By Ivy / Last update May 7, 2022

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Can I clone my boot drive?

“My Lenovo computer with Windows 10 is preinstalled on HDD. My computer run slower and slower recently, so I bought a new SSD. I want to clone Windows 10 boot drive to SSD and make it bootable. I don’t want to reinstall Windows 10 from scratch because the cloned Windows 10 won’t boot. Is there any freeware can do this? Any suggestion will be appreciated.”


The answer is yes, you can make bootable clone of Windows 10 and boot from the cloned drive. The premise is that you need to do enough preparations before cloning Windows 10, including getting the basic of Windows 10 bootable clone, finding a professional hard drive cloning software and making other preparations like UEFI/BIOS boot mode. The same is true for Windows 11. 

Then, let’s have a close look at what you need to know and how to create a bootable clone of your Windows 10/11 drive? 

Benefits of Windows 10/11 bootable clone

The bootable clone is an exact copy of all files (both visible and invisible) of a drive on your computer, including operating system, system reserved partition/EFI system partition, installed programs and other files. 

Well then, you might be wondering, why make bootable clone in Windows 10/11 and what does bootable clone can do for you? Here are some clear ideas about it.

✿ First, you can clone hard drive to larger drive to get rid of low disk space warning on the existing hard drive, install more applications, store more files, and boot your computer faster.
✿ Second, you can clone bootable drive in Windows 10 to smaller SSD to get peak performance. Compared with HDDs, SSDs are much cooler, lighter, quieter, more durable, and consume less power. More so, it does not contain any removable part.
✿ Third, you can avoid reinstalling the operating system and applications, and do not need to bear the heavy data loss caused by reinstalling, unexpected system failure, hard drive failure, virus infected, and more.
✿ Fourth, you can use the disk or system copy as a backup. Disaster can happen at any time, even without prompting, so you need to take some precautionary measures in advance. Cloning boot drive in Windows 10 is a great choice.

Best free bootable cloning software for Windows 10/11

As mentioned above, you can benefit a lot from the bootable clone Windows 10/11, such as, upgrade hard disk for more space, replace laptop HDD with SSD for higher performance, etc. Meanwhile, you may encounter some situations, resulting in disk clone failure. This just means that you need the best free disk cloning software for Windows 10/11 bootable clone.

It's disappointed that Windows 10/11 does not have a cloning software, thus you need to turn to third-party disk clonig software. Here are some criteria that the best free disk cloning software should have, you can use them as a reference.

  • Simple and easy-to-use: The cloning software should have a user-friendly design and clear interface, so all users can use it smoothly in a very short time.

  • Trust and reliable: The cloning software should have at least millions of users and be used worldwide.

  • Benefit users: The cloning software should support 4K alignment technology to improve reading and writing speed of SSDs, have the ability to clone all sectors on a disk whether used or not, be able to successfully clone large drive to smaller drive and clone disk with larger disk, and ensure secure boot.

Here, I recommend you free bootable disk clone software AOMEI Backupper Standard, which fully meets these criteria above. In addition, this software still provides higher versions with problem-solving features, Edit Partitions, for example. It can help users adjust the partition size of destination disk during the cloning process, thus eliminating cloned hard drive shows wrong size error.

Step by step guide: clone boot drive of Windows 10/11 to SSD

As you can see from above, disk clone software AOMEI Backupper can help you resolve a majority of problems. So, all you need to prepare is to download AOMEI Backupper Standard and get a blank drive either HDD or SSD as the target drive.

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

To clone Windows 10/11 bootable disk, you have three options, namely Disk Clone for entire disk, System Clone for only partition with operating system and boot files, and Universal Restore for computer with dissimilar hardware. In the following, I'll show you how to clone a hard drive in Windows 10/11 for free with "Disk Clone" and make it bootable. Just keep reading below to learn the detailed steps. 

Video Tutorial: You can see the whole process of cloning boot disk in Windows 10/11 intuitively.

Graphic Tutorial: You can get more comprehensive details.

Step 1. Connect the prepared HDD or SSD to your computer with SATA-to-USB adapter or hard drive enclosure. Make sure it can be detected by Windows.

Enclosure or Adapter

Step 2. Install and start AOMEI Backupper. Then click Disk Clone under the Clone tab.

