Install Windows on Second Hard Drive | Built-in Tool vs Third-Party Tool

This article shows you how to install Windows on second hard drive in detail. In addition to Microsoft's own tools, there is an easier way. You can refer to this guide to success boot from your second hard drive.


By Maggie Updated on August 25, 2023

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User Case: Installing Windows 10 on a second drive

I have a desktop computer that is running Windows 10 Home Edition with a 1 TB hard drive. I'm installing a solid-state drive as a second hard drive. I want to install Windows 10 Home Edition on this drive and make it the boot drive. I'm confused if I should download the Windows 10 home edition iso file or should I use the media creation tool. Any help would be appreciated! Also, any suggestions or warnings about what problems I might encounter. The SSD is 500gb so there should be no problem fitting windows on it. I'm keeping the original hard drive to use as a data drive. Thanks

- Question from Microsoft Community

Can you install Windows on a second hard drive?

The answer is yes, you can install Windows to a second hard drive. There are a number of reasons why someone might want to install Windows on a second hard drive, the most common reasons are as follows:

🎄 Dual-boot setup: Installing Windows on a second hard drive allows users to have a dual-boot setup, where they can choose which operating system to boot into at startup. This is useful for users who need to use different operating systems for different tasks.
🎁 Data backup and recovery: Having a separate hard drive to install the operating system makes it easier to back up and restore data in the event of a system crash or malware attack.
🎀 Performance Optimization: Installing Windows on a second hard drive can improve system performance by separating operating system files from other programs and data.
🔮 Space management: If your primary hard drive is low on space, installing Windows on a second hard drive can free up space and prevent performance issues due to insufficient storage space.

Overall, installing Windows on a second hard drive provides flexibility, redundancy, and potentially increased system performance.

How to install Windows on 2nd hard drive

Here's an example of how to install Windows 10 on second hard drive for you. There are two methods in total:

  • Make a Windows 10 installation disk and install it using the Microsoft Media Creation Tool.
  • A professional system migration tool - AOMEI Backupper Pro. ( You can use the simpler system migration method if you have the same system installed on the second hard drive as the one installed on the system drive.)

Let's take a look at how the two methods work. After reading, you can choose the one that suits you according to your needs.

#1. Install Windows 10 on second hard drive via Media Creation Tool

Traditionally, users download an ISO file of Windows 10, burn it to a DVD with third-party software, and then install Windows 10 from the DVD. Things just got a lot easier now that Microsoft offers a user-friendly Microsoft Media Creation Tool to help you prepare your installation media.

  1. Download and run Microsoft Media Creation Tool, and accept the Microsoft license terms. Click the Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC option, and then click Next.

Create Installation Media for Another PC

  1. Follow the prompts to select the language, Windows version and architecture, and then click Next. Then take out the USB flash drive of 8GB or more prepared in advance, click on the USB flash drive option and click Next.

USB Flash Drive

  1. Next, continue to follow the prompts to complete the operation and wait for the Windows 10 installation to complete. Once the Windows 10 installation disk is successfully created, you can install Windows 10 on second hard drive.
  2. Insert the USB drive with a copy of Windows 10 into the appropriate computer and turn it on. Enter the BIOS to set your computer to boot from the USB drive (different brands of motherboards enter the BIOS differently, consult the motherboard manufacturer for details).
  3. When your computer boots from the USB stick, you can see a Windows logo. Next you need to select the language, time, currency format, keyboard or input method. Click Next and then Install now.

Install Now

  1. Next you will be asked to enter the product key (you can also skip this step by clicking on the I don't have a product key option). Next, you will see the license terms, choose to accept it and click Next.

Enter Key

  1. Next, you will see the following two options. Since we are installing Windows 10 on a second hard drive, just select the second one here.

Installation Options

  1. Since there are multiple hard drives installed on this computer, you will next see a list of hard drives. Please select your second newly installed hard drive, click Next and Windows will start the installation itself.

Wait for the Installation to Complete

You can install Windows 10 by creating a Windows 10 installation disk and using the Microsoft Media Creation Tool. But if you confirm that the two hard disks are using the same system, you can also directly migrate the system to the second hard disk, which will be more trouble-free. Read on to learn how to do it.

#2. Easier Way to Install Windows 10 on Another Hard Drive

AOMEI Backupper is a professional system migration software for Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP. Easily install your Windows system to a second hard drive in just a few simple steps. This saves you time by eliminating the hassle of reinstallation. Also, it can help you migrate system between MBR and GPT disks without converting partition style.

Next, we will detail how to install the system from the first hard drive to the second. But before you start, you need to download and install AOMEI Backupper Professional on your computer.

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  1. Run AOMEI Backupper Professional, switch to the Clone tab in the left window, and click the System Clone button in the right window.

System Clone

  1. Select the target disk for system migration (the second hard disk) in the disk list and click Next.

Select Target Disk

  1. Preview the operation and click the Start Clone button.

Start Clone

📛 SSD Alignment: Mainly used for solid-state drives to optimize their performance. It is recommended to check this feature if you are using a solid-state drive.
📛 Sector by sector clone: All the contents of the system partition can be copied, which may take you more time.

  1. After the cloning is complete, you just need to restart your computer. If your computer fails to boot properly, change the boot order in BIOS and reboot again.

Change the BIOS Startup Sequence

Final Words

After reading this article, you should know how to install Windows 10 on second hard drive. There are two methods introduced in this article, but I recommend you to use professional cloning software to help you install Windows. In this way, you don't have to reinstall the system, and the steps are much less than the software that comes with Microsoft.

In addition, AOMEI Backupper has other features that you may be interested in. If you want to migrate your system without loading Windows, you can choose to create a bootable USB. Then boot from it and migrate your system.

Maggie · Editor
Maggie is a technical editor from AOMEI and troubleshoots technical problems against data protection. She has received professional and systematic technical training. With a focus on user experience, security, and problem-solving, she always puts herself in the readers' shoes and provides them with valuable technical insights.