How to Clone Larger HDD to Smaller SSD on Windows 11/10

Effortlessly clone large HDD to smaller SSD to upgrade Windows 11 or 10 system disk, and maximize performance. Check this step-by-step guide here.


By Teresa Updated on February 22, 2024

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Help! Can You Clone a Larger HDD to a Smaller SSD?


Hey there! So, here's the deal—I've been rocking this 1TB hard drive for a good ol' 5 years now, but it's showing signs of wear and tear. Now I got myself a fancy 500GB SSD, but here's the hiccup: my old HDD is bigger than the new SSD.
I'm not a tech wizard, so I'm wondering if there's a super easy way to clone my bigger drive to the smaller one without pulling my hair out. Any help would be seriously appreciated! Thanks a ton! 🙌

- Question from

No worries at all! Cloning a bigger drive to a smaller one might sound like a tricky task, but fear not. There are some fantastic hard drive cloning software out there that can handle this job like a pro.

Before you get started, you may be interested in the advantages of cloning to an SSD.

Benefits of Cloning HDD to Smaller SSD

Upgrading the system hard drive has become pretty common as more and more users are expecting to improve their computers' performance without replacing the entire system.

HDD and Smaller SSD

Here are main reasons that you might choose to clone hard drive to smaller SSD:

  • Faster speeds and higher performance. It’s well-known that SSDs have better boot speeds and faster read/write speeds than HDDs. Also, SSDs are popular for system security, compatibility, and durability. 

  • Progressively acceptable prices. With the popularization of SSDs, SSDs are getting affordable and you can now get an SSD with good performance and affordable price. 

  • Efficient disk usage arrangement. Many computer users deploy the SSD for OS and HDD for storage setup strategy, i.e. have their OS on an SSD for fast boot speeds and data on an HDD for big capacity.

  • Saving time and effort. Cloning a large hard disk to a smaller SSD saves you the hassle of reinstalling your operating system and applications, and avoids error-prone processes. After cloning, all configured system settings will remain intact and ensure secure booting.

So, without further ado, let's first figure out the specialist disk cloning tool , and then learn how to safely and effortlessly clone larger drive to smaller drive!

Powerful Disk Cloning Software to Clone to Smaller SSD 

There’s a huge range of disk cloning software available on the market, like Acronis True Image (now Cyber Protect Home), Clonezilla and Macrium Reflect, yet most of them will only let users clone disk to SSD that is equal to or larger than their current drive. For example, users find they cannot use Clonezilla to clone disk to smaller disk.

To clone larger HDD to smaller SSD and ensure secure booting, you should consider using professional hard drive cloning software - AOMEI Backupper Professional edition.

★Key features in cloning:
💛Disk clone entirely: it will clone all data from one hard disk to another disk, including OS, settings, personal files, etc. Supports GPT and MBR partition sytles, and SATA, PCle, NVMe interfaces.
💛System migration: it will clone OS drive and boot-related drives only, so that you can migrate Windows 10 to smaller SSD. Supports Windows 11, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, XP as well.
💛Intelligent clone: it will clone only the used part of the source disk by default, thus making it possible to clone large HDD to smaller SSD. The partitions will be automatically adjusted to fit the smaller SSD during the cloning progress. 
💛SSD alignment: it can help you improve SSD’s performance (i.e. accelerate reading and writing speed) and prolong its lifespan.
💛Hot clone: it allows you to cloning hard drive without interrupting running worklods. You may also clone hard drive without booting Windows via bootable media.
💛Multiple disk brands support: it allows you to perform all popular disk data migration, including Crucial clone HDD to smaller SSD, SanDisk clone to smaller SSD, clone HDD to Samsung SSD, etc.

Don't hesitate to download AOMEI Backupper to have a try!

AOMEI Backupper

Easiest hard drive clone software for Windows PC.

How to Clone Hard Drive to Smaller SSD Safely

In this part, you can learn how to clone Windows 11/10 to a smaller SSD in just a few simple steps.

You-Must-Do Preparations

In the first place, please:

  1. Prepare an SSD disk and be sure it's recognized. Cloning Windows 10 to NVMe SSD will be a great option if you want to make your computer run faster.

