How To Clone A Hard Drive In Windows (2022)

The reason most people clone a hard drive is if they’re upgrading from a Hard Drive to an SSD, or from a smaller drive to one with larger capacity. Some users also clone a drive to back up the contents onto an external hard drive.

For all such purposes, you can either use a Hard Drive Cloning Software – free or premium as you prefer – or a physical hard drive duplicator. We’ve listed the necessary steps for either method, on both Windows and Mac, in the article below.

Before You Start

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You should back up any particularly important files before you start cloning since there’s a chance of data loss if anything goes wrong. To minimize this possibility, we recommend using some form of power backup such as an UPS so that your PC doesn’t abruptly shut down during the cloning process.

Also, here are some technical terms used in the guide below:
Source Drive: The drive that currently contains the data you’re trying to clone.
Destination Drive: The target drive that you’re trying to migrate the data to.

Table of Contents

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How to Clone a Hard Drive on Windows

We’ve used Macrium Reflect, AOMEI Backupper, and AOMEI Partition Manager for this tutorial as these are the best free hard drive cloning tools available on Windows. But you can use your preferred software of choice. The steps will be similar for most of them.

Large to Smaller Hard Drive

Here are the steps to clone a larger hard drive onto a smaller one using Macrium Reflect:

  1. Plug the hard drives into your PC.
  2. Download, install and launchMacrium Reflect.
  3. Select the source disk and click onClone This Disk.
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  4. Select the disk to clone to.
  5. Click onSelect a different source disk or target diskif you want to change them. Once you’re happy with the selections, pressNextto proceed.
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  6. You can set up a cloning schedule to backup the drive regularly on the next screen. We’ll ignore this, but you can use this feature if you want.
  7. In the final screen, go through everything listed to make sure all the choices are correct, then pressFinish.
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  8. Accept the confirmation prompts and wait for the process to complete.
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  9. Restart your PC and press the BIOS key to boot into the BIOS Setup Utility.
  10. UnderBoot Options, select the newly cloned drive as the first choice, and press F10 to proceed.
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Small to Larger Hard Drive

Here are the steps to clone a smaller hard drive onto a larger one using the AOMEI tools:

  1. Connect the hard drives to your PC.
  2. Download and install AOMEI Back Upper and AOMEI Partition Manager.
  3. Launch AOMEI Back Upper and selectClone > Disk Clone.
  4. Select the source and destination disks and pressNexton both screens.
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  5. PressOK > Start Clone, and once the process ends, press Finish.
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  6. Restart your PC and press theBIOS keyto boot into the BIOS Setup Utility.
  7. UnderBoot Options, select the newly cloned drive as the first choice and press F10 to proceed.
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  8. When cloning a small drive to a larger one, the extra space will remain unallocated by default. To resolve this, launch AOMEI Partition Manager.
  9. Right-click the active partition and selectMerge Partitions.
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  10. Select the unallocated partition and press OK.
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  11. Press Proceed > Restart into Windows PE Mode > OK.
  12. Once the process is complete, pressRestart Now.

How to Clone a Hard Drive on Mac

Unlike Windows, you can clone a hard drive using the native Disk Utility on Mac. But SuperDuper is an excellent free option as well for cloning purposes.

Disk Utility

Here’s how to a clone a hard drive via the Disk Utility:

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  1. Plug the hard drives into your Mac and launchDisk Utility.
  2. Note the source drive’sfile systemand check that it’s the same on the destination drive. If it’s not,formatthe destination drive with the same file system.
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  3. Restart your Mac and hold downCommand + Runtil you boot into Recovery Mode.
  4. SelectDisk Utilityand click Continue.
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  5. Select the destination drive and pressRestore.
  6. In the Restore from section, select thesource driveand pressRestore.
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  7. Once the restoration process is complete, press Done.
  8. Click on the Apple icon and selectStartup Disk.
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  9. Select the newly cloned hard drive and pressRestartto boot from it.

SuperDuper

Here’s how to clone a hard drive using SuperDuper:

  1. Once again, plug in the drives and ensure the destination drive is using thesame file systemas the source drive. If not, format the destination drive to make it so.
  2. Download SuperDuperfrom the official site. Then, install and launch it.
  3. In thecopysection, select the source drive.
  4. In thetosection, select the destination drive.
  5. In theusingsection, selectBackup – all files.
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  6. If the amount of data on the source drive is more than what the target drive can store, the application will display a message about this. In this case, you should either delete some files to clear up space or use a larger capacity destination drive.
  7. Otherwise, pressCopy Nowand accept the confirmation to proceed with the cloning.
  8. Once the process is complete, press OK.
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  9. Go toApple Menu > System Preferences > Startup Disk, select the cloned disk, and press Restart to boot from it.

How to Clone a Hard Drive Using a Duplicator

If you’d rather not go through the hassle of cloning a drive using third-party tools, a physical hard disk duplicator can be the perfect option for you. These typically cost between 20$ – 100$ and are extremely straightforward to operate. Just insert the source and destination drives into the respective slots and press the Clone button.

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The one downside is that some cheaper models have a reputation of not working properly at times. So if you do choose to purchase a cloner/docking station, we recommend reading the reviews and making sure it’s reliable before getting it. For any further queries regarding your particular model, you should refer to the manual.

Related Questions

How Long Does It Take To Clone a Hard Drive?

Depending on the hard drive specs and the amount of data to clone, the process can take anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours. But on average, it usually takes 15 – 20 mins to clone a 100 GB hard drive.

Can I Clone a Hard Drive Without Using Third-Party Cloning Software?

On Mac, you can do this via Disk Utility. We’ve listed the steps for this in the Disk Utility section above.

(Video) How to Migrate Windows to Another Drive

But on Windows, there’s no in-built utility for cloning a hard drive. Technically, you can create a system image, then copy that system image onto the new drive, and use that backup to restore the contents onto the drive.

But this process is imaging, not cloning. There’s a time and place for this, but for cloning specifically, most users will find this method to be inefficient and too much of a hassle.

Can I Clone a Hard Drive to SSD / USB External Drive?

You can clone an internal HDD to an external SSD and any other combination. The main thing to keep in mind is that the destination drive must have sufficient storage space to accept the contents of the source drive.

Does Cloning a Hard Drive Copy The OS / Make It Bootable?

Cloning means creating an exact replica of a drive. This means everything on the drive, including the OS is replicated.

Now on the other hand, if the source drive doesn’t have any OS files to start with, the destination drive won’t automatically become bootable.

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