How to Copy Data from One Hard Drive to Another (Top 3 Ways)

In need of transferring files, OS and programs from one hard drive to another? Read this article patiently to get the top 3 ways to achieve your goal.


By Lily Updated on February 28, 2024

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Can you transfer data from one hard drive to another?

Case 1: Transfer files

“So I just recently bought a 2TB hard drive and I want to transfer about 800GB of things from my 1TB hard drive to my 2TB but I don't want to transfer the OS or anything. Is there an efficient, fast, safe way to do this without harming my hard drive?”

Case 2: Transfer files, OS and programs

“I have a 1TB HDD at the moment and I just purchased a 6TB HDD. I have programs and a bunch of other stuff on the 1TB HDD. Can I just copy paste to the new one or no because they contain programs and not just movies and pictures etc?”

Just like these users, you may need to copy data between two drives when upgrading to larger hard drive. Also you need to move data from one hard drive to another if you plan to replace HDD with SSD or backup files on one hard drive to another. Then, how to transfer data between two hard drives easily and safely? Just keep reading.

Common data transfer methods

1. Copy and paste

It is easy to transfer a small number of files by the copy and paste method. However, this method is not suitable for transferring large groups of files. Also, if the drive you are going to copy contains various programs or even the operating system, your computer may fail to boot due to some hidden files missing if you still use the copy and paste method.

2. Best hard drive copy software

Specialized hard drive copy software can save you from tedious work of copy and paste and ensure a bootable OS after transferring. AOMEI Backupper Professional, the best hard drive transfer software, comes to help. You can take advantage of the following two features to accomplish data transfer between two internal/external hard drives:

📂 File Sync

It enables you to move plenty of files between two drives simultaneously.

You can also transfer files from PC to PC, sync two NAS devices, sync local folders to a cloud drive, etc.

💾 Disk Clone

It will copy all data on the source drive including the programs and operating system to the destination drive, so you can use them on the new drive without reinstallation.

You can clone all kinds of disks, including internal/external hard drive, HDD/SSD, SATA/PCIe disk.

All Windows PC operating systems like Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP are supported. Download and install AOMEI Backupper right now. Then, learn how to copy data from one hard drive to another step by step in the next part.

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How to transfer data from one hard drive to another in Windows 10/11

Here you’ll learn the three best ways to copy data from one drive to another. If you are moving files such as documents, pictures and music from the PC hard drive to another drive, you can turn to Way 1 or Way 2. If you are transferring files along with programs and operating system to a new drive, you may resort to Way 3.

◑ Connect the target hard drive to your computer if you are moving data to an external drive and make sure it is detected.
◑ Backup files on the target drive before you try Way 3, because all the data in the destination will be overwritten in the cloning process.

Way 1: Copy files from one hard drive to another (small number)

1. Press Win + E to open This PC.

2. Pitch on what you would like to transfer, right click them and select Copy from the given options.

3. Locate the target drive, right click blank space and select Paste.

Copy and Paste

Note: This method can also be realized separately with Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V key combinations.

Way 2: Transfer files from one hard drive to another (larger number)

1. Launch AOMEI Backupper. Click “Sync” and select “Basic Sync”.

Basic Sync

2. Name the task so that you can distinguish it from other sync tasks. Click “Add Folder” to select the folder(s) which you want to synchronize from the source drive.

Add Folder

3. Select another drive as the destination path to store the synced folder(s).

Select Sync Destination

4. Click on “Start Sync” button to begin transferring files from one hard drive to another. After the operation is finished, safely disconnect your drive.

Start Sync

>> Options: you can write a comment for your sync task so that you can figure out the specific sync contents. You can also enable email notification here.
>> Schedule Sync: you can set the sync task to run periodically. There are five modes provided: Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event triggers, and USB plug in.

Way 3: Copy hard drive to another hard drive with everything

1. Run AOMEI Backupper. Click “Clone” on the left pane and select “Disk Clone”.

Disk Clone

2. Select the original hard drive on your PC as the source disk and click “Next”.

Source Disk

3. Select the destination drive you have connected to your PC and click “Next”.

Destination Disk

4. Confirm the operation and click “Start Clone” to begin copying a disk to another disk.

Operation Summary

>> Edit Partitions: you can choose to resize partitions on the destination disk or not here.
>> SSD Alignment: it will improve the reading and writing speed of the SSD. Use this option if the destination disk is an SSD.
>> Sector by sector clone: it will clone every sector on the source disk whether it is used or not, thus costing more time. It requires the destination disk to be equal to or larger than the source disk.

5. After the cloning process is finished, you need to change boot order in BIOS or replace the source drive with the cloned one to boot from it.

FAQs about copying one drive to another

1. Can I just copy and paste one hard drive to another?
It is possible to copy one full hard drive to another one. However, the process can be quite slow. Moreover, if you have the operating system or applications installed on the source drive, they might not work or might not work properly after copying.
2. Why does it take so long to copy files from one hard drive to another?
Copying files is highly dependent on the size of the files to be copied. Usually, one large file is copied much faster than a lot of files with the same total size. Additionally, there are many other factors affecting the transfer speed, like the hard drive speed and the USB port you use.
3. What is the fastest way to transfer files from one hard drive to another?
Professional data migration software like AOMEI Backupper can improve the data transfer speed. It offers the features of intelligent data copying (copy only used sectors) and optimized data alignment.


This page shows you how to transfer data from one internal/external hard drive to another in the top three ways. Besides data transfer between two drives, AOMEI Backupper also enables you to backup multiple drives in Windows 11/10/8/7. Don’t hesitate to give it a try!

Lily · Editor
Lily Green joined AOMEI in 2018 and has since become a professional in the areas of data protection and data transfer. She is committed to helping users protect their precious computer data and troubleshoot Windows system errors. She consistently stays vigilant about the latest trends in technology, guaranteeing that the given information aligned with the ongoing advancements in the field.