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clone a hard drive

Don't know how to clone a hard drive to SSD without any data loss in Windows 10/8/7? Use MiniTool ShadowMaker and MiniTool Partition Wizard, the best disk cloning software, to easily clone a hard drive and create a bootable Windows 10/8/7 clone.

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Why Need to Clone Hard Drive

1. Upgrade old hard drive:

Usually, after a few years of use, a hard drive's firmware will start being outdated and the disk drive itself will start to wear out. Replacing the old disk with a new one minimizes hard disk failures and maintains your computer at its best performance.

2. Expand a small hard drive:

When you run out of disk storage space on your hard drives, clone the data to a larger drive to use the extra disk space without any data loss. Or you can choose to clone a small USB drive to a larger one.

3. Make a backup:

The backup purposes are that data loss and corruption can happen anytime to any computer. To secure your data, use a backupper to back up your hard drive periodically and as frequently as possible.

4. Improve performance:

Solid-state drive provides outstanding merits such as fast read-write speed, low consumption, etc. Therefore, upgrading your HDD to SSD will significantly improve computing performance.

So, how long does it take to clone a hard drive? How do you clone a hard drive in Windows 10/8/7? Keep reading to find the best way to clone a hard drive to SSD or a new hard drive easily.

How Long Does It Take to Clone a Hard Drive Windows 7/8/10

For this question, there are three main factors.

To estimate the time to clone your hard drive, the single most critical factor is to know how much data is on the disk that will be cloned. The more data, the longer it takes.

Additionally, determining the method used to clone the drive is also critical.

  • For instance, cloning a disk to multiple systems needs two steps: you need to clone the original disk to a data repository (saved as an image file) and it will be cloned to the bare disk from there.
  • If you clone a hard drive in Windows 7/8/10 for a computer upgrade, you can directly clone the original drive to another disk like SSD in the same computer. This way doesn’t have an intermediate step.

The last factor is the hard drives’ type. And sometimes, you also should consider the specifications of the system. The speed of the older disk could be the determining factor during a direct drive-to-drive transfer if you use an older drive technology to clone to a newer one.

In conclusion, the time to clone a hard drive to SSD is based on your actual situation and it couldn’t easily be estimated. In the following sections, we will show you how to clone a hard drive in Windows 7/8/10 to SSD with two different drive cloning tools in the same computer effectively.

Clone Hard Drive Software – MiniTool ShadowMaker

You may ask: how do I clone my hard drive to a new one? As a matter of fact, cloning a disk is easy with a piece of disk clone software. 

MiniTool ShadowMaker is the best free disk cloning program developed by MiniTool Software Ltd. to help clone a hard drive Windows 7/8/10.

It is also a piece of backup software, providing disk backup solutions including file backup and restore, partitioning, and most importantly, cloning. It can even clone a system drive to make a bootable Windows 10/8/7 OS. We highly recommend this safe and free solution for cloning disk. It also enables you to back up files to the network drive. With the backup image file, it allows you to perform the disaster recovery to restore your personal files. 

Now, we will show you the full steps of cloning a hard drive.

Download a free MiniTool ShadowMaker Trial Edition for 30-day.

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Further reading:

Before you start, connect a hard disk, for example, SSD or an external drive or an USB external drive, to your computer.

What if my SSD has a smaller hard drive space than my HDD? Can I clone a large capacity HDD to a smaller capacity SSD? 

Yes! As long as the actual used hard drive space on your original hard drive (HDD) is less than or equal to the available storage space in your target drive (SDD), MiniTool ShadowMaker can clone your larger hard drive to smaller SSD. However, if the source disk uses more space than what is available in the target drive, it is not possible to clone all the content onto the target drive.

Now it is time to clone a hard drive. How to clone hard drive to SSD free in Windows 10/8/7, or how to clone a laptop hard drive? Follow the below step by step gudie.

Step 1: Connect to the Disk You Want to Clone

  1. Double-click MiniTool ShadowMaker to run it.
  2. To select whether you want to connect to a Local or a Remote disk, click the Connect button under the desired destination. For this example, we will choose Local.

MiniTool ShadowMaker

Tip: From the main interface, you know MiniTool ShadowMaker is a piece of dedicated backup software. And you probably ask: How to clone a hard drive to SSD or an external hard drive?

