About M.2 SSD
Earlier SSDs use SATA standard that is also used by regular hard disk drive (HDDs), so these earlier SSDs are like laptop HDDs. Actually, SSD doesn’t need to have a shell, and then Micro-SATA(also known as m-SATA) was invented. They did not stop there, and then M.2 SSDs come into play, formerly called the Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF), which is much faster and smaller than regular SSDs. Because it is so small, users can add an M.2 SSD to a laptop that does not have room for a regular SSD.
If you are going to clone HDD to M.2 SSD with SSD cloning software, you need to figure out a few things before purchasing an M.2 SSD. Firstly, ensure the size of the SSD is suitable for your computer, which is unlikely a problem for a desktop. Secondly, you need to know the specifications of the hardware like whether it is an m-SATA or PCIe bus. Thirdly, though unlikely your computer board will not support booting from M.2 SSD, it is also recommended to confirm it with the board maker.
Best free hard drive cloning software
In order to copy hard drive to M.2 solid state drive, the cloning software you use must be reliable, and it should have the following capabilities.
- Since generally, an SSD is smaller than an HDD, it must support cloning large disk to a smaller one.
- It should be able to align partitions to optimize the use of SSD.
- Recent computer hardware is using UEFI boot mode by default, so this software must fully support UEFI. It is even better if it can clone MBR to GPT disk or back.
- It needs to support cloning hard drive within Windows, so you can still use the computer to do whatever you like while the clone is in process. No need to create a bootable media using a USB drive or CD to perform the clone.
Luckily, there is a free M.2 cloner known as AOMEI Backupper Standard that meets all these requirements. If you need to clone a system disk from MBR to GPT, GPT to MBR, or GPT to GPT, you may try higher editions.
How to clone HDD/SSD to M.2 SSD
After connecting your M.2 SSD to your computer, make sure it is recognized by your computer. If it is shown in Windows Disk Management, then you can follow the steps below to clone hard drive to M.2 SSD. The steps to copy SSD to M.2 SSD are the same.
Note that this software will only clone used sectors to target disk, thus, you can clone HDD to SSD in Windows 10 successfully, even smaller one. Please be sure the target disk has enough space to hold all the data on the source disk.
- Download and run this M.2 cloner AOMEI Backupper in Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, etc. For Windows Server users, you can turn to AOMEI Backupper Server.
- At the Home screen, click on “Clone” and then select “Disk Clone”.
- Select the original hard drive as source disk and select the M.2 SSD as the destination disk successively.
- Tick "SSD Alignment" to accelerate the reading and writting speed of the destination SSD. Click “Start Clone” to start cloning HDD to M.2 SSD.
Also, you can use Sector by sector clone to keep the old partition layout or Edit Partitions to adjust the partition size on the destination disk. And the later one is more practical, since it resolves two potential issues during the cloning process.
#1: The cloned drive not show full capacity.
By default, all the cloning software makes an exact copy of source disk unless you change the partition size while cloning. To prevent this from the beginning, try the following 3 options. And the last two options are available on 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.
#2: The cloned drive not bootable after cloning.
One of the biggest reason is the destination and source disk has different partition style and you don't convert them to the same before cloning. In this situation, you can simply check Convert the destination disk from MBR to GPT or vice versa, depending on the disk partition styles of them.
Both MBR and GPT are two different disk types for data storage. And you can check its 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 pop-up window.
- 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).
- Similarly, check the disk partition tyle of the destination disk. If it is still MBR, you can clone hard drive from bootable USB for free. To clone GPT to GPT (eg: clone NVMe to NVMe), MBR to GPT or GPT to MBR, try professional version.
After reading this article, you may know how to clone HDD to M.2 SSD. It is strongly recommended to replace the old hard drive with an SSD for better performance. With the help of AOMEI Backupper, you can easily clone all kinds or brands of hard drives or upgrade M.2 SSD without reinstalling Windows.