How to Clone Boot Drive to SSD Securely | Windows 11/10
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.
Can you clone boot drive to SSD?
A boot drive is the drive (typically C drive) that contains the operating system. It usually includes Boot, Page File, Crash Dump and System Reserved Partition. But sometimes, boot drive may also refer to the hard drive with Windows installed. When 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 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 makes the target SSD bootable?
Yes. If you clone a boot drive with correct steps, the target SSD should be bootable without problems.
What's the benefit of cloning boot drive to SSD
Most users would want to clone boot drive to SSD in Windows 11/10/8/7 under following situations:
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 same partition layout of hard drive to solid state drive for deployment. If two computers have exactly same drivers and hardware and other configurations, it is possible to move hard drive from one computer to the other and use it directly.
Make duplication for 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's 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, the restoring process is error-prone and time-consuming. Is there any easier way to complete boot drive cloning?
The answer is yes. 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.
Download it for free and have a try:
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.
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.
Step 2. Choose the destination partition (the C drive and System Reserved Partition are selected by default).
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.
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 bootable hard drive eraser to free up disk space if you want to use it as a 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 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 failed, you need to consider whether it is wrong of 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.
#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 mode - MBR for legacy BIOS and GPT for UEFI. Though you can clone MBR to GPT or vice versa using 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).
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 booting. To change the boot mode, you need to enter BIOS during startup as well, then select the boot mode (usually under Boot tab) as Legacy or UEFI.
*If your computer doesn't support certain boot mode, you can use the Convert the destination disk... option in Edit Paritions during cloning to make the partition style consistent.
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 to try Windows 10 create 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, and Server 2016, Server 2019, etc.