Cloning my C drive

My C drive 500GB (where MSFS is installed) is an SSD NVMe one and I have only 90GB left and with all the updates I am afraid that soon it will be full. Can I purchase a bigger drive (1TB SSD) and clone the existing one to the new drive? Will I have to reinstall MSFS again?

I have cloned drives a couple of times in order to upgrade from a 5400rpm hard drive to a SATA3 SSD. This was on Windows 10. Not sure if Windows 11 allows it or not. Really made a loading time and overall speed improvement on my laptop. If you haven’t done it before, please watch YouTube videos that show you how to do it. It’s not what I would call “easy” because there are several ways you could do something wrong. But if you are very careful and follow directions closely, it’s doable. There are a few different tools that work. I think the one I used was Macrium Reflect free edition.

I don’t know how MSFS would react to this. I did find that some software is matched to the drive’s unique ID and would not load after I cloned it. For example, TurboTax software would NOT work on my cloned drive as there was some copy protection that knew the drive was different. I can understand why they would do that.

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A new drive that will contain the OS, is a good excuse for a clean install of windows.

I cloned an NVMe to a bigger one earlier this year and it was a headache. A lot of the how-tos folks have online go with tools that become paid for you to clone a hard drive but there’s a decent number of headaches that came with cloning for me.

It didn’t work at first and I had to physically remove the original drive since Windows doesn’t like finding two installs on one PC. Once I did get it working it’s fairly important to wipe the other drive as soon as you can if you use GamePass since the UI also got very confused by two different Windows and had trouble recognizing drives to assign for installs.

It took me two whole nights to get my pc up and running, but you may have better luck. I would recommend doing a backup of any relevant files you’ve got (GameSaveManager was helpful for me here) and doing a fresh install and just copy over what you need. Holding onto the original drive and trying to clone took way longer than just doing a clean install.

To avoid re-installing and cloning, I’ve moved several large directories over with symbolic links as well as putting windows documents, videos etc on another drive.

For FS2020 I moved fs-base-cgl over (64GB) which is mostly the offline world data. Not needed, but needed. With a symbolic link the game still thinks it’s all on my C: drive, no problems.
Another big one was the iPhone backups which iTunes insists in putting on the C: drive. (maybe fixed now, I have it parked on a HDD via symbolic link)

It only takes a few minutes if you know what to move. Quick fix and a lot easier to add a second drive than replacing your OS drive.

Do you move items back before an update, or do the symbolic links handle that situation?

They handle that. It’s fully transparent, and you actually can’t access the original directory anymore until you remove the symbolic link. Therefore delete the directory first (after copying) before setting the link :wink:

Any read and write requests to that file path are automatically redirected to the new file path.
This was all I needed to do to claim an easy 64GB back on my C drive

(After copying that over and deleting that directory)

Update just completed, no issues.

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Great tip, thanks. I may have to look at that when my 500 GB NVMe finally falls under the weight of the future Sim Update 12 :slight_smile:

Just one more question, you’re using the /J flag, so this is technically a “hard link” to the directory structure, not a soft link, correct? I noticed in some online documentations that the phrase “symbolic link” usually refers to a soft link, but hard links are needed to do what you’re doing.

Correct, the hard link makes it fool proof to anything accessing that directory or any sub directories. In File explorer it shows as a little arrow next to the directory and when I count disk space used with total commander for my C:\Users directory it gives me 330 GB of disk space used, with 85 GB free on my 256GB SSD. (Update completed, trying to buy the Reno content atm)

Is there a program that can do all these symbolic links? I have a second drive 2 TB (not SSD though) that I can use with this symbolic link.

Get the bigger drive, install a clean windows onto it, but before you do ANY of that (if you can) move MSFS onto a whole different drive so that when you get set up on the whole new C Drive, you will not need to reinstall MSFS all over again right from the start cos you can simply copy it back over.

Just keeping it on your 500GB drive while you install Windows on the new C Drive I don’t THINK will work because I believe your PC will insist on wiping your old 500GB C drive clean so it only has the one drive with Windows on it, so you would likely need a third drive to copy MSFS onto. Sorry I can’t be lazer-specific, but regardless, that would be my first thought on how to go about it.

