Adding Old Hard Drive to New Computer in Windows 10 Easily

You will learn the easiest method of adding old hard drive to new computer without reinstalling Windows and take care of potential issues during this process.


By Ivy Updated on August 21, 2023

Share this: instagram reddit

Can I put a hard drive in a different computer?

"My old computer with Windows 10 installed has failed but the 1tb SSD on it is still working.  It holds many important data I can't afford to lose. And I don't want to reinstall Windows. So is it possible to add old hard drive to new computer? If so, can you send me instructions?

Putting A Hard Drive in Different Computer

In short, the answer is YES, you can add old hard drive to new computer and keep your important data, programs, and the customized Windows operating system.  You can choose to directly install it on your new computer. But if your new computer comes with an SSD, we strongly recommend you use a powerful disk cloning software like AOMEI Backupper to transfer everything and keep your new computer at a high performance.

Potential problem whiling adding old hard drive to new computer

#1: The disk driver is compatible 

In the earlier Windows system, such as, Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1, you may encounter the driver conflict issue, especially with lower-level hardware like your hard drive's SATA controller.

#2: The license is not transferable

In fact, there are 3 different license types, namely, Retail, OEM, or Volume, but not all of them are transferable. If your license key is OEM, you cannot transfer it to a new computer unless you deactivate this key in the old computer. Of course, you can also choose to get a new one.

Here are simple steps to check your license types:

  • Press “Win + I” and select “System” > “About” > “Windows Specifications”.
  • Go to “Change the product key or upgrade your edition of Windows”. It will show you the license type.

Check Windows License

  • If it is a digital or volume license, you can use it on another computer. If not, you need to make more effort, namely, uninstall and reinstall the license.

#3: Outdated PATA ports

If your computer is over the last decade, the drive may be PATA (IDE), making things more complicated.  Because virtually no consumer motherboards these days have PATA ports. At this time, you will need to either get a USB-to-PATA external enclosure, or a PATA controller card to install in an expansion slot on your new system's motherboard.

Disk Connector

Fortunately, in the latest system Windows 10 and 11, most of the problems have been solved. Your computer will load drivers for your new hardware when you boot it for the first time. But this is not a guarantee, these problems may also occur, just the probability is relatively small and varies from computer to computer. 

Step by step guide: adding old hard drive to new computer in Windows 10 

Here you will use the "Disk Clone" feature in disk cloning software AOMEI Backupper Professional to transfer hard drive to new computer without reinstalling Windows. It is able to clone entire hard drive including your important data, programs, and the customized operating system. 

AOMEI Backupper
Easy Hard Drive and SSD Cloning Software
  • Clone HDD/SSD and MBR/GPT disks, even with different sizes, and ensure a secure boot.
  • Improve SSD disk performances with its "SSD Alignment" feature.
  • Adjust partition size manually or automatically with the help of its "Edit Partitions" feature. It also resolves the cloned drive won't boot due to different partition styles. 
  • Clone only Windows 10 to SSD with its System Clone feature.  Try this if your SSD is smaller. 
  • Support Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8/8.1, 10, and 11. For server users, consider using AOMEI Backupper Server.

If your system is using Windows 7, 8, or 8.1, you are likely to encounter driver-incompatible issues, it's suggested to try the Backup and Restore feature in AOMEI Backupper. Its "Universal Restore" feature will install the drivers necessary for boot. 

Well then, you can start to move hard drive to new computer in Windows 10 with AOMEI Backupper Professional. 

How to add old hard drive to new PC:

Step 1. Install the old hard drive as a second drive in the new computer. 

  • Completely shut down the computer, and open the host using a screwdriver。
  • Connect the old hard drive internally with a power cable and disk slot.

Connect Hard Drive

  • If there is only one drive bay or it's a laptop, you need a connector, depending on its interface, such as PATA, SATA, M.2, NVMe, etc. 

Step 2. Launch AOMEI Backupper Professional. Then, click Clone and Disk Clone in order.

Choose Disk Clone

  • Try the System Clone feature if your new hard drive or SSD is smaller. 

Step 3. Select the old hard drive as the source disk(here is disk 0) and click Next.

Select Mbr Disk

Step 4. Select the hard drive or SSD on the new computer as the destination disk and then click Next.

Select Gpt Disk

Step 5. Preview the details and click Start Clone. If the hard drive on the new computer is an SSD, please tick "SSD Alignment" to optimize its performance. 

Preview Clone

Also, you can use Sector by sector clone to keep the old partition layout or Edit Partitions to adjust the partition size on the destination disk. And the latter one is more practical since it resolves two potential issues during the cloning process. 

#1: The cloned drive not show full capacity.

By default, all the cloning software makes an exact copy of the source disk unless you change the partition size while cloning. To prevent this from the beginning, try the following 3 options. And the last two options are available on the Professional version.

👉 Copy without resizing partitions: It will not resize the partition size.

👉 Add unused space to all partitions: It will reallocate the unallocated space to each partition of the target disk, appropriate for the disk size.

👉 Manually adjust partition size: It allows you to extend unallocated space to any partition on the destination disk you want. 

Add Unused Space

#2: The cloned drive not bootable after cloning.

One of the biggest reason is the destination and source disk has different partition style and you don't convert them to the same before cloning. In this situation, you can simply check the Convert the destination disk from MBR to GPT feature or vice versa, depending on the disk partition styles of them. 

Both MBR and GPT are two different disk types for data storage. And you can check its disk properties in Disk Management. The overall steps are below:

  • Press Win + R to open the Run window. Then, type diskmgmt.msc and hit OK to open disk management.
  • Then, right-click the disk you want to clone and select Properties in the pop-up window.
  • In the Properties window, select the Volume tab and confirm the partition style. It can be MBR (Master Boot Record) or GPT (GUID Partition Table).

Disk Partition Style

  • Similarly, check the disk partition style of the destination disk. If it is still MBR, you can clone hard drive from bootable USB for free. To clone GPT to GPT (eg: clone NVMe to NVMe), MBR to GPT, or GPT to MBR, try the professional version.

Wrapping things up

Adding an old hard drive to new computer is not as difficult as you think. With the help of AOMEI Backupper, you just need to connect the drive in the right place, and it will help you move everything from the old hard drive to the hard drive or SSD in the new computer easily and quickly. 

Also, you can use the "System Clone" feature to migrate operating system to SSD, or move specific data partitions with "Partition Clone". If you happen to have this need, please download AOMEI Backupper Professional to have a try. 

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.