By Teresa / Last update August 16, 2022

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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.

Hdd Ssd Better

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.

3. Create a backup of the disk.

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 software 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 learn how to clone hard drive to SSD in Windows 10 or other systems for free below.

◆Video Tutorial:

You may view the YouTube tutorial to get an intuitive understanding.

◆Graphic Tutorial: 

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 (eg: Western Digital clone hard drive to SSD) as well as cloning laptop hard drive to 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. 

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

2. Run the program and go to Clone -> Disk Clone option.

Disk Clone

3. Select the original hard drive as the source disk that you want to clone, and then click on Next

Select Source Disk

Tips:✎...
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.

Select Destination Disk

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.

Start Clone

Tips:✎...
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.

💛Important Notes: 

You will find the cloned SSD shows wrong size if the SSD disk is larger, since this software will make an exact copy of hard drive and leave the extra space as unallocated unless you adjust the partition size of it.

In this software, you could consider cloning and resizing hard drive with the following 3 practical options in Edit Partitions feature (supported by the professional version).

👉 Copy without resizing partitions: It will not resize the partition size.

👉 Add unused space to all partitions: It will reallocate the unallocated space to each partition of the target disk, appropriate for the disk size.

👉 Manually adjust partition size: It allows you to extend unallocated space to any partition on the destination disk you want. 

Add Unused Space

👉 Besides, you may see another premium feature in this feature - Convert the destination disk from MBR to GPT, and it may be different, depending on both disk types. In view of this, you may see Convert the destination disk from GPT to MBR option. 

It helps to convert MBR to GPT or GPT to MBR so as to avoid booting issues caused by different partition styles of the destination and source disk. And the free version of AOMEI Backupper only supports cloning system disk between two MBR disks. You need to upgrade to the professional edition and then clone GPT to GPT, MBR disk to GPT, or GPT to MBR.

So, now the question is what is MBR or GPT and how do I differentiate between them?

MBR and GPT are two different disk types for data storage. And you can check disk properties in Disk Management. The overall steps are below:

  • Press Win + R to open the Run window. Then, type diskmgmt.msc and hit OK to open Disk Management.
  • Then, right-click the disk you want to clone and select Properties in the expanded menu.
  • In the Properties window, select the Volume tab and confirm the partition style. It can be MBR (Master Boot Record) or GPT (GUID Partition Table).

Disk Partition Style

  • Similarly, check the disk partition style of the destination disk. If it is still MBR, you can clone hard drive to SSD for free. 

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.

Change Boot Order

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.

And it is quite useful when  you want to move Windows 10 to new computer, especially with dissimilar hardware. Its Universal Restore feature helps you install all the necessary drivers for system startup, so you can easily boot a computer even if it has different hardware.

Disk Backup

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 structures are the same on source and target disk. Besides, MBR disk can only boot from Legacy mode in the BIOS while GPT boots from UEFI mode. Set the right boot mode to boot normally. Change Legacy to UEFI boot mode if you are cloning MBR to GPT.
  3. 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’.
  4. 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

1. 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.

2. 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, etc.

3. Does a hard drive cloning migrate Windows OS?

Definitely. 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 ensures the cloned OS is bootable.

4. 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, Acronis True Image, etc.

5. 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 has only one hard drive slot. Finally, the screwdrivers.

6. 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

That's all about how to clone a hard drive to SSD in Windows 11, 10, 8, 7. Additionally, 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.