Clone a Hard Drive or SSD with Free Disk Cloning Software

November 27, 2019

Disk clone will make an identical copy of your original hard drive or SSD. Cloning a hard disk with Windows installation allows you to transfer OS. As the best free disk cloning software, AOMEI Backupper enables you to clone a hard drive to another or SSD with larger or smaller size. Besides, it supports MBR and GPT partition styles.

Disk Clone Scenarios

Why do you need to create a disk clone? Generally speaking, disk clone has a variety of usages, the following scenarios are frequently encountered:

  • OS Transfer: Cloning a disk with Windows installation enables to transfer OS to another hard drive or much faster SSD without reinstalling.

  • Hard Disk Upgrade: Disk clone can help to upgrade hard disk from old small disk to a new larger one without reinstallations of operating system and the applications.

  • Data Migration: It can help to quickly transfer all the data on a disk to others, such as, Migrate HDD to SSD, etc.

  • Make a Duplicate Disk: If all the data on the current system installed disk are important, it is necessary to do a complete backup of the source disk by cloning it to a target disk.

  • Data Recovery: In order to avoid secondary damage to the hard disk during data recovery, it is necessary to clone the disk and then restore what you want from the cloned disk.

Disk Clone vs System Clone

Comparing with general system clone, disk clone operation is quite different. System clone operation, also known as operating system migration, will move only operating system (C: drive) and all boot related drives to the target disk. However, disk clone, also known as hard drive cloning, will copy entire disk to the target disk. Both system disk and data disk can be cloned with Disk Clone and there is no "system clone" on data disk.

Another popular cloning method is partition/volume clone, which refers to copy all data of the selected partition to destination place. Volume clone is usually used on a dynamic disk.

The Best Free Disk Cloning Software for Windows

AOMEI Backupper provides the corresponding function of disk clone, which can clone one disk to another without breaking off the running operating system (It is called "Live Disk Cloning"). That is to say, it can clone while you are working on the computer.

In default situation, this disk clone software just clones the existing data on the disk (That is the used sectors). It will not clone these deleted data. This software also provides a "Sector by sector clone" option. If you select this option, all the data, whether it has been deleted or not, will be cloned.

Tutorial to Disk Clone by AOMEI Backupper

When cloning, you can clone a small disk to a large one, vice versa. But there is a precondition. That is the space on the destination disk is able to accommodate all the valid data on the source disk. If there is not enough space on the destination disk, do not worry. AOMEI Backupper will check out whether the space on destination disk is sufficient or not. If not, this program will prompt you in advance.

Then, let's see the detailed steps to clone hard drives as follows. First, download this tool, install and launch it, here set cloning disk0 to disk1 as example.

Tips: If you want to clone hard drive to external drive, please connect it to your PC beforehand.

Step 1. To clone a hard drive, select "Disk Clone" option under the "Clone" tab.

Disk Clone

Step 2. Select the source disk (Disk0) which you want to clone, and then click "Next".

Select Source Disk

Step 3. Select the destination disk (Disk1) where you want to clone source disk to, and then click "Next".

Select Destination Disk

Step 4. Confirm the settings of the source and destination disk, and then click "Start Clone".

Start Clone

Helpful tips:

  • The "Sector by sector clone" option is also available. It allows you to clone all sectors on source disk no matter they are used or not to destination disk. If you clone a large hard drive to a smaller SSD, do not choose this option.

  • If the destination disk is an SSD, it is recommended to check the box before "SSD Alignment".

  • If you clone a small disk to a larger disk, you can click the button of "Edit Partitions". There are three options for you to resize partitions so that you can use full capacity, and two of them are for advanced operations.

  • Edit Partitions

Step 5. Click "Finish" when all the operations have been done.

Finish

Step 6. (Optional) If you're cloning the disk that installs operating system, it is suggested to change boot order in BIOS or replace old hard drive with new drive directly to boot from the cloned drive.

In fact, disk clone is also called "Disk to Disk (Disk2Disk)". There is a similar function-Disk Imaging, which can store all the data on a disk to a image file. That is the so-called "Disk to Image (Disk2Image)". AOMEI Backupper can realize Disk2Disk as well as Disk2Image. It can backup your disk to an image file so that you can restore your disk in the future.

Notes:
  • Note that all data on the destination disk will be overwritten, so please back up important files ahead of time.

  • In general, the disk that contains current operating system cannot be used as the destination disk. To complete that for special purpose, you can create a bootable disc and perform cloning in WinPE mode.

  • If the destination disk is a dynamic disk, you have to convert it to basic disk first.

  • The Standard edition only supports cloning disk with the same partition tyle, such as, cloning GPT disk to GPT disk. If you want to clone GPT system disk to MBR or migrate MBR system disk to GPT, you could consider upgrading to AOMEI Backupper Professional.