How to Clone Windows 11 to External Hard Drive - Easiest Way

This article provides a detailed description to teach you how to clone Windows 11 to external hard drive and provides the easiest way to do it.


By Miya Updated on January 3, 2024

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Does Windows 11 Have Built-in Cloning Software?

How to clone Windows 11 to external hard drive? Before we figure this out, let's see if Windows 11 has any built-in cloning software? The answer is no! Given that there is no integrated cloning tool within the Windows 11 system, it is crucial to locate dependable Windows 11 cloning software.

This software should facilitate the seamless transfer of disk data to another disk, enable the cloning of Windows 11 to an SSD, or duplicate a hard drive for backup or disk upgrade purposes, all while preserving data integrity. Additionally, it should guarantee the ability to boot the PC normally from the cloned hard drive.

Clone Windows to External Hard Drive

What Is The Best Clone Software for Windows 11?

When considering top-tier disk cloning software, its fundamental capability lies in the successful duplication of a hard drive onto another. This entails cloning everything from the original disk, encompassing the operating system, personalized settings, installed programs, and personal data, allowing for seamless booting from the cloned drive.

AOMEI Backupper Professional emerges as a commendable choice, especially when copying Windows to an external hard drive. Compatible with all Windows PC systems, including Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, 7, XP, and Vista, AOMEI Backupper Professional offers several advantages:

✍Disk Clone: Replicate HDDs/SSDs or MBR/GPT disks seamlessly, regardless of their capacity or brand, be it Samsung, WD, Seagate, etc.
✍Intelligent Clone: This functionality facilitates the effortless cloning of hard drives with varying sizes, even smaller ones, as it exclusively clones used sectors to the target drive.
✍Edit Partitions: Enable the cloning and resizing of a large hard drive without leaving unallocated space. Additionally, it supports converting the destination disk between MBR and GPT formats.
✍SSD Alignment: Tailored for SSDs, this feature optimizes performance, ensuring faster reading and writing speeds and an extended lifespan. Compatibility: It is compatible with all Windows PC systems, including Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, 7, XP, and Vista.

Furthermore, the software offers support for the System Clone feature. Unlike Disk Clone, this function exclusively clones the operating system, requiring less disk space. If you're dealing with a smaller SSD as your external hard drive, consider giving it a try. Well, let's take a look at how to clone Windows 10 to external hard drive.

How to Clone Windows 11 to External Hard Drive

Whether you want to clone hard drive to SSD on Windows 11 or you want to clone hard drive to HDD, you can follow the steps below to complete the cloning! Now let's see what preparations you need to do first.

Before initiating the Windows 11 cloning process, certain preparatory steps are necessary.
☛ Select the target disk: Choose the target disk based on your objectives, whether it's an HDD or SSD, and ensure that the target disk is detectable.
☛ Check the disk size: Confirm that the capacity of the new disk is equal to or greater than the used space on the old disk. This ensures the new disk can accommodate all data from the old disk, preventing potential cloning failures.
☛ Prepare the connector: For desktops, install the new HDD or SSD directly into the available socket. For laptops, a SATA-USB adapter is required, with the specific type depending on the disk interface (SATA, NVMe, PCIe, etc.).
Back up important files: As the cloning process involves complete overwriting of the target disk, it's crucial to back up important files beforehand.

Here, I'll guide you through the process of migrating the Windows 11 system using disk clone:

Step 1. Ensure the target hard drive is connected to your computer and is detectable. Download, install, and open AOMEI Backupper Professional. Then, navigate to Clone> Disk Clone.

AOMEI Backupper

Easiest Windows disk clone software for personal use.

Choose Disk Clone

Step 2. Choose the Windows 11 system disk you wish to clone and click Next.

Select Mbr Disk

Step 3. Choose the destination disk to save the cloned data and click Next.

Select Gpt Disk

Step 4. Review the settings and information for your source and destination disks. Then, click Start Clone.

Preview Clone

Advanced settings:
◉Edit Partitions: Resize the partitions on the destination disk using this function.
Sector by Sector Clone: This option copies all sectors, regardless of data presence. Note that it's typically applicable when cloning disks of equal or larger sizes. Cloning from a larger disk to a smaller one may result in failure if this option is selected.
◉SSD Alignment: Enhance the reading and writing speed of the SSD disk. It's advisable to enable this option when cloning to an SSD.

✈How to boot from cloned external hard drive

After successfully cloning Windows to an external hard drive, the process is halfway complete. The next steps involve replacing the old disk and ensuring your computer can boot from the cloned drive. Follow the steps below to achieve this:

Step 1. Open the drive bay: Shut down your computer, disconnect all power sources, and use a screwdriver to remove the hard drive bay cover.

Step 2. Remove the original hard drive: Unscrew the screws securing the hard drive, then gently extract the existing hard drive at an angle (e.g., 30 or 45 degrees).

Take Out Original Hard Drive

Step 3. Reinstall the external hard drive into your computer.

Step 4. Adjust the boot order after replacing the hard drive and boot from it.

Turn on your computer, press the designated key during the initial screen (typically F2 or ESC) to access the BIOS. Navigate to the boot tab, use the "+" key to move the external drive to the first option, then press "F10" to save the changes and boot from the cloned drive.


Your Turn

How to clone Windows 11 to external hard drive? With the assistance of the top-notch disk cloning software, AOMEI Backupper Professional, transferring Windows 11/10/8/7 to an external hard drive becomes a hassle-free task, regardless of the size of the destination drive. It overcomes the constraints associated with cloning MBR to GPT or vice versa without data loss. Additionally, it efficiently addresses issues like unallocated space after cloning and enhances the overall performance of SSD disks.

Moreover, this utility offers a plethora of valuable features, allowing users to create system backups, perform incremental backups, restore to dissimilar hardware, generate bootable USB drives, mirror folders to network drives, and more. Why not explore its capabilities right away?

Miya · Editor
Miya has an excellent insight and receives professional and systematic technical training since joining AOMEI. She has a comprehensive understanding of computer issues, aiming at helping users troubleshoot all kinds of problems. A lot of computer users around the world have found her articles very helpful!