Step 2: Start the Clone Disk Tool

  1. On the main User Interface, go to Tools page.
  2. Click the Clone Disk feature.

MiniTool ShadowMaker clone a hard drive

Step 3: Select Source Drive and Target Disks

  1. Select your source- the old disk you want to clone.
  2. Select your target- the new disk (SSD) you want to clone to.
  3. Click the OK button to start the process.

clone a hard drive to SSD Windows 10

Tip: You can use MiniTool ShadowMaker to clone a bootable hard drive in Windows 10/8/7. That is, if you clone a system disk to SSD, the SSD will be bootable after cloning as long as you set it as the first boot order in BIOS.
Warning: During the cloning process, all data on the destination disk will be destroyed. After you have made sure nothing important is on the it, click Yes to continue.

Step 4: The Hard Drive Cloning Process

1. Wait for a few minutes for MiniTool ShadowMaker to perform the hard drive clone process. The cloning time is in proportional to the disk size.

2. After the process is 100% completed successfully, a pop-up window will ask you whether you want to shut down your computer now.

  • You can choose to shut down at a later time.
  • If you choose to shut down now, make sure you only connect ONE of your source or destination drive before you boot the computer the first time after the clone.
  • If more than one disk is connected to the computer at boot time, one disk may be marked as offline by the Windows operating system.
  • Only connect the disk you want to use at the moment.

As mentioned in this part, in most situations, you choose to clone a hard drive to SSD in Windows 10/8/7 rather than simply copying & pasting for disk upgrades, good performance, and disk backup. Due to different cloning needs, the specific operations are different.

① If you want to use and boot the operating system from the destination drive, you can mark the target one online by either: 

  • Shutting down your computer and remove the original disk.
  • Keeping the original drive in your computer and changing the BIOS boot order to reboot from the new disk.

② If you only want to make a disk backup to the SSD or new hard drive: 

After the cloning operation is completed, you can remove the target disk from your computer.

Tip: In addition to using Clone Disk to back up the entire disk, you can also use MiniTool ShadowMaker to make a drive image backup with its Backup feature.

"I need a tool to clone HDD to SSD in Windows 10. Luckily, MiniTool ShadowMaker offers me the best way to clone hard drive and I can easily finish disk cloning."Click to tweet

If you are one of Windows users, looking for the best way to clone a hard drive Windows 7/8/10, click below for a free download of MiniTool ShadowMaker, professional drive cloning software, to begin cloning a disk from HDD to SSD.

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Cloned Drive Won't Boot | How to Make Cloned Drive Bootable?

Cloned drive won't boot? This guide shows you how to make cloned drive bootable in Windows 10/8.1/7 using the best hard drive clone software.

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Hard Drive Clone Software – MiniTool Partition Wizard

In the above part, we show you how to clone a hard drive to SSD free in Windows 10/8/7 with MiniTool ShadowMaker. In addition to MiniTool ShadowMaker, MiniTool Partition Wizard is also the best tool to clone a hard drive.

How to clone a hard drive to SSD in Windows 10/8/7 with this clone hard drive software? Get a free download of MiniTool Partition Wizard and try its Copy Disk feature to clone data disk. Note that if you need to deal with the system disk, you need to get its Pro Edition or an advanced one. This Edition Comparison page may be helpful for you.

Free DownloadBuy Now

Note: Before you clone hard drive to SSD, you need to ensure that:
  1. The SSD does not contain any important data because the cloning process will erase all data on the target disk.
  2. The available space on the SSD must be larger or equal to the used disk space on your source disk.

Step 1: Start the Disk Copying Process

  1. From the available disks, choose the hard drive you want to clone. You may choose the internal hard drive as source. 
  2. Click Copy Disk from Convert Disk in the action panel or right-click on the source drive to choose the Copy feature.

MiniTool Partition Wizard clone a hard drive

Step 2: Select Target Disk

1. Choose the target drive to copy the content of the source drive to.

  • All existing data on the objective drive will be destroyed.
  • All data on the source hard drive will be copied.

2. Click Yes to continue the process.

choose a hard drive for disk cloning

Step 3: Select Partition Options

  1. Select whether to Fit partitions to entire disk(the target disk partition size will be adjusted automatically to fit the entire disk) or Copy partitions without resizing (the size of the source disk partitions will be used), according to your needs. In this example, we will use Fit partitions to entire disk.
  2. To improve the performance of your SSD, check align your partitions to 1MB.
  3. To clone your system disk to the GPT disk, check Use GUID Partition Table for the target disk

choose a copy option

Step 4: Boot from the Destination Disk

  1. To boot your computer from the destination drive, change the boot order in the BIOS settings.
  2. To only copy the hard drive, ignore this warning.

Windows 10 bootable clone

Step 5: Apply the Copied Partitions

  1. Preview and ensure all partitions are being copied to your new SSD.
  2. If everything is okay, click Apply. It requires you to reboot the computer and you need to wait for the process to be finished.

execute all disk cloning operations

The above contents are the introduction of another disk clone software and the disk cloning solution.