Disk Clone

Notes ✎... 
If your new hard drive is not enough to save the boot drive and all the installed programs, files, folders, you can transfer Windows 10 to new hard drive with “System Clone” (supported by AOMEI Backupper Professional).
The free version of AOMEI Backupper only supports cloning hard drive (containing the operating system) from MBR disk to MBR disk. To clone MBR to GPT disk and vice versa, or clone GPT system disk to GPT, you will be asked to upgrade to AOMEI Backupper Professional. 

Step 3. Select Windows 10/11 bootable disk as the source disk and click Next to move on.

Bootable Drive

Step 4. Select the prepared HDD or SSD as the destination disk and click Next.

Prepared SSD

Step 5. Check SSD Alignment to accelerate the reading and writing speed of an SSD disk. And then, click Start Clone to clone boot drive in Windows 10/11 immediately.

Start Clone SSD Alignment Checked

Notes ✎... 
• To adjust partition size of destination disk with “Edit Partitions”, please upgrade to higher version.
• To get the best performance of a disk after cloning, it's suggested to transfer Windows 10 to NVMe. Because it has the fastest transfer speed. 
• Except for disk or system clone, you can still use backup and restore to realize this purpose, even restore to dissimilar hardware. Please note the backup only works after restore.
• To clone Windows 10 to bootable USB, you just need to connect a USB drive and choose it as the destination disk.

Tip on making cloned SSD bootable

 Now, you already have a bootable clone of Windows 10, and you still need one more thing, it's to check if the cloned hard drive is bootable. Therefore, you can use it to replace old hard drive when something bad happens or upgrade as needed.

To boot from the cloned disk with the following steps:

1. Swap the old hard disk and cloned drive.

2. Restart your computer and press “F2” or “ESC” key to enter BIOS.

3. Set the new hard drive as default boot option, then save changes and exit this window. After that, it will boot from the cloned hard drive automatically. If not, please check possible factors, such as, disk firmware, and then try again later.


Potential problems with bootable clone Windows 10/11 hard drive

If you do an in-depth search about how to make bootable clone Windows 10 online, you may find there are many examples of cloned disk won't boot. So, you may have some concerns and want to know how to make SSD bootable after clone in Windows 10. Here, I’ll show you the clear answer.

About the target disk 

• The target disk has different partition style of original hard drive. In general, many disk cloning software only allows you to clone disk with the same partition style. If not, the process will fail.

• The target disk is smaller than original disk. Honestly, most disk cloning software only clone disk to larger disk. So you need to delete the useless installed programs or large files to free up space.

• The target disk is not the default boot disk in BIOS. Usually, your computer can only boot from the default boot disk, also called first boot option. If not, please set the boot priority for target disk and press “F10” to save the changes.

• The cloned disk only has operating system. To boot windows 10/11 from cloned drive, not only the operating system, but also other boot related partition or files are required. To check it, you can go to disk management and see if there are system reserved partition or EFI system partition.  

About other problems

• Cloning hard drive in Windows 10 with other externally connected devices, such as, bootable USB or CD/DVD. So, the disk cloning software may clone the boot partition to another external device instead of your target disk.

• The computer does not support UEFI boot mode. If your computer was bought a long time ago, it may not support the newer boot mode UEFI. Meanwhile, most of the current disk are GPT, which requires UEFI boot mode. Therefore, you need to convert GPT to MBR without data loss ahead of time.

 The master boot record is damaged. If your situation is different from above, Windows 10 clone not bootable may be caused by corrupted MBR or BCD. You can boot your computer using installation disk or recovery disk, press “Shift + F10” to open command prompt, then type the following commands and hit Enter.

  • bootrec.exe
  • bootrec.exe /fixmbr
  • bootrec.exe /fixboot
  • bootrec.exe /scanos
  • bootrec.exe /rebuildbcd

Repair Cloned Drive Won't Boot

Wrapping things up

Creating bootable clone for Windows 10/11, you need to make enough preparations, such as, overview of bootable clone, possible problems, a trust and reliable free disk cloning software and others.

Honestly, AOMEI Backupper Standard, as the best free disk cloning software, helps users clone Windows 10/11 to SSD bootable without any obstacle. Meanwhile, it can bring you much convenience, such as, support intelligent cloning technology to clone hard drive in Windows 10/8/7 to smaller drive. And it also works for Windows 11. Just download it and make a bootable clone of your Windows 10/11.