How to Replace Laptop Hard Drive and Reinstall OS

You can learn how to replace laptop hard drive and reinstall operating system in detail from this page. Whether it's because of a broken hard drive in your laptop, or you want to upgrade the drive.


By Lily Updated on July 21, 2023

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Need to replace laptop hard drive

No matter you are using a laptop or a desktop, you may need to perform hard drive replacement sometimes. Following are three common situations when you feel an urge to replace laptop hard drive:

◈ The drive is running out of space, so you want to upgrade to a larger hard drive.
◈ The computer is working slowly and you plan to replace HDD with SSD to boost the speed.
◈ The computer is experiencing a hard drive failure and it can only be fixed by using a new drive.

After replacing the old drive with the new drive, the first thing you should resolve is the operating system, or your computer can’t work at all. Learn how to replace laptop hard drive and reinstall operating system step by step below.

How to replace laptop hard drive and reinstall Windows 10

Here I’m going to show you two main stages of hard drive replacement on a laptop. Before you start, you may backup needed files on the old hard drive. Then, follow the instructions below:

Stage 1: Remove the old drive and install the new drive

Make sure your laptop is turned off and unplugged before starting, and then follow the steps below:

  1. Open the computer case.
  2. Locate the hard drive and remove the power cable and data connector from the drive itself.
  3. Remove the screws and pull out the old hard drive.

Remove Hard Drive

  1. To put the new drive in, you can simply reverse the steps above.

Tips: The operations may differ by manufacturer. Please refer to your user manual or search your specific brand of computer online for detailed guidance.

Stage 2: Reinstall the operating system

After you’ve finished the physical replacement of the old hard drive, you should reinstall the operating system on the new drive. Learn how to install Windows after replacing hard drive thereinafter. Take Windows 10 as an example:

  1. Insert Windows 10 installation media and boot from it.
  2. Select your Language, Time and Keyboard method and click Next.
  3. Click Install now.

◈ Windows 10 setup will prompt you for a product key during installation a couple times. As you are reinstalling Windows, you can click the option “I don’t have a key” and “Do this later”. Windows will be automatically activated later.
◈ Setup will also prompt you to select the edition you have a license for - Home or Pro. Please make sure you choose the right edition. 

  1. Wait while setup prepares to copy files. Then, accept the license terms and click Next.
  2. Click Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).

Select Installation Type

  1. Select the unallocated drive listed, click NewApply and then OK.

Select Unallocated Space

Note: If you have multiple partitions listed instead of an unallocated drive, you can select each one (starting at the bottom), and then click Delete to make them unallocated space.

  1. You will get new partitions. Select the primary partition and click Next.

Select Primary Partition

  1. Wait while Windows installs. When it is finished, Windows will automatically restart and reboot into setup again.
  2. Windows is detecting and installing your hardware. After this is complete, Windows will restart one last time.

After the installation completes, you’ll go through the Out of Box Experience page where you get to configure detailed settings in Windows, including creating a user account, configuring privacy, and installing modern applications, etc.

Easier way: replacing a hard drive without reinstalling Windows

In addition to reinstalling OS, you should also reinstall the apps and games you want, and restore your personal files from backup on the new hard drive before you can use your laptop as usual. That sounds troublesome! Is there a way of replacing laptop hard drive without reinstalling Windows and all the applications?

Disk clone is the answer. AOMEI Backupper Professional, the best disk cloning software, can help you make it.

✡ Transfer everything from one hard drive to another. It is able to copy the operating system, applications as well as all kinds of files to the new drive. 
✡ Enjoy high speed of SSD. If your new drive is an SSD, you are allowed to optimize the performance of the SSD using the SSD Alignment feature.
✡ Wide compatibility. All Windows PC operating systems like Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP are supported. 

Follow the steps below to upgrade hard drive without reinstalling Windows:

Step 1. Connect the new hard drive to your laptop via a SATA-to-USB cable and make sure it is detected. Backup files on it if it contains any data.

Step 2. Download, install and launch AOMEI Backupper. Then select Clone Disk Clone

Download DemoWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Disk Clone

Step 3. Select the old hard drive as Source Disk and new hard drive as Destination Disk respectively.

Source Disk

Step 4. Confirm the operation and click Start Clone. If the new hard drive is an SSD, you may check SSD Alignment to enhance SSD performance.

Operation Summary

Step 5. After the cloning process is complete, you can remove the old hard drive and install the new drive as mentioned above. Your laptop will be usable immediately.

FAQs about replacing laptop hard drive

1. Do you need to reinstall Windows after replacing hard drive?

Not necessary. If you clone the old drive to the new drive, everything will be transferred to the new drive, including Windows OS, installed applications and personal data.

Once you plug the new drive into your PC and set it as the first boot option, the device will boot right away. You do not have to reinstall Windows from scratch. 

2. Will I lose my Windows 10 license if I change hard drive?

No, you won’t lose your Windows 10 license after replacing hard drive. However, if you make significant hardware changes on your device, such as replacing your motherboard, Windows will no longer find a license that matches your device, and you'll need to reactivate Windows to get it running.


Now you know how to replace laptop hard drive and reinstall operating system exactly. To get rid of the heavy work of OS and application reinstallation, you can use AOMEI Backupper to clone the old hard drive to the new drive. Besides the clone feature, AOMEI Backupper offers the sync feature to help you sync local folders to OneDrive.

If you are looking for portable sync software to help you sync files on any computer, pick AOMEI Backupper Technician or Technician Plus edition. Don’t hesitate to go for this tool! Share this page with your friends if you think it's helpful.

Lily · Editor
Lily Green joined AOMEI in 2018 and has since become a professional in the areas of data protection and data transfer. She is committed to helping users protect their precious computer data and troubleshoot Windows system errors. She consistently stays vigilant about the latest trends in technology, guaranteeing that the given information aligned with the ongoing advancements in the field.