By Delia / Last Updated December 2, 2020

Case: Clone Laptop Hard Disk to External Drive

“I purchased an external SSD drive and I am trying to clone my laptop hard drive to the external drive, and remove all the content from the laptop hard drive. How can I do that?”

Data stored on a laptop is not always safe. In addition to system failures and malfunctions, hard drive corruption is one of the common reasons for the loss of important files. Therefore, you may want to copy the contents of laptop hard drive as a backup, or replace a faulty hard drive without losing data. In either case, cloning laptop to an external hard drive is an effective solution.

Clone Laptop To External

How to Clone Laptop Hard Drive to External Hard Drive?

Speaking of copying hard drive, you might think about manual copy & paste first. Does it really work?

Generally you can duplicate most of the data with copy & paste in File Explorer, but boot files, protected files and hidden files are not included. It won’t help you transfer the operating system, and the transmission speed is not suitable for enormous data.

The easiest and safest way to clone a laptop hard drive along with OS is using a disk cloning program - it will greatly speed up the process and simplify the operation. Also, the cloned hard drive is bootable - you don’t need to reinstall Windows 10/8/7 from scratch.

One example is AOMEI Backupper Standard, this backup & clone freeware enables you to clone laptop hard disk to external hard drive in a simple and flexible way. No matter you want to clone laptop HDD to external SSD or clone laptop SSD to larger SSD, this program can be a big help. Furthermore, the intelligent cloning technology will only copy the used sectors and allows you to clone larger drive to smaller drive.

If you upgrade to advanced editions, you can enjoy more convenient features such as cloning only laptop operating system to external hard drive, cloning dynamic volumes on dynamic disks, cloning MBR to GPT or vice versa.

Clone Hard Drive to External HDD or SSD with Best Freeware

To copy hard drive to external hard drive successfully, you need to do some preparations:

>>Clean the current laptop hard drive especially when your external hard drive has limited capacity. Delete unwanted files, uninstall unnecessary apps, and run a disk cleanup to delete temporary files as you want.
>>Connect the external hard drive to your laptop. For an ordinary HDD or SSD, you can use SATA-to-USB adapter to connect it as external hard drive.
>>The destination hard drive will be overwritten. If you’ve stored anything important on it, please backup the external hard drive in advance.
>>Download and install the cloning software on your laptop.

How to clone laptop hard drive to external hard drive

1. Open AOMEI Backupper, switch to Clone tab and select Disk Clone to copy the entire laptop hard disk.

If you upgrade to Professional or higher editions, you can also choose System Clone to clone only OS partitions.

Disk Clone

2. Select the current disk as source disk, click Next.

Select Source Disk

3. Choose the external hard drive as destination, click Next to continue.

Select Destination Disk

4. Optionally, you can Edit Partitions, tick SSD Alignment or Sector By Sector Clone. Then confirm the operation and Start Clone.

SSD Alignment: If your target hard drive is an SSD, ticking this option will accelerate the reading and writing speed.
Sector By Sector Clone: This program copies only used sectors by default. If you have sufficient space in the target disk and want to create an intact copy of the laptop hard drive, you can choose sector-sector clone. Note in this case the destination disk should be equal to or larger than the source disk.
Edit Partitions: Adjust partition size and drive letter on the destination disk. Available in advanced editions.

Start Clone

◆ To make the laptop boot from the cloned hard drive:

If you want to replace your laptop disk with the cloned hard drive, you can replace it physically > press the required key to enter BIOS > choose the cloned hard drive as the first priority in the boot order > press F10 to save the changes and exit. Then the laptop shall boot from the cloned hard drive.

Change Boot Order Bios

◆ To remove all the data from the old laptop hard drive:

After you’ve confirmed the cloned hard drive is bootable, you can wipe up the source disk with DiskPart.

  • Press Windows + R key to open Run window. Enter “diskpart” in the textbox and press Enter.

  • In the popping out window, type “list disk” and press Enter to display all the connected disks.

  • Select the disk you want to wipe from the list, type the command like “select disk 1” and press Enter to continue.

  • Then type “clean all” and press Enter to execute the command. After a while you should be prompted with “DiskPart succeeded in cleaning the disk”.

List Disk

Verdict

How to copy laptop hard drive to external hard drive? A cloning tool like AOMEI Backupper could be a good idea. It’s free to clone laptop to external hard drive no matter for backup or hardware replacement. With it, the procedure for disk cloning will be greatly simplified.

In addition to cloning, you can use AOMEI Backupper to backup Windows 10 to external hard drive or other devices on a regular basis. If you are worried the laptop fail to boot due to various reasons, you can also create a bootable media to rescue it at a crisis.