Use SSD for OS and HDD for Storage | Your Best Choice

Learn the best practices of using SSD for OS and HDD for storage to gain higher performance and larger capacity simultaneously and try it yourself.


By Jonna Updated on August 11, 2023

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The need to use SSD for OS and HDD for storage

“I know this isn’t easy to answer over the Internet. But I’m building my first pc and I want to use my SSD for OS and HDD for storage. I kind of know the basics but I heard about partitioning the HDD which I get confused on. Can someone please help!”

This is a real user case from a forum and the voice of many users. It's not surprising, because setting SSD for OS and HDD for storage largely takes advantage of their respective advantages. To be specific, SSD has better performance (eg: faster speed) and HDD has a larger capacity at the same price.

In addition, SSD still has many highlights, it's lighter, quieter, more durable, produces less heat, and consumes less power. And the SSDs does not have any moving part and it’s less likely to get damaged. Thus, it's the best choice to keep operating system on SSD and everything else on HDD. 

SSD for OS HDD for Storage

Best practice of using SSD for boot and HDD for storage

To set SSD as boot drive and HDD as storage, the best way is to migrate OS to SSD and then format HDD for reuse. But the method will be slightly different based on your situation.

Situation 1: Your computer is brand new

If your computer is brand new, you can choose to create an installation media using ISO from Microsoft Download center and then clean install OS on the SSD disk. Then, format the hard drive with built-in tool Disk Management. Also, you can choose to backup image of your old computer and then perform dissimilar hardware restore (taking hardware incompatible issues into consideration).

Situation 2: Your computer is well-configured

If your computer has been used for a long time, a lot of software is installed, and a lot of data is stored, such as pictures, music, video, document, etc, then your best choice is to clone OS only in Windows 7/8/10 to SSD disk.  You don't need to reinstall Windows, programs, configure system settings and suffer from data loss.

In sum, if your computer does not have any software, you can choose to fresh install with ISO image file provided by Microsoft. If you have an old computer or the current system is well-configured, clone or backup and restore with an all-in-one software will be a better choice. 

Best software to make SSD for operating system and HDD for storage

To use SSD for boot and HDD for storage easily, you need the help of an all-in-one software for Windows 11/10/8/7/XP/Vista like AOMEI Backupper Professional. It provides users two available ways to make SSD as boot drive, suitable for all branded SSDs, such as, WD, SanDisk, Samsung, HP, Dell, etc, namely,  "System Clone", "System Restore", and one thorough way to wipe a hard drive for storage.

By default, this software supports "Intelligent Clone" and "Intelligent Sector Backups" that only clone or backup the used sectors, including the operating system, system settings, personal data and programs stored on the system partition, etc. Thus, no matter which way you use, you can migrate OS from HDD to SSD successfully, even from large HDD to smaller SSD, and boot from the cloned SSD without any obstacle. And you can enjoy many useful features during the process.

  • SSD Alignment: It is used to further accelerate the reading and writing speed of SSD disk and prolong its lifespan. 
  • Sector By Sector Clone: It is used to clone all sectors of a partition or disk, here is system partition on the HDD.
  • Universal Restore: It is used to resolve the hardware incompatibility issue when you restore system image to a computer with different hardware and make your computer boot successfully from the restored SSD disk. 

After making SSD as boot drive, you still need to use HDD for storage. Then, how to make it? You need to delete all the data on the system partition or entire disk with its Disk Wipe feature. It supports 4 different disk wiping methods, namely, Fill sectors with Zeros, Fill sectors with random data, DoD52220.22-M, Gutman, and the latter three methods are more thorough. Download this software to have a try right now!

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

How to use SSD as boot drive and HDD as storage easily

Here I will show two available methods mentioned before in order. The first method to set SSD as boot drive and HDD as storage is to clone SSD for OS only and format HDD for storage. But in between, you still need to check if the cloned SSD is bootable, otherwise, your computer will fail to boot.

While for the second method, it's similar to the first one, just replace the clone process with backup and restore. Note if the target computer is a new one with different hardware, it's suggested to use Method 2, which can resolve the driver incompatible issues between different computers.

Then, follow the instructions below to prepare and learn the steps of setting SSD as boot drive and HDD as storage.

  • Make sure that the case of your computer can contain 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch drive. In general, SSD is 3.5-inch while HDD is 2.5 inches.

  • Prepare a 120GB SSD at least.

Method 1: Use SSD for operating system and HDD for storage with clone feature

Step 1: Clone SSD for OS only with System Clone

1. Connect the prepared SSD to your computer and make sure it can be detected. Then, launch disk clone software AOMEI Backupper Professional, and click System Clone under the Clone tab.

Choose System Clone


If you want to clone all the data on the original disk, you can choose to clone hard drive to SSD with Disk Clone feature. 

Professional edition supports cloning both data disks and systems disks from MBR to MBR/MBR to GPT, or GPT to  GPT/GPT to MBR. If you only want to clone data disks, you can pick the complete free Standard edition.

2. Select the prepared SSD as destination path. This software will select the system partition and boot-related partition(s) by default.

Select Prepared SSD

3. Tick SSD Alignment to improve the writing and reading speed of SSD disk. Then, you can click Start Clone if there is no problem.

Tick SSD Alignment

Tip: If the SSD disk is big enough to hold all sectors of data on the system partition in the HDD disk, you can choose to clone all sectors with Sector by Sector Clone feature.

