week that I did successfully do surgery on my computer: It how had a dual boot with a second SSD drive with an English windows, so that I could use the same PC for Dutch as well as Windows tutorial videos. If you want to read up on that, I posted on LinkedIn how I went about it.

Unfortunately my triumph celebration was premature. While I had successfully connected a new SSD hard drive to my computer and also successfully installed Windows on it, it turned out that things were not as great as they initially seemed.

What went wrong with the dual boot system

When I restarted the system yesterday to finish installing all necessary software on my new English windows SSD, the computer kept booting up my Dutch windows. Even if I was 100% sure I selected the English Windows drive in the BIOS when starting up. So, I took my screwdriver in hand once more and completely disconnected the Dutch windows drive.

After the reboot, I was promptly asked for a bootable disc, please? What the …? Yesterday, the same drive booted just fine; I had even started installing some software and had no issues.

As I could not figure out how to fix this, I decided to start the entire installation process over again. Once more English windows was successfully installed on the new SSD. Having learned my lesson, I now did not install anything else but immediately started intermittently booting the computer with my Dutch system and my English system.

Everything seemed fine, until about the fifth start of the English system. I was able to login with my username, but then got a black screen and a white mouse pointer and nothing else. I was able to start the task manager, but nothing else.

Google offered some possible solutions which I dutifully tried out. A new user was created, but windows wasn’t able to complete the creation process.

After spending several hours on this, I gave up. Apparently my new SSD disk did not enjoy sharing space with a competing SSD. Nonsense, I know, but it seemed that way to me.

Admittedly, some expletives were uttered. Epic fail of a good idea!

How I upgraded my old PC with a new SSD hard drive and increased perfomance significantly

Samsung SSD drive better performance for Dragon NaturallySpeakingSo that was the end of that. But after a cup of tea and no less than six chocolate Easter eggs (I know, they don’t really help) I had another good idea.

During my investigation on the Internet about anything dual boot/SSD hard drive related, I discovered that people install SSD drives to improve the performance on older systems with a traditional hard drive.

So I downloaded a free disk cloning software called Macrium Reflect. I already had one of those kits that allows you to connect an SSD drive to the PC via USB 3 and I followed the instructions to clone my current English PC’s hard drive to the SSD.

Next I disconnected the old hard drive and installed the SSD with the cloned content in its stead.

[Okay, at this point I would have consumed an alcoholic beverage for courage, but unfortunately I process alcohol really poorly, so I skipped that step.]

Nevertheless I managed to courageously push the on-button and to my surprise – and relief – the system booted and started up just fine. Much faster than it did with the old hard drive and much quieter too!

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say. So I then proceeded to reboot my system about 10 times to see whether things would continue to work.

They did! I am incredibly happy to report that I’m currently dictating this message on my old computer with the new SSD drive. Performance is way better than before and so far I have not had any errors or funny things happening when rebooting (knock on wood and fingers crossed).

If I continue to be pleased with the performance of the system, I will probably increase the RAM memory from 8 GB to 16 GB and keep using this eight-year-old computer for another year or so at least.

So far I am really impressed with the increasing performance by swapping out the traditional hard drive for an SSD drive. Had I had any idea that this would make such a difference, I would never have attempted the dual boot system adventure. That would have saved me many hours!

What about the speed of your computer?

Does you computer have performance issues when running Dragon NaturallySpeaking? Have you ever considered swapping the old hard drive for a fast SSD drive? Tell me in the comments!

Janneke den Draak

Janneke den Draak

Hi, I'm Janneke and I'm your go-to person for Dragon and Apple speech recognition software help.

When I got severe repetitive strain injury issues over 20 years ago, I didn't want to give up using the computer. So I learned all about controlling the PC with speech recognition and dictating my documents and emails.

I've now been a speech recognition software trainer and consultant for almost two decades, teaching over 2000 people handsfree productivity!

My online courses for Apple Voice Control and Dragon offer self-paced learning and I also love running my membership for Dragon users. For those in need of an intensive training or custom speech command creation, I am available for one-on-one calls.

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