Full Guide to Replace HDD with SSD on Laptop in Windows 10, 11

You will learn the best practice to replace laptop HDD with SSD without reinstalling Windows 10 or 11, and one-stop wizard for hard drive replacement including video tutorials.


By Ivy / Updated on November 14, 2023

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🌟 Video Guide: How to Replace Laptop HDD with SSD

Can I replace laptop HDD with SSD?

"There are different types of SSDs, with different connectors, sizes, thickness, interfaces. I don’t know which kind of SSD could be used on my Laptop. Is it even possible to replace a hard drive with SSD in Windows 10 laptop without reinstalling Windows? Any suggestion will be appreciated!"

Replace Laptop HDD with SSD

In fact, replacing laptop HDD with SSD is the best way to boost computer performance and you can actually do this as long as your computer has a removable panel (just like the above picture) and you can access your hard drive. If your laptop is an Ultrabook or it does not have this kind of easy access to a hard drive, you need to consult with your laptop manual for instructions to get access to the drive. 

And there are many things to keep in mind, but you don't need to worry about much since I will introduce you one by one. Here is an overview: 

Is it worth replacing HDD with an SSD in a laptop?

Changing a laptop HDD to an SSD, especially old laptop hard drive, will in most cases dramatically reduce the time to boot Windows, load programs, edit videos, play games, transfer large amount of files etc. Thus, it's worth doing so, and here are two main advanced advantages of using SSD as a laptop hard drive replacement.

  • Faster speed: SSD disks offer much faster speeds than traditional HDDs, for example, a standard HDD read speed is at typically 80-160MB/S while SSD SSD reaches up to 200-500MB/S. Besides, NVMe SSD is at a top read speed of 3500MB. 

  • Rugged data protection: SSDs do not contain any movable parts, thus it is much better at protecting your data from accidental damage caused by knocking or dropping the drive.

On top of this, SSDs are lighter, quieter, more durable, produce less heat, and consume less power.

Why replace hard drive in laptop without reinstalling Windows?

Speaking of putting an SSD in my laptop, in a large number of forums, you are advised to replace laptop hard drive with SSD and reinstall operating system. But the process is complicated and painful.

  • It requires a Windows installation disk or bootable USB to install Windows 10 or 11. Also, you can choose to create a recovery drive with a built-in tool. 
  • The process is executed under a recovery environment, which is not familiar to most users. 
  • The process will remove files, settings, and applications not come along with the preinstalled operating system. Thus, it's suggested to backup files to external hard drive before reinstalling to avoid data loss. 
  • After installation, you need to configure your preference settings, install programs and drivers, and this process may include reactivation issue.

Select Installation Type

Is there any easy way to install SSD in laptop without reinstalling Windows? The answer is yes, you can choose to clone laptop hard drive to SSD in Windows 10 or 11 directly. And everything is kept in the new SSD as it was in the old drive such as the operating system, installed programs, files, configured settings, etc.

What you will use?

✔ An SSD with the right form factor, interface, and space to hold OS and data on the system partition.

  • Most laptops will almost certainly use a 2.5-inch SATA hard drive unless you have an Ultraportable Notebook which may use a smaller 1.8-inch drive.
  • As well, SSDs also have different thicknesses (either 7mm or 9.5 mm) and different interfaces (IDE, SATA, NVMe). Since the NVMe read speed is 6 times of SATA SSD, it is worth investing an M.2 PCIe or NVMe SSD, such as, Samsung 980 Pro, WD Black SN850, Kingston KC3000, etc. 
  • And the capacity is ranging from 125GB to 2TB, among them, the 250GB SSD is cost-effective if you want to use SSD for OS and HDD for storage

✔ SSD connector. Since most laptop only has one slot, you cannot install SSD internally. So you can choose to clone HDD to SSD via USB to SATA Cable, adapter enclosure or M.2 to PCIe, depending on it's SATA SSD or M.2 PCIe SSD or NVMe SSD. Compared with USB 2.0 and 1.0, the USB 3.0 version has a faster transfer speed.

✔ A screwdriver. It helps to open laptop removable panel, take out old hard drive and install new SSD after cloning laptop HDD to SSD in Windows 10 or 11.

SSD Upgrade ToolKit

✔ Extra external device like HDD, SSD, or USB drive. Sometimes your new SSD is smaller than laptop hard drive, even for system partition, thus you need an external device to backup large files, photos, and videos, etc. Also, you can create a disk backup or system backup with it.

Prepare for hard drive in laptop

✔ Create a disk backup or system backup to avoid data loss or unexpected disaster. You can use Windows 10 backup utility or third-party backup software if you want to create a system image backup. But if you want to create a disk backup, try third-party backup software. We recommend you use AOMEI Backupper Professional. It's simple and easy to use.

✔ Transfer larger files, photos, videos etc to external device. The simplest way to transfer files from one hard drive to another is to copy and paste, and the time depends on the amount of your data. 

 ✔ Clean disk to get more space. Except for larger files, photos, videos, you still can uninstall the programs no longer in use, or clean up temporary files or non-system files with Disk Cleanup tool.

Files To Delete

Prepare SSD for laptop hard drive replacement

1. Physically connect new SSD. Put the SSD in the enclosure or connet it to the USB to SATA adapter or M.2 to PCIe adapter. And then, connect the other side to your laptop via USB cable. 

Connect SSD

2. Initialize SSD for storage. Usually, the newly purchased SSD is not initialized and you cannot use it to store any data. To initialize it, go to disk management, then you will see a pop-up window asking you to initialize disk, select the disk and disk type (MBR or GPT) and click OK to start the initializing process.