Tip: To migrate system related partitions to another disk, MiniTool Partition Wizard also offers another key feature called Migrate OS to SSD/HD.

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How to Clone a Failing Hard Drive Windows 10/8/7

Sometimes, bad sectors may occur on your hard drive after using the disk for a very long period. By then, various problems will happen especially hard drive failing, leading to unbootable Windows. To avoid severe data loss and computer boot problem, you can clone your hard drive as fast as you can.

Reading here, some of you may say: how can I clone the failing hard drive? Actually, it is also simple as long as you use a powerful hard drive clone software – MiniTool ShadowMaker or MiniTool Partition Wizard.

Before you start cloning a failing hard drive, you need to take an extra action: use CHKDSK to shield sectors by sectors that are bad. Just open the Command Prompt window with administrator privilege, input chkdsk d:/f /r and press Enter (d means the drive letter).

After that, you can use one MiniTool software to clone a damaged hard drive to another disk like SSD by following the instructions mentioned above.

Some Tips about Disk Cloning VS Copying VS Imaging

We have introduced you two disk cloning programs and two migration methods to clone a hard drive to SSD, whether the disk is failing or not. It is likely that many of you ask: why choose cloning hard drive rather than copying & pasting all data or disk imaging?

What are the differences between disk cloning, copying & pasting data to another disk, and disk imaging?

Hard Drive Cloning

Generally speaking, cloning hard drive is a highly efficient method to create an exact copy of a hard drive to another hard drive.

That is, not only files and applications, but system files, hidden files, and in-use files are also copied. Due to this nature, if you clone a hard drive containing an operating system, the new hard drive will also be bootable from that operating system provided that BIOS boot settings are configured accordingly.

Copying and Pasting

Since some system files cannot be copied, you cannot create a bootable hard drive by simply copying & pasting files.

Disk Imaging

A disk image is a single file that contains all the files and data in a hard drive. The disk image file is not usable by itself. To utilize the data in a drive image, you need to restore the image file to a hard drive. Therefore, disk imaging is best used for backups. To image disk, the disk imaging software and the backupper - MiniTool ShadowMaker can do that and it also provides incremental backups. 

In conclusion, cloning disk is the best and simplest method to clone hard drives to SSD for the best performance.

Bottom Line

In this post, we have shown you much information on clone a hard drive Windows 7/8/10. Now, it is your turn to get our MiniTool software to give a try!

If you have any question or suggestions while using our software to clone HDD to SSD, please feel free to let us know by either leaving a comment below or sending us an email via [email protected].

Clone a Hard Drive FAQ

Can you transfer OS from HDD to SSD?
You can utilize MiniTool Partition Wizard to transfer OS from HDD to SSD without reinstalling Windows. After getting this software, you can connect your SSD to your computer first. Launch it and select Migrate OS to SSD/HD. Then choose to replace the system disk or migrate OS only. After that, select the destination disk and follow the prompts to apply the change. Then the SSD will become a boot drive. 
How do I transfer Windows 10 from HDD to SSD?
If you want to transfer Windows 10 from HDD to SSD, you can use the system migration tool MiniTool Partition Wizard to migrate Windows 10, which allows you to transfer Windows 10 from HDD to SSD without reinstalling. To do this, you need to connect the SSD to your PC; download and run MiniTool Partition Wizard; click Migrate OS to SSD/HD; choose to migrate Windows 10 only or migrate the whole Windows 10 system disk; select the SSD that you want to transfer Windows 10 to; follow the prompts to apply the operation.
How long does it take to clone HDD to SSD?

The time varies from several minutes to hours. It depends on how much files you stored on the source hard disk and the drive transfer rates. An ATA-100 IDE drive claims a speed of 100MBps and a SATA drive can transfer 300MBps.

How to calculate cloning time? For example, to clone an ATA-100 drive which has 100GB of data stored on it, it should takes about 17 minutes if the cloning speed is 100MB/s. However, the time can be longer as ATA-100 drive will not be able to deliver 100MBps transfer rates in the real world. The real transfer rate that should be used to calculate a clone process should be lowered to about one half of that speed.

How do I clone my SSD to a new SSD?
Connect the new SSD to your computer and make sure it is detected. Then get a hard upgrade tool - MiniTool Partition Wizard and click the Copy Disk Wizard. Select the original SSD as the source and the new SSD as the target disk. Then choose a copy method to clone your SSD to the new SSD. At last, apply the pending operation.
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