How to Migrate OS from HDD to SSD Laptop (Easiest)

Relying on Windows built-in feature Backup and Restore or professional third-party software is a good idea to transfer OS from HDDs to SSDs. Now let’s see how it works!


By Maggie Updated on October 30, 2023

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Why transfer OS from HDD to SSD laptop?

The increasing popularity of SSDs has led to an enormous demand for migrating OS from HDD to SSD laptop. People frequently seek information online about this. The primary reasons for transfer windows from HDD to SSD include:

▶Save time and effort: Reinstalling the operating system, system settings, updates, drivers, and essential applications can be a significant hassle for most users. Migration to an SSD offers a much simpler and easier solution.
▶Increase space for the operating system: When there's not enough space to run programs, low disk space errors can occur. Migrating the operating system from a small partition to a larger SSD is a practical solution to this problem.
▶Upgrade the computer’s build: The primary reason for copying the OS to an SSD is to maximize the use of SSD storage and enhance overall system performance.

Transfer OS from HDD to SSD

This article will offer 2 ways to transfer OS from HDD to SSD laptop, both manually and professionally.

✍Manual way: create a copy of the system image and restore it via the Windows built-in tool Backup and Restore.
✍Professional way: use third-party software  AOMEI Backupper's System clone to transfer HDD to SSD in a simpler and more reliable way.

How to move Windows from HDD to SSD

Typically, Windows OS is located in the C drive. However, merely copying and pasting it to a new SSD won't suffice in transferring Windows to another drive. You must pay attention to the hidden system files and crucial boot-related partitions such as the EFI system partition and System Reserved partition. There are two primary methods you can consider: system image recovery and disk cloning.

Method 1. Manually transfer Windows from HDD to SSD

You can utilize the Windows built-in utility to create a system image. This method necessitates a storage device to temporarily store backup images and bootable media to initiate the computer, and conduct system image recovery in the recovery environment. Here is how you can do it in a general guide:

Step 1. Prepare your SSD by ensuring it is correctly installed on your PC.

Step 2. Back up your data and store it on an external disk to prevent potential data loss in case of unexpected system transfer failure or interruptions.

Step 3. Generate a System Image of your Windows PC.

Step 4. Execute a System Image Recovery to transfer the OS to your SSD.

Step 5. Ensure Windows is bootable on the new SSD.

To learn how to transfer OS from HDD to SSD via Backup & Restore, please check system image backup and restore for a step-by-step guide.

As you can see, the process is quite complex and prone to errors during the recovery operation. For example, if you want to restore system image to smaller SSD, you will receive a system image restore failed error.

System Image Restore Failed

If you're looking for a simpler or beginner-friendly guide to migrating OS from HDD to SSD laptop, follow the next guide for detailed instructions.

Method 2. (Recommend) Transfer Windows from HDD to SSD via professional software

The simplest method to transfer the operating system or the entire hard disk to an SSD is through disk cloning. This process directly duplicates the data from the source drive and overwrites it onto the target SSD.

Here I would recommend AOMEI Backupper Professional for its effectiveness and simplicity. There's no need to create a bootable drive and then recover the system in WinPE. The entire process is simple and straightforward, and the cloned target disk will boot up normally.

✔Intelligent sector clone - You can clone larger hard drives to smaller hard drive as it copies only used sectors by default. If the target SSD is larger, you can edit the partition size flexibly.
✔SSD Alignment - Enhance the reading and writing speed of the target SSD and extend its lifespan with just one click.
✔MBR/GPT disks - It can transfer the operating system between two disks with different partition styles seamlessly. (MBR/GPT), for example, you can migrate OS from MBR HDD to GPT SSD, or vice versa.

