How to Clone Boot Drive to SSD Securely in Windows 11/10/8/7

You can easily clone boot drive to SSD (even smaller SSD) with the help of disk clone software. It could save you from the trouble of reinstalling Windows, and ensure you can boot from the cloned drive securely.


by Delia Updated on May 23, 2024

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Can you clone boot drive to SSD?

First, you should know that a boot drive is the drive (typically a C drive) that contains the operating system. It usually includes Boot, Page File, Crash Dump, and System Reserved Partition. But sometimes, a boot drive may also refer to the hard drive with Windows installed. And now let me answer your question, it is feasible to clone the boot drive to SSD. If you want to clone boot drive to SSD, there are actually 2 types of concerns.

💬Can you clone just OS to SSD?

Yes. There are 2 ways to do that:

  • One is to create a system image, and then restore the image to the target SSD.
  • The other is easier, just use the system clone feature of certain tools to transfer Windows to another drive.

💬Does cloning a hard drive make the target SSD bootable?

Yes, if you clone a boot drive with the correct steps, the target SSD should be bootable. This means that once the cloning process is completed correctly, you can start your computer from the new SSD without any issues. Ensuring proper cloning is essential to avoid any boot problems and to have a smooth transition to the new drive.

Disk Management

Situations of cloning boot drive to SSD

Most users would want to clone boot drive to an SSD in Windows 11, 10, 8, or 7 under various situations. They might be upgrading to an SSD for faster performance and better efficiency. Additionally, cloning can be necessary when replacing a failing hard drive or when needing more storage space. Here are several possible situations you may encounter that need to clone boot drive:

📌Hard drive upgrading. SSDs have better performance in reading and writing speed as well as system security. More and more users want to upgrade HDD to SSD to gain better experiences in Gaming or others. No need to reinstall Windows to SSD.
📌Configure the same partition layout of the hard drive to the solid state drive for deployment. If two computers have exactly the same drivers and hardware and other configurations, it is possible to move a hard drive from one computer to the other and use it directly.
📌Replacing a Failing Drive: Replacing a failing or damaged hard drive to avoid data loss.
📌Expanding Storage: Need more storage space for files, applications, and system updates.
📌Make duplication for the current hard drive in case it fails someday. After making a bootable clone, you can boot the computer from the cloned SSD any time you want. Thus even if your current boot drive fails someday, you have an immediately usable “plan B”.

Best cloning software to clone the boot drive or entire disk

Windows comes with some backup utilities, but unfortunately, there are no cloning functions included. The only thing you can do is to create a system image of the boot drive and then restore it to the SSD. However, you can merely call it a method to clone the boot drive. The restoring process is also error-prone and time-consuming. Is there any easier way to complete boot drive cloning?

The answer is yes. You can try this all-in-one clone software. AOMEI Backupper Professional is comprehensive backup and disk cloning software that allows you to clone boot hard drive to SSD easily on Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP/Vista.

It provides 3 cloning options, Disk Clone, System Clone, and Partition Clone to suit your different needs.
The default intelligent clone copies only used sectors and allows you to clone larger drives to smaller drives. You can also align the target SSD to improve its speed while cloning the disk to the SSD.
If the target drive is large or equal sized, you can choose sector-by-sector cloning to copy all the sectors. With it, even the cloned system reserved recovery partition can function normally.
AOMEI Backupper has a user-friendly interface which makes it easy to use for both computer novices and experts. For advanced users, cloning a hard drive from Command Prompt is supportable.

Download it for free and have a try:

FREE Download Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

How to clone boot drive to smaller SSD step by step

In the first place, install or connect the SSD to your computer. Make sure it can be detected. Install and launch AOMEI Backupper Professional.

Preparations before cloning boot drive:

1. Gather the necessary tools: a screwdriver, a power splitter adapter cable, a SATA cable, or a USB to SATA adapter.
2. Ensure the target HDD/SSD has at least as much capacity as the used space on your current drive.
3. Verify that the new disk's partition style matches the old one (MBR or GPT). If not, initialize the new HDD/SSD accordingly.
4. Download and install AOMEI Backupper Professional.

