By Ivy / Last update March 3, 2022

Need to backup data before replacing hard drive 

Suppose you have a computer that you have been using for a long time, it boots slowly, the web page or programs stucks from time to time,  etc. This is driving you crazy and you want to replace it, but you are worried about data loss during the hard drive replacement. 

Then, how to replace a hard drive without losing data? The answer is to backup data before replacing hard drive and you need a free backup software to complete it. Even if you find some data is missing, you still can restore files from backup images. 

Backup Data before Replacing Hard Drive

How to backup data for hard drive replacement 

This article provides you with two helpful ways to backup data for hard drive replacement, namely Backup and Restore or third-party software - AOMEI Backupper Standard. Both are available on Windows 7/8/10/11, and support incremental backup files with daily, weekly, monthly frequencies.

But I prefer using the second one, since it can help you upgrade a hard drive with an SSD easily and support other useful tools. For example, you can create bootable media with USB drive or CD/DVD to boot an unbootable computer. And the built-in tool is not updated and maintained by Microsoft. And it has many restrictions, such as, the drive is not a valid backup device, Windows 10 backup to network drive fails, etc. If you insist on using it, go to Way 2. 

Way 1: Backup data before replacing hard drive using third-party tool

Before backing up data, you need to download and run this freeware. It applies to WIndows 7/8/10/11/XP/Vista. For server users, try AOMEI Backupper Server.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1. In its main interface, click “Backup” and choose “File Backup”.  To backup hard drive before replacing, choose "Disk Backup" as instead. 

File Backup

Step 2. Click "Add File" or "Add Folder" to select files or folders you want to backup. 

Add Folder

Step 3. Select a destination path to store the backup image. Then click Start Backup to backup data before replacing hard drive. 

Select Destination

If you need to replace hard drive now, please keep the backup image externally. If not, you can set more backup features for continuous protection, either to make it automatic or save disk space. 

Options: You can comment on this task for clear distinguish, set email notification to confirm if the task completes, make backup image smaller by compressional, etc.

Schedule Backup: You can set backup frequency among "Daily", "Weekly", "Monthly". Also, you can use "Event trigger" or "USB plug in" feature in the professional version.

Backup Scheme: You can create Windows 10 incremental backup or differential backup (paid) by its backup methods. If you upgrade to the professional version, you still can use "By quantity", "By time", "By daily/weekly/monthly" cleanup methods.

Incremental backup

Way 2: Backup data before replacing hard drive using built-in tool

Step 1. Type “backup settings” and select it. Then, scroll down to "Looking for an older backup" and click "Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7)".

Step 2. After that, you will see the Backup and Restore (Windows 7) window. Click "Set up backup" at the right panel.

Set Up Backup

Step 3. Select an internal/external hard drive or network drive as destination path. Then, click “Next”.

Step 4. Click "Let me choose" and "Next".

Step 5. It will select data files for all users and tick "Include a system image..." by default. To backup only data files, uncheck the "Include a system image..." option and click "Next".

Choose Backup Files

Step 6. In the Review your backup settings window, confirm all the selected items and click Save changes and run backup. By default, this software backup data on every Sunday at 7:00PM. 

After the backup task completes, you will be aske to create a system repair disc, click Yes and do so. It allows you to boot your computer when it's unbooatable and restore image or install Windows. If you restore Windows system image backup, the new hard drive has to be larger than the original and the two hard drives must be with the same partition style.

How to replace a hard drive with an SSD

After backing up data, you can feel free to replace a hard drive with an SSD, since you always have a copy of your important data externally. Then, how to replace a hard drive with an SSD easily without reinstalling Windows?

You can try disk cloning software, and AOMEI Backupper Standard is a good option. It will make an exact copy of hard drive to new hard drive or SSD including the operating system, program and personal data, etc. Let's see the detailed steps in the following.

Step 1. Run this freeware again. Click "Clone" -> "Disk Clone" this time.

Disk Clone

Note: This free version only supports cloning system disk from MBR to MBR. To migrate OS from MBR to GPT, GPT to MBR disk, or GPT to GPT disk, try AOMEI Backupper Professional or advanced version.

Step 2. Select the original hard drive, usually, it's a hard drive with C: drive, and click Next

Select Source Disk

Step 3. Choose the new SSD as the destination disk and click Next.

◆ Note that all the data (if there is any) on the destination SSD will be deleted after cloning, you may need to create a backup for critical data if you don’t want to lose it. Refer steps in the Way. 

Select Destination Disk

Step 4. Tick SSD Alignment to accelerate the reading and writing speed of the SSD disk. Then, click on Start Clone to clone a hard drive to an SSD. 

Start Clone

You may need to do more effort before cloning if your new SSD is larger or both disks have different partition style - edit partition size to fit on the destination disk or convert partition style.

Click " Edit Partitions", then select "Add unused space to all partitionS" or "Adjust partition size manually" and click "OK". But if the partition style of source and destination disk are different, you will see one more option called Convert the destination disk from MBR to GPT or vice versa. Please upgrade to professional vesion before using. 

Add Unused Space to All Partitions

After cloning successfully, you need to replace hard drive using screwdrivers. Turn off your computer completely and disconnect all the cables, open your laptop back and unscrew the screw holding hard drive, then take it out from the drive bay and put the new SSD into it. Afterward, repeat the reverted steps to put your laptop panel back. 

Unscrew Drive

Restart your computer to BIOS via manufacturer key, it's usually ESC, Dell, F1, F2, F12 etc. and change boot order in the Boot tab. At last, press F10 to save changes and reboot from it.

Bios

Summary

Backing up data before upgrading hard drive is the best way to prevent data loss. With a backup in hand, you always have a copy of your files and are able to restore files from backup without downtime. You have two ways, namely using Backup and Restore and free backup software - AOMEI Backupper Standard. Since the previous one is not maintained by Windows and it has many restrictions while backup and recovery. 

Besides, AOMEI Backupper Standard is still a disk cloning software, which can help you replace a hard drive with an SSD, no reinstallation and data loss. It's amazing, isn't it? Download it to explore more and you benefit from it! For advanced users, try AOMEI Backupper Technician or TechPlus edition