By Ivy / Last update March 1, 2022

Need to make an exact copy of hard drive

Making an exact copy of hard drive generally means transferring data from one hard drive to another so as to keep the destination disk containing the exact same data as the source disk. This feature is quite useful, especially in the following situations:

Upgrade old hard drive: This is a very common situation, for exmaple, your hard drive say "low disk space", or you want to replace old drive with new one. Also, long-term use may slow down your computer, you may want to replace HDD with SSD to further improve the performance. 

Make an exact copy for backup: You may not want to lose any data on the disk, thus it's essential to make a full copy of hard drive. It's actually a backup of important data. And you can use it to restore your computer or data once something unexpected happens. 

Deploy image to multiple computer: It is usual for a school or company to buy a large number of computers and then you need to install Windows for every computer. But if you don't do this one by one and configure settings, it will be a good idea to make an exact copy of hard drive and then use it on other computers.

Since making an exact copy of hard drive is so important, you should choose a reliable hard drive cloning software.

Best free disk cloning software to make an exact copy

There are so many third party tools with disk clone function. AOMEI Backupper Standard is one of the best. The “Disk Clone” function is totally free for cloning a data disk. As for cloning a system disk, it only supports cloning from an MBR disk to MBR disk. Besides, it allows you to clone hard drive without interrupting running operating system.

Below are some useful features of this software: 

Clone hard drive with different sizes: By default this software use Intelligent Clone feature, which clone only used sectors of a hard drive to another. Thus, you can easily clone large drive to smaller drive or SSD and boot from it successfully. Also, cloning disk to larger disk is supported.
Clone all brands of HDDs and SSDs: It supports cloning disk with WD, Samsung, HP, SanDisk, etc. If the target disk is an SSD, you can further improve its performance by its SSD Alignment feature.
Support all editions of Windows system: You can use it on Windows Vista/XP/7/8/8.1/10.  Both 32 bit and 64 bit are supported.

With AOMEI Backupper, you can save much time without reinstalling your operating system and applications and you do not have to worry data loss. 

How to make an exact copy of hard drive step by step 

Before you start to make an exact copy of hard drive, please download this software and install it on your computer. It only applies to Windows 11/10/8/7/XP/Vista. For server users, try AOMEI Backupper Server.

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

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Backupper Standard, select Disk Clone at Clone tab.

Disk Clone

Step 2. Select the source disk that you want to clone. Then, click Next.

Source Disk

Step 3. Select the destination disk and then click Next. The destination disk will be overwritten after cloning. So backup all the important data on it if necessary.

Destination Disk

Step 4. In the Operation Summary window, check the source and destination disk and click Start Clone to make an exact copy of hard drive. If your destination disk is an SSD, tick SSD Alignment to accelerate its reading and writing speed.  

Make Exact Copy of Hard Drive

In addition, you can enjoy the other two useful features:

  • Edit Partitions: Make full use of unallocated space on the destination disk, usually for a larger disk, you can choose to add it to all partitions or manually adjust the partition size. And you will be asked to upgrade to the professional version if you enable the last two options.

Unallocated Space after Cloning Fixed

  •  Sector by sector clone: Copies all sectors of the disk to the destination disk whether in use or not, especially useful for system reserved partition missing while cloning a system disk. The destination disk size must be equal to or larger than the source disk. Usually, to save destination disk space, it's not suggested to tick this option. 

After cloning, you still need to check if the cloned hard drive is bootale. Otherwise, you can only reinstall Windows if your computer goes wrong.  Follow the steps below:

  • Restart your computer to let your computer boot from it.
  • If it does not work, you need to change boot order in BIOS. Press the manufacturer key to access it while you see the Windows logo. Usually, it's F2, F10, ESC, Del, etc.  
  • Then, go to the Boot tab and move the cloned drive to the first option.

Change Boot Order

  • Finally, press F10 to save changes and boot from it. If the source disk and target disk are in different type, you still need to change boot mode, Legacy BIOS for MBR disk and UEFI for GPT disk. 

Notes:

  • If you are cloning system disk from GPT to GPT, or cloning MBR to GPT and vice versa, you will be asked to upgrade to the professional version. 
  • You still can choose to clone OS only with System Clone feature if the new hard drive or SSD is smaller. You need to upgrade before using it. 

Conclusion

You can easily make an exact copy of hard drive in Windows 7/8/8.1/10/11 with the help of best free hard drive cloning software - AOMEI Backupper Standard. It supports cloning hard drive to larger one as well as from large HDD to smaller SSD. No matter what happens, you can get your computer back without download time. 

Also, it is an awesome backup and restore software. It supports all backup types including System Backup, Disk Backup, Partition Backup and File Backup. And it still offers multiple features to free up your hands, such as, Schedule Backup, Incremental Backup, automatic backup cleanup, etc. All in all, AOMEI Backupper is a fantastic software that deserves a try.