By Ivy / Last update November 1, 2022

Case: Can I put my hard drive in another computer?

"My old computer with windows 10 installed with a 1tb SSD the old computer has failed but the hard dive is still working, my question is how do I install the old SSD hard drive with windows10 installed on it to my new computer? I do not want to lose the programs or activate the windows 10 again in the mew computer. Can this be done? If so, can you send me instructions?

Putting A Hard Drive in Different Computer

It you don't want to leave those important data on your old computer behind, like files, pictures, programs, and even the operating system, it may seem a good idea to add old hard drive to new computer and use it as usual. But how can you do it exactly? Are there some potential risks and problems during the operation? 

Keep reading and you will find all the information you need below.

Potential problem whiling adding old hard drive to new computer

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. And, if the license of computer is OEM, this will be another issue. You can either get a new license or deactive the license in the old computer an reactive in the new computer.

In addition, if your computer is over the last decade, and the drive is PATA (IDE), things become 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

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

Well then, how to transfer hard drive to new computer without reinstalling Windows? You can continue to see below and get the stepwise guide.

Example: adding old hard drive to new computer in Windows 10 

Here you will use the disk cloning software AOMEI Backupper Professional to transfer hard drive to new computer without reinstalling Windows. It supports "Disk Clone", "System Clone", "Partition Clone", and the first one is to clone entire hard drive, including all the content on it, thus you can keep the customized operating system as well as your personal data, programs, etc. 

Note: Hard drive migration across computers has a higher success rate in Windows 10 due to compatibility reason. If you want to do it in eariler OS, such as adding old hard drive to new computer in Windows 7, it's recommended to use "Universal Restore" feature instead, because it can better resolve the driver compatibility issue and make sure you can boot properly after restoring.

As for Windows license issue, you can first check the license type by pressing “Win + I” and then accessing “System” > “About” > “Windows Specifications” > “Change the product key or upgrade your edition of Windows”. 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.

Check Windows License

Well then, you can start to move hard drive to new computer in Windows 10 with AOMEI Backupper Professional. You may download its demo version to learn more. If you use server computer, server 2016, for example, you could consider using AOMEI Backupper Server.

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

How to add old hard drive to new PC:

Step 1. Install old hard drive as second drive in the new computer. Completely shutdown the computer, open the host using screwdriver and then connect the old hard drive internally with power cable and SATA slot. If there is only one drive bay or it's a laptop, you need a connector, either SATA-to-USB cable, PCIe to USB adapter or USB-to-PATA.  

Connect Hard Drive

Step 2. Launch AOMEI Backupper Professional on the new computer, and then click Clone and Disk Clone in order.

Choose Disk Clone

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 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 later 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 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 Convert the destination disk from MBR to GPT 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 tyle 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 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 on the old hard drive to hard drive in the new computer easily and quickly. 

Also, you can use "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.