By Ivy / Last update October 28, 2022

Can I clone a large HDD to a smaller SSD in a 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 Hard Drive to SSD of Different Size

Cloning hard drive is a very popular way to boost performance, replace old hard drive, or just make a copy of backup. And you can choose to clone large HDD to smaller SSD, 1TB to 500GB, for example, or clone hard drive to larger drive, from 500GB to 1TB as long as you use reliable software to help you take care of the cloning process. 

Important issues in cloning disk with different size

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, but the hard drive does not come with same size. And then it may result in different issues during the cloning process. 

Cloned SSD won't bootUsually, the SSD is smaller than HDD in most situations, and since HDD is far more space than SSD, it may also not be possible to free up the disk to the same size as the smaller SSD. However, the system requires the operating system, boot partition(s), system files, drivers etc to be present at the same time when booting. It does not matter if you find a reliable software support cloning only used sectors of a hard drive instead of all sectors.

SSD not showing full capacity after clone: Except for the previous issue, you may still encounter this if you clone hard drive to larger drive, since the size of the partition on the destination disk remains unchanged by default. After cloning, the new SSD is exactly the same as the old one and you can see unallocated space at the end of the disk (marked as unallocated space). To make full use of it, you need to extend partition or clone and resize hard drive.

Cloned Hard Drive Shows Wrong Size

How to clone hard drive different size with secure boot 

A reliable disk cloning software such as AOMEI Backupper Professional can help you clone disk with different size in Windows 7/8/10/11 and ensure you can boot from it after cloning, 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. 

For cloning drive to larger drive, either HDD or SSD, you need to resize the partition size on the destination disk, otherwise the cloning won't make sense. The easiest way is to enable the "Edit Partitions" feature before cloning. 
Besides, there is a possibility that the used space of the destination disk is less than the new one. In this case, you still can use the premium feature “System Clone” in this software to migrate operating system to smaller drive (HDD or SSD). 
And this software does not limit disk types when cloning two different size hard drives, clone GPT disk to smaller SSD is supported on the advanced edition, for example. Not only clone HDD to SSD with different sector size, but also clone smaller SSD to larger SSD (eg: clone 250GB SSD to 500GB SSD) as well. 

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

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

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

Case 1: Clone 1TB HDD to 500GB SSD 

Step 1. Download and install disk clone software, we recommend you use AOMEI Backupper Standard, it's user friendly and easy to operate. And then, launch this software, and click Disk Clone under the Clone tab.

Disk Clone

Note: The Clone feature in the trial vesion can only be demonstrated, to clone hard drive of different size and boot from it, please upgrade pro trial to the full version of AOMEI Backupper Professional. 

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

Select Source Disk

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

Note that you will be told this software will delete files on the destination disk if there are any important data. Please backup files to avoid any data loss during the cloning process.

Select Destination Disk

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 Hard Drive Different Size

Don't tick the "Sector by sector clone" option when cloning Windows 10 to smaller SSD. Because it will clone all sectors of the source disk to destination disk, including the blank and bad ones.
Besides cloning 1TB HDD to 500GB SSD, you still clone HDD to SSD in other 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 or SSD in detail 

As mentioned earlier, to clone hard drive to larger drive, either HDD or SSD, the easiest way is to clone and resize hard drive with the Edit Partition feature before cloning. Please follow the steps below carefully. 

Step 1. Install and launch the professional version of AOMEI Backupper, click Clone and Disk Clone in order. Then, select the old 500GB HDD and 1TB disk (HDD or SSD) respectively, click Next. 

Select Source Disk

Step 2. To avoid unallocated space after cloning, click Edit Partitions and select Add unused space to all partitions or Manually adjust partition size. Afterward, click Start Clone, and optionally, tick SSD Alignment to keep your larger drive in the best condition if it is an SSD.

  • Copy without resizing partitions: If you select this option or just enable it without changing, the size of the partition on the destination disk remains unchanged by default. 
  • Add unused space to all partitions: It will reallocate the unallocated space automatically to each partition of the target disk, appropriate for the disk size.
  • Manually adjust partition size: It's more flexible, you can select the partition you want to extend disk size and drag to the left or right side.
  • Convert the destination disk from MBR to GPT: This option help you convert disk type and is only available when source and destination disk has different disk types, one is MBR while the other is GPT, for example. 

Edit Partitions

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 the HDD. If you don't have enough budget, cloning a large HDD to a 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 the "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 the 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 of 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 a 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 or clone and resize larger hard drive to avoid cloned SSD not showing full capacity. 

In addition, the full version has more useful features. You are allowed to migrate operating system to smaller SSD with "System Clone" feature, 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.