By Delia / Last update June 14, 2022

Q: Should I format SSD before cloning?

 

It’s a dumb question of the day. I want to clone an old drive installed on my laptop to an SSD then install the SSD in the laptop. Should I format SSD before cloning the old drive to it? I am going to use third-party software to do the cloning.

SSD

A: It is not a must step to format disk before cloning

Swapping out hard disk drive for a solid-state drive is one of the best upgrades you can make to speed up your computer. And disk cloning is the easiest way to keep your old data and operating system intact.

Since this feature is not supported by Windows native apps, many people may turn to third-party software, and have a concern before performing cloning: do i need to format the target SSD (or HDD) in advance?

Formating SSD means to erase all data on the SSD and rebuild a file system so that your operating system can read data from or write data to the SSD. Usually it is used to remove viruses, junk files and free up storage space. Simply put, it is not a necessary step before cloning, as your disk cloning solution will usually clone the partition style over and overwrite the target disk.

confirm format

But we can also discuss 2 specific scenarios as follows:

If your target SSD is brand new, then you don't need to format the SSD. However, you may need to initialize it first to make it detectable by Windows. Usually when you first insert the disk you will be prompted to initialize it, or you can search into Disk Management, right-click on the disk that reads "Not Initialized" and select "Initialize Disk".

In terms of the partition style, it is best to make it the same as the source disk for convenience, or you can choose according to your specific needs. For example, if you want to install Windows 11 in the future, you can choose GPT for better support.

If the target SSD has been used before,  Then you don't need to initialize it, and usually you don't need to format it either, because that cloning process automatically overwrites the data, partitions, etc. of the target SSD.

*If you've installed OS on that SSD, then there's a small chance that residual registry information etc. may affect your booting from the cloned SSD. So if you want to eliminate any disadvantages, you may consider wiping disk first.

Freeware for cloning hard drive to SSD without formatting

Should I initialize SSD before cloning? It is unnecessary to format your new SSD if you use the best free cloning software - AOMEI Backupper Standard.

💜 Automated formatting

It enables you to clone hard drive to SSD without formatting, as the SSD will be formatted or initialized during the cloning process.

💜 Cloning hard drive of different sizes

It applies to clone large HDD to smaller SSD as long as the SSD has enough space to store all data on the HDD. You are also allowed to clone SSD to a new SSD with larger capacity.

💜 SSD optimization

It is capable to improve the reading and writing speed of the destination drive with SSD alignment.

💜 All Windows OS

It supports Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP. If you are a server user, please turn to AOMEI Backupper Server.

You can simply download the SSD cloning freeware to copy old drive to new SSD without formatting. Let’s see how it works.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

✎The free version supports cloning all data disks and MBR system disks, if you want to clone system from GPT to GPT, GPT to MBR or MBR to GPT, please use Professional edition. If you are not sure about it, please open Disk Management, right-click the disk you want to clone, choose "Properties" - "Volumes" and check the "Partition style".

How to perform a disk clone without formatting

Connect the new SSD to your computer. As you may know, the cloning process will delete all data on the new SSD. If there is any data on it, make sure to do a disk backup in advance.

Before cloning, you need to install and launch this utility.

Install

Step 1. Click Disk Clone under Clone tab. *The System Clone will clone only OS and requires Pro edition.

Disk Clone

Step 2. Select the Source Disk (here is Disk 0) you plan to clone. Then choose Next.

Source Disk

Select the Destination Disk (here is Disk 2). Then choose Next.

Destination Disk

Step 3. Confirm the Operation Summary. Click SSD Alignment to improve the performance of the target drive while cloning hard drive to SSD. Then choose Start Clone.

Start Clone

Related Tips:

💜 You can click Edit Partitions to resize partitions. For settings, you can choose Copy without resizing partitions, Add unused space to all partitions or Manually adjust partition size. Please upgrade to the Professional edition to enjoy the feature. 

  • 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. 
  • Convert the destination disk from MBR to GPT: It helps to convert the partition style of the destination disk if it is different from the source disk. 

Add Unused Space

💜 The free version of this software only supports cloning all the data disk and MBR system disk (a disk type for data storage). To clone GPT to GPT, GPT to MBR, or MBR to GPT, try the professional version. 

To check its disk properties in Disk Management, try the following steps:

  • Press Win + R to open the Run window. Then, type diskmgmt.msc and hit OK to open disk management.
  • Then, right-click the disk you want to clone and select Properties in the pop-up window.
  • In the Properties window, select the Volume tab and confirm the partition style. It can be MBR (Master Boot Record) or GPT (GUID Partition Table).

Disk Partition Style

💜 While the default mode will clone only used sectors, the Sector By Sector Clone will clone every sector no matter used or not. If your source drive has a hidden recovery partition and you want to make sure it can work on the cloned SSD, please tick the option.

💜 The steps apply to various scenarios, such as cloning disks of different sizes, cloning Windows 10 to NVMe SSD for better performance, etc. 

How to boot from the cloned SSD securely

Once the cloning is complete, turn off your computer and open the case to replace the old drive with the new cloned drive. Then see if you can boot and enter Windows normally.

install nvme

If your computer has an extra slot, you can also keep the old disk as the second storage drive. In this case, please press the specific key (depending on the make and model of your computer) at startup to enter BIOS and make sure that the cloned SSD is in the first boot order. If the computer boots up successfully, you can then erase the old drive to free up more space.

Verdict

Do you need to format SSD before cloning? This article tells you the answer – you don’t need to do that as long as you use AOMEI Backupper Standard. Apart from copying hard drive to SSD, this freeware is also working well when you need to clone SSD to HDD in Windows 10, clone hard drive Windows 11, replace laptop HDD with SSD, clone SSD to larger SSD, migrate Windows 10  to M.2 SSD, etc. Give this freeware a chance!