By Bryce / Last Updated May 12, 2023

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?

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.