By Ivy / Last update June 15, 2022

How can I transfer boot drive to another drive?

It's disappointed that Windows does not have a free disk clone software to copy boot drive to another drive, whether HDD or SSD. Reinstalling Windows is complicated and time-consuming, and most users don't want to spend time on it. Indeed, this is something we often avoid doing. So, how to transfer boot drive to another drive without reinstalling Windows?

To make it, you can seek help from third-party software to easily and quickly clone all the required partitions and system files you will use to start your computer. I strongly recommend you use AOMEI Backupper Standard to clone HDD to SSD in Windows 11/10/8/7 for free. It’s used by many users worldwide.

Now, let's have a glance at this article.

Does cloning a drive make it bootable? 

How to change boot drive to SSD in Windows 10/8/7? Does cloning a drive make it bootable? Some users may have these doubts. Here, I can tell you responsibly that the cloned disk can successfully boot your computer. Cloning a hard drive in Windows10/8/7 makes a bootable copy of the entire disk, including everything required to start your computer. Meanwhile, you need to make sure the following things.

1. Your new HDD or SSD needs to be the same or larger than your old boot drive. If not, the system files, hidden system reserved partition, or EFI partition may not be included in the new disk, so cloned hard drive will not boot. 

2. Your target disk should have the same partition style as the current boot disk. Otherwise, your computer still cannot start. As you know, MBR disk starts from legacy BIOS and GPT disk boots from EFI or UEFI boot mode.

To check partition style between two drives, you could go to disk management, right-click the hard disk or the SSD, choose Properties -> Volume -> Partition Style, then you will see its partition style, either MBR or GPT. Both of them are disk types for data storage.

Disk Partition Style

3. If your computer is a laptop, you still need a USB-to-SATA adapter or encloser. Most laptops have only one drive slot, so you need to connect the drive externally to ensure the cloning process goes smoothly.

How to copy boot drive to new SSD or HDD for free

To move boot drive to another drive in Windows 11/10/8/7, you can use the “Disk Clone” feature of AOMEI Backupper Standard.

  • It allows you to clone smaller disk to larger disk or even clone larger HDD to smaller SSD for free. 
  • If your target disk is an SSD, you can optimize its performance through the "SSD Alignment" feature.
  • You are able to clone different kinds of disks, such as clone NVMe to NVMe, clone M.2 SSD to M.2 SSD, etc. 

Let's have a closer look at the detailed steps to copy boot drive to new drive or SSD and here take Windows 10 as an example. Please install the new HDD or SSD on the desktop computer. If it's a laptop, you could use a USB-to-SATA cable to connect for cloning.

Step 1. Download and install free disk cloning software - AOMEI Backupper Standard. Then, launch it, click Clone and Disk Clone to start the cloning process. 

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Disk Clone

Note: The Standard edition only supports copying boot drive between MBR and MBR. If you want to copy Windows boot drive to another drive between GPT and GPT, or MBR and GPT, please upgrade to Pro edition. You can also use the "System Clone" feature in the Pro edition to only move boot partition in Windows 10/11.

Step 2. Select the boot drive containing the operating system as the source disk and click Next.

Select Source Disk

Step 3. Select the new HDD or SSD as destination disk and click Next.

Select Destination Disk

Step 4. Confirm the operation and click Start Clone to clone boot drive in Windows 10. 

Start Clone

👉 Helpful features for cloning: 

• "Edit Partitions": It helps you make full use of disk space on the target disk by "Add unused space to all partitions" or "Manually adjust partition size". But it's available on AOMEI Backupper Professional at least.  
• "Sector by sector clone": It allows you to clone all sectors of the disk to a larger one, whether used or not. 
• "SSD Alignment": It will accelerate the reading and writing speed of SSDs while performing HDD to SSD clone.

👉 And it's suggested to use the first feature if you are in one of the following situations. It helps you resolve them completely. 

#1: The cloned drive not show full capacity.

By default, all the cloning software makes an exact copy of the source disk, as a result, the clone drive does not show full capacity after cloning. If the target disk is larger, please try the following 3 options in the Edit Partitions. And the last two options are available on the Professional version.

  • Copy without resizing partitions: It will not resize the partition size.
  • Add unused space to all partitions: It will 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 on the destination disk you want. 

Edit Partitions

#2: The cloned drive not bootable after cloning.

One of the biggest reason is the destination and source disk has different partition style and you don't convert them to the same before cloning. In this situation, you can simply check Convert the destination disk from MBR to GPT or vice versa, depending on the disk partition styles of them. 

What to do after moving boot drive to another drive?

Sometimes, your computer will not boot from the target drive automatically, especially for a laptop. For a desktop, you can directly change boot order to set the boot priority for cloned disk, then it will boot.

But if you are using a laptop, you need to take out the old hard drive and install SSD on the location of your original hard drive. If you don’t switch boot drive in Windows 10/8/7, it may boot from the original hard drive automatically. Then, set the cloned hard drive to the first boot option and boot from it.

Switch Boot Drive

Notes:
• If your target disk has a different partition style as the source disk, and it's GPT, please change Legacy BIOS to UEFI, and vice versa.
• Don’t format the older boot disk until your computer can boot from the new drive. 
• If your HDD is still working well, you can use SSD for OS and HDD for storage. Therefore, you can enjoy the high performance of SSD and big capacity of HDD. 

In the end

With the help of free disk cloning software - AOMEI Backupper Standard, you can copy boot drive to another drive (HDD or SSD) in Windows 11/10/8/7 easily and quickly. This operation saves you much time and effort and you don't need to reinstall Windows from scratch. And you are allowed to clone hard drive with different size, whether to larger HDD or smaller SSD. 

If you want more advanced cloning features, such as clone and resize hard drive, clone MBR disk to GPT without converting partition style and vice versa, clone dynamic disk in Windows 7, migrate only Windows 10 to new hard drive, etc, please upgrade to the professional version of AOMEI Backupper.

Also, this software is still a free backup and restore software to protect your computer by its powerful backup solutions, including file backup, system backup, disk backup, partition backup, incremental & differential backup, event trigger, daily/weekly/monthly schedule backup, create bootable USB etc. Just download it to have a try right now!