How do I clone a drive in Windows 10?

For a number of different reasons, users may need to know how to clone a hard drive in Windows 10. Here we have taken a query that a user posted in a Microsoft forum. If you find yourself in a similar scenario you can follow this guide.

“Recently, I bought a notebook where genuine Windows 10 is already installed but the hard drive is just 1TB HDD and Windows 10 runs really slowly. I want to clone the hard drive to an SSD in Windows 10 and I don’t have the installation disk cos Windows was already installed. Plz can you help me.”

In this scenario, your PC might have a hidden recovery partition which you can use as an installation disk. You will need to copy all of the boot related files from this partition and burn it to a CD/DVD. If you don’t have a disc, you can create a recovery drive in Windows 10. Now, you can use the bootable disk to migrate Windows 10 to a new faster hard drive.

Why clone a hard drive in Windows 10?

Here are some of the common reasons why users want to clone their drives in Windows 10 laptop or desktop:

  • Upgrading to a larger capacity drive in Windows 10.

Usually, manufacturers will ship PC/laptops with low-quality small capacity hard drives, typically around 500GBs. This ends up annoying the purchaser as the drive runs out of space after just a few months. Normally, the user will then consider either getting a new PC (but this can cost a lot of money) or upgrading their hard drive to a large capacity SSD by using reliable disk cloning software.

  • Cloning Windows 10 laptop or desktop hard drive for better performance.

When you receive the low disk space warning error message, you will usually find that your PC/laptop will run slower and slower to the point you can no longer use it. If you’re a gamer, you’ll find that after a few rounds of your favorite online FPS you need an SSD to avoid lag. Because SSDs can make your computer run much faster, accelerate the read and write speed during data transfer, and generally increase overall user satisfaction with the quality of the system.

hard drive to SSD

What is the best cloning software for Windows 10?

Speaking of the best free disk cloning program, AOMEI Backupper Standard Edition, is one of the top on our list. It’s a straightforward and easy to use piece of specialist disk cloning software designed for Windows 10, 8, and 7 and trusted by millions of users worldwide. It’s able to clone both 32-bit Windows and 64-bit Windows hard drives easily.

Before you start to clone your hard drive in Windows 10 using AOMEI Backupper, you should keep the following in mind:

  • Backup important data before cloning. All of the data on the target hard drive or SSD will be deleted during the cloning process, therefore, we would recommend that you backup any important data to an external hard drive before beginning the process.

  • Unallocated space after cloning a disk to larger disk. Users may find that after the cloning process the new hard drive will not display its full capacity and only display the capacity of the original drive. In order to avoid this, you could use "Edit partitions" to adjust the partition size of target drive to take advantage of the full capacity it offers.

  • Check the used space on the original disk. To clone HDD to smaller SSD in Windows 10, the premise is the used space on the original disk is less than or equal to SSD. If space is larger than the new SSD, then the cloning process with fail due to insufficient space.

  • Convert dynamic disk to basic disk at first. If the target disk is a dynamic disk, you will have to convert it first, then you can perform a disk copy in Windows 10 as usual.

Clone a hard drive in Windows 10 with step-by-step example

To clone hard drive, use the following steps:

1. First, download and install AOMEI Backupper Standard Edition.

2. Then, click on "Clone" and "Disk Clone" to continue.

Disk Clone

2. Select the source hard drive (eg: Disk 0) and click "Next" to continue.

Select Source Disk

3. In the next window, select the target hard drive (eg: Disk 1) and click "Next" to continue.

Select Destination Disk

4. Tick "SSD Alignment" if you are using an SSD as the target hard drive, then click "Start Clone" to begin the cloning process. SSD Alignment can accelerate the read and write speeds of the destination SSD.

Start Clone

5. Click on "Finish" to exit the window when the cloning process reaches 100%.


Helpful Tips:

  • The "Edit Partitions" function will allow you to resize the partitions on the target hard drive to take advantage of the increased capacity when you clone a smaller drive to a larger one.

Edit Partitions

  • The "Sector by sector clone" function will clone all of the space on the original hard disk regardless of whether it has data stored on it. This function will take significantly longer than the normal cloning process.

>>If you choose to do a disk copy in Windows 10 with the "Sector by sector clone" option enabled, you will not be able to resize the partitions on the destination disk. However, you will be able to resize partitions by using AOMEI Partition Assistant after you have cloned your hard drive.

>>If you clone a larger HDD to a smaller SSD (e.g. 500GB to 250GB), please DO NOT select the ‘Sector by sector clone’ option! You must also make sure the data on the original HDD is equal to or smaller than the capacity of the SSD.

  • If you use AOMEI Backupper to clone MBR to GPT disk, you need to change Legacy to UEFI, and vice versa. Cloning system disk between different partition stype is supported by AOMEI Backupper Professional instead of the free version.

  • AOMEI Backupper includes the extremely useful ‘System Clone’ feature which will clone only your Windows 10 operating system, installed programs, and drivers to an SSD or HDD. You will need to upgrade to the premium versions, such as, Professional, Server, yet the function can save users lots of time and effort when migrating there systems to a new drive – so we think it’s well worth the upgrade.

Some feature mentioned above are availble on the AOMEI Backupper Professional or advanced version. If needed, please upgrade to the corresponding version.

How to boot from the cloned hard drive in Windows 10?

Cloning is not the final purpose. To boot from the cloned disk, you still need to change boot order in BIOS, or replace the old drive with SSD directly.

To replace hard drive with SSD directly, shut down your PC and remove all external devices and connections. You'll need screwdrivers in the practical operations. It is suggested to take a picture in advance to help you revert cables connections if you're not familiar with such things.

To change boot priority, restart your PC and press "F2" key (or "Del", "F12") to enter BIOS. At the "Boot" tab, select the SSD drive as the first boot device. Finally, press "F10" to save changes and exit.

If you still get boot issues, you may refer to this page: cloned hard drive won’t boot in Windows 10 to get more help.


With its user-friendly interface, cloning a hard drive in Windows 10 with free software - AOMEI Backupper Standard Edition could be easier. You just need to follow the above steps and click the corresponding buttons. If you need to clone a hard drive in your Windows Server, you can try its sister software: AOMEI Backupper Server Edition.

AOMEI Backupper Standard Edition can also be used for backing up and restoring your data in Windows 10. You can create file backups, partition backups, disk backups, and system image backups which you can use to restore Windows to a new hard drive.