By Delia / Last Updated June 1, 2021

Why ghost hard drive to SSD?

When a hard drive has constant problems or is running out of storage space, you may want to replace it with an SSD to get larger capacity and better performance. But what about the operating system and all the personal files?

If you don't want to reinstall Windows and have a brand new start, the best idea is to ghost hard drive to SSD, which means migrating OS and data directly. Thus you can use the new SSD just as using the old hard drive, but with faster startup and operation speed.

Can you use Norton Ghost to clone hard drive to SSD?

Speaking of "Ghost", you may think of a clone and backup tool named Norton Ghost. It provided several options including Partition to Partition, Disk to Disk, Partition to Image, Disk to Image, Image to Partition and Image to Disk. That is, you can clone hard drive to SSD, or create a disk image and restore it to another disk.

Norton Ghost used to be so popular that till today many people still refer to clone hard drive or image hard drive as “ghost” hard drive. But unfortunately, it was discontinued since 2013, because it couldn't keep up with the times. Though you can still download Norton Ghost 15 from the internet, it only offers 30-day free trial. If you are okay with it, here is how to use Norton Ghost.

Norton Ghost

But for users who need an efficient and up-to-date solution, the following freeware would be a better choice.

Reliable software to ghost hard drive to SSD

If you simply want to ghost hard drive as a backup, then you can use a built-in or 3rd party backup software. But to ghost hard drive to SSD or another HDD, the most efficient way is to use disk clone software.

Among the dazzling array of options, AOMEI Backupper Standard is a remarkable one because of its compatibility and usability. It’s a freeware supporting Windows 10/8/7/XP/Vista and allowing you to transfer data between any HDDs and SSDs via the powerful clone functions. You can choose the entire disk or only selected partitions to ghost.

In most cases, the target disk may not be equally large as the source disk and that’s okay, because AOMEI Backupper copies only used sectors by default, which allows you to clone larger HDD to smaller SSD. If the target drive is larger, you can also perform sector-by-sector clone to copy the hard drive bit by bit.

As for image backup, this software supports File Backup, Partition Backup, System Backup and Disk Backup. Besides, you can schedule automatic backup to implement the task daily, weekly, monthly, etc.

Steps | How to ghost hard drive to SSD via disk clone?

Before ghosting hard drive, please prepare the following:

◉ Download and install the disk clone software

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

◉ Install the SSD alongside your hard drive: If there’s only one slot on your laptop, use a SATA-to-USB adapter to connect it. Make sure the SSD can be detected normally.

Note: AOMEI Backupper Standard supports cloning data disks and MBR system disks. If you want to clone system disk GPT to GPT, GPT to MBR or MBR to GPT, you will need to upgrade to Professional edition.

How to ghost HDD to SSD:

1. Open the software, go to Clone tab and choose Disk Clone. If you want to ghost only operating system to SSD, please choose System Clone (supported by Pro edition) instead.

Choose Disk Clone

2. Select the source hard drive and click Next. Then specify the target SSD and click Next to continue.

Choose Disk

3. Tick SSD Alignment to accelerate the reading & writing speed of the target SSD, and click Start Clone to implement the hard drive ghosting.

Sector By Sector Clone: Copy all the sectors and therefore create an intact copy of the hard drive. It applies to cloning disk to larger or equal-sized disk.
Edit Partition: Resize and rename partitions on the target disk. It’s available in advanced editions and can help you assign unallocated space on a larger disk.

Disk Clone Preview Align SSD Checked

After the completion, you can shut down the computer, replace the HDD with the cloned SSD and boot from it.

Alternatively, you can boot from the SSD and keep the HDD as a secondary storage drive. This doesn’t require you to replace the hard drive physically, just restart the PC, press the required key to enter BIOS and set the SSD as the first boot option.

After booting from the SSD successfully, you could wipe the hard drive to free up more storage space. Just switch to Tools tab and select Disk Wipe to proceed.

Other useful features in advanced editions:

  • Clone dynamic disk (Pro and above): For a dynamic disk, you cannot ghost it directly by Disk Clone. Instead, you need to perform System Clone to ghost system volume, and Partition Clone to ghost data volumes.
  • Dissimilar hardware restore (Pro and above): If you want to ghost system to another computer, you could use System Backup to create a system image, and tick Universal Restore when restoring it to dissimilar hardware.
  • Create portable version (Tech or Tech Plus): To use all these functions on multiple PCs without downloading or installation, you can create a portable version of AOMEI Backupper on removable device.

Summary

To ghost hard drive to SSD on laptop or desktop, the easiest solution is using disk clone software like AOMEI Backupper. Its powerful disk clone feature allows you to ghost larger HDD to smaller SSD, or SSD to larger SSD. The built-in SSD alignment feature also helps you to improve the performance of target SSD and prolong its life span.

In addition to cloning, you can use the backup features of AOMEI Backupper to image partition, OS or the entire disk. With it, you can transfer system image to new hard drive or even another computer with secure boot.