Step 2. Boot computer from the cloned SSD

The cloning process is complete, then you need to format HDD as storage. But it's not wise to do so before you ensure the cloned SSD is bootable. In that case, your computer will fail to boot if the cloned SSD does not work. Therefore, please boot computer from the cloned hard drive and check if it's bootable first.

1. Restart your computer and press the specific key (eg: ESC, F2, etc) on the initial screen to access BIOS.

2. Go to the Boot tab and change SSD as the first boot option via “Shift and +”.


3. Save changes and exit BIOS screen. Then, your computer will restart and boot from the cloned SSD. If not, you can refer to cloned SSD won't boot to find out the cause of boot failure.  

Step 3: Wipe a hard drive for reuse 

1.  Launch AOMEI Backupper, go to Tools, and select Disk Wipe.

Disk Wipe

2. In the wiping type window, you will see two disk wiping types, namely, Wipe partition(s) or unallocated space on the disk, Wipe Disk

>> If you only want to wipe OS, select the first method and then choose the system partition on the HDD disk.

>> If you want to wipe entire disk including all the data, select the second method and then choose HDD disk.

Wipe Disk

3. Then, you will be asked to select a partition, unallocated space or disk according to the option you choose in the previous step. Then, click Next.

Select Disk

4. Here is the last step, you need to select a disk wiping method, depending on the safety and speed of it. Then, click Start to wipe HDD disk. 

>> If you just want to delete all the data on a partition or disk quickly, you can use the "Fill sectors with Zero"  or "Fill sectors with random data" option. By comparison, the latter is safer.

>> If you want a more thorough way, you could consider using "DoD52220.22-M" or "Gutman" option. The previous disk wiping method can wipe disk 7 times while the latter one is up to 32 times.

Fill Sectors with Random Data

Also, you can choose to format disk with built-in disk partition manager - Disk Management. The steps are below:

1. Press Win + R to open the Run window, then type diskmgmt.msc in the box and hit Enter. 

2. After that, you will enter the Disk Management window, right-click the HDD and select Format.

Format HDD for Storage

3. Then, choose FAT32 or NTFS as file system and click Next until the last step. Click Finish to start the formatting process.  

Method 2: Use SSD for boot and HDD for storage with backup and restore feature

Using backup and restore feature to set SSD for OS only, except for an SSD disk, you still need another disk to store the backup image temporarily. And if you want to use system image on a computer with different hardware, you need to install SSD on the computer and create bootable media to boot it for recovery. If it's on the same computer, you can directly skip the process of creating bootable media. 

Step 1: Create a system image backup with System Backup

1. Launch AOMEI Backupper, go to Backup and System Backup in order. Then, it will select the system partition including the operating system, stored personal data and programs, etc, and boot-related partition(s) automatically.

System Backup

2. Select the box at the lower location and select a disk to store the backup image. After that, click Start Backup.

Select Backup Destination

Step 2: Create a Bootable USB to boot computer

1. Go to Tools and Create Bootable Media

Create Bootable Media

2. In the Bootable Disc Type window, select Windows PE - Create bootable disc based on Windows PE and click Next. This type of bootable disc can use all the features in this software while Linux-based bootable disc does not.

Windows PE

3. In the Select Bootable Media window, select a storage device to store the boot files to start this software under PE mode. You have three options, select CD/DVD, USB or ISO image file and click Next to start this process. 

Create Bootable USB

Step 3: Restore system image to new SSD easily

1. Install SSD on the new computer, and connect the created bootable USB and disk containing system image to it. Restart this computer and set boot priority to bootable USB in the BIOS. After that, save changes and restart to Windows PE mode.

2. Here you will see the main page of AOMEI Backupper, click Restore and Select Image File to choose the backup image on the external disk.

Select Image File Winpe

3. Tick Restore this system image and Restore system to other location. Then, click Next. 

Restore This System Image Backup

4. Select the new SSD as restore destination to receive the backup image. Then, click Next.

Select Destination

5. Confirm the disk info, tick SSD Alignment and Universal Restore, and click Start Restore

Restore System to New SSD

After the system restore completes, you still need to check if the restored SSD is bootable media and wipe HDD for reuse. The steps are exactly the same as shown in Method 1, please follow Step 2 and Step 3 of it to complete the rest of steps.


If you want to use SSD and HDD together on laptop or desktop, the best choice is to use SSD for OS and HDD for storage. Only in this way, you can fully make use of the biggest advantages of SSD and HDD disk simultaneously, making your computer run faster and store more data.

Then, how to make it easy? If your computer is brand new without installing any software, you can choose to install Windows from scratch.  If your computer has many data or programs or you want to keep all the configured settings in the old computer, you can choose to clone or backup and restore system to new SSD with reliable software. 

AOMEI Backupper Professional is such one software you can rely on, which supports both clone and backup and restore features. More surprisingly, it also supports Disk Wipe feature to delete everything on a partition, unallocated space or entire disk. Thus, you can easily complete the SSD for OS and HDD for storage task with the help of it.  For IT professionals or technicians, it's suggested to use AOMEI Backupper Technician or TechPlus. 

Jonna · Editor
Jonna joined AOMEI in 2021 and has become a professional in the areas of computer backup and restoration, disk cloning, file synchronization, etc. She maintains a keen eye for the latest technology trends, ensuring that the information provided is always in step with industry developments.