Content of this article:
Why Clone Hard Disk to SSD in Windows 11/10/8/7?
Many people would like to clone hard drive to a larger disk for sufficient storage space, but what's the point to clone hard drive to SSD? How is it superior to HDD? If you are not sure about it, here are 2 main reasons about replacing hard disk with an SSD.
● To get better performance.
If you clone the hard drive to another just for larger capacity, you are very likely to encounter a series of problems in future use. And with the accumulation of data, your computer will gradually slow down as well.
To enjoy a good use experience in a relatively long time, it's recommended to clone your hard drive to an SSD, which is generally faster, quieter, cooler, more durable, and consumes far less power than HDD.
● SSDs are relatively affordable nowadays.
Back in the old days, when you bought an SSD you need to consider whether the benefits outweighed the high price. But now, SSD are much more affordable due to the improvements in manufacturing techniques and increase in supply.
There are variety of options you can choose such as PCI-Express, mSATA, and M.2 SSDs as well as regular SATA SSDs. Many popular SSDs like the Samsung 970 EVO, the Samsung M.2, WD Blue SSDs, Mushkin Reactor SSDs, PNY SSDs, are available on Amazon, Scan.com, etc.
What Do You Need for Hard Drive Cloning?
To copy an HDD to an SSD you will need to do the following things:
1. Make sure the old HDD has OS installed and fix bad sectors on it.
You can only boot your computer from a disk with OS installed. If the operating system is damaged or deleted, you will not be able to boot the computer without a bootable USB (or CD/DVD). The cloned SSD may not boot if the cloned SSD contains bad sectors from the original hard drive.
2. Get a new SSD to transfer the OS to.
Buy an SSD that fits your computer. Make sure it has right form factor and owns enough space to receive your data. With the method provided in this post, it’s ok if the new SSD is not initialed.
If you don't want to lose any personal data, make a backup at first. Thus even when something unexpected happens during the transfer process, the backup allows you to restore the computer to its previous state.
4. Disconnect all external connected peripheral devices.
Disassemble devices like USB storage device, external displays, and printers to make sure you can transfer files from hard drive to SSD correctly.
5. Download and install free Disk cloning software.
Effective disk cloning software is the most important part in this tutorial. Pick a right one, the process will be quick and straightforward. Here we recommend you AOMEI Backupper Standard since it's free and easy to use.
6. USB-to-SATA adapter.
To connect the new SSD with your laptop which has only one hard drive bay, this is a necessity.
Free Hard Drive Cloning Software - AOMEI Backupper Standard
AOMEI Backupper Standard Edition, compatible with Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP/Vista, is a free solution to clone hard drive to SSD with many brilliant features and options.
★ Intelligent cloning - As the default mode, it only copy the used sectors and therefore enables you to clone larger HDD to smaller SSD (as long as the used space is less than or equal to the SSD). If your target SSD has sufficient space, you can also choose Sector By Sector Clone to copy all the sectors including the blank and bad ones.
★ SSD Alignment - SSDs have different structures to HDDs so the partitions will need to be aligned along the SSD block boundaries during the cloning process. With this option, AOMEI Backupper will take over the job, as thus you don't need to worry about the alignment of the SSD and the speed of the cloned SSD.
★ Flexible cloning options - AOMEI Backupper will check whether the space on destination SSD is sufficient before starting to clone your hard drive. If not, it can help you transfer some of the data to another storage device by Partition Clone, or migrate only your operating system (OS) to SSD by System Clone (premium feature).
★ Volume shadow copy service (VSS) - With this fantastic technology, the cloning process won't interrupt your work at all.
How to Easily Clone HDD to SSD for Free in Windows 11/10/8/7
You can either install the SSD in the second drive bay or connect it to your PC with a USB-to-SATA adapter. As long as the space on the SSD is large enough to hold all of the data on the source disk, you can follow the steps below to clone hard drive to smaller/larger SSD.
See the step-by-step guide to HDD to SSD clone below and try it yourself. It is suitable for cloning hard disk to smaller SSD and larger SSD.
1. Download and install the disk clone software and connect the new SSD. We recommend you use AOMEI Backupper Standard Edition as it's free and easy to use.
2. Run the program and go to Clone -> Disk Clone option.
- This version only supports cloning system disk from MBR to MBR. If you want to migrate OS from MBR to GPT disk, GPT to MBR disk, or GPT to GPT disk, you could consider upgrading to AOMEI Backupper Professional or other paid versions.
- To check partition style of the source hard drive and target SSD, you could go to Disk Management, right click on the disk, choose Properties -> Volume tab -> Partition Style, and you will see the MBR or GPT. You can also check partition style when selecting disks in AOMEI Backupper.
3. Select the original hard drive as the source disk that you want to clone, and then click on Next.
- All the hard disks that can be recognized by your computer will be shown in the program.
- If you own a dynamic disk, learn how to clone a dynamic disk here.
4. Choose the larger/smaller SSD as the destination disk, and then click on Next.
◆ Note that all the data (if there is any) on the destination SSD will be deleted after cloning, you may need to create a backup for critical data if you don’t want to lose it.