Step 1. Select Clone > System Clone to clone only OS to target SSD. You can also choose Disk Clone to transfer the entire disk with Windows installed.

Choose System Clone

Step 2. Choose the destination partition (the C drive and System Reserved Partition are selected by default).

Choose Destination Partition

Step 3. Check out the operation summary, tick the box of SSD Alignment to improve the speed of reading and writing as well as prolong the service life of SSD. Then, click Start Clone to migrate the boot drive, and wait for it to complete.

System Clone Preview


  • All data on the target SSD will be overwritten, so backup important files before you start.

  • The software supports cloning MBR/GPT data or system disks.

  • You can format the boot drive with a bootable hard drive eraser to free up disk space if you want to use it as secondary storage.

How to boot from the cloned SSD

At the cloning process interface, you can check “Shut down on completion” or manually shut down your PC after cloning completes. When the computer shuts down, you can disassemble the old hard drive, and replace it with the new SSD. This is the usual way to boot from the cloned SSD.

But there are some other scenarios you should take into consideration.

#1. Boot from the cloned SSD and keep the old HDD

If there's an extra slot on your computer, you may also want to use SSD for boot and HDD for storage. This is actually feasible, but if your boot fails, you need to consider whether it is wrong with your boot device.

During startup, press the specific key (usually F2, F8, F12, Del) to enter BIOS, and change the boot priority to the cloned SSD. If it boots into Windows properly, the cloning is successful, and you can do whatever you want to the old hard drive.

change boot order

#2. Clone MBR to GPT or GPT to MBR

You probably know MBR and GPT as two partition styles for data storage. They work with different boot modes - MBR for legacy BIOS and GPT for UEFI. Though you can clone MBR to GPT or vice versa using a powerful tool like AOMEI Backupper, you still need to make sure the partition style of your target disk is compatible with the boot mode.

To check the partition style of your target disks, try the following steps:

  • Press Win + R to open the Run window. Then, type diskmgmt.msc and hit OK to open disk management.
  • Then, right-click the disk you want to clone and select Properties in the pop-up window.
  • In the Properties window, select the Volume tab and confirm the partition style. It can be MBR (Master Boot Record) or GPT (GUID Partition Table).

Disk Partition Style

If you need to clone MBR to GPT, or vice versa, it is necessary to switch the boot mode accordingly. The wrong boot mode will cause the cloned SSD not to boot. To change the boot mode, you need to enter BIOS during startup as well, then select the boot mode (usually under the Boot tab) as Legacy or UEFI.

Change Boot Mode

*If your computer doesn't support certain boot modes, you can use the Convert the destination disk... option in Edit Partitions during cloning to make the partition style consistent.

FAQs about cloning boot drive

1. Is it possible to change the boot drive?

Yes, you can change the boot drive through the System Configuration tool or using the diskpart command. Additionally, you can use BIOS settings or UEFI firmware by pressing a function key (F1 to F12) during startup.

2. Is it better to clone or image a hard drive?

Both cloning and imaging have their pros and cons. Cloning is ideal for quick recovery, while imaging offers more flexibility for backups. Incremental backup snapshots are particularly beneficial, allowing you to store multiple images without consuming excessive storage space.

3. What is the boot override?

Boot override settings determine which device the system will boot from on the next startup. These settings are used to specify the future boot sequence, making them somewhat unique in how they are applied.


Easy and fast, you could clone boot drive to SSD in only four steps. If you are running the latest operating system, Windows 10, it is worth trying Windows 10 to create a backup boot disk and restore the image to the SSD. Other features are provided in AOMEI Backupper, such as Incremental and Differential Backup, System Restore, Create Bootable Rescue Media, etc.

AOMEI Backupper Professional and AOMEI Backupper Server, come with more helpful features, such as Universal Restore, command line clone, and disk space management. The latter edition, as its name implies, is suitable for Windows Server OS including Server 2016, Server 2012, Server 2016, Server 2019, etc.

Delia · Editor
Delia owns extensive experience in writing technology-related blog posts, and has been a part of AOMEI since 2020 to provide expertise in data security and disaster recovery. She works with Windows operating systems, SQL databases, and virtualization platforms such as VMware and Hyper-V, specializing in troubleshooting and advising on data protection and migration.