By Lily / Last update June 15, 2022

Sector-by-sector clone or not?

Most advanced cloning software includes an option called “sector by sector clone”. However, there are a number of users who are confused about this option and don’t know whether to use sector-by-sector clone or not. Understanding what sector-by-sector clone is can help you make the decision.

Sector-by-sector clone, also known as bit-by-bit copy, means to clone all the sectors on a hard drive, even if the sector is blank or it is a logically bad sector. Thus, the cloned drive will keep exactly the same as the source drive. You may need sector-by-sector clone in following occasions:

Switch HDD to SSD without reinstalling the operating system and all your applications, especially when the target and source drives are equal in size.
✔ Prepare a cloned drive for replacement in case that your main drive crashes all of a sudden.

Nevertheless, you may not use sector-by-sector clone if:

✖ The destination drive is smaller than the source drive, or the cloning process will fail.
✖ There are bad sectors detected on the source drive. Otherwise, the bad sectors will be brought to the destination drive as well.

Now you know whether to use sector-by-sector clone or not. What you need is reliable bit copy software to help you.

Best free sector-by-sector clone software

Want to run sector-by-sector clone for free? AOMEI Backupper Standard can meet your demands. It’s the best free sector-by-sector clone software which supports all Windows PC operating systems like Windows 11, 10, 8.1/8, 7, Vista, XP.

  • It offers you the features of “Disk Clone” and “Partition Clone”. You can use them to clone either an entire disk or a particular partition.

  • By default, it performs intelligent sector clone, which enables you to clone hard drive with bad sectors by skipping those bad sectors. If you want to clone a hard drive sector by sector, just tick the “Sector by sector clone” option.

  • Nearly all common hard drive brands are supported in AOMEI Backupper. You can use it to clone HDDs or SSDs of different brands, like Samsung, SanDisk, and Kingston.

What’s more, the cloning process will run in the background, so you can continue your work on the computer during the process. Then, how to use AOMEI Backupper for sector-by-sector clone on SSD/HDD? Please move on to the next part.

How to sector by sector clone an SSD/HDD in Windows 11/10/8/7

Before we start, you must backup files on the destination drive, because all the data in the destination will be deleted in the cloning process. I’ll show you how to perform sector-by-sector clone in Windows as follows:

Step 1. Download AOMEI Backupper and follow the wizard to finish installation. It will be installed in a short time.

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

Step 2. Launch AOMEI Backupper. Click “Clone” on the left pane and select the clone type. Take “Disk Clone” as an example.

Disk Clone

Step 3. Select the source disk that you want to clone and click “Next”. 

Select Source Disk

Step 4. Select the destination disk to store the cloned data and click “Next”.

Select Destination Disk

Note: The Standard edition only clones all the data disk and MBR system disk. To clone system disk between MBR and GPT or 2 GPT disks, please upgrade to AOMEI Backupper Professional. You can also clone only OS with the System Clone feature.

👉 Both MBR and GPT are two different disk types for data storage. To check its disk properties in Disk Management, follow the steps below:

  • 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

  • Similarly, check the disk partition tyle of the destination disk. If it is still MBR, you can clone hard drive from bootable USB for free. To clone GPT to GPT (eg: clone NVMe to NVMe), MBR to GPT or GPT to MBR, try professional version.

Step 5. Tick “Sector by sector clone”. Confirm the operation and click “Start Clone”. If you are cloning disk to SSD, tick “SSD Alignment” to improve its reading and writing speed.

Sector by Sector Clone

Notes:

  • If the source disk is the system disk, you need to change boot order in BIOS or replace the source drive with the cloned one to boot from it after cloning.

  • To get the best performance from a disk after cloning, it's suggested to transfer Windows 10 to NVMe. Because it has the fastest transfer speed. 

  • This software is still an M.2 SSD cloner, thus you can use it to migrate Windows 10 to M.2 SSD, clone M.2 SSD to M.2 SSD, etc.

Verdict

Whether to choose sector-by-sector clone or not? This article have given you a clear guide. In addition to cloning hard drives sector by sector, you can also enjoy the backup & recovery feature brought by AOMEI Backupper. After you figure out what to backup before reinstalling Windows 10, you can use it to finish the backup task. It also enables you to make Windows 10 manage backups automatically. Don’t hesitate to give it a try!