5. Tick SSD Alignment. This option will accelerate the reading and writing speed of the SSD disk. Then, click on Start Clone to clone hard drive to SSD.
- Don't format the old HDD until you can successfully boot from the new SSD.
- Perform System Clone if you just want to migrate Windows 11/10/8/7 operating system to new SSD. You will need to upgrade to the premium versions to enjoy this feature.
- Except for cloning HDD to SSD, this software is still an SSD cloning freeware, thus you can use it to clone SSD to another SSD, regardless of partition size or disk brand. Cloning SSD to larger SSD or smaller one are both supported.
Besides the cloning feature, AOMEI Backupper Standard also provides you the Windows backup and restore features. You could use these features to replace the corresponding clone feature, that's to say, disk backup and restore is a different form of disk clone.
What to do after cloning HDD to SSD in Windows 11/10/8/7? Change the boot order to set the cloned SSD as the first boot device, and boot your computer; or remove the original hard drive out and install the cloned SSD, set the boot order and boot mode, then boot from it.
How Do You Fix Boot Issues After Cloning Disk?
After the cloning, some users complain that their SSD won't boot. Here are the reasons why and how you can fix the issues.
- The boot order is not correct. If the SSD is not the first boot order you won’t be able to load your PC from it. To check if the boot order is correct, you should restart your computer, press the prompted key to enter the BIOS, set the SSD as the priority in the boot order, then hit F10 to save the changes. Finally, your computer will now boot from the SSD if your problem was related to the boot order.
- GPT/MBR conflict means that the partition structure of the source disk and target SSD is different or the boot mode is set incorrectly. You may get this conflict and could not boot your computer if you’re trying to clone GPT to MBR disk or clone MBR to GPT disk. Ensure the partition structure are the same on source and target disk. Besides, MBR disk can only boot from Legacy mode in the BIOS while GPT booted from UEFI mode. Set the right boot mode to boot normally. Or Change Legacy to UEFI boot mode to boot from a GPT disk.
- You installed the cloned SSD on a computer with the incorrect hardware. If you have a disk image or system image, you can try to restore the image to the SSD with ‘Universal Restore’.
- The cloning process ran into issues. The cloning process experienced some unexpected issues; therefore, we would recommend you retry the process to see if the error has been fixed.
Besides, if you clone hard drive to SSD, and then install the SSD on a new computer, you have to Activate Your Windows 7/8/10/11 Operating System, use your original product key to activate or consult Microsoft for help.
FAQs about Hard Drive Clone
Can I clone a hard drive to smaller SSD?
It's easy for you to clone a hard drive to a smaller SSD/HDD as long as the SSD/HDD is enough to hold all the data from the source disk, no technical skill required.
Is there any free SSD cloning software?
Sure. There comes a free SSD cloning software if you buy a brand SSD, like Samsung Data Migration, Intel Data Migration software, Acronis True Image, Seagate DiscWizard, etc. Or the third party free disk cloning software, AOMEI Backupper Standard, Clonezilla, EaseUS ToDo Backup, etc.
Does a hard drive cloning migrate Windows OS?
Definately. Cloning a hard drive is able to migrate everything from the source disk, including Windows operating system, installed program, personal files, partition structure, file system, settings, etc. Besides, the process ensure the cloned OS bootable.
Does Windows have hard drive cloning software?
Microsoft Windows does not provide any disk cloning software. If you want to clone a hard drive, please try the third party hard drive cloning software, like AOMEI Backupper, Clonezilla, EaseUS ToDo Backup, Acronis True Image, etc.
What should I prepare to clone hard drive to SSD?
First, the Windows computer that contains the old hard drive. Second, the new or empty SSD. Third, create a backup for your hard drive and SSD. Fourth, remove all peripheral devices except for the keyboard and the mouse. Fifth, hard drive cloning software. Sixth, the USB-to-SATA adapter to connect the SSD if your computer only one hard drive slot. Final, the srewdrivers.
How to fix the cloned SSD won't boot problem?
Change the boot order to the cloned SSD or change boot mode between Legacy and UEFI if you cloned between MBR and GPT disk. Then, check the hardware for errors and disable secure boot, fix corrupted Windows system files, like winload.efi missing after clone. If still not working, just retry the cloning process,etc.
More about This Free Specialist Hard Drive Cloning Software
Apart from being able to clone hard drives to SSDs, AOMEI Backupper Standard Edition has many advanced features, including system backup, disk backup, partition backup, and file backup and recovery.
AOMEI Backupper, also supports full backup, incremental backup, differential backup, and automatic (scheduled) backups, which can help you create backups in an efficient manner ensuring that your system is never unprotected and is always against the threat of data loss.
In case of complete system failure, you can choose to create a bootable rescue USB or CD/DVD which will allow you to boot the system from the Windows PE environment.
AOMEI Backupper Standard Edition is completely free for personal use. Try it out and clone your hard drive to an SSD now. If you want to clone disks on any computer without installing disk clone software repetitively, use AOMEI Backupper Technician or Technician Plus to create portable version.