Upgrade to Larger Hard Drive without Reinstalling Windows 11/10/8/7

If you find your old hard drive has not enough space for daily use, follow this guide to easily upgrade to a larger hard drive without reinstalling Windows.


By Jonna Updated on August 21, 2023

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Upgrade to larger hard drive without reinstalling Windows

If you feel that your high-quality videos, images, music data, and other files are filling your disk, then you should consider an upgrade to larger hard drive. Do you need to fresh install Windows 10/8/7 for upgrading system drive? There is no doubt that reinstalling Windows is a lot of work and cumbersome. Besides Windows, you may need to re-configure your system and reinstall all the applications and games.

Luckily, with the help of hard drive cloning software, you do not need to reinstall your Windows and programs. Compared to a fresh install, cloning hard drive is much easier to upgrade your hard drive to a larger capacity without losing any of your data. Without further ado, let's learn how to replace C drive with larger drive without reinstalling Windows.

Upgrade to Larger Hard Drive Without Reinstalling

What do I need to upgrade a hard drive?

There are a few things that you need to prepare for upgrading hard drive without reinstalling Windows.

💾A larger HDD or SSD

Use to store all your cloned system files and data from the old hard drive.

⛓A SATA-to-USB cable

Use to connect both old drive and new HDD/SSD to computer.

👔Reliable cloning software

Here we recommend AOMEI Backupper Professional, which lets you clone to a larger hard drive without reinstalling everything.

A larger HDD or SSD

Before you decide to buy a large hard drive, there is something you need to know first. You need to check what kind of hard drive fits on your computer, connection slot, size, etc.

If you want to upgrade to a hard drive larger than 2TB, you need to check if your motherboard supports UEFI boot. You can boot your computer into BIOS to see if there is a UEFI mode besides Legacy mode. You can also consult with the Motherboard provider.

As you may know, a disk initialized as MBR (master boot record) partition style has a 2TB disk size limitation. A disk larger than 2TB needs to be initialized as GPT (GUID partition table) if you want to use its full capacity. A GPT disk can only boot using UEFI boot mode.

Cables or tools to connect both hard drives to your computer

If you have a desktop computer, then you need a SATA 3 cable and power cable to install the new drive on your computer. Most of the desktops, if not all, have one or more extra power cables.

If you want to upgrade your laptop hard drive, then you should check if your laptop has an extra drive bay to install a secondary hard drive. If not, you should prepare a SATA-to-USB cable to connect your larger hard drive to your laptop via USB port.

A copy of reliable cloning software

For the best disk cloning software, AOMEI Backupper Professional is strongly recommended for its simplicity and ease of use. It offers "sector by sector clone" method which helps you make an intact duplication of the source hard drive. Besides, it provides an option to adjust partition size on the destination disk so it will not leave unallocated space on the cloned hard drive.

How to Clone to larger hard drive

After you get things ready, you can follow the steps below to replace C drive with larger SSD/HDD without reinstalling Windows 10/8/7.

Step 1: Connect the new hard drive to your computer internally or externally. Free download AOMEI Backupper, install and open it.

Download Free Trial Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 2: In the Home screen of AOMEI Backupper, click Clone and select Disk Clone

Disk Clone

If you only want to migrate OS to the larger drive, you can select System Clone instead.

Step 3: In the next screen, select your original hard drive as the Source Disk by clicking it and then click Next.

Select Disk

Step 4: Click on the larger hard drive which you intend to replace the old one to set it as Destination Disk, and then click Next.

Choose Destination Disk

Step 5: To avoid unallocated space after cloning, you can enable the "Edit Partitions" feature to fully use this space. 

Edit Partition

Step 6: Click Start Clone to start the clone.

Start Clone

The cloning process will take an hour or so, depending on how much data that needs transferring. During that time, you can still use your computer to watch a movie or do some other stuff. If you want to clone HDD to smaller SSD, you should not tick the Sector by sector clone, so it will only clone the used sectors. Besides, it provides an option to SSD Alignment to optimize for SSD.

When the clone is done, you can reboot your computer to BIOS and set the cloned drive as the first boot device. If you upgrade to larger hard drive for a laptop, then you need to shut down the laptop and replace the old drive with the cloned one.

To clone MBR disk to GPT disk without converting its partition style on system disk, please upgrade to advanced editions.


That's all about how to upgrade to larger hard drive using the best cloning software AOMEI Backupper.

Except for the cloning feature, you can also use this software to back up your old hard drive and then restore it to a larger one for data migration. Also, you can use it to make a bootable media and then use it to boot your PC to complete the restoring process. This is really helpful when you cannot connect both drives to your computer at the same time.

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.