By Teresa / Last update April 18, 2022

What is M.2 SSD?

Before learning how to migrate Windows 11 or Windows 10 to M.2 SSD, you may want to know more about this type of SSD.

An M.2 SSD, originally known as the Next-Generation Form Factor (NGFF), is a solid-state drive that conforms to a computer industry specification written for internally mounted storage expansion cards of a small form factor. 

It takes up less room than 2.5-inch SSDs or HDDs, and is generally faster. As a result, there's a growing need to migrate Windows 10/11 to M.2 SSD nowadays.

Samsung M.2 SSD

The advantages of M.2 SSD are the reasons that why people copy HDD to M.2 SSD.  Some Windows users still wonder if they could use M.2 SSD as a boot drive. Actually, the answer is yes. Like many other SSDs, M.2 SSDs have shorter boot up speed, lower power comsumption and less noise than HDDs.  

Then would a 250GB M.2 SSD be sufficient purely for OS storage? Actually, for Windows OS installing and all other basic applications, 128GB SSD would be enough. To leave more space for future use, 250 GB is also a good choice. 

How to transfer Windows 10/11 from HDD to M.2 SSD

Generally, there are two ways of moving Windows 10/11 from HDD to M.2 SSD. You can either use Windows built-in tool or a third party disk cloning tool. Either way you choose, you need to do some preparations first:

◆ Clean up your old hard drive. Delete unwanted files, uninstall unnecessary apps, perform a disk cleanup, etc.
◆ Install M.2 SSD properly. Make sure your desktop or laptop's motherboard has M.2 slots, and insert the M.2 SSD to it.

Next, I will walk you through the detailed steps of each way.

Way 1. Transfer Windows 10/11 to M.2 SSD (Windows tool)

Here you will use built-in tool to create a system backup and then restore it on SSD with the help of an installation disc. Now, go through all the detailed steps in the following:

Step 1. Type “backup” in the Search Box, select Backup settings and then Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7). Then click Create a system image.

Create a System Image

★ Open Backup and Restore (Windows 7) in Windows 11:
If you are currently using Windows 11, the path is a little difference. You can go to Settings -> System -> Storage -> Advanced Storage options > Backup options, then scroll down to Looking for an older backup and select Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7).

Step 2. Select an external hard drive as destination place to save your backup.

Step 3. The system drive and system reserved drive are included by default. Click Next to continue.

Step 4. Confirm the settings and click Start Backup.

After creating a system image in Windows 10, you can easily migrate OS to M.2 SSD. The process requires an installation disc for boot.  Please download Windows 10 Media Creation tool in the Microsoft software download page and create a bootable USB with it. 

Create Installation Media

Then, you can insert the bootable USB drive into your computer for system image recovery. The detailed steps are below:

Step 1. Shut down the computer and connect SSD to it.

Step 2. Restart your computer and change the boot device to USB drive in the BIOS window. Then, save changes and reboot from this USB drive. 

Step 3. In the Windows Setup window, Click Repair your computer -> Troubleshoot->Advanced Options->System image recovery.

System Image Recovery

Step 4. After that, you will see the Re-image your computer screen. Click Use the latest available system image(recommended) and then click Next. And complete the restore process by following the instruction.

System Image Restore

That is the way of transferring Windows from HDD to M.2 SSD. Obviously, the operation steps are little bit troublesome, and it is error-prone for users who has less computer knowledge and skills.  In a few cases, you may encounter the error Windows 10 backup not working.  

 To make things easier, it is recommended to try the second way, migrate Windows 11/10 with M.2 SSD cloner. It has user-friendly interface and is popular among Windows users. 

Way 2. Clone Windows 10/11 to M.2 SSD (Easier)

AOMEI Backupper Professional is powerful and safe system clone software that allows you to transfer Windows 10/11 to M.2 or NVMe SSD without reinstalling operating system. It supports cloning system between two MBR or GPT disks, and from GPT to MBR or vice versa

This disk cloning software allows you to move Windows 11 or Windows 10 from larger disk to smaller SSD as long as the target disk is sufficient for the used space. Don't worry about the partition layout since you are able to adjust partition size during cloning.

You may want to download this M.2 SSD cloning tool to have a try. Please note that the operations can only be previewed but not executed on this edition.

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

Preparations:

1. Connect the M.2 SSD to your computer.

2. If you want to clone M.2 SSD with only one slot, it is suggested to prepare an M.2 to USB enclosure in advance.

Video Tutorial:

Graphic Tutorial of how to move Windows to M.2 SSD:

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Backupper Professional. Click Clone and then select System Clone.

System Clone

★ Clone entire hard drive instead of only OS:
If you want to transfer the entire hard drive, choose Disk Clone instead. It enables you to clone HDD to SATA SSD, clone SSD to M.2 SSD, etc.

Step 2. The system partitions will be selected automatically. You just need to select the M.2 SSD as the destination disk, and click Next to continue.

Migrate Windows 10 to M2 SSD

Step 3. Check SSD Alignment to accelerate M.2 SSD's reading and writing speed. Then click Start Clone to migrate Windows 10 to M.2 SSD.

System Clone Preview Align Checked

The default intelligent cloning mode copies only used sectors on the system partition, which allows you to clone OS from larger HDD to smaller SSD without boot issue. Thus, you don't need to worry about cloned SSD won't boot issue in this case.

But if your M.2 SSD is larger, this software will use "Make full use of disk space" to extend the system partition size default. 

Make Full Use of Disk Space

Tips:

1. If you want to use it on different computers without installing again within a company, it's suggested to upgrade to AOMEI Backupper Technician Plus. Its image deploy tool allows you to deploy/restore system image file on server-side computer to multiple client-side computers over network.

2. It allows you to create portable version of this software on USB drive and directly run off from it. Then, you can use all the features of it including System Clone on any computer.

Create Portable Version

Tip on booting from the M.2 SSD

After cloning, you can go to BIOS and change the boot device to boot from the M.2 SSD. 

● Restart your PC and press the manufacturer specified key to enter BIOS. It could be F2, F10, F12, Del, etc. If you are not sure, consult your user manual or search on the Internet.

● In BIOS menu, go to "Boot" tab and select the M.2 SSD as the first priority in boot order. 

● Press "F10" to save the changes and exit.

Make sure everything goes well and you may delete the 450MB recovery partition (if any) to save SSD space.

Conclusion

Generally, there are two ways on how to migrate Windows 10 from HDD to M.2 SSD, Windows built-in tool and professional third-party cloning tool. You may choose the most suitable one based on your situation. 

For example, if you're a DIYer, the first method is pretty good. However, if you're not so familiar with computer operations, the second one, AOMEI Backupper is a perfect choice. 

Besides, you still can use it to transfer Windows from SATA SSD to M.2 SSD, clone SSD to larger SSD, clone NVMe SSD, clone hard drive to Samsung SSD, and replace laptop HDD with SSD, etc.