By Lily / Last update October 20, 2022

What is disk clone or system clone?

In computing, clone is a method of replicating every bit of information from one place to another and making the source and the destination exactly the same. There are two types of clone when it comes to upgrading hard drive: disk clone and system clone. What are they?

Disk Clone or System Clone

  • Disk clone is the process of copying the entire disk. All data saved on the drive will be transferred, including the operating system, applications, drivers and personal files.
  • System clone copies only the system partition and system-related partition(s), such as EFI system partition and recovery partition. All information that is necessary for system to run in the destination location will be transferred, and so will other files you store on system partitions.

Now you see the difference between disk clone and system clone is to clone either the entire disk or particular partitions. Then, how to choose between them?

System clone vs disk clone: how to choose between them

To choose from disk clone and system clone, you may take following things into consideration:

1. The contents you want to transfer

If you want to get an exact copy of the original drive, then choose disk clone. If you only want to use the old operating system on the new drive, then pick system clone.

2. The capacity of the destination disk

When cloning a larger disk to a smaller disk, you should make sure that the destination disk is big enough to hold all data saved on the source disk if you use disk clone. Sometimes you have to use system clone due to the capacity limitation.

System clone or disk clone? That depends on your demands and how many data your destination disk can hold. As there’s no built-in cloning utility in Windows, you may look for reliable third-party cloning software.

All-in-one cloning software in Windows - AOMEI Backupper

AOMEI Backupper Professional, powerful cloning software for Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP, offers both Disk Clone and System Clone features. Wanna know AOMEI Backupper Disk Clone vs. System Clone? Please read on.

★ With the Disk Clone feature, you can clone large drive to smaller drive, clone MBR disk to GPT disk, and vice versa. It also enables you to clone HDD to SSD of different brands, such as Samsung SSD, WD SSD, and Crucial SSD. Moreover, you can optimize the performance of the SSD using the SSD Alignment feature.
★ With the System Clone feature, you can transfer OS from SSD to new SSD or from HDD to SSD without effort. The program will select the system partition and system-related partition(s) automatically, which helps to reduce human errors. After cloning, you can enjoy secure boot from the new drive.

Now let’s learn detailed steps of performing disk clone and system clone via AOMEI Backupper. Take cloning to an SSD as an example. Before you start, download and install AOMEI Backupper on your PC.

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◈ Connect the target SSD to your computer and make sure it is detected.

Backup files on the destination SSD, because the target drive will be overwritten during the cloning process.

Video tutorial:

Graphic tutorial:

Case 1: Clone HDD to SSD via AOMEI Disk Clone

Step 1. Run AOMEI Backupper. Click “Clone” on the left pane and select “Disk Clone”.

Choose Disk Clone

Step 2. Select the current disk as the source disk.

Choose Source Disk

Step 3. Select the SSD as the destination disk​​​​​​.

Choose Destination Partitioned HDD

Step 4. Tick “SSD Alignment”. Confirm the operation and click “Start Clone”.

Disk Clone Preview Align SSD Checked

Sector by sector clone: it will clone every sector on the source disk no matter it is used or not, which requires the destination disk to be equal to or larger than the source disk.
To get the best performance from the cloned disk, it's suggested to clone Windows 10  to NVMe SSD. Because it has the fastest transfer speed.
Besides HDD to SSD cloning software, it is still an M.2 SSD cloner. Thus, you can use it to clone M.2 SSD to M.2 SSD, migrate Windows 10 to M.2 SSD, etc.

Case 2: Migrate OS to SSD using AOMEI System Clone

1. Launch AOMEI Backupper. Click “Clone” and select “System Clone”.

Choose System Clone

2. The required system partition(s) is (are) selected by default. Select the partition on the connected SSD as the destination path and click “Next”.      

Choose Destination Partition

3. Tick “SSD Alignment” and click “Start Clone”

SSD Alignment

Make full use of disk space: If the target disk is larger than the source disk, then the software will by default check Make full use of disk space checkbox to expand the system partition.
To boot from the new drive, you can either change boot order in BIOS or replace the source disk with the destination SSD. 

To sum up

You have learned disk clone vs. system clone from this page. The best cloning software AOMEI Backupper can help you complete these two tasks perfectly. Apart from the clone feature, AOMEI Backupper is specialized backup and sync software. You may use it to do system backup, disk backup, file synchronization and more. If you are a server user who is running Windows Server 2019/2016/2012, etc, AOMEI Backupper Server is available. Go for it right now!