How to Change Primary Hard Drive on Windows 10/11: Easy & Secure

Dive into the world of Windows 10 hard drive management with this comprehensive guide. Uncover the power of AOMEI Backupper Standard and ensure a smooth transition for your primary drive.


By Jonna Updated on March 21, 2024

Share this: instagram reddit

How Do I Change My Default Hard Drive in Windows 10?


I have a laptop with SSD 32 GB - C drive and I later added an additional SSD with a 240 GB D drive. Windows was installed on C drive. Currently, all new programs are getting installed by default on the C drive. I do not have the option to choose where they will be installed. How to change my primary hard drive on Windows 10 from C drive to the larger SSD? Thank you!

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, adapting our systems to meet growing demands is essential. One such demand often faced by Windows 10 users is the need to change their primary hard drive. While this might seem like a complex task, fear not! This guide is here to walk you through the process step by step, making the transition smooth and hassle-free.

How to Change Primary Hard Drive Windows 10

Why Need to Change Primary Hard Drive on Windows 10/11?

Before we delve into the intricate details of how to change your primary hard drive on Windows 10, let's first explore why you might want to undertake such a venture. The reasons can be manifold.

Perhaps your existing hard drive is running out of space, causing your system to slow down. It could be that you've invested in a high-speed SSD for improved performance and want to make it your primary drive. Whatever the case, understanding the need for this change sets the stage for a successful transition.

Imagine the frustration of constantly receiving notifications about low disk space or experiencing sluggish system performance. Changing your primary hard drive can alleviate these issues and breathe new life into your Windows 10 experience.

How to Change Primary Hard Drive on Windows 10/11

For how to change default hard drive on Windows 11/10, the following is a step-by-step guide for you.

Step 1: Back-Up Your Data

Before embarking on the journey of changing your primary hard drive, it's crucial to safeguard your data. Even though the process we'll discuss is designed to minimize risks, it's always wise to have a backup. This is where AOMEI Backupper Standard comes into play.

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

This tool provides a user-friendly interface for creating system backups, file backups, and disk backups, like backing up C drive, effortlessly. Whether it's your important documents, cherished photos, or crucial system files, this tool ensures that nothing is lost during the transition. Install the software, select File Backup, choose a backup destination, and then create a comprehensive backup of your data for security.

File Backup

Step 2: Identify Your New Primary Drive

Once your data is securely backed up, it's time to identify and prepare your new primary hard drive. Ensure that the new drive is properly connected to your system. This can be an internal drive or an external one, depending on your preference and the type of drive you've chosen.

Step 3: Transfer the Operating System

The heart of the process lies in transferring your operating system to the new drive. AOMEI Backupper simplifies this step with its intuitive features. It should be noted that the free Standard version of AOMEI Backupper only supports you to clone data disk or partition. If you want to clone system disk, upgrade to the Pro version, in which, you can choose System Clone to migrate only OS to your new drive. Follow these steps to learn how to change C drive to new SSD:

  • Launch AOMEI Backupper Standard and select the "Clone" > "Disk Clone" option.

Disk Clone

  • Select the old primary drive you want to clone and then choose the destination drive - your new primary hard drive.

Choose Destination

  • Confirm your selections and initiate the cloning process by clicking Start Clone.

Start Clone

This process may take some time, depending on the size of your system files, so be patient. Once completed, you'll have a mirrored version of your operating system on the new drive.

If you are cloning hard drive to SSD, you can tick the SSD Alignment option, which will utilize 4K partition alignment for SSD to improve its performance and prolong lifespan.
Sector by Sector Clone allows you to copy every sectors on the old disk to the new one, which is helpful when you clone to a larger or an equal size of disk.
Edit Partitions can help you prevent unallocated space left on cloned hard drive. You have 3 available options: Copy without resizing partitions, Manually adjust partition size, or Add unused space to all partitions.

Step 4: Update System Boot Configuration

With the operating system successfully transferred, the final step is to update the system's boot configuration. This ensures that your system recognizes and boots from the new primary drive. Follow these steps:

  • Right-click on the Start button and select "Command Prompt (Admin)."
  • Type bcdedit /copy {current} /d "New Windows 10", replacing "New Windows 10" with your desired name.
  • Note the new identifier generated and use the command bcdedit /default {new identifier} to set the new installation as the default. And that's it! You've successfully changed your primary hard drive on Windows 10.
If you want to know how to change primary hard drive in BIOS, you can also use a specified key (like ESC, F2, etc) when you boot up your computer to access BIOS, and then set  boot priority for the new SSD disk.

Common Challenges and Solutions

As with any technical undertaking, challenges may arise. Here are a few common issues users might face during the process and their solutions:

1. Driver Compatibility Issues:

Ensure all necessary drivers are updated to avoid compatibility hiccups. Visit the manufacturer's website for your new drive and download the latest drivers before initiating the process.

2. Insufficient Space on the New Drive:

Double-check the storage capacity of your new drive before initiating the transfer. AOMEI Backupper Standard provides information on the space required for the cloning process, helping you avoid this potential pitfall.

3. Boot Errors:

If you encounter boot errors post-transfer, revisit the boot configuration and ensure it points to the correct drive. The commands provided earlier to update the system's boot configuration should resolve most boot-related issues.

Remember, every challenge is an opportunity to enhance your technical skills, and AOMEI Backupper Standard is your reliable partner in overcoming these hurdles.

FAQs about Changing Primary Hard Drive on Windows 10

1. Can I change my primary hard drive without losing data?

Yes, by using reliable backup software like AOMEI Backupper Standard, you can change your primary hard drive without losing any data.

2. Is AOMEI Backupper Standard free to use?

Yes, AOMEI Backupper Standard offers a free version with essential features. However, there are also advanced versions with additional functionalities.

3. What happens if I encounter issues during the process?

Common issues are addressed in our guide, but if problems persist, reaching out to the support provided by AOMEI Backupper can offer personalized assistance.


Changing the primary hard drive on Windows 10 might sound like a complex task, but armed with the right information and tools, it becomes a manageable endeavor. AOMEI Backupper Standard not only simplifies the process but also ensures the integrity of your data.

Take control of your system storage today, and experience the freedom of a seamlessly upgraded primary hard drive. Don't let the fear of technical complexities hold you back. With the right tools and a clear understanding of the process, you can unlock the secrets to changing your primary hard drive on Windows 10.

Jonna · Editor
Jonna joined AOMEI in 2021 and has become a professional in the areas of computer backup and restoration, disk cloning, file synchronization, etc. She maintains a keen eye for the latest technology trends, ensuring that the information provided is always in step with industry developments.