How to Make Cloned Drive Bootable in Windows 11/10 [5 Ways]

We may find that cloned hard drive won't boot sometimes. There are some methods to make drive bootable after cloning in Windows 11, 10, 8, 7.


By Delia Updated on November 7, 2023

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Problem: Cloned Drive Won’t Boot in Windows 10

Sometimes we may clone hard drive to SSD for better performance, clone smaller drive to larger drive for more capacity, or clone internal drive to external as a backup. However, the cloned drive not booting issue occurs in Windows 11/10/8/7 every now and then. Here is a live example from forum:

I bought a SSD with the intent of cloning my HDD, and after some trial and error, got the process completed. Through the USB to SATA cable, the computer is recognizing the new drive and all the data. But when I swapped the drives, the BIOS says it can't boot because there's no hard drive. 

What are the possible causes of this problem and how can we make cloned SSD bootable?

Cloned SSD Won't Boot

Why Cloned SSD Won’t Boot - 5 Possible Causes

What causes your cloned drive not to boot? The most common reasons are as following:

  • The cloned drive is not set as the first boot option.
  • The boot mode isn't compatible with the cloned GPT/MBR disk.
  • The unique SID (system identification number) has been cloned to the target disk as well.
  • The boot configuration data (BCD) got corrupted during migration.
  • Other errors during cloning, such as the bad sectors on the source drive being migrated to the target drive.

How to Make Cloned Drive Bootable in Windows 10/11

Given the possible causes of cloned drive won't boot issue, the corresponding solutions are also provided below. But before anything, it's best to make sure that the cloning process was successful and error-free.

Sometimes, the cloning tools may miss copying the boot sector or the necessary partition information. Make sure that the boot sector and relevant partitions were properly cloned.

Use reliable clone tool to ensure disk bootable

Perform a complete and successful system & data clone to ensure that your target disk is bootable. Details »

Next, I will introduce some common methods to make sure the computer can boot from the cloned drive.

Fix 1. Change boot order to boot from the cloned SSD

If there are more than one hard drive on your computer, when you boot failed, you need to consider whether it is wrong of your boot device.

If it is, you need to press the specific key (usually F2, F8, F12,Del) to enter BIOS or UEFI settings, and change the boot order to boot from the cloned SSD.

boot order

Fix 2. Switch BIOS mode to UEFI (GPT) or Legacy (MBR)

One thing to be noted is that MBR disk works with Legacy BIOS while GPT disk works with UEFI. So if you need to clone a MBR HDD to GPT SSD, or vice versa, it is necessary to switch the boot mode accordingly. The wrong boot mode will cause the SSD not booting after clone.

To change the boot mode, you need to enter BIOS during startup as well, then select the boot mode (usually under Boot tab) as Legacy or UEFI.

Change Boot Mode

*If your computer only supports Legacy BIOS mode, you can convert GPT to MBR to make it compatible.

Fix 3. Remove/wipe the previous drive

Many cloning software have their own SID (System Identifier) generation utilities, but there are some exceptions. If the software copies the drive’s unique SID as well, it may end up confusing the system, since it won’t know where to boot from.

In this case, you can make only one of the drives usable by removing or wiping the original drive.

wipe hard drive

Fix 4. Fix corrupted BCD

If the cloned drive fails to boot because of corrupted BCD, you can access Windows recovery environment, and use Startup Repair (Advanced options > Troubleshoot > Advanced Options) to fix it, or run bootrec.exe commands in Command Prompt to rebuild BCD:

Bootrec /fixmbr
Bootrec /fixboot
Bootrec /scanos
Bootrec /rebuildbcd

Fix Windows 7 Startup Repair Loop via Command Prompt: CHKDSK or Bootrec

Fix 5. Restart the cloning process in an error-free way

If you have encountered errors during the cloning process, you can either choose to fix the error, or restart the cloning process with professional cloning tools. 

There are also some considerations before, during and after the cloning process that can help you avoid the unbootable situation. I will give you more details below.

Cloning Windows 10 Boot Drive with Reliable Software

It is highly recommended that you use the best disk cloning software - AOMEI Backupper Professional which allows you to clone HDD to SSD with simple steps. And it can make SSD bootable after clone in Windows 10 successfully.

✔ AOMEI Backupper is a reliable software that can clone Windows 11/10/8/7/etc boot drive safely and efficiently. It runs in an intelligent mode by default, which skips bad sectors and unused sectors during cloning.

✔ In this way, we can certainly enjoy a better cloning speed and avoid many potential booting problems. And things will become much easier to clone larger drive to smaller drive or vice versa.

Here I will give an example to clone Windows 10 boot drive.

▪ The target disk will be overwritten after cloning, so it's recommended to perform data backup in advance.
▪ The Professional edition supports data disks and system disksof all brands and partition styles. You can clone MBR to MBR/MBR to GPT or GPT to GPT/GPT to MBR directly. But you still need to make sure the partition style of the target disk is compatible with the boot mode.

Step 1. Connect the SSD to your computer and make sure it can be detected. Then download AOMEI Backupper, install and launch it.

Download Free Trial Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

*Clone features in free trial can only be demonstrated. Please upgrade for full functionality.

Step 2. Click Disk Clone under the Clone tab. If you want to clone operating system only, select System Clone instead.

Disk Clone

Step 3. Select the HDD as the source disk and click Next.

Select Disk

Step 4. Select SSD as the destination disk.

Select Destination Disk

Step 5. Tick the SSD Alignment option to accelerate the reading and writing speed of the SSD. And click Start Clone.

Start Clone

🚀Other useful options:

  • Sector By Sector Clone: It allows you to clone all sectors on source disk no matter they are used or not. If you are cloning a large hard drive to a smaller SSD, better not to choose it. But if you are trying to clone the system reserved partition, please tick it to make sure it functions normally on the cloned drive.
  • SSD Alignment: If your target drive is an SSD, you can tick this to accelerate its write & read speed and prolong its life span.
  • System Clone: If you want to clone only OS to target drive, e.g. clone Windows 10 to NVMe SSD, you can use this option.
  • Edit Partitions: When cloning a small disk to a larger disk, you can choose "Add unused space to all partitions" or "Manually adjust partition size" to use full capacity of the larger disk.


If you encounter similar issues, you can try the above methods to fix them and make cloned drive bootable in Windows 10. And if you want to avoid the booting problems, AOMEI Backupper, the best disk cloning software, can help you clone hard drive easily and error-free. Given the excellent compatibility, you can also use it as a M.2 SSD cloner to migrate Windows 10 to M.2 SSD

Apart from the clone feature, AOMEI Backupper owns the backup and restore features. Keep it installed after cloning and set continuous data protection for your computer.

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.