3. Check the BIOS settings for SSD compatibility. Restart your computer, press a sepecfic key to access BIOS and find SATA controller mode. And then be sure it uses a newer interface AHCI instead of the old IDE.

The best HDD to SSD cloning software

Besides the basic preparations, you still need the best disk cloning software - AOMEI Backupper Professional, which is the core of replacing old laptop HDD with SSD and ensure a secure boot in Windows 11/10/8/7/XP/Vista. And it also applies to replace HDD with SSD in desktop.  With it, you can: 

  • clone laptop hard drive to SSD including everything, such as, operating system, system reserved partition or efi partition, installed programs, personal data, etc.
  • clone only used sectors from laptop hard drive to SSD and boot from it successfully, such as, clone large HDD to smaller SSD. And you can also use it to clone hard drive with bad sectors since this software not only skip empty sectors but also bad sectors.
  • replace Dell laptop HDD with SSD, replace hard drive in ASUS laptop, replace HP laptop HDD with SSD, replace HDD with SSD in Lenovo laptop, etc.
  • accelerate the reading & writing speed of SSD with 4k alignment technology, not only for cloning HDD to SSD in laptop, but also cloning SSD to larger SSD in laptop. 
  • ...

After making preparations, you can download this software and start to replace old laptop HDD with SSD in the next part.  

Stepwise guide to clone laptop HDD to SSD in Windows 10 

 Note that if your laptop computer is under the warranty, changing HDD to SSD is considered an unauthorized change, please take it into serious consideration. If not or you don't mind, you can then follow the steps below to clone HDD to SSD on laptop. And it also works well in replacing HDD with SSD on desktop.

1. Download AOMEI Backupper Professional Edition, a specialist disk cloning software, then install and launch it. For server users, try AOMEI Backupper Server instead.

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

2. In the main window, select "Clone" and then "Disk Clone"  in order.

Disk Clone

•  The Clone feature in the trial version can only be demonstrated. To clone laptop hard drive to SSD, whether it's MBR or GPT, please upgrade to the full version of AOMEI Backupper Professional.
• The MBR and GPT disk are both disk type for data storage, and you can check it in Disk Management.  Right-click the hard disk or the SSD, choose Properties -> Volume -> Partition Style, then you will see its partition style, either MBR or GPT.

3. Select the laptop HDD as the source disk, then click Next.

Select Disk

 4. Select the new SSD as the destination disk, then click Next. You will be told the destination disk will be overwritten if there are important data on it. Be sure to backup files in advance if it's a data disk. 

Choose Destination Disk

5. Check the operation summary and click "Start Clone" to clone hard drive to SSD in laptop with secure boot. Remember to tick "SSD Alignment" to increase the read and write speed of your SSD. 

Start Clone

Notes ✎...
• "Sector by sector clone": This feature will clone all sectors of your old drive including the unused sectors to a larger HDD or SSD. If you clone laptop hard drive to smaller SSD with this feature, the cloning process will fail. 
• "Edit Partitions": It allows you to make full use of disk space after cloning disk to larger disk, either manually add unused space to all partitions or let it fit on the target disk automatically. If the disk type of hard drive and SSD are different, you are able to convert MBR to GPT or vice versa. 

Copy Without Resizing

Is it over after cloning? No, you still need to check if your computer can boot from the cloned SSD successfully with content in the next part. Otherwise, you cannot use it to replace old hard drive in laptop when something bad happens. And after confirmation, you can choose to format HDD and use it for storage

How to replace HDD with SSD in laptop 

1. Prepare your laptop for hard drive swap. Turn off your computer completely, disconnect the power cable and any other cables, then remove the hard disk bay cover with a screwdriver.

2. Find the screws holding the hard drive into place and unscrew them. Keep the screws in a box so that you can find them easily and quickly later.

Unscrew Drive

3. Lift your hard drive up about 35 or 45 degrees and pull it out of the drive bay.  Then, in its place, install the new SSD as if you were removing the HDD, but with the steps reversed. Please remember to secure it with the previously removed screws and replace the back panel. 

Remove Drive

4. Now, the new SSD is lying on your laptop, you can try to boot from it. Connect the power cable and all the other cables previously removed.  

5. Restart your computer and press the prompted BIOS key on the first screen. It's usually ESC, Dell, F1, F2, F12, etc.

6. In the BIOS settings screen, go to the Boot tab and set the cloned SSD as the first option. 


7. Save changes and let Windows boot from the new SSD. If your computer boot normally and all the programs and data are there (except much faster), you've done this operation successfully. 

More about upgrading laptop HDD with SSD


The process of replacing laptop HDD with SSD in Windows 10 or 11 is very simple as long as you follow the tutorial in this article. And you may find that your computer will run much faster after adding an SSD to a laptop, that's a brand-new experience. Moreover, its "SSD Alignment" makes full use of 4k alignment technology to achieve the best performance of SSD. Also, you can use it to replace HDD with SSD on desktop. 

Except for cloning, you still can use the backup and restore method to achieve the same effect of upgrading HDD to SSD. It focuses more on long-term data protection since it allows you to backup disk automatically with different schedule settings. Besides, it still helps you delete old backups regularly to avoid backup disk full issues and perform dissimilar hardware restore if you want to use it on a new computer. 

Ivy · Editor
Ivy is an editor of AOMEI Technology, she covers backup & restore,hard disk & partitions management and cloud files transfer and so on for AOMEI. She is an outgoing girl and enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. She loves traveling, eating, reading and so on. She usually hangs out with friends at her leisure time.