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How to Clone a Laptop Hard Disk – Migrate to SSD or HDD

Cloning a hard drive simply means migrating data, programs and settings from one hard disk to another.

The end result is that the content of both hard disks will be the same.

It is a daunting task but don’t fret, here we will learn about how to clone a laptop hard disk the simplest way possible.

Furthermore, cloning is much better because all data, software programs and hard disk drive settings are the same.

It is important to clone a laptop hard drive to a larger hard drive due to various reasons. Laptop users may need to either upgrade or move laptop hard drive.

Hard disk cloning is advantageous because you do not need to do repetitive tasks such as reinstalling software programs and editing the settings on new hard disk drive.

You can also clone a hard disk drive to a much bigger and new hard disk drive that has more space.

As you decide to clone your laptop hard drive, ensure that you aim at achieving one or more of the following objectives:

  1. To upgrade from old to a newer hard disk drive
  2. Migration of contents of a hard disk drive to a larger hard disk or a faster SSD
  3. To have a duplicate/backup of a hard disk drive
  4. Migration of contents of hard disk drive to a smaller one

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Basic Requirements for How to Clone a Laptop Hard Disk

There are three basic requirements that you should meet before you start the cloning process. These conditions will help you to successfully clone a laptop hard disk drive.

The requirements include a cloning software program, USB-to-SATA cable and a destination hard disk that can contain all contents of older hard disk drive.

1. Disk Cloning Software

How to Clone a Laptop Hard DiskYou need a reliable, easy to use and safe disk cloning software to accomplish the task. There are many developers who have released cloning software programs.

All these software applications serve the same purpose though there may be slight differences. For example, some applications are freeware while most are non free.

Freeware applications can be downloaded and used freely with all features included.

On the other hand, you have to pay for non free applications so that you can use them. Some applications that you can use may include AOMEI Partition Assistant, and Acronis True Image.

2. Destination Hard Disk

hard diskYou will use the destination hard disk drive to migrate all the contents of the older disk drive.

Ensure that the destination disk has enough storage to contain all the content that is stored in the older disk drive.

You may use an SSD (Solid state Drive), HDD or removable disk to serve the purpose of destination drive.

3. USB-to-SATA Cable

USB-to-SATA CableComputer technicians use USB to SATA cable in their everyday work. However, for the purpose of cloning the hard disk drive, you will need it as well.

You need to plug the cable to the laptop port to allow you to connect the internal components that use SATA interface.

You can keep the cable to serve you whenever you experience hard drive failure.

The Cloning Process

As discussed earlier, various cloning applications have been released to the end users. For the purpose of this article, I will demonstrate how you can clone a hard disk drive using an AOMEI partition assistant software on a Windows laptop.

AOMEI partition assistant is a freeware and is available for download from the manufacturer’s website. If you need to use it commercially, you can also purchase the PRO version of the software.

The software is preferable because you can use it with different storage devices such as HDD, SDD and external hard drive among others.

Furthermore, you can also use it to partition your destination disk drive.

  • Download AOMEI partition Assistant: Go to AOMEI partition assistant manufacturer’s website and download the freeware to a folder in your laptop.
  • Click the executable file and provide administrator password if prompted to do so.
  • Install the Software by following all the steps provided by the installer

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Scenarios to Consider

There are two scenarios that you may need to consider:

  1. Cloning a disk that has “system partition”
  2. Cloning a hard drive for the purpose of saving data.

Cloning a Disk that has “System Partition”

When cloning a disk that has system partition, you first need to physically install the destination drive to the laptop. This will require you to open up the laptop. Do not attempt this if you are unsure.

Then connect the old drive to the laptop using the USB-to-SATA cable. If you do otherwise, your destination drive will not be bootable.

Cloning a Hard Drive for the Purpose of Saving Data

On the other hand, if you want to clone the hard drive for the purpose of saving data, you may install the AOMEI software to the laptop and then use the USB-to-SATA cable to connect the destination hard drive.

Otherwise, clone from the bootable media created by the AOMEI Disk Partition Assistant whenever you want to use a cloned drive to boot the laptop.

You do not need to have an operating system installed on the bootable media when cloning from it.

Whenever you use the bootable media to boot the laptop, it will display the software’s main interface and it will let you begin the cloning process at this point.

Using AOMEI To Clone

Below is a step-by-step process of how to clone your hard disk using AOMEI partition assistant.

Step 1: Launch the AOMEI Disk Partition Assistant

AOMEI Disk Partition Assistant

Click on Disk Copy Wizard located at the left panel of the main interface.

Step 2: Select Copy Option

This Window allows you to choose your preferable disk copy option. Within the wizard Window, there are two options of the method you would like to use to copy the disk: copy disk quickly or sector-by-sector copy.

You are advised to select the option named “Copy Disk Quickly”.

Copy Disk Quickly

It is recommended to use the option of Copy Disk Quickly because it will allow you to copy only the used area of the drive to the destination drive. The partition assistant will not copy any unused space.

This is advantageous because it will allow you to copy the content even to a smaller disk drive as long as it has sufficient space to contain all the content.

Sector by Sector Copy

If you use Sector by Sector Copy option, the partition assistant will copy all the sectors of older disk to the destination disk drive.

This will include both used and unused sectors. Therefore, if you choose this option, you need to ensure that the destination disk drive has same size or larger than the source disk drive.

It is important to choose the option carefully because once the cloning process begins, it will not let you edit the partitions.

Step 3: Select the Source Drive

On clicking the button labeled “next”, the wizard will display a list of disks that are connected to the laptop.

Carefully select the disk that you want to copy and then click next.

Step 4: Select the Destination Drive

The wizard will display a list of drives and you have to choose the target disk to copy the source disk to.

Below the list of destination drives is a check box that you may tick if the target disk is an SSD.

By ticking the checkbox, the AOMEI partition assistant will optimize SSD’s performance after the clone process by aligning the SSD.

If the SSD is not aligned when cloning from hard disk drive, it will be slower an inefficient. You need the SSD to boot at a relatively high speed and that’s why it should be aligned.

In case you forget to select the checkbox at this point, you can always use the same partition assistant to align the partitions after the cloning process.

Step 5: Edit destination disk’s partition

This step allows you to adjust the partition size of the target disk drive. It has three options: copy without resizing, fit partitions to entire disk and edit partitions on the disk.

If you need to adjust the partitions, select the third option.

Step 6: Finish the Cloning Process

This is the final stage of the disk drive cloning. Remember to read the not on how to boot from the destination disk after cloning.

Click the finish button and then apply the changes by clicking Apply button. Monitor the cloning operation and if anything goes wrong during the process, click start cloning.

Step 7: Replacing Drives

Disconnect the destination drive from laptop as soon as the cloning process ends. Power off the laptop and disconnect all attached peripherals.

Remove the laptop battery and replace the existing hard disk drive with the new drive. You may need to use a screw driver to open the laptop’s back case so that you can gain access to the internal components.

Step 8: Test the new Hard Drive

Install all the laptop parts and power it on. If the laptop boots normally, then you should understand that the cloning was successful.

Laptop Disk Cloning Errors

There are several reasons why you may not successfully clone the hard disk drive. In this case, the destination hard drive may fail to boot or it may be too slow.

If the new drive fails to boot, the error may have been caused by poor USB-to-SATA connection or battery problem.

You can solve the issue by performing data backup and restoration on the hard disk drive.

On the other hand, if the new hard drive is too slow, you may need to use the partition assistant tool to realign the sectors.