User Case: Need to Clone HDD to SSD in Windows 10/11
If you are in a similar situation as this user, there are two common methods to clone Windows 10/11 to a new hard drive.
1. If your PC has a hidden recovery partition, you can copy all of the boot related files from this partition and burn them to a CD/DVD. Then, boot from the CD/DVD and restore system to new hard drive.
2. If there isn't a recovery partition, you can create a recovery drive in Windows 10/11. Then, boot from the recovery drive to reinstall Windows on the new hard drive.
Both of the above methods are time-consuming and error-prone. Actually, you don't really need a bootable disk to clone Windows 10 hard drive. Keep reading to find the best disk cloning software to help you.
Why Clone a Hard Drive in Windows 10/11?
Here are some of the common reasons why users want to clone disks in Windows 10/11 laptop or desktop:
Upgrading to a larger capacity drive in Windows 10/11.
Some manufacturers may ship PC/laptops with second-class small capacity hard drives, typically around 500GB. 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 old hard drive to a large capacity SSD by using reliable disk cloning software.
Cloning Windows 10/11 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 runs 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.
Best Free Disk Cloning Software for Windows 10/11
Speaking of the best free disk cloning program, AOMEI Backupper Standard Edition is on the top of our list. It’s a straightforward and easy-to-use piece of specialist disk cloning software trusted by millions of users worldwide.
How to Clone HDD to SSD in Windows 10/11 Step by Step
There are three phases involved in the disk cloning process. I'll walk you through them one by one.
Before Cloning Hard Drive on Windows 10/11
Before performing disk clone in Windows 10/11 using AOMEI Backupper, there is something you should pay attention to:
Backup important data on destination disk to external hard drive before cloning. All of the data on the target hard drive or SSD will be overwritten during the cloning process.
Check the used space on the original Windows 10/11 hard drive. To clone large hard drive to smaller SSD (like 500GB to 256GB), you have to make sure the used space on Windows 10/11 hard drive is less than or equal to the target SSD. Otherwise, it will fail due to insufficient space. Ignore this information if trying to clone to larger HDD/SSD.
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 10/11 as usual.
Prepare screwdrivers to open the back cover on your laptop or desktop.
Prepare a 2.5’’ SSD enclosure and SATA to USB cable to connect SSD if you’re running a Windows 10/11 laptop with only one hard drive slot.
Perform Windows 10/11 Hard Drive Bootable Clone
To clone Windows 10/11 hard drive to larger SSD, just refer to the following step-by-step instructions. First of all, please download and install AOMEI Backupper Standard.
1. Click on Clone -> Disk Clone on the main interface.
2. Select the Windows 10/11 system hard drive (eg: Disk 0) and click Next >> button to continue.
3. In the next window, select the larger SSD as destination (eg: Disk 2) and click Next >> button to continue.
4. Tick SSD Alignment to accelerate the reading and writing speed for the larger SSD. And then click Start Clone to begin cloning HDD to SSD in Windows 10/11.
5. Click on Finish to exit the window when the cloning process reaches 100%.
★ Helpful Tips:
If you use AOMEI Backupper to clone MBR to GPT disk, you need to change Legacy to UEFI after cloning, and vice versa.
Sector by sector clone: It will clone all of the space (including bad sectors) on the original hard disk regardless of whether there is data or not. This function will take significantly longer time than the normal cloning process. If the “Sector by sector clone” option is enabled, “Edit partitions” will be unavailable. Resize partition with a free partition manager to show full capacity on larger SSD if needed.
Please DO NOT select the Sector by sector clone option when cloning larger HDD to smaller SSD.
Edit Partitions: This feature will allow you to resize the partitions on the target hard drive to take advantage of the increased capacity when you clone a smaller Windows 10/11 disk to a larger one. You will get unallocated space on the larger SSD drive if you uncheck "Add unused space to all partitions" (available in paid editions).
★ Useful features in advanced editions:
System Clone: it will clone only your Windows 10/11 operating system, installed programs, and drivers to an SSD or HDD. The function can save users lots of time and effort when migrating their systems to a new drive. You may upgrade to the premium versions (such as Professional or Server) to enjoy it.
Create Portable Version: create portable AOMEI Backupper to clone hard drive to SSD on different computers without installing this software again and again. It is available in AOMEI Backupper Technician or Technician Plus edition.
Make the Cloned Drive Bootable after Cloning
The cloned drive now is bootable. Just change boot order in BIOS, or replace the old drive with SSD directly to boot from the cloned SSD.
>> 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.
>> 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.
If you still get boot issues, you may refer to this page: cloned hard drive won’t boot in Windows 11/10 to get more help.
With its user-friendly interface, cloning hard drive in Windows 10/11 with free software - AOMEI Backupper Standard Edition is much easier. You just need to follow the above steps with a few clicks to make an exact copy of Windows 10/11 hard drive. And it's also applicable to clone large HDD to smaller SSD, clone disk to larger disk, clone SATA SSD, clone Windows to NVMe SSD, etc.
Besides, you could create file backups, partition backups, disk backups, and system image backups which you can use to restore Windows to a new hard drive. If you are server users, just try AOMEI Backupper Server.