By Bryce / Last Updated March 10, 2022

Why need to copy all data from one hard drive to another?

Why copy all files from one disk to another? The motivates can be concluded as follows:

☞ Transfer all data from a traditional hard disk drive with Windows installed to a solid-state drive or larger hard drive and thus, you can upgrade the system hard drive without reinstallation.
Clone all data from internal hard drive to external hard drive for duplication. Compared with backup, it allows you to access data without restoration if the system crashes or something else happens.

As you can see above, people need to copy a whole hard drive to another for different purposes? But how? In the following paragraphs, 2 methods are provided.

Method 1. Manually copy and paste

The most common way to copy all data from one hard drive to another is by copying and pasting but this method can only be applied when those files are personal files like photos, video, music, and some apps. Or else, the files may not be able to run normally. 

1. Double-click on "This PC" to open File Explorer.

2. Open the drive where you want to move those files. Here, we take the C drive for example. 

3. Right-click on the files you want to move and select "Copy".

4. Navigate to the destination drive where you want to move the files. Find some blank space and right-click on it. Hit "Paste" to paste the files you just copied to this location.

Now, you've successfully transferred all personal files from one hard drive to another. 

Method 2. Try a third-party disk cloner

To move/clone files from one hard drive to another, the copy-paste way is mentioned above. However, this way can be time-consuming when there are lots of files and folders on your hard drive and meanwhile, some important data like boot files could be easily missing – some software and the operating system may not work normally. Therefore, you can employ a third-party hard drive cloner to copy the whole hard drive to another.

Here AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional will be my first choice. It can clone all files, including boot.ini from one disk to another. After cloning no matter a system disk or a data disk to another disk, both the system and the apps can be used normally.
It can clone only used spaces on the source hard drive and thus, you can copy all data from one hard drive to a smaller one if the size of the target one is not smaller than the size of the used space.
What’s more, it is able to copy only OS drive (data partitions not included) from one disk to another.

What you ought to realize before you copy/migrate all data from one hard drive to another by cloning a hard disk:

▪ All data saved on the target hard drive will be cleaned, thus back up your necessary files in advance.
▪ The capacity of the destination disk shouldn't be smaller than the used space of the source disk.
▪ To boot successfully from cloned disk, it is necessary to change boot mode after you clone MBR system disk to GPT or GPT to MBR.

Then, connect the destination disk to your computer and make sure it can be recognized, and follow the steps given below (Take cloning system hard drive to smaller one in Windows 10 as an example). You can download its demo version to have a try at first!

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

Step 1. Install and run AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional. In the main interface, select All Tools and Disk Clone Wizard.

disk copy wizard.png

Step 2. In the pop-up window, choose Clone Disk Quickly between two options.

Clone Disk Quickly: Clone only used space to another disk and allowed to adjust the size of partitions.

Sector-by-Sector Clone: Clone all sectors to another disk, whether used or not.

copy disk quickly.png

Step 3. Here you need to choose the source disk (Disk 1 is selected).

select source disk.png

Step 4. After specifying the source disk, you need to choose the destination disk (Here is Disk 2).

select destination disk.png

PS.: If your destination is SSD, tick Optimize the performance of SSD.

Step 5. In this window, you can choose Fit partitions to the entire disk or Edit partitions on this disk. Then, click Next.

edit disk.png

PS.: Clone without resizing partitions is grayed out as the destination disk is smaller than the source disk, when it comes to cloning to a larger hard drive or a hard drive of the equal size, the first option will be valid.

A Note about how to boot from the destination disk will show up. Keep it in mind and click Finish.

clone large disk to small disk/finish.png

Step 6. Here you can preview the result of the operation. Click Apply to commit it.

clone large disk to small disk/apply.png

Optional: How to boot from the destination hard disk after the disk clone?

If the disk you cloned is a boot disk, then, you’re supposed to set the destination disk as the first boot device.

1. During the startup of your PC, press a specific key continuously. Usually, it’s Del for desktops while F2 for laptops. Then, you’ll enter BIOS settings.

2. Under the boot tab, you can change the boot order for your devices. Now, set the destination disk as the first boot device with your arrow key.


Final words

How to copy data from one hard drive to another? In this post, you learned when and why you should perform the operation and meanwhile, a powerful third-party disk cloner – AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional - was introduced to help get it done efficiently. Apart from disk clone, other features including SSD secure erase and SSD 4K alignment are also supported by it. To clone one hard drive to another in Windows Server, you can use AOMEI Partition Assistant Server.