By Dervish / Last Updated September 27, 2022

Should I clone my HDD to SSD or fresh install?

You may have a question about “Should I clone my HDD to SSD?” when you plan to replace HDD with SSD. To be honest, if you are a user who have computer knowledge, you can perform a fresh install. But if you are a normal user without computer background, cloning will be your best choice.

✎ Fresh install is more complexity than clone

Fresh install Windows will go through tedious installation steps and you will encounter a lot of professional vocabulary in the process. If you are just an ordinary user, it may give you a headache. More importantly, after a fresh installation, all the data on the computer is gone, you need to download it again, which is wasting time. So, if there are no big problems with the system, please don't fresh install.

✎ Is cloning HDD to SSD bad?

No, isn't. On the contrary, cloning is much more convenient. Here are some advantages of cloning HDD to SSD:

● Save time and effort, no need to reinstall the required applications on the SSD.
● Clone the data directly to the target location, which can be used and edited immediately.
● The operating system can be booted successfully on the cloned SSD.

How to clone HDD to SSD via third-party utility

Next I will introduce you a professional and completely free third-party cloning software—AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard (it is compatible with Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7, XP and Vista). It can clone all data on HDD to SSD without data loss, and the GUI allows users to understand at a glance, it only takes a few clicks to complete. I believe it can definitely help you to dispel the worries of “should I clone my HDD to SSD?”.

If you just want to clone the Windows system from HDD to SSD, then “Migrate OS to SSD” is enough; but if you want to clone all the data on the HDD, “Disk Clone” will be the most suitable.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Note: For cloning data disk, AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard supports MBR/GPT to MBR/GPT. If you need to clone system disk, please upgrade to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional Version.

Step 1. In the main interface of AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional. Click “All Tools” and then “Disk Clone Wizard” on the left side.

Step 2. Choose a method according your need. Here, we selectClone Disk Quickly” as an example.

Clone Disk Quickly” only copies the used sectors to the destination location, allowing the target disk smaller than the total size of the source disk.
Sector-by-Sector Clone” will copy all sectors to the target disk, so the destination disk must be equal to or larger than the source disk.

Step 3. Select the HDD you want to clone as the source disk and hit on “Next”.

Step 4. Then select the SSD drive as the destination disk and click “Next”.

Tip: You can tick "Optimize the performance of SSD" to improve the reading and writing speed of SSD. 

Step 5. In this step, this program allows you to adjust the partition size on the destination disk.

PS.: When you're cloning to smaller SSD, the first option is grayed out.

Step 6. You can preview the disk cloning operating by viewing the “Pending Operations”. To commit the “Pending Operations”, please clickApply and “Proceed”.

After that, you have succeeded to clone Windows 10/11 from HDD to SSD.

How to boot computer from cloned SSD

If you're using a laptop, you'll need to remove the old HDD from the bottom, replace it with a new SSD, and reboot to boot from the SSD.

If you are using a desktop, you need to install a new SSD in the hard drive slot of the host, and then change the SSD to the first boot order in the BIOS.

Step 1. Reboot your PC and constantly press F2, Del, F8, or F12 to access the BIOS menu. 

Step 2. You can use the arrow key to choose the Boot tab.

Step 3. Then move the cloned SSD to the first position in the list. 

Step 4. Save the changes and exit the BIOS setup utility. Then your PC will restart from the SSD. 

If you successfully boot desktop from the cloned SSD, you can wipe the old HDD to free up disk space for saving data.

How to fresh install Windows on SSD?

If you want to fresh install Windows 10 on SSD, this article also provides reference steps.

Before fresh install you should know:
1. If your SSD is unused, please partition the SSD first.
2. If there is data on the SSD, all data will be erased when installing Windows 10/11, so please backup in advance.
3. you need to prepare an empty DVD, CD or USB as the installation media.

Step 1. Download and use Microsoft Media Creation Tool to make the installation media.

Step 2. During the installation media process, selectCreate installation media for another PC (USB flash drive, DVD or ISO file)”, then click “Next” and follow the guide to complete the installation.

Step 3. Turn off the computer, open the case, take out the HDD, and insert the SSD into the drive bay.

Step 4. Enter the BIOS when the computer restarts, modify the boot sequence, and make your computer boot from the installation disk.

Step 5. Various parameters need to be set after startup. Then click “Install Now”.

Step 6. The system will ask you to enter the license key. You can enter it directly or skip it and activate it after the Windows 10 installation is complete.

Step 7. When asked “Which type of installation do you want?”, selectCustom: Install Windows only (advanced)”.

Step 8. Select the SSD where you want to install Windows 10, and click Next”. Then Windows will automatically start the installation process.

Sum up

Seeing this, you must have a clearer understanding of “Should I clone my HDD to SSD or fresh install”. This post shows you detailed steps of both HDD to SSD copy and fresh install, you can follow the proper tutorial based on your own situation.

If you plan to clone Windows Server, you should switch to AOMEI Partition Assistant  Server, which is designed for Windows Server 2022/2019/2016/2012(R2)/2008(R2).