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

This detailed guide walks you through the process of making a cloned drive bootable in Windows 10/11/8/7. We cover various methods, including using built-in tools and third-party software, and address common questions and troubleshooting tips.


By Delia Updated on July 24, 2024

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Problem: Cloned Drive Won’t Boot in Windows 10

Sometimes we may clone a hard drive to an SSD for better performance, clone a smaller drive to a larger drive for more capacity, or clone an internal drive to an 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 the forum:

I bought an SSD with the intent of cloning my HDD, and after some trial and error, I 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 said it couldn't boot because there was 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 Potential Causes

What causes your cloned drive not to boot? The possible causes could be diverse. It could stem from an internal issue such as corrupted boot files or incorrect BIOS settings. Alternatively, physical damage to the drive might be the culprit. Identifying whether the problem is software-related or due to hardware failure is crucial for troubleshooting. The most common reasons are as follows:

❓ 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 include 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 the cloned drive not booting, the corresponding solutions are also provided below. But before anything, it's best to make sure that the cloning process is 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 are properly cloned.

Use a reliable clone tool to ensure the 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 the boot order to boot from the cloned SSD

If there is more than one hard drive on your computer, when your boot fails, you need to consider whether it is wrong with 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 the MBR disk works with Legacy BIOS while the GPT disk works with UEFI. So if you need to clone an MBR HDD to a GPT SSD, or vice versa, it is necessary to switch the boot mode accordingly. The wrong boot mode will cause the SSD not to boot after the clone.

To change the boot mode, you need to enter BIOS during startup as well, then select the boot mode (usually under the 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 the 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 drives to smaller drives or vice versa.

Here I will give an example of cloning a 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.

FREE Download Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

*System Clone features in a 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 the 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. Click Start Clone.

Start Clone

🚀Other useful options:

Sector By Sector Clone: It allows you to clone all sectors on the source disk no matter whether 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 the 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 the full capacity of the larger disk.

FAQs about Making a Cloned Drive Bootable in Windows 10

Q 1: What is the difference between cloning and imaging?

A 1: Cloning creates an exact copy of your entire drive, making it immediately bootable. Imaging creates a compressed file of your drive's data, which can be restored later.

Q 2: Can I clone a larger drive to a smaller one?

A 2: Yes, as long as the data size on the larger drive does not exceed the capacity of the smaller drive. Use third-party software like AOMEI Backupper to resize partitions during cloning.

Q 3: Can I clone my drive to an external USB drive?

A 3: Yes, you can clone your drive to an external USB drive. However, to make it bootable, you might need to adjust BIOS/UEFI settings and ensure the external drive is connected during boot.


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