Easily Clone Larger Drive to Smaller Drive in Windows 10, 8, 7

To clone larger drive to smaller drive (HDD to SSD, HDD to HDD, SSD to HDD or SSD to HDD) in Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8 or 7, AOMEI Partition Assistant can be helpful!


By Bryce / Updated on April 10, 2024

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Can I clone larger drive to smaller drive?

“I’m planning to replace my existing 500GB boot hard disk drive with a new 256GB solid-state drive. The boot disk is installed with Windows 10 and the used space of it is 200GB. As I don’t want to reinstall all the programs and the Windows 10 operating system, I want to clone my 500GB HDD to the 256GB SSD. Is it possible to clone a smaller one?"

Advantages of cloning HDD to smaller SSD

SSDs have gained popularity among users due to SSD's faster writing and reading speeds, as well as their quieter operation. Many individuals opt to transfer their hard disk data to an SSD. It is common knowledge that SSDs have a smaller capacity compared to HDDs. When it comes to cloning HDD to smaller SSD, many individuals struggle to find a suitable cloning tool that can effectively address the challenge of cloning from a larger drive to a smaller one.

There are several reasons why users may want to clone a larger drive to a smaller one:

• Do a Backup
Regularly backing up your critical data is an essential safeguard against potential data loss. Hard drives are susceptible to damage from various sources, and without backups, you risk losing invaluable information. Maintaining updated backups ensures that you can recover swiftly from computer crash without significant data loss.

• Disk upgrade
All storage devices have a finite lifespan and are prone to developing issues over time. It's advisable to replace an aging hard disk that shows signs of disk failing. Cloning your existing drive to a new one allows you to preserve all the data from the original disk seamlessly, minimizing downtime and data migration hassles.

• Boost computer performance
Many users have experienced significant PC performance enhancements by replacing their primary hard drive with an SSD. Cloning your system drive, which includes the operating system, settings, and installed applications, to an SSD eliminates the need for a fresh OS installation. This upgrade not only speeds up boot times but also improves overall system responsiveness.

Preparation for cloning larger HDD to smaller SSD

1. Prepare your new hard disk
Before upgrading to a SSD, ensure that the SSD's capacity exceeds the amount of data currently used on your HDD.

2. Remove unnecessary files
Eliminate any files that you do not plan on using from your hard drive to speed up the cloning process.

3. Disk clone vs. OS clone
Consider the choice between disk cloning and system cloning. If you're looking to clone Windows 11/10 to a new SSD, it's best to go with system migration. This method ensures a smooth transition without any booting problems on the target disk. On the other hand, if you simply want to copy everything from one data disk to another, disk cloning should do the trick.

4. Choose a reliable and efficient solution for disk cloning software
To complete the task, a third-party cloning program will be utilized. You can easily find numerous paid programs by searching on Google.

Use a handy tool to clone large HDD to smaller SSD easily and safely

It is common to clone boot HDD to SSD, as the fantastic performance of SSD. If the new drive is larger than or equal to the old drive, it is not tough to clone hard drive to larger drive. But when it comes to clone to smaller drive, you need to choose drive cloning software cautiously as some are unsupportable.

Here AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional will be my preference, which is suitable for Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7, XP, and Vista.

Its Disk Clone Wizard feature allows you to clone only used space, which makes it possible to clone larger hard drive to smaller SSD or HDD when the used space on the source drive is not larger than the capacity of the target disk.
If the new disk is too small to contain all the data on the existing drive, you can employ its function: Migrate OS to SSD, enabling you to clone only OS related partitions to a new drive.
☞ What’s more, it can align SSD partitions during the cloning process and supports different SSDs, such as SATA SSD, SATA M.2 SSD, NVMe SSD, etc.
☞  This tool doesn't have any brand limitations, you can clone disks between different brands.
☞  The tool employs hot clone method, you can use your computer during the cloning process as it can run in the background.

Connect the new smaller hard drive to your machine and install this drive cloning software and check out the steps given below :

PS.: You can download its demo version to learn how to clone HDD to smaller HDD/SSD step by step.

Download Pro Demo Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1. Run AOMEI Partition Assistant. Choose Clone and Clone Disk on the top side.

Disk Copy Wizard

Step 2. In the pop-up window, choose Clone Disk Quickly as you need to clone to a smaller drive.

Copy Disk Quickly

Step 3. Select the boot large disk that you want to replace as the source disk.

Select Source Disk

Step 4. Specify the new smaller drive as the destination disk. When the target one is SSD, check Optimize the performance of SSD to align SSD partitions.

Select Destination Disk

Step 5. In this window, you can choose to fit partitions or edit partitions on disk 2. The first option is unavailable as disk 2 is smaller than disk 1.

Edit Disk

A Note about how to boot from the cloned disk (here is disk 2) will appears. Read and remember it, so that you can boot from the cloned drive successfully.


Step 6. Here you can preview the result. If you are satisfied, click Apply and Proceed to perform the operation.


This is the whole process of how to clone larger drive to smaller drive.

 Back up all important files on the source drive as they will be overwritten during the cloning process.
 As it involves system partition, it needs to be performed under PreOS mode, thus a reboot is necessary.
 To clone larger hard drive to smaller drive in Windows 2022/2019/2016/2012(R2)/2008(R2)/2003, use AOMEI Partition Assistant Server.

Boot from the cloned smaller drive after cloning

If you want to keep the larger HDD as storage device and SSD as boot device. To boot from cloned smaller SSD:

1. Restart your computer and keep pressing Esc, F1, F2, F8, or F10 during the initial startup screen to enter BIOS setting.

2. In the Boot option screen, choose new cloned smaller drive as the boot drive.

3. If you clone GPT to MBR or MBR to GPT, you need to change boot mode from UEFI to Legacy or Legacy to UEFI.


4. Save all the changes and exit from BIOS setup utility.

If you don’t need to keep the old larger drive, shut down the computer, disconnect the source disk and connect the destination disk to the socket of the source disk.

FAQs about how to clone hard drive to smaller SSD

1. : How do I ensure the smaller drive has enough space?
A1: To ensure the smaller drive has sufficient space, you can delete unnecessary files from the larger drive or expand the target drive's capacity if possible.

2. Is it possible to clone any larger drive to a smaller drive?
A2: Yes, it is possible, but the used space on the larger drive must be less than or equal to the total capacity of the smaller drive. If the larger drive has more data than the smaller drive can accommodate, you will need to delete or move some data before cloning.

3. Will the cloning process affect my current data?
A3: No, the cloning process should not affect your current data if you use reliable cloning software and follow the correct procedures. However, it's always a good practice to back up your data before starting the cloning process.

4. How long does it take to clone a larger drive to a smaller one?
A4: The duration of the cloning process depends on the amount of data being cloned and the speed of both the source and target drives. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.

5. What steps should I follow after cloning to ensure everything works properly
A5: After cloning, it’s recommended to check the integrity of the cloned data, ensure that the system boots properly from the new drive, and verify that all applications are running smoothly. Additionally, it might be necessary to adjust drive partitions and settings for optimal performance.

Bryce · Staff Editor
Bryce is an editor of AOMEI Technology, he covers backup & restore, hard disk & partitions management, cloud files transfer, website & database backup and so on for AOMEI. He enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. He loves traveling, Sleeping, reserching and so on. He enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. He loves traveling, Sleeping, reserching and so on. He would like to spend all time on reaserching computer problems. He is a very cute boy.