User case: can I clone a dynamic disk
I am trying to upgrade the primary drive Crucial MX500 SSD for my Asusg73jw. I downloaded the Acronis True Image cloning software per the instructions on Crucial's website. However, when I started the cloning process, the drive I wanted to clone was grayed out.
I contacted Crucial via online chat, and was told that the Acronis software cannot clone a dynamic disk, and that I should try software by Macrium or Clonezilla. I downloaded Macrium Reflect, but the free version does not support cloning dynamic disks either. The paid version does, but the price is too expensive. It seems kind of crazy to spend that much money on software I'm probably only going to use once, and still no guarantee that it will work.
Disk cloning is not a new concept today, but many users still have some questions about cloning dynamic disks, as in the case above. This is mainly due to the peculiarities of dynamic disks themselves.
What is Windows dynamic disk
Before cloning dynamic disk in Windows 7/8/10/11, let's get the basic of it. Dynamic disk and basic disk both are disk types for Windows to store data and support MBR and GPT partition style. But they have some differences.
The dynamic disk is a physical disk initialized for dynamic storage that contains five types of volumes including simple volumes, spanned volumes, striped volumes (RAID-0), mirrored volumes (RAID-1), and RAID-5 volumes while basic disk is limited to 4 primary partitions or 3 primary plus one extented partition at most.
The dynamic disk can extend with a noncontinuous partition or disk across different disks, and create fault-tolerant volumes etc while the basic disk can only be extended in consecutive partitions on a single disk.
The dynamic disk has greater flexibility for volume management. It uses a database (in the last 1MB of MBR disk or 1MB reserved partition of GPT disk) to track the information about the dynamic volume on one or more dynamic disks and every dynamic disk keeps a copy of the database. But the basic disk use a partition table to keep track of information. Thus, you can get your data back if you are currently using dynamic disk.
Why clone dynamic disk to basic disk (SSD/HDD)
The reasons for cloning dynamic disks in Win 7/8/10/11 are not very different from cloning basic disks.
First and the most common situation, your dynamic disk is out of space and you need to clone disk to larger disk that can contain your system and all data completely.
Second, your dynamic disk may not perform well and you want to clone dynamic disk to SSD for higher performance. When your computer runs slowly and slowly, you may find that it takes several minutes for your computer to start, and the programs will load longer, and more. It's really annoying and make you confused.
Last but not least, you may want to add a extra layer of data and system security. Cloning disk is most simplest way, because you can directly use the cloned disk to boot your computer in issues.
Best way to clone dynamic disk to SSD
As a matter of fact, it's a little tricky to clone dynamic disk. So, some users try to convert dynamic disk to basic disk with Disk Management and then clone the converted dynamic disk. But during the conversion process, there will be huge data loss. Because the built-in partition manager requires you to delete all partitions and data on it before converting dynamic disk. Well then, what is the best way to clone dynamic disk in Windows 11/10/8/7 without losing data?
Here I strongly recommend you all-in-one disk cloning software AOMEI Backupper Professional. It supports "Disk Clone", "System Clone" and "Partition Clone". You can use it to clone both basic disk and dynamic disk, but the dynamic disk clone is only supported in the later two features.
If you just want to clone dynamic disk system or volumes, you can use "System Clone" or "Partition Clone" to do this. But if you want to clone entire dynamic disk containing the system, you need to clone dynamic system with "System Clone" for secure boot, and then clone other data volumes on the dynamic disk with "Partition Clone". Following will introduce this way in detail.
How to clone dynamic disk to SSD with AOMEI Backupper
Please note the destination partition will be overwritten during the cloning process, please backup file important to you in advance. Then, keep reading below to learn detailed steps.
Step 1. Connect SSD to your computer and make sure it can be detected. Then, download and install AOMEI Backupper Professional. (Please note the Clone feature in the free trial version can only be demonstrated, you need to upgrade to enjoy.)
Step 2. Launch this software and select "System Clone" to clone dynamic system.
Step 3. Select the prepared SSD as destination disk. Like cloning system on basic disk, this software will automatically select the system partition and boot related partition(s).
Step 4. Tick "SSD Alignment" to accelerate the writting and reading speed of the SSD disk. Then, click "Start Clone".
◔ "Edit Partition": You can enable this feature to ensure the cloned disk has full disk space while cloning disk to larger disk. It has three options, including "Copy without resizing partitions", "Add unused space to all partitions", "Manually adjust partition size".
◔ "Sector by sector clone": You can use this feature to clone all sectors whether used or not.
Step 5. Boot from the cloned SSD. Shutdown your computer completely and swap hard drive in the drive bay, then restart your computer to access BIOS by pressing specific key (F2 or ESC) on the boot screen, set boot priority for the new SSD and press F10 to save changes and boot.
Now, things are half done. All you need to copy dynamic volume to basic disk. To make it, click "Partition Clone" and select the data partition, then follow the on-screen instructions.
◔ You can also clone dynamic disk to SSD free with "Partition Clone" If the cloned disk is does not contain system. It's supported in all versions of AOMEI Backupper including the freeware.
◔ This version only supports Windows 7/8/10/XP/Vista. If you are using Server 2008/2012/2016/2019 and its R2 version, you can turn to AOMEI Backupper Server.
◔ Beside cloning dynamic disk, you still can use it to copy USB to USB, replace hard drive in ASUS laptop, clone hard drive in Windows 10, etc.
FAQ: why can't I install Windows 7 on dynamic disk
Except for cloning dynamic disk, some users still choose to install a fresh version on the dynamic disk. But sometimes they may receive error message like "Windows cannot be installed to this hard disk space. The partition contains one or more dynamic volumes that are not supported for installation". Are you one of them? Here are some infomation you need to know.
First, dynamic disks are only available on Windows 7 Enterprise/Professional/Ultimate, therefore if your computer is Windows 7 Home Basic/Premium/Starter, then it's not supported.
Second, dynamic disks do not support all home version of Windows released before Windows 2020, including MS-DOS and Windows 95/98/Me/NT.
Third, you can fresh install Windows on a dynamic volume as long as this volume (system or boot partitions) was converted from a basic partition and it retains an entry in the partition table.
As a final result, you can only install Windows 7 on the current system or boot volume of the dynamic disk. In addition, if your computer is a dual-boot system, you still cannot install Windows 7 on dynamic disk. Please convert dynamic disk to basic disk ahead of time.
Converting dynamic disk to basic disk will result in data loss, I can't emphasize this enough. Therefore, please use a professional disk cloning software to clone dynamic disk to SSD. AOMEI Backupper is a great choice to help you.
If you want to clone dynamic disk with system, you should clone system first and then clone other partitions. And the system clone feature is available on AOMEI Backupper Professional at least. But if it's a data disk, you could clone dynamic disk with freeware AOMEI Backupper Standard.
In addition, it's still a backup & restore software to protect data and system by its robust features, including system backup, disk backup, partition backup, file backup, USB plug in, schedule automatic backup, incremental/differential backup, create bootable media, selective file restore etc. Can't afford data loss? Please download AOMEI Backupper to enjoy these features.