By Ivy / Last Updated February 1, 2021

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 forum, and the voice of many users. It's not suprising, because setting SSD for OS and HDD for storage largely takes advantages of their respective advantages. To be specific, SSD has better performance and HDD has a larger capacity at the same price.

In addition, SSD still has many highlights, it's lighter, quieter, more durable, produce less heat, and consume 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.

How to set SSD as boot drive and HDD as storage easily?

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.

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 clone OS on small SSD will be the best choice. You don't need to reinstall Windows, programs, configure system settings and suffer from data loss. Ans I'll introduce this way in detail.

Best disk clone software to make use of small SSD and big HDD

To make fully use of small SSD and big HDD, the best choice is to keep Windows 10/8/7/XP/Vista on SSD and data on HDD by cloning method. However, some users report that the cloned SSD won’t boot after cloning. So, you may need a trust and reliable disk clone software, I strongly recommend you AOMEI Backupper Professional.

It supports "Disk Clone", "System Clone" and "Partition Clone", the previous two options can clone system partition and ensure secure boot. To make SSD for OS only, it's suggested to use "System Clone" feature.

It will only clone the used sectors on the old hard drive by default, but you can choose to clone all sectors with "Sector By Sector Clone" feature. And it is capable of cloning all branded SSDs, such as,WD, SanDisk, Samsung, HP, Dell, etc and improving perfomance of SSD disk with "SSD Alignment" feature. Please download it to have a try right now! (The clone feature in the free trial version can only be demonstrated, please upgrade to enjoy.)

Download Free Trial Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Stepwise guide: use SSD for OS and HDD for storage

SSD as boot drive and HDD as storage is a 2-step task, namely 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. Then, follow the instructions 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 inch.

  • Prepare a 120GB SSD at least.

Step 1: Clone SSD for OS only with AOMEI Backupper Professional

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

Choose System Clone

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

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 a wise to do so before you ensure the cloned SSD is bootable. In that case, your computer will fail to boot. Therefore, please boot computer from the cloned hard drive and check if it's bootale 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, please check the factors that may affect the computer startup and try again later.

Step 3: Format HDD for storage with Disk Management

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.


If you want to use SSD and HDD together in laptop or desktop, the best choice is to use SSD for OS and HDD for storage is the best choice. Because this operation can simultaneously obtain the two main advantages of performance and capacity.

If your computer has multiple programs installed and a lot of data storage, the best way is to clone system partition only with "System Clone" feature. And you can choose to further boost the performance of SSD disk with its 4k technology and clone all sectors of system with "Sector by sector clone".

But this version can only be used on limited computers. If you have multiple computers or a company's webmaster, it's suggested to use AOMEI Backupper TechPlus. This version does not limite the number of PC or server computer, and it still provides billable technical services to unlimited clients.