  2. Connect or install the smaller SSD to your computer, and make sure it can be detected.

  3. Check if the used space of large HDD is less than or equal to smaller SSD. If not, please free up disk space before cloning HDD to SSD in smaller size.

  4. Backup files on the target smaller SSD, since it will be overwritten in the cloning process. 

Stepwise Guide to Clone Larger Hard Drive to Smaller SSD

1. Install and open AOMEI Backupper on your computer. Click on Disk Clone under the Clone tab.

Disk Clone

2. Select the larger HDD as the source disk, and then click Next. Click on the smaller SSD as the destination disk, and click Next to continue.

Select Disk

3. Check the SSD Alignment option, which is essential for achieving the SSD’s best performance. Then click Start Clone to begin cloning HDD to smaller SSD free.

Start Clone

✎ Note: The "Sector by Sector Clone" feature will clone all sectors of a hard drive to another one, thus don't check this feature if the target disk is smaller. It is only suitable for cloning hard drive to larger drive or cloning SSD to larger SSD. 

4. (Optional) To boot from the cloned SSD, you may change boot order in the BIOS or replace the HDD with the SSD.

✌ Helpful Tips: 
● If the used space on the source disk is beyond the SSD’s capacity, you may migrate operating system to SSD with the System Clone feature.
● The same steps apply to cloning 1TB HDD to 500GB SSD, cloning 500GB HDD to 256GB SSD and the like, as well as clone disk to larger disk, clone NVMe to larger NVMe.
● The cloning should be successful in general. However, if you, unfortunately, encounter the boot issues, don't be worried, please refer to cloned drive won't boot for further information.

The End

In conclusion, the process of cloning a larger HDD to a smaller SSD is achievable in both Windows 11 and 10. Thanks to the user-friendly interface of AOMEI Backupper, even individuals with limited computer experience can effortlessly perform this cloning task, supporting a wide range of SSD brands like Samsung, SanDisk, Crucial, WD, and others.

Furthermore, AOMEI Backupper stands out as a professional backup solution, offering a comprehensive suite of features. You can create full system backups, disk backups, partition backups, and file backups scheduled, and perform basic file sync, real-time file sync, and two-way file sync.

For IT experts or service providers who require disk cloning or OS migration on multiple Windows computers, the Technician edition provides a convenient solution.

By generating a portable version of AOMEI Backupper on a removable device, it allows users to execute the cloning process on any target PC without the need for installation. Don’t hesitate to download AOMEI Backupper and try it out for yourself.

People Also Ask

1. What happens if the used space on the larger drive is larger than the capacity of the smaller drive?

If the used space on the larger drive exceeds the capacity of the smaller drive, the cloning process will not be possible. In such cases, you will need to either resize the partitions on the larger drive to reduce the used space or consider using specialized software that can intelligently handle the cloning process by excluding unnecessary files.

2. Is it possible to clone the operating system along with data from a larger drive to a smaller drive?

Yes, it is possible to clone both the operating system and data from a larger drive to a smaller drive, as long as the used space on the larger drive is within the capacity limits of the smaller drive. AOMEI Backupper ensures your operating system and data are successfully transferred to the smaller drive.

3. Which software should I use to clone a larger drive to a smaller drive?

There are various software options available to clone drives, but not all of them support cloning from a larger drive to a smaller drive. One recommended solution is AOMEI Backupper, a professional hard drive cloning software that can handle the cloning process effectively, even when moving from a larger HDD to a smaller SSD.

4. Can I clone from an HDD to an SSD, and vice versa?

Yes, the cloning software allows you to clone between different disk types, such as from an HDD to an SSD or vice versa. This process ensures that all data and system configurations are accurately transferred to the new drive, enabling you to upgrade your storage without losing any data.

Teresa · Editor
Joined AOMEI in 2015, Teresa has become an expert in the areas of data backup and migration. She shares her insights on setting up full protection for a Windows PC/Server and performing hard drive cloning. With a sharp focus on the latest technological trends, she ensures that the information shared is consistently aligned with the ever-evolving developments in the industry.