What Does a Disk Clone Do?
Disk Clone, also known as hard drive cloning, is a process to make an exact copy of the source disk to the target disk, including operating system, partition layout, drive letter, system reserved partition/EFI partition (for GPT disk), recovery partition, customized settings, installed programs, personal data and so on. You can perform a disk clone whether it's a system disk or data disk.
In addition to disk clone, there are other two cloning methods:
- System Clone: it can be used for Windows operating system migration. It moves only system partition where Windows is installed and all the boot related partitions, like system reserved partition, recovery partition, EFI system partition (if exists) to the target disk.
- Partition/Volume Clone: it can help you with data migration. It will copy all the data from selected partition/volume to destination partition, which is also a way that can be used to clone dynamic disk.
Disk Clone vs System Clone: Which One You Need
Both Disk Clone and System Clone features can help you migrate operating system to HDD/SSD while ensuring a secure boot. They also help to avoid reinstalling Windows and applications when your computer fails to boot. But which one do you need to use in different scenarios? Here are some suggestions about it.
▶ Four Disk Clone Scenarios | Need to Clone Hard Drive
▶ Two System Clone Scenarios | Need to Clone Only System Partition
Best Free Hard Drive Cloning Software for Windows
As one of the best free disk cloning software for Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP/Vista, AOMEI Backupper owns the following remarkable features:
This hard drive cloning tool also helps you make bootable media when the Windows refuses to boot or you don't want to load operating system while cloning. Of course, it will be OK if you don't have any media. You can simply add recovery environment entry using AOMEI Backupper Recovery Environment.
How to Easily Clone a Hard Drive with AOMEI Backupper
AOMEI Backupper allows you to clone hard drive with different size in Windows 11/10/8/7/XP/Vista, including:
Clone hard drive to larger drive (eg: clone NVMe SSD to larger NVMe) to get more storage space and better performance.
Clone larger disk to smaller disk, like cloning larger HDD to smaller SSD, cloning larger SSD to smaller one, etc.
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, AOMEI Backupper will calculate and inform you that: The selected disk is too small, required the disk size at least: ** GB when you select the disk as the destination.
Then, let's see the detailed steps to clone disk as follows (take cloning hard drive to SSD as an example). First of all, please download this free tool, install and launch it.
This graphic guide will show more details about how to perform disk to disk clone. You could follow it to have a try:
Step 1. To clone a hard drive, select "Disk Clone" option under the "Clone" tab.
Step 2. Select the source disk (Disk0) which you want to clone, and then click "Next".
Step 3. Select another drive or SSD as destination disk (Disk2) where you want to clone source disk to, and then click "Next".
If the destination disk is not empty, you will be prompted the destination disk will be overwritten or deleted. Click "OK" to continue as you have made a backup before.
Step 4. As you are cloning hard drive to SSD, it is recommended to check the box before "SSD Alignment" to optimize the performance and lifespan for SSD. Confirm the settings, and then click "Start Clone" to clone HDD to SSD safely.
Step 5. Click "Finish" when all the disk cloning operations have been done.
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 an 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.
- In general, the disk that contains the 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 without losing data first. Or you can turn to "System Clone" (supported by AOMEI Backupper Professional) and "Partition Clone" feature for help.
- If you have both SSD and HDD disk, you could consider using SSD for OS and HDD for storage. It makes full use of the advantages of SSD and HDD.
- The Standard edition only supports cloning MBR system disk to MBR disk. If you want to clone a system disk from MBR to GPT, GPT to MBR, or GPT to GPT, you could consider upgrading to AOMEI Backupper Professional.
- To clone disks on any computer, you may use AOMEI Backupper Technician or Technician Plus to create portable version.
This is a quick navigation to the entire process of hard drive clone. Compared with the graphic guide, it is more intuitive and easy to understand. You can check it before cloning.
Boot from Cloned Hard Drive
If you're cloning the disk with operating system installed, it is suggested to restart your computer and continuously press a specific key (usually F2, F8, F12, Del) to enter BIOS Setup -> Boot, then set the cloned disk as first boot device in BIOS or replace the old hard drive with the new drive directly to boot from the cloned drive.