SATA vs. NVMe, which one is better?
Why would many users want to clone SATA to NVMe? Is NVMe SSD really better than SATA drive? Let’s start with an overview of the two.
SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) is an interface used to connect solid-state drives (SSDs), hard disk drives (HDDs) and optical drives. SATA greatly improves upon its predecessor - PATA, and under ideal conditions, the read speed can reach up to 600 MB/S.
NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) is the new standard host controller interface that uses the PCI Express (PCIe) bus to connect SSDs. An NVMe SSD can reach a top speed of 3500MB/S, which is 6x faster than a SATA SSD. But given the high speed and low latency, it also costs more - kind of like the comparison between HDD and SSD.
In a nutshell, if you pursue high read & write speed and have enough budget, NVMe SSD is a good choice. The problem is, how can you migrate all the data and the operating system from SATA to NVMe?
Case: Can I clone SATA SSD to NVMe SSD?
I plan to clone my Windows 10 and files on Crucial SATA SSD to a new NVMe SSD, from which I will always boot, but I'd also like to wipe the source SATA SSD and use it as additional storage space on the same PC. Can I do this and how?
First of all, it’s possible to clone SATA SSD or HDD to NVMe SSD as long as your system supports it. Most of NVMe SSDs use the M.2 form factor, but not all M.2 slots support NVMe, so you better double-check it.
If your motherboard has an M.2 slot that supports NVMe, and your computer supports UEFI boot mode, you can then use disk clone software to clone SATA drive to M.2 NVMe SSD directly. As stated in the above case, it’s also a wise option to keep the SATA drive as a secondary storage device.
In the next section, I will elaborate on what you need to prepare for this.
What to do before cloning SATA to NVMe?
As mentioned above, NVMe-enabled M.2 slot and UEFI boot mode are prerequisites for this (cloning SATA to NVMe) to happen. Besides, you still need to do the following preparations:
👉 Connect NVMe SSD into the NVMe M.2 slot correctly
Motherboards using the recently released Intel z97 and AMD FX 990 chipsets support both M.2 SATA and PCIe SSDs. In addition, there are numerous notebooks already having M.2 PCIe slots.
You can check your system specifications and user manual to see if it is compatible. If yes, make sure to connect the NVMe SSD to the right slot, otherwise it may not show in BIOS.
✎If the NVMe SSD is brand new, you may be asked to initilize it when you install it (or open Disk Management). Select the partition style as GPT (GUID Partition Table) and click OK.
👉 Get enough space to run disk cloning
Cloning hard drive from one to another requires the target drive has enough space to hold all the data on the source disk. And this affects whether the cloning is successful or not. To avoid cloned drive won't boot due to not enough space, try the following steps:
- Check disk space of both SATA and NVMe drive. Type diskmgmt.msc in the search box and press Enter to open it. Then, you will see all the available disks and its capacity, partition style, file system, etc.
- Free up space by deleting unnecessary files and apps, run a disk cleanup to clear temporary files in SATA drive.
👉 Download and install disk clone software
As you know, you cannot boot from NVMe SSD in legacy mode, and GPT is the partition style to work with UEFI. So if your source SATA drive is formatted with MBR in old BIOS, you will need to convert the partition style in advance to avoid clone SATA SSD to NVMe inaccessible Boot Device and similar issues.
To simplify the process, I would recommend AOMEI Backupper Professional here, this powerful cloning tool has a Disk Clone feature that can clone system disk from GPT to GPT or even clone MBR to GPT without conversion. If you only want to clone Windows 10 from SATA to NVMe, you can use the System Clone feature instead.
Also, it runs in an intelligent clone mode by default to copy only used sectors, this allows you to clone SSD to larger SSD, or clone larger HDD to smaller SSD. For the target NVMe SSD, you can perform automatic SDD Alignment to accelerate its reading and writing speed.
This program works on all editions of Windows 11, 10, 8.1/8, 7, Vista and XP. Download it to have a shot:
*The Clone features in Free Trial are for demo only. To complete the operation, please upgrade to full version.
👉 Related tip: check partition style (MBR/GPT)
As mentioned earlier, your target NVMe needs to be partitioned as GPT to properly support UEFI, otherwise you may encounter boot problems. To check the partition style of a disk:
- Press Win + R to open the Run window. Type "diskmgmt.msc" and hit OK to open disk management.
- Then select the disk, go to "Properties" > "Volume" > "Partition style" to check whether the partition style is MBR (Master Boot Record) or GPT (GUID Partition Table).
Tutorial: How to clone SATA drive to NVMe SSD
With all the preparations done, you can perform SATA to NVMe clone with following steps.
✎If there's any important data on the NVMe SSD, please first go to Backup tab and backup files to external hard drive or other devices. This is because cloning SATA to NVMe will overwrite everything on the target NVMe SSD.
1. Launch the software, go to Clone tab and choose Disk Clone. If you only want to clone Windows 10 to NVMe SSD, you can also use the System Clone feature.
2. Select the SATA hard drive or SSD as the source disk, click Next. Then select the NVMe SSD as the destination disk, hit Next to continue.
3. Tick SSD Alignment to improve the performance of the NVMe SSD, then click Start Clone to execute the operation.
✎You can also use the following features:
👉 Sector By Sector Clone: Clone all the sectors, including the blank and logically bad sectors. You can tick this option when cloning SATA SSD to a larger NVMe SSD. It will take longer time accordingly.
👉 Edit Partitions: Adjust the partition size of the destination disk.
- Copy without resizing partitions: It will not resize the partition size.
- Add unused space to all partitions: Reallocate the unallocated space to each partition of the target disk, appropriate for the disk size.
- Manually adjust partition size: It allows you to extend unallocated space to any partition as you want.
- Convert the destination disk... (optional): Convert the partition style (MBR/GPT) of the target disk if you want it to be the same as the source disk. You can also leave it unchecked to keep the partition style unchanged.
4. Restart the computer, press a specific key (e.g. F2, F8, F12, Del, etc.) to enter BIOS, make sure the boot mode is UEFI boot mode. If it's Legacy mode, change it to UEFI here, otherwise you may find the cloned SSD won’t boot.
Note if you want to keep the SATA SSD/HDD as a data storage device, you need to set NVMe SSD as the first boot option in the UEFI menu. As for the SATA drive, you could use the Disk Wipe tool to wipe the hard drive as you like.
AOMEI Backupper also supports you to clone NVMe to SATA, you just need to connect the SATA drive properly and select the source disk and target disk accordingly.
If you want to clone SATA to NVMe SSD for faster reading and writing speed, AOMEI Backupper is a great helper with its powerful disk cloning feature. With it, you can easily transfer data and operating system between disks with different sizes and partition styles.
Moreover, this software offers complete data protection and disaster recovery solutions. You can use it to schedule automatic backup on regular basis, or perform incremental and differential backup to save changed files only.