When I moved from a 500GB SSD to a 1TB NVme I used Macrium Reflect to accomplish the Backup of the original drive to a Data drive as a drive image. I removed the original drive for safe keeping, installed the NVmE drive and recovered the backup image to the new drive. Took about 20 minutes and was PERFECT. Booted right up with no problem.
I tend to stay away from CLONING because little things can go wrong and there is no worry about Drive ID. I use Macrium reflect to make continuing differential backups for safety. Piece of cake and OH yes, I also backup my “Official” folder from time to time…Like right after each update.

Probably, google comes up with some stuff for “symbolic link manager”

But if you don’t feel comfortable with the process, then the fastest way is what @TheGreatHadoken suggest. There are a couple other places FS2020 drops files though as well as Steam.

If you can install a new SSD next to the old, you can also copy the entire packages folder over (99% of the content) and update the packages path in game or in usercfg.opt. (last line) This might not be fool proof for updates though, people have been hit by repeated 85GB updates after moving the packages folder. (might be a windows store specific problem)

This sounds good. So where is this Data drive situated and how is it connected to your PC? And this Macrium Reflect is a program installed where?

HI Tempered.
My data (Backup Storage) drive is a regular removable HDD inserted into a hot swap bay in the computer but could also be an external sata drive or USB connected drive. the USB solution would be the slowest but will work the same.
Macrium Replect is a backup software that is installed like any windows program. It has a free option and a purchased option. I have used the free option and it works well for making a complete drive image and restores. I prefer the purchased option because of the many different options ( image, file and folder backup and restore) and I believe in making a backup of my system every once in a while. I have tested the restore many many times and have actually had to use it several times over the past few years. It works well. I used to use Acronis backup solutions but it became too slow and unreliable in the past several years.

OK just some clarifications here. This Macrium Reflect is a cloning programm I guess. I just have to get a new SSD NVME drive, connect it to my PC with a USB adapter and clone my existing C drive onto this new SSD, remove then existing one and then install the new SSD drive into the PC. Is it easy to use?

Good point and you ask the obvious question.

  1. After Macrium Reflect is installed and working on your OS boot drive, you use Macrium to create a recovery disk ( USB Drive or CD/DVD) to boot the computer from. Once that is created, I would TEST that your computer actually and reliably boots from the device. While in windows, create an image of your c drive and save it on your storage drive.
  2. Shut Down and Remove the current OS (C Drive) and replace with your new drive OR A TEST DISK. I used a test disk my first time so if something happens I can play around with it and figure out what went wrong. Nothing did, it worked perfectly.
  3. Boot from your RECOVERY DRIVE and start a DISK Recovery of the saved disk image to your NEW Drive. Once done, remove the Recovery Boot device and restart the computer.
    Your computer “Should” boot up into windows on the new disk. If it does not, there is a (forgot the name) menu selection on the Recovery Boot disc or drive that will allow you to make the new disk bootable. You would have to , once again, boot into the recovery disc to use that function.
    It is ALWAYS a good idea to TEST TEST TEST until you feel comfortable with the software but in the worst case, this method does not alter or harm your current boot disk because it is removed from the system when doing the recovery. In my opinion, this method is Better and definitely safer than CLONING. Cloning requires BOTH disks (Old and New) to be in the system during the cloning process thus if something goes wrong, you may corrupt your good boot disk.
    Hope this helps. Also there is a great forum on the macrium site to ask questions. I use the purchased version of Macruim reflect because I backup my systems on a regular basis. I think the free version will work for a total image replacement but I prefer the additional benefits from a registered version.

Macrium Reflect is a Backup program that does Cloning, Disk Images, File and Folder backups.
I did answer your other questions but not sure I did a proper reply directly to you.
the program is easy to use, however it is NOT easy on day one. It takes some time but soon you will find it easy as pie. the most important thing is that this backup program is very reliable. The day your system crashes or is corrupted and cannot be fixed by you will be the day you really appreciate a good backup and restore program.

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Macrium Reflect has saved me so many times throughout the years…It’s definitely worth investing…

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