By Teresa / Last Updated October 28, 2020

Why clone larger drive to smaller drive in Windows?

"I need to clone my 1TB hard drive to a 500GB SSD to gain better performance, and the 1TB one is only using around 250GB of space so it would fit fine. Anyone knows a program that will let me clone it to a smaller one? Seems all the ones I’ve tried want the destination to be the same or bigger. The hard drive is sounding like it is going to fail (lots of clicking sounds) so I figure I should do it before something bad happens. Thanks."

Do you ever need to replace your old hard drive with a new but smaller one holding same reason as above? Hard drive fails and hardware updates. It is not uncommon to clone larger drive to smaller drive these days.

You may want to clone larger drive to smaller SSD drive especially when SSD is becoming popular among computer users. It could be counted as a wise move to clone boot drive to SSD only and make old HDD as secondary storage device due to SSD’s property. Anyway, to clone HDD to smaller drive, you need to find a suitable solution.

The easiest way to clone larger hard drive to smaller hard drive

Hard drive upgrading is nearly an inevitable process. However, when it comes to choose which software to clone disk to smaller drive in Windows 10/8/7, you’ll want to make sure it has options you need. Cloning is still a missing feature in Windows backup utility. There is no doubt that you have to turn to 3rd party software.

However, when you Google clone software on the website, you may find that some of them are paid software while some of them support only clone to equal or larger size hard drive. In order to clone larger disk to smaller disk successfully, you may want to use professional clone software AOMEI Backupper.

AOMEI Backupper Standard is free yet powerful cloning tool for all Windows PCs. The most important reason to choose AOMEI Backupper is that it allows you to clone only used part to target disk called Intelligent Clone option as long as the used part fits the drive. The operation will not ask you to shrink partition or volume before cloning.

Further, AOMEI Backupper’s built-in technology will take care of 4K partition alignment for SSD to improve performance and prolong lifespan when the target disk is an SSD. Also, cloning GPT disk to smaller SSD is supportable.

Besides, it is OK if the larger drive section is a little bit destroyed because AOMEI Backupper supports clone hard drive with bad sectors. So set your mind at ease to free download this software and clone larger hard drive to smaller hard drive now. Following paragraph will take cloning to smaller SSD for example.

How to clone larger hard drive to smaller SSD step by step?

Video Tutorial:

Graphic Step-by-step Tutorial:

Step 1. Connect the smaller SSD to your PC and make sure it can be detected. Install and launch AOMEI Backupper Standard. Click Clone and then choose Disk Clone.

Disk Clone

Step 2. Choose the larger drive as the source disk.

Select Source Disk

Step 3. Choose the smaller SSD drive as the destination disk.

Select Destination Disk

Step 4. This operation uses Intelligent Clone by default. Tick SSD Alignment since the target disk is an SSD. Finally, click Start Clone to execute.

Start Clone

Step 5. (Optional) Replace larger drive with the smaller SSD if you cloned system disk before. Also, you can change boot priority to cloned disk in BIOS only to boot from the new drive.


  • Do not check Sector by sector clone because this will clone all sectors on larger drive, then it will fail to clone larger drive to smaller drive.

  • To use the "Manually adjust partition size" and "Add unused space to all partitions" options, or clone system disk between MBR and GPT partition style, please upgrade to advanced version.

  • This function, SSD Alignment, will improve reading and writing speed of SSD as well as prolong its service life.

  • To clone larger partition to smaller drive, choose Partition Clone instead.

  • AOMEI Backupper Server Edition helps you clone larger drive to smaller drive in Server 2016/2012 (R2)/2011/2008 (R2)/2003.

What to do when cloned drive won’t boot?

Cloned hard drive may not boot as expected due to various causes, such as corrupted operating system, missing boot related partition, operation mistakes, wrong boot order, etc.

Don’t be panic if you confront such situation. In the first place, you need to understand that the cloning operation has no harm to the original hard drive since it just makes duplications. Then, you can follow this article to figure out how to fix cloned SSD won’t boot with detailed guides.


It is quite easy to clone larger drive to smaller SSD on the condition that you choose the right cloning tool. Except for cloning, AOMEI Backupper actually has many other helpful features. For instance, you can clone SSD to HDD in Windows 10, back up hard drive without booting Windows, transfer everything from C drive to SSD, create bootable Win PE & Linux media, etc.