What Is System Clone or System Migration?

Just as the name implies, system clone or migration means to make an exact same copy of operating system (OS) as the original one and transfer it to another storage device, like hard disk drive (HDD), solid state drive (SSD), etc.

What is worth mentioning is that the system migration moves not only your Windows operating system, but also all installed applications, drivers, updates, personal files, and customized settings on the system drive. Usually being completed with professional system migration software. And it's a simplified version of system backup and restore. 

System Clone

Disk Clone vs System Clone: Key Differences and Trade-offs

Besides System Clone, there is another popular cloning solution - Disk Clone, which clones all the partition (C:, D:, E:, etc.) and data on the selected disk (whether it's a system disk or data disk) to another one. Then, what are the differences between them?

The cloning range is different: Based on their meaning, you may know, System Clone will clone boo-related items, and usually, they are on the system partition. But Disk Clone is not limited to system partition, and will include all the other data partitions.

The target disk size is different: Whether you clone system or entire disk, the core of choosing target disk is: be sure the target disk larger than or equal to source disk. Thus, System Clone requires less disk space while Disk Clone need more.

In summary, if you want to clone only OS, select System Clone. Instead, choose Disk Clone. But if your target disk does not have enough space to hold everything, you can only perform system clone to SSD or HDD in simple steps. For more info, check Disk Clone vs System Clone.

Why Is Windows System Clone So Popular?

An increasing number of Windows users trying to migrate OS. Following situations may be account for the reason: 

Perform system clone to SSD: By comparison, SSD offer much faster reading and writing speed than HDD, thus many users want to perform system clone to SSD to get rid old disk and poor performace comes along with it.

Upgrade to a larger disk: You have a compact system partition and a large amount of data, thus you cannot make more space for the system partition to make it run faster. The best way is to clone operating system and all applications in system drive to a larger hard disk drive.

Avoid reinstall Windows and programs: Reinstalling Windows will remove everything on it, leaving only a fresh version of OS and preinstalled software. And you may lose your data forever if you don't backup them in advance.

Best System Clone Software in Windows 10 

AOMEI Backupper Professional is not only a complete backup software, but also a system clone software in Windows 10. And it also applies to Windows 11, 8, 7, XP, Vista. 

By default, it will clone only used sectors on system partition, which makes it easier to clone OS from large HDD to smaller SSD. And all the boot-related partitions or files will be cloned simultaneously to make sure it's bootable. Besides, its Hot Clone feature ensures you can do it without interrupting any workflow. And it can help you be a professional with the following advantages:

Clone different system disk types: It supports cloning system between two MBR or GPT disks, and cloning from GPT to MBR and vice versa.
Further enhance disk performance: Its SSD Alignment feature can help you accelerate the reading and writing speed of SSD disk and improve its performance again while migrating OS to SSD.
Make more space for system partition: Its Make full use of disk space feature can extend system partition size using the adjacent unallocated partition. The premise is the target disk (HDD or SSD) is larger than the original.
Ease-of-use: No technical knowledge or skills required. AOMEI Backupper is committed to making each step simple and efficient.

How to Perform System Clone to SSD without Reinstalling Windows  

You may find other merits when you actually use the software. And here will take Windows 10 system migration as an example and tell you how to do it on earth. 

Preparation for System Clone

  • Target SSD drive. Install the SSD drive (or HDD) to the computer, and make sure it can be detected. For a laptop, you may need an SATA to USB adapter if there is no extra room inside the laptop to install more disks.

  • Best system clone software in Windows 10. You can use AOMEI Backupper Professional or higher editions. It works perfectly on Windows 11/10/8/7/Vista/XP. For server users, try AOMEI Backupper Server.

Download Free Trial Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Clone Windows 10 to SSD Step by Step

Step 1. Launch and activate system clone software - AOMEI Backupper Professional with license code. And then select the "System Clone" option under the "Clone" tab.

System Clone

Step 2. Select the new SSD as destination partition since all boot related drives are selected by default. 

Choose Destination

Step 3. In the Operation Summary window, confirm the operations and click "Start Clone" to perform system clone. Tick "SSD Alignment" to further accelerate the reading and writing speed of SSD if it is. 

System Clone Preview

Besides SSD Alignment, there are 2 other cloning options: The Make full use of disk space (to automatically add unallocated space to system partition ) feature will be checked by default if the target disk is larger.

Also, if you want to clone every sector of system partition no matter it is used or not, please select Sector by sector clone as instead. And it works well when you want to clone encrypted hard drive or avoid boot failure due to system reserved partition missing.

Step 4. When the system clone progress reaches 100%, please click "Finish" to exit the interface.


Boot from the cloned drive

In general, there are two methods to boot computer from cloned SSD drive.

  1. Change boot priority in BIOS. When the system cloning is finished, you can restart your computer to enter BIOS (usually keep tapping Del/F12 upon power on) and change boot order. If you cloned between different partition style (MBR & GPT), remember to switch boot mode as well. 

  2. (Recommend) Replace old disk with cloned drive. This is a complete way to test your system migration. Shut down your computer after the cloning finishes, disconnect the source hard disk, and install the cloned drive to the right disk bay. Then, start your PC.

The source disk could be plugged in another socket and used as storage.


No matter you want to get more space or improve performance, you can easily perform system clone in Windows 10 or other systems with the help of best system clone software - AOMEI Backupper Professional. And it still allows you to further improve disk performance and make full use of unallocated space on the target disk. 

Besides system clone, you still can use "Disk Clone" feature to clone hard drive to SSD or another hard disk. Thanks to its Intelligent Clone feature, you can easily clone hard drive with different size, such as, clone 500GB HDD to 250GB SSD. Anyway, download it to have a try!