How to Transfer All Data from Laptop to External Hard Drive?

How to transfer all data from laptop to external hard drive? You ask this simply because you’re not satisfied with the current copy-paste method. So, this time, a more feasible and efficient way will be introduced to help move everything from a laptop to an external hard drive once for all.


By Michael / Updated on May 12, 2023

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Why transfer your files from laptop to external hard drive?

An external hard drive work just like a traditional internal hard disk drive (HDD) but in an external format. An external hard drive is used to store data when a laptop/PC’s internal hard drive is full or sometimes, you just want to back up some important files so you transfer them to an external hard drive. Because they’re bigger and more portable compared with a traditional internal one, external hard drives have a large user base.

lapto to external transfer

How to transfer all data from laptop to external hard drive [2 ways]?

Generally speaking, there’re 2 ways to get it done. When it comes to transferring files between 2 hard drives, people usually think of the copy-paste method. Namely, copying all the files from the laptop’s hard disk and paste them onto the free space of the external hard drive.

However, as you can see, it’s time-consuming as you have to enter each partition one by one to copy all those files. Moreover, what you can’t see is that in this way, there’re chances that data, especially some boot files, may get lost in the course of transfer. So, here comes another better alternative way – third-party disk cloner software.

Method 1. Transfer by copying

Since this is the commonest way people use to transfer files between laptop and external hard drive, I’ll give a brief introduction after all.

1. Click on the File Explorer icon at the bottom of the desktop to enter File Explorer.

2. Go to each partition, highlight all folders and files and hit Ctrl+C to copy them all at once.

3. Click on “This PC” and enter the external hard drive by doubling-click on it.

4. Click on any blank space in the external hard drive’s window, then, press Ctrl+V to paste the copied folders and files.

Now, the transfer is completed. Check every file and see whether they can be opened normally.

Method 2. Transfer with third-party software without data loss

Instead of going into each partition to copy files for transfer, AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional provides the feature of disk clone. With this impressive software, you can clone all data from a laptop internal hard drive to an external hard drive without any data loss. In the meantime, by using this software, you can clone partitions and defrag disks or partitions as well.

1. If the hard disk you want to clone contains system boot partition, the operation will be performed under “PreOS Mode”.

2. Both smaller disk to larger disk clone and larger disk to smaller disk clone are supported.

How to transfer all data from laptop to external hard drive? Download the best disk cloner software to get it done securely!

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Step 1. Connect the external hard drive to your laptop and install and launch AOMEI Partition Assistant Pro Then, you can find both the laptop’s internal hard drive and the external hard drive appear in the software window.

Step 2. Select “Clone” and “Clone Disk”.

Copy Wizard

Note: To clone only the system partition and system relevant partitions to a new disk, for example, moving Windows 10 to SSD, please select “Migrate OS to SSD” instead.

Step 3. In the following window, there’re 2 options. I recommend “Clone Disk Quickly”.


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

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

Step 4. Select the laptop’s internal hard drive as the source disk and click on “Next”.

Source Disk

Step 5. Select the external hard drive as the destination disk and then, hit “Next”.

Target One

1. If the destination disk is an SSD, tick the option “Optimize the performance of SSD” to enhance its performance.
2. All the partitions on the destination disk will be deleted and thus, please make a backup first.

Step 6. In this window, select “Fit partitions to entire disk” to adjust the partition size on the destination disk. Then, hit “Next”.


Step 7. Hit “Apply” where the screenshot below tells you to commit the operation.


After the disk clone, you can wipe the source disk and take it as a new one.

Optional. How to transfer apps from one drive to another?

In the paragraphs above, we discussed how to transfer all data from computer to external hard drive. However, what if you only want to transfer several apps instead of the entire hard disk to another drive? In this case, you can use another feature of AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard - app mover - to transfer apps including Microsoft Office, OneDrive, third-party software, and video games from one drive to another without any hassle.

app mover


How to transfer all data from laptop to external hard drive? It’s never hard to answer because everybody is clear about the way to copy and paste files. However, sometimes, the copy-paste method will cause data/file loss especially boot files of some apps and software. So, this time, another better and more professional alternative AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard is recommended that is able to clone an entire hard disk to another without any data loss. Also, this freeware is capable of performing many other operations including merging partitions, checking partitions, and defragging partitions.

Michael · Staff Editor
Michael is a professinal editor of AOMEI editor team.