I'm using a 256GB SSD that is running out of space, and want to migrate Windows and programs to a larger SSD. It looks like cloning software would work, but I'm not sure how to do it and get the target SSD recognized as system drive. Any advice would be much appreciated.
SSDs, due to their excellent read and write speeds, high security, and low power consumption, are often seen as better boot drives than HDDs. So when the new OS came out, many users chose to install Windows 11 to SSD.
However, as time passes, you may also face problems such as lack of space, slow operation and even disk crashes. That's when you might want to transfer Windows 11 from one SSD to another. As Windows license is transferable on the same hardware, you can indeed try to do this.
Generally speaking, when you want to replace your hard drive, you can consider a fresh install of Windows 11 on a new HDD or SSD. But this means that your previous settings, installed apps, and saved personal files will not be retained.
Therefore, many users may want to move Windows 11 directly from one SSD to another, so that they can use the familiar Windows environment directly and save the installation process.
To do this, one built-in method is to create a full system image of Windows 11, and restore it to the new SSD. But the process is quite laborious – you need to create a system backup as well as a recovery drive, then perform a bare metal restore on the target SSD (see image Windows to SSD).
Besides the hassle, this process is also error-prone. So I would recommend using system clone to migrate Windows 11 to another SSD. You don’t have to make a backup and then restore, just connect the target drive, specify the source and target disks, and start the migration. In the following article I will describe this method in detail.
▶ Download an effective cloning software
Windows doesn’t come with cloning capabilities, so you need the help of a cloning software. Here I will use AOMEI Backupper Professional, which is able to clone all GPT/MBR system and data disks, supporting you to transfer the whole hard drive or only the OS.
And thanks to the intelligent-sector cloning technology, you can even clone Windows 11 to smaller SSD.
▶ Connect the target SSD
If your PC has more than one slot, just install the new SSD alongside the old one. Otherwise you can use an USB to SATA adapter or enclosure to connect it as an external drive.
▶ Prepare the target SSD
If it is a new SSD, you should be prompted for initial setup when you first use it, at which point you can select the partition style as GPT (to support Windows 11).
If it is a used SSD, then it is recommended to backup any important data on it first so that it won't be overwritten by the cloning process. And if it is an MBR disk, you need to perform some additional steps. The cloning process of AOMEI can overwrite the partition style of the source disk to an unpartitioned target disk, so you can simply delete all the volumes of the target SSD in Disk Management.
▶ Clean up the source disk
This is an optional step if you have a lot of junk files on your source disk or system drive and you don't want to bring them to the new SSD. Just delete unwanted files, uninstall unnecessary apps, search and run Disk Cleanup, etc.
With the above preparations done, you can get started to clone Windows 11 to new SSD.
1. Launch AOMEI Backupper and navigate to Clone tab. Here you can find multiple option: System Clone, Disk Clone and Partition Clone. Here I will demonstrate System Clone for you to transfer OS from one SSD to another.
Tip: If you want to transfer the entire Windows 11 system disk, choose Disk Clone instead.
2. The system partitions is auto selected, so you just need to specify a Destination Disk. Choose the SSD you connected and click Next.
3. In the Operation Summary window, you can tick SSD Alignment to accelerate the target SSD and prolong its life span. Then, you can Start Clone and wait for it to complete.
Other features you may concern:
- The Sector By Sector Clone feature in Step 3 is designed to clone all sectors no matter used or not (the default mode will copy only used sectors). So it takes a longer time for cloning, and requires the target partition/disk is equal to or larger than the space of the system.
- If you want to clone system reserved recovery partition and make sure it still works on the cloned SSD, please run a Disk Clone while ticking Sector By Sector Clone option.
- If you choose to perform Disk Clone, you can use Edit Partitions to modify partition sizes, assign unallocated space, specify drive letters, etc.
How to boot Windows 11 from the cloned SSD
After completing the system migration, you can shut down the computer to replace the SSD with the cloned SSD, and then reboot.
During startup, press the specific key (could be F2, F10, Esc, Del…depends on manufacturer) to enter BIOS, and select the cloned SSD as the first option.
After that, you shall be able to launch Windows 11 with the new SSD. If it works properly, then your cloning is successful.
Tip: If you want extra storage space, you can put the old SSD back in, and use the Disk Wipe feature of AOMEI to erase data on it.
When your computer is running out of space or underperforming, you may want to transfer Windows 11 from one SSD to another for better experience. And system clone (or disk clone) is probably the easiest way to do this.
As an easy-to-use cloning software, AOMEI Backupper provides an intuitive interface to help you perform Windows 11 migration within several clicks. After the cloning, you can also use it to schedule automatic backup for continuous data protection.