By Ivy / Last update June 14, 2022

Can I clone a large HDD to a smaller SSD in different size? 

"Owing to some reasons, I cloned my 1TB hard drive to a new 500GB SSD. I know the size is not the same, but my drive only has 157GB used space. How do I clone hard drive different size without reinstalling Windows? It makes me confused. Any ideas?”

Clone HDD to Smaller SSD in Different Size

Cloning hard drive is a very popular way to boost performance, replace old hard drive, or just make a copy of backup. You can choose to clone large HDD to smaller SSD, 1TB to 500GB, for example, or clone hard drive to larger drive per your needs. 

But there are some potential disk cloning issues you may need to know, such as unallocated space after cloning. Please learn them in the following and then clone disk different size with a free yet powerful disk clone software.

Disk cloning issues you need to know

In general, your computer comes with a hard drive. However, with an increasing number of files added and programs installed, your disk may run out of space and the computer performance slows down dramatically. In this case, you may want to replace a hard drive in Windows 7/8/10/11. 

But the hard drive does not come with same size. Usually, the SSDs are smaller than HDDs in most situations, which may cause cloning failure due to not enough disk space when cloning large HDD to smaller SSD. Only some disk cloning software owns intelligent clone feature, and AOMEI Backupper Standard is one of them.

Also, you may encounter the cloned hard drive shows wrong size issue. As a matter of fact, after cloning hard drive to larger drive, the new hard drive is exactly the same as the old one, but the extra space still lies at the end of the new disk and is marked as unallocated space. You need to clone and resize hard drive to make full use of the space.

Cloned Hard Drive Shows Wrong Size

How to clone hard drive different size without reinstalling Windows

To clone disk with different size in Windows 7/8/10/11, you could use a reliable disk cloning software - AOMEI Backupper Standard. It supports cloning hard drive to another one successfully with its "Disk Clone" feature, not only to larger drive, but also to smaller one.  The premise is that the used space on larger disk requires to be equal to or smaller than the target disk.

If not, you can still use “System Clone”  feature to migrate only Windows 10/11 to smaller drive. This feature is only available on the advanced version, such as AOMEI Backupper Professional.

Before you start to clone HDD to SSD/HDD with different sector size in Windows 7/8/10/11, you need to:

  • Download free disk cloning software AOMEI Backupper and install it on your computer.
Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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  • Connect the target disk via USB cable and make sure it can be detected. Also, backup files on the target disk if it is not empty, because the cloning process will overwrite the destination disk.

Connect Target Disk

▶ Video Tutorial: You can see the whole process more intuitively. 

▶ Graphic Tutorial: You can fully understand the details that need attention.

Here is quick navigation to clone and replace hard drive with hard drive cloning software - AOMEI Backupper Standard. You can click it to jump to your situation.

Case 1: Clone 1TB HDD to 500GB HDD/SSD step by step

Step 1. Launch this software, and click Disk Clone under the Clone tab.

Disk Clone

◒ This version only supports cloning different size drives from MBR system disk to MBR. If you want to clone MBR system disk to GPT, clone GPT disk to MBR, or clone GPT disk to GPT, you need the help of AOMEI Backupper Professional.
◒ To check your partition style (MBR/GPT), you can search for "Disk Management" to open it, right-click on the disk, choose "Properties" and go to "Volumes" tab.

Step 2. Select the large hard drive as the source disk (here is a 1TB HDD), and click Next.

Large HDD

Step 3. Select the smaller disk you plug in before as the destination disk (here is a 500GB SSD), and click Next.

Smaller SSD

Step 4. Tick "SSD Alignment" if you are cloning hard drive to SSD. It can accelerate the reading and writing speed for SSD disks using 4k alignment technology. Then, click Start Clone to clone different size drives.

Clone Large HDD to Smaller SSD

◒ The "Sector by sector clone" option is unusable when cloning to a smaller drive. Because it will clone all sectors of the source disk to destination disk, including the blank ones.
◒ You can clone HDD to SSD in different sizes, such as clone 2TB HDD to 1TB SSD, clone 1TB HDD to 250GB SSD, clone 500GB HDD to 250GB SSD, etc.

Case 2: Clone 500GB HDD to 1TB HDD/SSD in detail

Step 1. In the main page of AOMEI Backupper Standard, click Clone and Disk Clone in order. Then,  select the old 500GB HDD as the source disk and click Next.


Step 2. Select 1TB disk as the destination disk and click Next. Then, go to the operation summary window, and click Start Clone to clone a hard drive to larger one.


◒ Please remember to check "SSD Alignment" to keep your SSD in the best condition if the destination disk is an SSD.
◒ Besides cloning HDD to HDD/SSD with different sizes, you still can clone smaller SSD to larger SSD, such as clone 250GB SSD to 500GB SSD, clone 250GB SSD to 1TB SSD, clone 500GB SSD to 1TB SSD, etc.

Cloned hard drive show wrong size 

As you know, the cloned hard drive showing wrong size is a common question while cloning hard drive to larger drive. But how to solve it? You can use "Edit Partitions" in the advanced version, such as AOMEI Backupper Professional. 

It has three options, you can use any of them, including "Copy without resizing partitions", "Add unused space to all partitions", and "Manually adjust partition size".  The last option is more flexible, you can select any partition you want to adjust including system partition.

Unallocated Space after Cloning Fixed

Frequently asked questions: cloning different size hard drives

1. Do drives have to be the same size to clone?

The answer is NO. But you can choose to clone HDD to SSD with same size to get better performance, especially when the used space is less than size of HDD. If you don't have enough budget, cloning large HDD to smaller SSD will be a better choice.  

2. Can I clone a larger hard drive to a smaller one?

Definitely you can if the used space of larger drive is smaller than or equal to the smaller drive and the cloning software you choose supports "Intelligent Clone" feature. It only cloned the used sectors of a drive to another by default.

3. Why is my SSD capacity smaller after cloning?

As a matter of fact, cloning is a process of making an exact copy of original drive, so after cloning, both drives will have the same size, even if the target drive is larger than the original. This is why your SSD capacity becomes smaller after cloning.

To avoid this issue, you can adjust partition size with given option in the disk cloning software, such as Edit Partitions in AOMEI Backupper Professional. Also, you can choose to extend partition size with built-in tool Disk Management.

4. How long to clone a 500GB hard drive?

The cloning times may vary from tens of minutes to several hours, it depends on your cloning speed and data size. For example, if your cloning speed is a steady 100Mb/s, it will take about 90 minutes to clone a hard drive with 500 GB data.

Wrapping things up

AOMEI Backupper is a great choice for you to clone different size drives, because it works well in disk cloning and can ensure secure boot. You can use it to clone large HDD to smaller SSD if the used space is smaller than or equal to SSD disk. Even if your SSD disk cannot hold all the data on the hard drive, you still can use the "System Clone" feature in the advanced version to clone Windows 10/11 to smaller SSD.

In addition, the advanced version has more useful features. You are allowed to clone hard drive from 2TB to 3TB, clone GPT disk to smaller SSD, clone Windows 10 to NVMe SSD, fix cloned hard drive unallocated space left with "Edit Partitions", etc.  Want to enjoy these features? Please download AOMEI Backupper Professional at least.