Here is the full guide to moving Windows from HDD to SSD with the easiest way, before you start, please make some preparations:

▸Ensure the new SSD matches the computer's form factor and has sufficient space to store your data.
▸Clean up junk files on the source HDD, uninstall unnecessary applications, and delete unwanted files to streamline the data before transferring it.
▸If there is existing data on the target SSD, create a backup of it first, as the cloning process will overwrite everything on the SSD.
▸Disconnect any external peripheral devices, including USB storage devices, external displays, and printers, to ensure proper transfer of files from the hard drive to the SSD.
▸If your laptop has an additional slot, simply install the SSD alongside the old HDD. However, if there's only one slot, you'll need remove the original HDD and replace it with SSD.

Download Demo Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Step 1. Launch this software, and select Clone > System Clone.

Choose System Clone

Step 2. The source drives, including the OS drive and boot-related partitons, are automatically selected by default. You only need to choose the SSD as the destination location. Then, click Next to proceed.

Select Destination

✍Tip: If the SSD is not empty, the program will prompt you that all partitions on the SSD will be deleted. Click OK to proceed, ensuring you have backed up important files beforehand.

Step 3. Review the operation and check SSD Alignment to optimize SSD performance. Optionally, select Sector by sector clone to clone every sector on the source partition(s) if the target SSD is larger. Finally, click Start Clone to transfer the OS to the SSD.

✍Note: By default, if you are migrating the OS to a larger drive, the "Make full use of disk space" option is checked. It will automatically add unallocated space to the destination partition.

SSD Alignment

Step 4. The duration of the OS migration process depends on the amount of data and the read/write speed of both disks. Once completed, click Finish to exit the process.

There is another method provided to transfer the OS from an HDD to an SSD laptop: using system backup and restore. To use backup and restore, or system clone ultimately depends on your preference.
✍ If your computer has only one slot or if it's a laptop, it's recommended to use the backup and restore method.
✍ If you plan to use an SSD on the new computer, opt for the backup and restore method. Its Universal Restore feature can address various hardware differences between computers, ensuring a smoother transition.
✍ If you prefer a simpler approach, consider using the cloning method.

Further reading: What to do after migrating?

After cloning, you need to complete two additional tasks: first, boot your computer from the cloned SSD to ensure it works properly. Second, reformat the HDD to expand the space available for data storage. The first task ensures your system functions from the new SSD, while the latter provides more space for storing data.

How to boot from the cloned SSD

Step 1. Completely shut down your computer, remove the back cover and take out the HDD from its location.

Step 2. Install the new SSD in the same location where the original hard drive was placed.

Step 3. After installing the SSD, replace the computer's back cover and connect the power cable. Restart your computer, and press the specific key to enter BIOS, as indicated on the initial screen.

Step 4. In the BIOS window, navigate to the Boot tab and set the cloned SSD as the first boot option. Save the changes to ensure your computer boots from the new SSD.


How to format the old HDD for reuse

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Backupper Professional, switch to the Tools tab, and choose Wipe Disk.

Step 2. Next, you'll be prompted to choose the wiping type, select the option Wipe Disk to delete all partitions on the hard drive. Then, click Next to proceed.

Choose Disk Wipe

Step 3. Choose the HDD from the list and click Next to continue.

Step 4. Then on the Wiping Method page, choose one of the 4 options per you need. Then, click Start to proceed. Once completed, all data will be securely deleted from the disk.

  • Fill sectors with zero ( Safe and quick)
  • Fill sectors with random data(safe and quick)
  • DoD 52220.22-M(very safe ,slow)
  • Gutmann (33 passes, very safe, very slow)

Wiping Method


Migrate OS from HDD to SSD laptop can be executed in 2 ways, via Backup and Restore utility in Windows manually and professional third-party software like AOMEI Backupper.

This software is powerful and offers you 2 ways to perform, you can create a image backup and restore it then. Another easier way offered by this software is system clone. For me, I recommend the latter one whose process is simpler and direct for users.

Maggie · Editor
Maggie is a technical editor from AOMEI and troubleshoots technical problems against data protection. She has received professional and systematic technical training. With a focus on user experience, security, and problem-solving, she always puts herself in the readers' shoes and provides them with valuable technical insights.