By Lena / Last update October 20, 2022

Content of this article:

The need to transfer system image to new hard drive

As time goes by, your hard drive space may become too small so it runs slower and slower. To get rid of this situation, you are planning to upgrade to a larger hard drive to make computer perform better. Many users will choose to re-install the operating system on the new hard drive. But system reinstallation is a time-consuming job. What’s more, some users can’t find the installation CD anymore.

As is known to all, Windows allows users to create a system image backup that contains data and applications required for Windows to run. It includes Windows and your system settings, programs, and files. When your hard drive fails, you can restore Windows image backup to another drive so as to get everything back to normal. Then an idea appears in your mind: is it possible to directly transfer system image to new hard drive? Well, the answer is Yes.

Generally, you can copy system image to new hard drive with the built-in tool of Windows. For Windows 11/10/8 users, you can create a recovery drive with USB and then restore Windows 10/11 system image to new hard drive as well as Windows 8 using it. For Windows 7 users, you need to prepare a CD or DVD. Because you should create a system repair disc that will be used to boot your computer normally. Also, you can use a third-party software to help you finish the job. Just refer to Method 2 to get it.

Method 1. Transfer system image to new hard drive with built-in tool

How to install system image on new hard drive? You should first create a system image of your old hard drive and save it to external hard drive. Then, restore Windows 10/11 image backup from external hard drive to the new drive.

Step 1. Search Backup and Restore in the search bar and click it. Click Create a system image on the left side. Choose the destination to save the backup. You can choose to save the system image to the DVD if you have one. Or you can save it on one external hard drive. Then click Next to continue.

System Image Backup

Step 2. Confirm the backup settings and click Start backup to start. When the process completes, you will be asked if you want to create a system repair disc that can help to boot your computer. Please click Yes to make one if you have a CD/DVD. Or you can create bootable disc with your USB.

Start System Image Backup

Step 3. Shutdown the computer and replace the old hard drive with the new one and boot computer from the system repair disc. Follow the guide to restore Windows 10/11 system image to new hard drive.

As you can see, it’s kind of complicated to copy system image to new hard drive with the built-in tool. If you don’t mind the trouble, it’s a workable way worth trying. 

In fact, you can use more flexible software like AOMEI Backupper Professional to help you copy Windows image backup to another drive. It provides users with two solutions to migrate system, including backup & restore options, directly clone and boot from the new hard drive.  

  • The first method is similar to the built-in tool, but it has more useful features and fewer restrictions, such as transfer disk image to new hard drive, backup to network drive with all versions, differential backup to backup only changed data, USB plug in to backup data when connected, etc.
  • The second method is much simpler, because the cloned disk can be directly used to boot your computer without restoring. If you are interested in it, just keep reading to get the method.

Method 2. Backup and restore Windows system image to new hard drive

AOMEI Backupper has a simple and easy-to-use GUI, so anyone, even non-technical users, can move system image to new hard drive without effort. Here are some advantages of it.

All Windows system: It supports all Windows system, including Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP/Vista. 
Different backup and restore solutions: It supports different backup and restore solutions, you can choose to backup system or disk. Also, you can backup files or partition as per your needs.
Multiple backup options: It supports multiple backup options, so you can schedule backup system/disk/partition/files at daily/weekly/monthly, or enjoy advanced feature, such as USB plug in or Event triggers. Also, you can backup only changed files with incremental or differential backup.
Various storage devices: It supports various storage devices, such as external hard drive, USB drive, network drive, NAS, cloud drive like Google Drive, etc.

💛 Preparations

  • Prepare an external hard drive to store backup image and a USB drive to create bootable media.
  • Download and install AOMEI Backupper Pro.
Download Free Trial Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Then, follow the steps below to copy system image to new hard drive in a few clicks. Here take Windows 10 as an example.

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Backupper. First create a system image to external hard drive and then create a bootable media for booting your computer.

System Backup

Step 2. Replace the old hard drive with the new drive. Insert the bootable media and enter the BIOS mode to select where to boot from.


Step 3. You will get into the interface of AOMEI Backuppe after booting. Click Restore and Select Image File to find your backup image and select it. 

Select Image File

Step 4. Select Restore this system backup and tick Restore system to other location in the bottom. Then, click Next.

Restore Entire Backup

Step 5. Select the new hard drive as the destination path to receive the restored system.

Step 6. Confirm the operation and click Start Restore to restore Windows 10 system image to new hard drive.

Preview Restore

❤ The above steps also apply to restoring Windows 7 system image to new hard drive and restoring Windows 8 system image to new hard drive.
❤ If you want to copy Windows image to another computer, it's suggested to check "Universal Restore" feature. If not, your computer may fail to boot owing to incompatible drivers' issue.

Besides backup, this software still allows you to clone hard drive in Windows 10/11, clone Windows 10/11 to external hard drive, copy data from one SSD to another SSD, clone NVME to another NVMe, etc. To directly move system, please continue to see below.

Method 3. Move system image to new hard drive directly (Easiest)

Among the three methods, this is the simplest way to copy a system image to new hard drive. Why I say so? Let's have a closer look at how it works. Here take Windows 10 as an example.

Step 1. Connect your new hard drive to your PC. Launch the tool and click Clone and then choose System Clone to migrate Windows 10 to new hard drive.

Choose System Clone

Step 2. The related system partitions are selected by default. Select a partition of the new hard drive as the new location. Then click Next to continue.

Choose Destination Partition

Step 3. Confirm the operation and click Start Clone to make it.

System Clone Preview

• If you choose Sector by sector clone, it will clone all sectors whether they are used or not. Please make sure the destination partition is equal to or larger than the space of the system.
 If your new hard drive is a solid-state disk (namely SSD), you can click SSD Alignment to accelerate the reading and writing speed of the SSD.
 If you want to gain the best performance from the cloned drive, you can transfer Windows 10/11 to NVMe SSD. This also applies to other operating systems.

Step 4. After cloning, you can enter into BIOS and set the new hard drive as the first boot disk, then boot computer from it. Or just replace the old hard drive with the new one.

Frequently asked questions: restore Windows image backup to another drive 

1. Can I use a system image on a new hard drive?

You can use a system image to new hard drive and then get your computer back in a very short time. For available methods, you can use built-in Backup and Restore, or a reliable third party backup and restore software.

2. Can you restore a system image to another computer?

Usually, you are not allowed to restore Windows image backup to another drive and use it on a different computer, it may fail due to driver incompatibility issues. To resolve this problem, you can turn to third-party software that can handle hardware problem, AOMEI Backupper Professional, for example. 

3. Does a system image save everything?

System image saves everything on the system partition, including the operating system, system drivers, installed programs, personal data, etc. 

4. Is it better to clone or image a hard drive?

Clone and Image are used for different purposes. Cloning a hard drive is the easiest way to replace old hard drive or upgrade to a larger drive or SSD while keeping all the customized configuration. Imaging a hard drive is more focused on backup, for capturing all the changes made on the disk. It can be a newly installed program, deleted files, newly added documents, etc.


That’s all for how to transfer system image to new hard drive. Indeed you can make it with the Windows built-in tool, but it’s complicated and time-consuming. If you want more advanced features or prefer an easy and quick way, AOMEI Backupper Pro is a better choice. It can also be your best assistant in helping you backup your computer in the coming days.

If you want to protect unlimited computers within your company, you can pick AOMEI Backupper Technician. With the inbuilt AOMEI Image Deploy tool, you are also allowed to deploy/restore system image file on server-side computer to multiple client-side computers over network. Also, it allows you to backup, restore, clone on different computers without installing first by creating portable version of this software.