Clone Windows 10 drive using Clonezilla
Disk cloning

How to clone a Windows 10 installation to a new drive using Clonezilla

You can upgrade your current hard drive without the need to reinstall Windows 10 using Clonezilla to transfer everything to the new drive, and here's how to do it.

Clonezilla is a free tool based on Linux designed specifically for drive cloning containing any kind of data just like Macrium Reflect. It does this by copying all the bits on a drive to another equal or larger drive.

If you’re running Windows 10 on your device, you can also use Clonezilla to migrate the current installation with all your settings, apps, and files to a new larger or faster drive without the need of reinstalling the operating system. Or you can use Clonezilla as a backup tool before making changes to your current installation.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to use Clonezilla to clone a hard drive with an installation of Windows 10 to another drive.

Warning: Although this is a non-destructive process, making changes to a drive has its risks, as such use these instructions carefully and at your own risk. If you’re planning to replace a drive, it’ll be also a good idea to create a back of your data before proceeding. You have been warned.

How to clone Windows 10 to SSD or HDD using Clonezilla

Although using Clonezilla to make an exact copy of a drive on new drive is an easy process, there’s some preparation and specific steps that you must follow.

The steps below will guide you with everything you need to know, including shrinking the partition on the main drive to fit it on smaller drive, connecting a new hard drive, downloading and creating a bootable media to use Clonezilla, cloning process, and even the steps to make sure that after the process you’re using the entire available space.

Shrinking partition (optional)

If you’re moving from a large traditional hard drive (HDD) to a smaller and faster Solid-State Drive (SSD), you may need to shrink the partition to fit a volume on a smaller drive using these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search Disk Management and click the top result to open the experience.

  3. Right-click the main volume (C:) and select the Shrink Volume option.

    Disk Management, Shrink Volume option
    Disk Management, Shrink Volume option
  4. Click the Shrink button to reduce the side of the volume as much as possible.

    Shrink volume on Windows 10
    Shrink volume on Windows 10

Once you complete the steps, you can continue with the steps below to clone the drive.

Connecting clone drive

After reducing the size of volume, you can connect the new drive to motherboard. The process to connect a traditional HDD, SSD, and M.2 drives will be different per manufacturer and even computer model, as such make sure to check your computer manufacturer support website for more specific details.

You can connect a drive using a USB adapter, but you shouldn’t use an external drive as you can’t use it as a boot drive. However, you can use a USB external drive if you’re intending to create a backup, which you’ll restore to the same or different drive.

Creating Clonezilla bootable media

Before you can clone a drive, you need to download the Clonezilla ISO file and create a bootable media to use the software.

The easiest approach to create a Clonezilla bootable media is to use the ISO with Rufus, a third-party tool designed to create bootable USB flash drives.

You could download the Clonezilla zip file, but if you make a mistake using the instructions it can break your current installation.

To download and create a Clonezilla bootable USB flash drive, use these steps:

Downloading Clonezilla ISO file

To download the ISO file, use these steps:

  1. Open Clonezilla download page.

  2. In step No. 2, select the ISO option as file type.

  3. Click the Download button.

    Download Clonezilla ISO file
    Download Clonezilla ISO file

After you complete the steps, you can proceed to use Rufus to create a USB bootable media.

Creating Clonezilla bootable USB

To create a bootable media, connect a USB flash drive with at least 4GB of storage, and then use these steps:

  1. Open Rufus website.

  2. Under the “Download” section, click the download link for the latest version.

  3. Double-click the file to launch the tool.

  4. Use the “Device” drop-down menu and select the USB flash drive.

  5. Click the Select button.

  6. Select the Clonezilla ISO file.

  7. Click the Open button.

  8. Click the Start button.

    Clonezilla USB bootable media using Rufus
    Clonezilla USB bootable media using Rufus

Once you complete the steps, before you start your device with the tool, you need to make sure that your device can boot from USB.

Typically, you’ll need to access your device Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) hitting one of the function key (F1, F2, F3, F10, or F12), the ESC, or the Delete key during boot.

Once inside the first, look for the Boot section and make sure the boot order is set to the drive that contains the Windows 10 installation files, and do not forget to save the configuration.

The BIOS/UEFI can be different depending on the manufacturer and even per computer model, as such make sure to check your manufacturer support website for more specific instructions.

Cloning Windows 10 using Clonezilla

To use Clonezilla to clone a Windows 10 installation to a new SSD or large HDD, use these steps:

  1. Start your device with the bootable media.

  2. Select the Clonezilla live option and press Enter.

    Clonezilla boot page
    Clonezilla boot page
  3. Choose your language and press Enter.

    Clonezilla language selection
    Clonezilla language selection
  4. Select the Keep option to stay with default keyboard layout option and press Enter.

    Keyboard layout settings
    Keyboard layout settings
  5. Choose the option and press Enter.

    Start Clonezilla experience
    Start Clonezilla experience
  6. Select the device_device option and press Enter.

    Clonezilla device to device option
    Clonezilla device to device option
  7. Choose the Beginner mode option and press Enter.

    Clonezilla beginner mode
    Clonezilla beginner mode
  8. Select the disk_to_local_disk local_disk_to_local_disk_clone option and press Enter.

    Clone disk to local disk option
    Clone disk to local disk option
  9. Choose the (source) drive that contains the data that you want to clone to another drive and press Enter.

    Important: If you don’t specify this option correctly, you can end up wiping out the wrong drive.

    Selecting source drive for cloning
    Selecting source drive for cloning
  10. Select the (destination) drive, which is the empty drive that you’re replacing (or backup storage) and press Enter.

    Select destination cloning drive
    Select destination cloning drive
  11. Choose the sfsck option to skip the checking and repairing of the source system files and press Enter.

    Clonezilla, skip check and repair of the source disk option
    Clonezilla, skip check and repair of the source disk option
  12. Select the action to perform after the cloning is complete. Option available, include choose, reboot, or powerfoff. (You can select any option.)

    Clonezilla action after cloning options
    Clonezilla action after cloning options
  13. Press Enter to continue.

  14. Type Y and press Enter to confirm the cloning process.

  15. Type Y and press Enter again to re-confirm that the process will be erased in the destination drive.

  16. Type Y and press Enter to close the boot loader, which is the piece of code that makes the Windows 10 drive bootable.

    Clonezilla confirmation questions
    Clonezilla confirmation questions

Once you complete the steps, Clonezilla will proceed to clone the data (bit-by-bit) from the source to the destination drive.

After the process is complete, either replace the old with the new drive on your computer, or remove the cloned drive, if this is a backup.

Expanding cloned drive

If the clone drive is larger than original drive that you replaced, then you’ll need to use the Disk Management experience to expand volume to make the available the additional space usable.

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for Disk Management and click the top result to open the experience.

  3. Right-click the volume (C:) and select the Extend Volume option.

    Windows 10 extend volume settings
    Windows 10 extend volume settings
  4. Click the Next button.

  5. Select the disk with space that you want to allocate (usually the default settings).

  6. Click the Next button.

    Extend volume wizard on Windows 10
    Extend volume wizard on Windows 10
  7. Click the Finish button.

Once you complete the steps, the main volume on the drive should expand using the unallocated space making the size of the storage bigger.

We’re focusing this guide on moving an existing installation of Windows 10 with apps, settings, and your personal files to a new drive to replace a hard drive or for backup purposes, but you can clone any drive with any data.