How to Copy Data from One Hard Drive to Another (Top 4 Ways)

Don't know how to transfer data from one hard drive to another? That's ok. Here in this post, you will know the details about the reasons and methods to do so. Read this article patiently to get the top 4 ways to achieve your goal.


By Lily Updated on May 21, 2024

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Moving data from one hard drive to another is crucial to keep all your important files intact when upgrading to a new drive. This guide will walk you through each step of transferring data between hard drives and migrating your operating system to a new SSD or HDD. By following these instructions carefully, you will know how to transfer data from one hard drive to another without any issues. Keep reading to discover more about the process of hard drive cloning and make your transition hassle-free.

🌟Key Takeaways:


Transfer Content

Transfer Speed

1️⃣Copy and Paste

Documents, pictures, music and other personal data


2️⃣File History

Documents, pictures, music and other personal data


3️⃣File Sync

Documents, pictures, music and other personal data


4️⃣Disk Copy

files, OS, and programs


Can I 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?”

Absolutely, you can move data from one hard drive to another in several ways. 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 the HDD with SSD or backup files from one hard drive to another. Then, how to transfer data from one hard drive to another easily and safely? Just keep reading.

Common methods to copy data

1. Copy and paste

When it comes to transferring data from one hard drive to another, many people resort to the simple copy-and-paste method. While it's easy, it's not ideal for large amounts of data. Plus, if you're transferring programs or the operating system, it might not work properly. That's because important hidden files could be missing, causing your computer to fail to boot.

2. File History

File History is a Windows backup feature that automatically backs up files and keeps a history of changes made to them. It backs up copies of files in the Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos, and Desktop folders, as well as OneDrive files available offline on the PC.

3. Best hard drive copy software

Specialized hard drive copy software can save you from the 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 transfer data from one hard drive to another step by step in the next part.

FREE DownloadWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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How to transfer data from one hard drive to another in Windows

In this guide, we'll explore four effective methods to transfer data between drives. If you're moving documents, pictures, or music from your PC's hard drive to another, please choose the first three methods. If you're transferring files alongside programs and operating systems to a new drive, please choose the last method.

◑ 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 4 because all the data in the destination will be overwritten in the cloning process.

Way 1: Copy files from one hard drive to another manually

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 the 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 internal hard drive to external via File History

1. Search for backup settings and select it. Then, click Add a drive option under Back up using File History and select the external hard drive you connected.

Add A Drive

2. You will see the Automatically back up my files option is already turned on. Click More options to set backup interval and backup retention.

More Options

Note: The default backup interval is Every hour and the backup retention is Forever. You can change the backup interval (from every 10 minutes to daily) and the backup retention (from 1 month to forever) as per your need.

3. Scroll down and take a look at the selected folders. Then, you can add, remove or exclude specific folders.

4. Go back to the top location and click Back up now.

Way 3: Transfer data 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 4: 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 the boot order in BIOS or replace the source drive with the cloned one to boot from it.

FAQs about copying and transferring from 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.

4. Is there a way to transfer files from one hard drive to another on Windows 10?

You can use Windows' built-in backup and restore feature for this task. Alternatively, AOMEI Backupper is another useful tool that can help with transferring files between hard drives.

5. Can I move data from an old hard drive to a new SSD?

To transfer data to a new SSD without cloning, first, install a fresh copy of Windows on the SSD. Then, manually copy and paste the rest of your data from the old hard drive to the SSD. Don't forget to reinstall your applications, sync browser settings, and activate everything again.


This comprehensive guide outlines the top four methods for transferring data between internal or external hard drives. Whether you're upgrading your storage or simply organizing your files, these methods offer practical solutions for transferring data seamlessly. Additionally, AOMEI Backupper provides a versatile option for backup multiple drives on various Windows operating systems, including 11, 10, 8, and 7. With its user-friendly interface and efficient data transfer capabilities, AOMEI Backupper streamlines the process and ensures your files are safely transferred.

This software offers a reliable solution for managing your data effectively. Don't hesitate to explore these methods and optimize your data transfer experience with AOMEI Backupper. 

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.