How to Clone HDD to External Drive with Freeware in Windows 10/8/7 (4 Steps)?

July 3, 2019

Learn the best free way to clone Windows internal hard disk drive to external hard drive, USB external drive or external SSD in laptop or PC.

Why clone HDD to external drive?

Hard drive cloning or duplication becomes more and more common among thousands of computer users. People choose to clone hard drive to external hard drive under different situations. Here are some main reasons for them to clone Windows hard drive to external.

  • Clone internal hard drive to external hard drive for duplication. Some users backup PC to external drive out of data security. Yet, it needs to be restored before accessing data. Hard drive copying saves that step.

  • Clone HDD to external SSD for disk upgrading. Cloning system drive to SSD helps users migrating operating system and installed applications to new disk without reinstalling. All contents including partition table, the MBR (master boot record) and the registry will be cloned to target disk.

  • Transfer hard drive to external hard drive for identical partition layout.

Then, what are the necessary tools to help you copy hard drive to external hard drive easily?

How to clone hard drive to external hard drive in the best way?

Windows misses the cloning feature in its built-in tools. Thus, turning to third party cloning tools is an unavoidable choice. AOMEI Backupper Standard is free disk cloning software that allows you to clone hard drive to external drive such as external SSD, external USB drive and USB external drive in simple clicks. Cloning from larger drive to smaller drive is available as long as the space is sufficient for cloned data.

Sector by Sector Clone and Intelligent Clone features are available in this software. In addition, you have choice to align partition to optimize for SSD if you clone hard drive to external SSD drive. No bundled adware and supported by Windows 10, 8, 8.1, 7, XP and Vista. Free download to have a try.

Clone hard drive to external drive via freeware step by step

To clone laptop hard drive to external hard drive, please connect the external drive to your computer through a USB/SATA adapter. In desktop, install the external drive directly.

Step 1. Install and launch AOMEI Backupper Standard. Click Clone and then select Disk Clone.

Clone HDD Disk

Step 2. Select HDD as the source disk.

Choose HDD

Step 3. Select the external drive (USB drive, SSD or hard drive) as the destination disk.

Choose External Drive

Step 4. Check the operation summary and click Start Clone.

Clone HDD to External Drive

Step 5. Replace the cloned external drive with your hard drive if the need ever arises.


  • If you want to clone every sector of the hard drive, check Sector by sector clone box. Make sure that the target disk is larger or equal to the source disk. Otherwise it will only clone used part by default.
  • If you want to migrate operating system to SSD, then check SSD Alignment box to improve SSD’s performance.
  • Cloning will overwrite the target external drive, backup file that matters a lot for you.
  • To resize partitions on the destination disk, you can click Edit Partitions. To manually adjust partition size, please upgrade to Professional edition. Here comes a screenshot of editing partitions.

Edit Partitions

This process will last for a while according to the size of your hard drive. If you want to boot system from the cloned external drive, be sure to change the boot sequence in BIOS.

AOMEI Backupper Standard helps you clone HDD to external drive within a few clicks. Besides, you can operate more system management with this software, say clone boot drive to SSD, backup system, backup PC to external hard drive, clone partition in Windows 10, etc.