By Ivy / Last update June 21, 2022

Content of this article

Need help: how to copy one hard drive to another

“I get a 2TB new hard drive and want to replace the old 500GB hard drive in my laptop. But I don’t want to waste much time reinstalling the operating system and the applications, so how do I copy one hard drive to another? Any ideas?”

“I have a large amount of files needs to be transferred to another drive, not only pictures, documents, but also music, videos, programs, because my old drive almost run out of the disk space. Can I just copy and paste them to a new drive? ”

Just like the above cases, many users want to copy hard drive or all the data on it to get rid of insufficient disk space problem. A large drive can give your computer new life, and it will run faster. An SSD will be better if you can make more investment. Also, you may just create a duplicate copy to prevent system crash or data loss.

Simple copy and paste operation works well when you want to transfer a small number of files, but you may be disappointed if you copy hundreds of files or the disk containing OS and multiple installed programs. The process is time-consuming and tedious. Even worse, your computer will fail to boot due to hidden boot files or partition(s) missing.

Well then, is there any easy way to copy boot drive to another drive? You can do so by cloning. Please keep reading below to get the best free disk cloning software and a step by step guide to clone hard drive.

Best free disk cloning software for Windows

To clone a hard drive in Windows 7/8/10/11, best free disk cloning software is indispensable, which can free you from the tedious work and make the clone drive bootable if it’s a system disk. Here I strongly recommend AOMEI Backupper Standard.

It supports “Disk Clone” and “Partition Clone”, both two features can help you transfer data from one hard drive to another in Windows 11/10/8/7. To clone entire hard drive including OS and data, you could use “Disk Clone” feature.

Also, you can benefit from its useful features. Its “SSD Alignment” makes use of 4k technology to help SSD achieve the best performance while cloning HDD to SSD, not just reading & writing speed, but also the lifespan. Its “Sector by sector clone” can help you clone all sectors of a hard drive as long as the new disk has enough space to hold everything on the old disk.

Step by step guide: copy one hard drive to another in Windows 11/10/8/7

Prepare for hard drive clone:

  • Get a new drive, either HDD or SSD. If it’s not initialized, please initialize the disk in disk management.

  • Check the drive capacity. In most cases, the target drive needs to be equal or larger than source drive, so everything including OS, programs and data can be included. If not, please clean it up to keep only what you want to clone on the disk.

  • If your computer is a laptop, please remember to prepare a USB-to-SATA or USB-to-IDE cable to connect the new disk for cloning.

  • Download the best free disk cloning software – AOMEI Backupper Standard and install it on your computer.

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

Things to know before cloning with AOMEI Backupper Standard:

  • All data on the destination disk will be overwritten finally, so please backup file in advance.

  • You can clone HDD/SSD, MBR system disk or MBR disk.

  • You can clone disk to lager disk and clone large HDD to smaller SSD in simple steps.

Now, let’s go straight to the point. See steps below and learn how to clone laptop hard drive.

Step 1. Connect the new disk to your computer and be sure it can be recognized.

Step 2. Launch this software, and you will see its deep-blue interface. Then, click Clone and Disk Clone subsequently.

Disk Clone

Notes:
✿ The free version of disk clone software only supports cloning MBR system disk to MBR. To clone GPT to GPT, MBR to GPT or GPT to MBR, you could use AOMEI Backupper Professional.
✿ Both MBR and GPT are two different disk types for data storage. If you don't know the disk types of your disks, you can check them in the 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. If both of them are MBR, you can copy one hard drive to another totally free of charge. 

Disk Partition Style

Step 3. Select the current hard drive (here is Disk0) of laptop and click Next.

Select Source Disk

Step 4. Select the new HDD or SSD (here is Disk1) and click Next.

Select Destination Disk

Step 5. In the Operation Summary window, confirm the information is correct and click Start Clone to copy hard drive. If your disk is an SSD, please remember to tick “SSD Alignment” to optimize the performance of it.

Copy One Hard Drive to Another

Also, you can use Sector by sector clone to keep the old partition layout or Edit Partitions to adjust the partition size on the destination disk. And the later one is more practical, since it resolves two potential issues during the cloning process. 

#1: The cloned drive not show full capacity.

By default, all the cloning software makes an exact copy of source disk unless you change the partition size while cloning. To prevent this from the beginning, try the following 3 options. 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. 

Add Unused Space

#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 their disk partition styles. 

Tips:
• To copy OS from one hard drive to another, you could use “System Clone” in AOMEI Backupper Professional.
• To transfer personal data, you could use “Basic Sync” or other sync options. “Real-Time Sync”, “Mirror Sync” and “Two-Way Sync” are supported by AOMEI Backupper Professional.

Your Turn

That’s all for how to copy one hard drive to another drive in Windows 7/8/10/11. You can use “Disk Clone” to clone entire hard drive including all the data on it. And it also applies to copy USB to USB, replace hard drive in ASUS laptop, clone hard drive in Windows 10, etc.

Also, if you just want to transfer personal data, you can use one of the file sync solutions. It’s all your decision, download the freeware to have a try right now.