By Delia / Last update April 29, 2021

Case: I want to clone/duplicate hard drive

Is there software that enables me to copy one hard drive to another or clone HDD? I was thinking about transfer all data to a new SSD and still able to load Windows and everything should function correctly.

Duplicate, also known as clone, means to create a complete and functional copy of the source hard drive. If the original one is a primary hard drive, then you should be able to boot Windows from the duplication as well.

The most common scenario for duplicating hard drive is when you get a new HDD or SSD and want to copy all the data and OS from the old one, e.g. duplicate HDD to SSD, SSD to another SSD. Also, it’s not a bad an idea to keep an exact copy of the hard drive as a backup in case it fails unexpectedly.

duplicate hard drive

How to copy an entire hard drive?

It’s true that you can transfer files between 2 hard drives by copying & pasting or dragging & dropping, but can you copy an entire hard drive like this?

For ordinary files like documents or pictures, you can directly move them in File Explorer - but this does not apply to system files or hidden files. To duplicate a hard drive containing enormous data and Windows installation, the best way is to use effective disk clone software. Thus you can copy the entire hard drive at once and make it bootable.

AOMEI Backupper Standard is a good choice to help you clone HDD or SSD for free in Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP.

By default, it will only copy used sectors, so you can clone larger HDD to smaller SSD as long as the SSD is large enough to hold all the data on the HDD.

If you want to make an exact duplication of the hard drive including the blank and logically bad sectors, you can also perform a sector-by-sector clone. Thus even the system reserved recovery partition can function normally.

With AOMEI Backupper, the operation to copy hard drive will be greatly simplified. Keep reading to learn how.

Preparations to clone hard drive in Windows 10/8/7

  • Clean up the source hard drive - If there are some files and apps you don’t need anymore, delete them.
  • Install the target hard drive - For laptop with only one slot, connect the target disk via SATA-to-USB adapter.
  • Install hard drive clone software - Download AOMEI Backupper Standard and install it for further operation.
Download Freeware Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP
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*The Standard edition is a completely freeware. If you want to migrate only OS, resize partitions of the target disk, copy dynamic disk and so on, you can choose Professional edition.

How to duplicate a hard drive to another with clone software?

AOMEI Backupper Standard contains a Disk Clone feature to copy the entire hard drive, and a Partition Clone feature to duplicate individual partitions. Now I will introduce its basic operation.

How to clone hard drive to SSD with AOMEI Backupper:

1. Open the software, navigate to Clone tab and select Disk Clone.

If you want to transfer only the operating system, you can choose System Clone (supported by Pro edition)

disk clone

2. Select the hard drive you want to duplicate and click Next.

select source disk

4. Then select the connected destination disk and hit Next.

select destination disk

3. For the target SSD, tick SSD Alignment to improve its performance. If you want to copy all the sectors on the source hard drive, you can also choose Sector By Sector Clone. Then click Start Clone.

To clone hard drive with different size and avoid unallocated space, you can click Edit Partition (supported by Pro edition) to resize and rename partitions on the target disk.

start clone

After completion, if you want to use the cloned disk as the boot drive, you can shut down the PC and replace the old hard drive with the new one directly.

If you want to keep the old one as a storage device, you can press the required key (varies by manufacturer) during startup to access BIOS/UEFI settings, and select the cloned hard drive as the first boot option. After saving the settings, the PC will restart and boot from the selected hard drive.

change boot order

Notes:

  • The Standard edition supports cloning system disk from MBR to MBR. To clone GPT to GPT, MBR to GPT or GPT to MBR, you need to upgrade to Professional edition.
  • The target disk will be overwritten during the operation. If there’s any important data stored on it, please use backup features of AOMEI Backupper to create a backup of it.
  • After cloning, if the computer boot from the cloned drive properly, you can then decide whether to erase the old hard drive. AOMEI Backupper also contains a Disk Wipe feature to suit your needs.

Summary

The best way to duplicate hard drive is using disk clone software, AOMEI Backupper is an example. It enables you to clone a hard drive to another with secure boot, and the operation could be done with several simple clicks.

Not only disk cloning, you can also use it for data protection and disaster recover, it enables you to create system image on regular basis, and even restore system image to different computer.

If you want to use these powerful features on Windows Server, you can try the specialized Server edition.