How to Clone HDD to External Drive with Freeware?

Posted by @Teresa

December 22, 2016

Best way to clone a hard drive (HDD) to an external hard drive, USB drive or SSD is using professional clone freeware - AOMEI Backupper Standard in Windows OS.

Why clone HDD to external drive?

Cloning HDD to external HD (hard drive) saves you lots of time of reinstalling operating system and applications. Another way to avoid reinstalling is to image the disk and restores the backup image to the external drive later. But this method is used more frequently for backing up one drive. Copy and Paste would work only if there are no programs or OS on the hard drive since you cannot drag and drop operating systems.

Cloning copies the complete contents of one hard drive - the file, the partition tables, the MBR (master boot record), and the registry – to another one. It is not uncommon to clone HDD to external hard drive since clone is the easiest choice for hard drive upgrades. Replace the old HDD with a newer external HD or SSD to get better performance of the OS. Whatever reasons you have to clone hard disk to external drive, the next puzzle you need to figure out is how.

How to clone hard drive to external?

The backup utility in Windows is a great backup tool of creating system image and backing up files. Nevertheless it is fails to clone disk or clone partition/volume, let alone clone laptop hard drive to external HDD. Ask for help from third party software is an inevitable trend in such condition. AOMEI Backupper Standard is all-around freeware with clone, backup, and backup image restore features in one place. It is free for home users as well as for commercial users as long as they are using Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10. This software supports sector by sector clone which ensures you an intact duplication of the old HDD. Clone hard drive to SSD would become easy with the feature Align partition to optimize for SSD. It has no bundled adware, so free free to download this software and have a try.

Step by step to clone HDD with AOMEI Backupper

Step1. Connect the external drive with your computer, using hard drive bay or though a USB/SATA adapter. Install and launch AOMEI Backupper Standard. Click Clone and then select Disk Clone.

click Disk Clone.gif

Step2. Select HDD as the source disk.

source disk.gif

Step3. Select the external drive (here is an USB drive) as the destination disk.

target disk.gif

Step4. Check the operation summary and click Start Clone.

start clone.gif


  • If you want to clone every sector of the hard drive, check Sector by sector clone box. Make sure that the target disk is larger or equal to the source disk. Otherwise it will only clone used part by default.
  • If you want to clone HDD to external SSD, then check Align partition to optimize for SSD box.
  • Cloning will overwrite the target external drive, backup file that matters a lot for you.
  • You are able to Edit partitions on the destination disk if you abandoned sector by sector clone option. Here comes a screenshot of editing partitions.


This process will last for a while according to the size of your hard drive. If you want to boot system from the cloned external drive, be sure to change the boot sequence in BIOS.

AOMEI Backupper Standard helps you clone HDD to external drive within a few clicks. Besides, you can operate more system management with this software, say clone boot drive to SSD, backup system, backup PC to external hard drive, dissimilar hardware restore, etc.