How to Clone C Drive to Move Windows to SSD/HDD [Bootable]

Do you want to clone C drive for migrating the Windows OS to a new SSD/HDD? If so, try this way to save your time and effort without reinstalling!


By Delia Updated on July 19, 2023

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Why clone C drive to SSD/HDD?

Usually, C drive refers to the system drive. When people talk about cloning C drive in Windows 11/10/8/7, it actually means cloning Windows OS which contains system reserved partition, installed applications, personal settings on C drive, etc. 

There are some situations that you may need to clone C drive.

  • Replace the old HDD: There may be more and more data accumulated on C drive until it is almost full. Therefore, you can replace the old hard drive with a larger HDD. If you don’t want to spend much time reinstalling the OS and all your necessary applications, you can directly clone C drive to the new HDD.

  • Upgrade to SSD: If your computer runs slowly after a long time of use, you may want to improve the performance by upgrading the hard drive. SSD doesn’t contain any moving part hence can obviously improve the booting up and data accessing speed. So it's a good idea to move Windows to the new SSD and use it as the boot disk.  

However, cloning the whole C drive is not easy when it involves so many sophisticated system files. Here I'd like to introduce a pretty simple and reliable way to fulfill the task.

How To Clone C Drive

Clone C drive to new HDD/SSD with reliable software

Sure there's a built-in backup feature in Windows that enables you to create a system image including the system partition, but it may fail sometimes due to various reasons, and the speed is really not satisfactory.

Besides, why bother to perform backup and then restore when you can clone the C drive directly?

There are many disk cloning software on the market for you to choose, but many of them only allow you to clone the entire hard drive. If you want to migrate only the OS to new SSD or HDD, things get a little tricky. 

Instead, you may pick a reliable software that can accurately clone what you want - AOMEI Backupper Professional offers you options to perform Disk Clone, Partition Clone and System Clone, so you can make the choice according to your needs. 

💬To clone C drive, System Clone is the best choice. It can save you a lot of time and energy without reinstalling system and applications, and also ensures the secure boot of cloned SSD or HDD.

Meanwhile, if you want to clone the hard drive some time. The intelligent clone mode enables you to clone only used sectors, thus you can even clone larger drive to a smaller SSD.

How to clone C drive in Windows 10 without reinstalling

Before cloning, you need to do the following preparations first:

◆ If you are going to transfer the OS to SSD, you need connect the SSD to your computer at first. For laptop users, a USB-SATA connection cable might be necessary. And make sure the selected drive is large enough to contain the system partitions.
◆ If there are some important data on the target disk, please back up important files to external hard drive in advance. Because all the data on the target hard drive will be overwritten after cloning.

Now, download AOMEI Backupper Professional, install and launch it. Then follow the steps to clone C drive.

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Step 1. Click Clone on the left column and then select System Clone.

Choose System Clone

Step 2. The system and boot related partitions are selected by default. Select the connected SSD or HDD as the destination location and click Next.

Choose Destination Partition

Step 3. If the selected location is a used partition, a window will pop up to prompt that this partition will be deleted or overwritten, click OK to continue.

Partitioned SSD Warning

Step 4. Confirm the operation. Tick SSD Alignment option if your target disk is an SSD. Then click Start Clone.

System Clone Preview Align Checked

If the destination is an SSD, ticking SSD Alignment can accelerate the reading and writing speed therefore improve the performance.
The cloning will be performed in intelligent mode by default (you can tick Sector By Sector Clone manually). But for encrypted system drives, AOMEI Backupper will clone all the sectors whether used or not by default.
If you are pretty sure you just want to clone the single C drive, you can click Partition Clone and choose it manually. But if your goal is to clone Windows OS, System Clone is definitely the best choice.

After cloning, shut down the computer, remove the source drive from the computer then restart the computer to enter BIOS (basic input/output system) to set the cloned system disk as the first boot device. Boot from the destination disk.

Change Boot Order BIOS


To clone C drive quickly and safely, a professional and reliable third-party software can be a big help. AOMEI Backupper Professional is such a disk clone software which only takes 4 steps to clone C drive to a new SSD or HDD. 

Furthermore, it's also a backup and restore software that can backup system, disk, partition or specific files, and restore them when needed. So even after you've completed OS migration, you can use AOMEI Backupper to protect your important data in daily use.

Delia · Editor
Delia owns extensive experience in writing technology-related blog posts, and has been a part of AOMEI since 2020 to provide expertise in data security and disaster recovery. She works with Windows operating systems, SQL databases, and virtualization platforms such as VMware and Hyper-V, specializing in troubleshooting and advising on data protection and migration.