By Teresa / Last Updated April 22, 2019

Why clone laptop hard drive to external hard drive?

Laptops, such as Lenovo, Dell, Seagate and ASUS, become popular among personal users due to its flexibility and portability. The operation to clone a laptop hard drive is very common as well under some situations. In general, people would like to clone a laptop hard drive to an external hard drive out of these reasons.

  • Make a handy backup. Cloning laptop hard drive has the same effect of backing up laptop hard drive, i.e. it is also a way to protect important data. The difference is that the duplication made by cloning can be used directly when necessary yet it takes up much more disk space.

  • Improve user’s experience. SSDs become more acceptable at price and have many merits in security comparing to traditional hard drives. Some users clone laptop HDD to external SSD and then use it as the boot drive to improve its computer configuration and performance.

  • Prolong the use life of laptop. Except for SSDs, some users also clone laptop disk to new HDD to prolong the computer’s service life, especially on aging laptops.

Other reasons to clone a laptop to external may not be listed here. But what counts next is to figure out how to complete the task efficiently.

How to clone laptop hard drive to external hard drive?

Windows misses the clone feature currently so you need to turn to third-party cloning software. To choose reliable and easy-to-use disk cloning software, AOMEI Backupper Standard is recommended. It allows you to clone laptop hard drive free of charge.

To be specific, you can copy entire laptop hard drive to external hard drive in simple clicks. It offers two ways to clone a disk, sector by sector clone and intelligent clone. The later one supports clone larger drive to smaller drive effortlessly. Besides, to clone hard drive to SSD, the software will take care of SSD alignment to improve its performance. The freeware comes with no adware or bundled software. Go for it and have a try.


Before you get to know how to clone laptop hard drive to external hard drive, you need to do some preparations to make sure the whole process goes smoothly. If you just want to make a backup for laptop, please refer to the next part directly.

  • Choose the right external hard drive. Be sure that the external drive is compatible with your laptop.

  • Download (Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP/Vista supported) and install AOMEI Backupper Standard on your laptop.

  • A screwdriver to loosen back cover when necessary.

  • An USB cable to connect external drive to laptop.

Clone laptop to external hard drive with detailed steps and screenshots

1. Connect the external hard drive to your laptop. Open AOMEI Backupper Standard.

2. Click Clone and then Disk Clone.

Disk Clone

3. Select laptop hard drive as the source drive.

Select laptop hard drive

4. Select the external hard drive as the destination drive.

Select external hard drive

5. By default, the software will clone only used space from the source drive to the destination (intelligent clone). Preview the operation summary and click Start Clone after your confirmation.

Start Clone


  • Check Align partitions to optimize for SSD option if you clone to an SSD.

  • Click Edit partitions on the destination disk to specify partitions if needed.

  • Sector by sector clone method requires the destination disk is equal or larger than the source.

  • Above steps apply to clone laptop hard drive to USB drive as well.

  • If you want to clone a specific partition, for example, clone laptop recovery partition, try Partition Clone feature.

  • To clone only operating system to external drive, please upgrade current version to enjoy System Clone feature.

Works after cloning laptop hard drive

Wait for the cloning progress completes and then disconnect the external drive and shut down the laptop. If you’d like to use the cloned drive as the boot drive, you need to swap current hard drive with cloned hard drive.

1. Remove battery, power cable and other external connections.

2. Open the back cover of your laptop, you may need to slide the cover or loosen with screwdriver.

3. Unplug the connected cable of current hard drive. Replace it with the cloned disk and keep it well-connected.

4. Install the back cover and battery. Start the computer to see if it could boot up.

Cloned hard drive won’t boot after cloning? Some users find that the cloned disk will not boot as expected after swapping. Here are some possible causes, incorrect boot order or boot mode, or corrupted boot files. For detailed reasons and solutions, please refer to how to fix cloned hard drive won’t boot.

To ensure nothing falls through the cracks, it is suggested to do data migration on laptop via backup-and-restore method. The direct cloning way may be affected by poor connection or battery issue, so the recommended way offers extra certainty in successfully migration. To learn more, you can click to upgrade laptop to SSD.


An easy way to clone laptop hard drive to external hard drive is provided above. Follow the guide and other notices, and you can make duplication as easy as possible.

In fact, the cloning software, AOMEI Backupper Standard, supports create bootable USB drive or CD/DVD, which allows you to clone hard drive without booting Windows. In other words, it is free bootable disk cloning software too. Further, you may want to keep the software installed after cloning because it provides various backup solutions that can protect your laptop in all-around.