Even the best SSDs are dirt cheap these days, so it’s very tempting to upgrade your gear. Migrating from one drive to another can be tiresome, however. You have the OS, your apps, all your settings and your data. Starting over from a clean install of Windows (or Linux) would take forever and you’d probably spend weeks finding things you forgot to add back. The answer: clone your SSD.
Cloning a drive is a quick and simple way to move your install from an older slower drive, to a faster and larger one. There are many ways to accomplish this, and Clonezilla ranks amongst the best. This live Linux distro boots from a USB or CD/DVD and uses a wizard based system to easily migrate between drives, create images of installations, and even deploy OSes to multiple machines over a network connection. Clonezilla just works whether you’re cloning a Windows OS or a Linux distro.
Connecting Your New Drive to the PC for Cloning
If you want to move the contents of your PC’s boot drive to a new, faster or larger alternative, you need a way to have both drives connected to the computer at the same time. If you have a desktop with room for it, you can connect the new drive to its M.2 or SATA port and mount it in your case.
However, if you are using a laptop or you don’t have room to have both drives in your computer at the same time, you’re going to need some kind of enclosure that allows you to connect the new drive to a USB port. If the new drive is a 2.5-inch SATA drive, grab a SATA to USB 3.0 enclosure (opens in new tab). If it’s an M.2 NVMe or SATA drive, grab an M.2 to USB enclosure (opens in new tab).
If you are using an enclosure, you’ll need to open your PC when the cloning is complete and swap out the old drive for the new one. If you’re planning to sell or give away the old drive, see our tutorial on how to securely erase an SSD or hard drive.
Cloning Windows (or Another OS)
For the purposes of our screenshots and steps below, we migrate a Windows 10 installation from a 64GB eMMC drive to a 256GB NVMe drive. However, the process that we follow can be applied to other scenarios, such as migrating installations from older drives to SSD or for cloning a drive as a backup.
Creating a Clonezilla Boot USB
Creating a Clonezilla boot USB is a great first step for your tech toolbox. With Clonezilla you have the tools to backup and migrate entire systems. For this part of the project you will need a 4GB USB flash drive.
1. Go to the Clonezilla download page and select the current Stable release. At the time of writing this was a Debian based release.
2. Select the CPU architecture and set the file type to ISO, then click Download. USB drives require the ZIP file type, CD / DVD users will need to select ISO before downloading.
3. Download and install Rufus for your operating system.
4. Insert a USB drive into your machine and open Rufus.
5. Check that your USB drive is selected, and then click on SELECT and use the Clonezilla ISO image.
6. Click on Start to begin writing Clonezilla to the USB drive.
4. Write the image in ISO mode and clock Ok to start the process.
With our test machine running Windows 10 from an embedded 64GB eMMC drive, and a blank NVMe drive inserted into the machine we are ready to migrate the installation.
1. Boot from the Clonezilla USB drive. The key to enter the BIOS is a little different for every machine, but here we have a list that will steer you right.
2. From the menu select Clonezilla live and press Enter.
3. Select your desired language and press Enter.
4. Confirm the selection by pressing Enter.
5. Press Enter to start Clonezilla’s wizard process.
6. Select device-device to clone one drive to the other and press Enter. The other options are device-image, which clones a drive to a backup image. Remote-source and destination for remote cloning tasks. Servers can be used to clone devices to a remote server, or to distribute one clone image to multiple devices at once.
7. Select Expert and press Enter.
8. Select disk_to_local_disk cloning option and press Enter.
9. Select the source (the drive that you wish to clone) and press Enter.
10. Select the target on which to clone the source and press Enter. In our example it is a 256GB NVMe drive.
11. Scroll down to T1 and press Space to select and then Enter to move onwards. This option will ensure that our Windows bootloader is successfully copied to the target drive.
12. Accept the default option to skip checking the filesystem, and press Enter. You can opt to scan the filesystem for issues if you wish, but this will add some time to the process.
13. Accept the default option to use the existing partition table and press Enter.
14. Select Choose and press Enter. When Clonezilla is finished, it will prompt us to reboot or shutdown the machine.
15. Press Enter to start the process. Clonezilla provides us with a terminal command which encapsulates all of the options we have just chosen. Should we wish to run the process via a terminal, this command can be used.
16. Press Y and Enter to begin the process. Make sure that everything is correct before moving onwards, there is no going back.
17. Wait for the cloning process to finish. Depending on the size and speed of your drives, this can take some time.
18. Press Enter to finish the process.
19. Select Power off and press Enter.
Extending Your Partition After Cloning
The migration is complete and now we need to check that our OS boots and extend the partition to use all of the space on the drive. We used Windows 10, but the steps should be the same in Windows 11.
1. Swap in the new drive if you are not keeping both drives in the same computer.
2. Power on the computer and via the BIOS set the new drive as the boot drive. This is different for every machine, please refer to the motherboard manual
3. Boot up, in our case to Windows.
4. Open the File Manager and click on This PC. We need to extend the partition to make full use of the NVMe drive’s capacity.
6. Open MiniTool and click on the recovery partition. We don’t need this partition and it prevents us from using the full capacity of the drive. You may not have this partition in the same location, if there is no partition between the Windows install and the unallocated space, you can skip to step
7. Right click on the partition and select Delete.
8. Click Apply to delete the recovery partition.
9. Click on the Windows partition.
10. Right click on the partition and select Extend.
11. Select the unallocated space, and then use the slider to select how much space you need. Click OK. We chose to use the maximum capacity of the drive.
12. Click Apply to extend the partition.
13. Go back to the File Manager, This PC to check that the drive capacity is now increased.