By Ivy / Last update October 31, 2022

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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 a larger drive 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."

Clone Larger Drive to Smaller SSD

Do you ever need to replace your old hard drive with a new but smaller one holding same reason as above? Better performance, hard drive fails or hardware updates. 

It is not uncommon to clone disk to smaller disk these days and the reasons may be different. You may also 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.

Best disk cloning software to clone larger drive to smaller drive

Hard drive upgrading is nearly an inevitable process, so you need the best disk cloning software that has options to meet your needs. Disappointingly, cloning is still a missing feature in Windows backup utility. But you can still turn to 3rd party software.

If you have done a deep research in advance, you may know that lots of software only supports cloning to equal or larger size hard drive, or they are charged. Here I strongly recommend you AOMEI Backupper Professional, which can clone larger disk to smaller disk successfully in Windows 11/10/8/7/XP/Vista with secure boot. You can benefit a lot from its following features:

  • Intelligent Clone

The "intelligent clone" feature makes it possible to clone to a smaller drive. It clones only used part to target disk as long as the used part fits the drive, so you can clone Windows 10 to new hard drive successfully, even to a smaller one. And this operation will not ask you to shrink partition or volume before cloning. It's the most important reason why I recommend this software.

Besides, it is OK if the larger drive section is a little bit destroyed because "intelligent clone" will skip bad sectors automatically when cloning hard drive with bad sectors.

  • SSD Alignment

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. What's more, it supports all branded SSDs, such as HP, Samsung, WD, SanDisk, Lenovo, etc. Also it supports different disk types like SATA,  NVMe, or PCIe.

  • Multiple Clone Types

 Except for disk clone, you are allowed to migrate OS to smaller SSD with "System Clone" or move data on specific partitions with "Partition Clone". 

Set your mind at ease to free download this software and have a try now. Following paragraph will show you how to clone a larger drive to a smaller one in detail. Take cloning to smaller SSD for example.

Download DemoWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step by step guide: clone larger hard drive to smaller SSD

Here are two guides to help you clone larger HDD to smaller SSD with secure boot. The video can show the whole cloning process more intuitively while graphic tutorial provides more details about this operation. It's suggested to check the video tutorial first and then get details in the graphic tutorial. 

No matter which tutorial you will check and follow, you need to make some preparations before cloning to a smaller drive.

  • Install the smaller SSD disk on your computer and be sure it can be detected. If it's not initialized, please initialize it in the Disk Management first.

  • If your computer is a laptop, you need to prepare a SATA-to-USB cable or adapter

  • Check the two disk spaces, and then clean the larger drive to fit the smaller SSD. 

  • Check disk partition style (MBR or GPT) of larger drive and smaller drive. If both of them uses MBR or GPT, you can directly clone hard drive without converting partition style. If not, please convert it. The easiest way is to use Edit Partitions feature in this software.

In Disk Management, right click the hard disk or the SSD, choose Properties -> Volume -> Partition Style, then you will see "Master Boot Record(MBR)" or GUID partition table(GPT). You can also check partition style when selecting disks in AOMEI Backupper.

Disk Partition Style

  • One external hard drive. You may need to transfer large files to get some space or create a system backup or disk backup to prevent data loss or system crash owing to human error.

Video Tutorial:

Graphic Step-by-step Tutorial:

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Backupper Professional, and then you will see its deep-blue interface. Click Clone and then choose Disk Clone to start the cloning process.

Disk Clone


Note: The "Disk Clone" feature can only be demonstarted in the trial version. To clone larger drive to smaller drive and boot from it, you need to upgrade pro trial to the full version. 

Step 2. Choose the larger drive as the source disk, and then click Next.

Select Disk

Step 3. Choose the smaller SSD drive as the destination disk and click Next.

Choose Destination Disk

Step 4. This operation uses Intelligent Clone by default, so you can easily clone to smaller drive. Then, preview the operation summary and click Start Clone to execute. 

Start Clone

① It's suggested to tick SSD Alignment while cloning hard drive to SSD, because it can optimize the performance of SSD disk and make your computer run faster after cloning. 
② Do not check Sector by sector clone because this feature is to clone all sectors on larger drive, and it will fail to clone bigger drive to smaller drive due to insufficient disk space. 
Edit Partitions is used to avoid unallocated space after cloning hard drive to larger drive. You have 3 options,  including ""Copy without resizing partitions, "Manually adjust partition size" or "Add unused space to all partitions" option.

Copy Without Resizing

Step 5. (Optional) Replace larger drive with the smaller SSD and try to boot from it. If it doesn't automatically boot from the cloned drive, you need to change boot priority to it in BIOS and try again.


① To get the best performance of cloned SSD disk, it's suggested to clone Windows 10 to NVMe SSD. Because it has the fastest speed.
② To clone larger HDD to smaller SSD without booting Windows, you can create a bootable media with this software and boot from it, then perform disk clone.

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 a 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 drive like smaller SSD on the condition that you choose the right cloning tool. AOMEI Backupper can be a great choice, because it can ensure a safe boot after cloning. At the same time, it provides some useful features to optimize the process, such as hot clone, intelligent clone, 4k alignment technology, etc. 

Also, you can use it to clone SSD to HDD in Windows 10, clone hard drive to larger drive, copy NTFS drive, migrate Windows 10 to M.2 SSD, create bootable Win PE & Linux media and so on. 

If you happen to have this need, download it to have a try right now. After all, practice is the truth of everything.