What makes the best HDD cloning software
Hard drive cloning becomes more and more popularization since an increasing number of computer users prefer to DIY hard drive upgrading instead of purchasing new computer and have acquired some basic skills of disk cloning. Therefore, finding a powerful yet free hard drive cloning tool for Windows is an urgent issue.
Well, what functions and qualities should the “best” disk cloning software include?
Professional. It should be powerful enough to clone selected disk entirely. If some boot related drives are not cloned during the progress, the cloned drive won’t boot trouble would emerge.
Reliable. You don’t want to use a cloning program which may get stuck or meltdown during cloning process. One of similar situations is Samsung Data Migration not responding or stuck at 99% in the event of cloning hard drive to SSD.
Easy-to-use. Since most users are not tech savvy, the cloning operation should be easy to follow on a lucid and user-friendly interface. It would be better when the steps are as easy as ABC.
Full featured. Hard drive cloning is not an isolate operation because you may need to clone larger drive to smaller drive or fulfill unallocated space on a larger destination disk in some cases. Or, some users just want to clone one or two partitions on the disk.
Bootable rescue solution. This feature plays an important role in cloning failing hard drive. With bootable media, one can clone or backup hard drive without booting Windows. As a result, a dedicated disk cloning software should involve such function.
Surely, users put emphasis on different features under different circumstances. However, where is the free yet comprehensive HDD cloning software? Find the answer below.
Free HDD cloning software download for Windows PCs
Based on these criteria, I would like to recommend you a reliable hard drive imaging and cloning tool for Windows – AOMEI Backupper Standard. It is all-in-one backup & data cloning software designs for Windows operating systems especially. The software has thousands of users all over the world and earns its own reputation due to easy clone and fast backup.
AOMEI Backupper Standard provides the easiest way for data migration.
>> If you want to clone a data disk without system, you can simply use the free Disk Clone and Partition Clone feature, which enable you to copy all the files in the HDD to the target drive directly without restoration.
>> If you want to clone a HDD with Windows installed to another HDD or SSD as boot drive, you can use the powerful Backup & Restore feature to transfer OS and data of the HDD for free.
AOMEI Backupper Standard works perfect in Windows 11,10, 8.1/8, 7, XP and Vista (32 bit and 64 bit). Feel free to download it and have a try.
☛ If you want to use Disk Clone or System Clone feature to clone a system directly, you can upgrade to Professional edition. It provides better experience for OS & data migration, allowing you to clone only used sectors, or perform sector-by-sector clone in different conditions; it supports cloning all data & system disks of all brands and partition styles (GPT and MBR).
In addition, many users clone hard drive to SSD for better experience currently. This hard drive cloning utility has the SSD Alignment technology to improve SSD’s performance and prolong its lifespan during cloning. Also, it provides Edit Partitions function to make full use of disk capacity.
*If you are using server 2022/2019/2016/2012, etc, try Server edition.
Way 1. Transfer HDD to SSD via backup and restore (Free)
This way is to use Backup and Restore to migrate hard drive to another drive for free. Compared with Windows built-in backup utility, AOMEI Backupper provides a much easier interface and operation process - you don't need to prepare an installation disk, just connect the target drive to your computer and perform the backup & restore.
How to free clone HDD via backup and restore:
1. Download and install AOMEI Backupper. Connect the target drive to your desktop/laptop and make sure it can be detected by Windows.
2. Launch AOMEI Backupper, click on Backup and then Disk Backup to create a full backup of your entire hard drive.
3. Select the disk that contains your operating system as the source drive, then choose a destination to store the backup image. With Options, you can password encrypt the backup image or compress backup image.
4. Click Start Backup after the configuration.
5. When it's complete, click on Restore -> Select Task or Select Image File to locate the disk image you just created.
6. Follow the wizard to choose Restore the entire disk, and click Next.
7. Select the connected target drive as the destination to restore the disk image, and click Next.
8. Confirm the operation and click Start Restore to execute the disk migration.
- If you want to restore a system image to different/new computer, please tick Universal Restore (supported by Pro edition) to make sure it can boot properly after restoration.
- If the target computer cannot start properly, you can also create a bootable media to start it, and then perform system restore in WinRE.
Way 2. Clone hard drive directly without restoration (Easier)
If the disk you want to clone is equipped with a system and you are too bothered by the backup & restore method, then the Pro version can bring you a better HDD cloning experience.
It supports cloning data disks and system disks of all brands and partition styles, such as cloning MBR to MBR/MBR to GPT or GPT to GPT/GPT to MBR directly. But you still need to ensure the partition style of the target disk is compatible with your boot mode (MBR for legacy BIOS and GPT for UEFI).
Also, the default intelligent cloning mode enables you to clone only used sectors, so you can easily clone a larger HDD to smaller SSD.
You can download the free demo, and follow the guide below to have a try:
How to clone HDD directly without restoration:
1. Install and launch AOMEI Backupper. Choose Clone and then click Disk Clone. *If you only want to transfer operating system, choose System Clone instead.
2. Select current hard drive as the source disk, and then select the target SSD.
3. Ticking SSD Alignment box will do 4K partition alignment during the cloning process on SSD. Click Start Clone after configuration.
Now, shut down your computer and replace HDD with cloned SSD. Then boot from your cloned SSD.
By default, AOMEI Backupper will clone only used part. You can edit partitions on SSD to resize them. However, if you check Sector by sector clone box, it won’t allow you to edit any more.
It is fine if the hard drive is damaged a little because AOMEI Backupper will clone hard drive with bad sectors as long as you do not perform sector clone.
If you want to replace hard drive with SSD on laptop, it is recommended to complete it through backup and restore method to ensure the success. In desktop, after you reformat the hard drive, you can keep it as the secondary storage.
AOMEI Backupper is the best free HDD cloning software for Windows based computer. Complicated cloning processes could be done within a few steps. It is also the best SSD cloning software.
Other than various cloning features, AOMEI Backupper is also a good backup solution for personal users. For example, you can automatically backup Windows 10 to external hard drive for disaster recovery as well as backup hard drive without booting Windows with its create bootable media capability in Utilities.
If you want more advanced features like backup storage management, command line backup/restore/clone, real-time file sync, etc, please turn to higher editions.