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 hard drive, then you should consider an upgrade to a larger one. Do you need to fresh install Windows 10/8/7 for upgrading system drive?
A fresh install may seem easy for some of the users, but it is a lot of work and cumbersome. Besides Windows, you need to re-configure your system, reinstall all the applications and games. Some paid programs will require you to reactivate it.
Actually, you do need to reinstall your Windows and programs thanks to a process called hard drive cloning. Compared to a fresh install, cloning hard drive is much easier to upgrade your hard drive to larger capacity without losing any of your data.
What do I need to upgrade a hard drive?
There are a few things that you need to prepare for a hard drive upgrade without data loss.
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 fit 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 free cloning software
For the disk cloning software, I recommend AOMEI Backupper Standard. It is free and easy to use. It provides an option to adjust partition size on the destination disk so it will not leave unallocated space on the cloned hard drive. Besides, it offers "sector by sector clone" method which helps you make an intact duplication of the source hard drive.
Clone to larger hard drive-Step by Step guide
After you get things ready, you can follow the steps below to clone your hard drive to a larger one.
Step 1: Connect the new hard drive to your computer internally or externally. Free download AOMEI Backupper, install and open it.
Step 2: In the Home screen of AOMEI Backupper, click Clone and select Disk Clone. If you only want to migrate OS to the larger drive, you can select System Clone instead, which is available in the AOMEI Backupper Professional version.
Step 3: In the next screen, select your original hard drive as the Source Disk by clicking it and then click Next.
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.
Step 5: To avoid unallocated space after cloning, you can upgrade to Professional edition to fully use these space. Clicking "Edit Partitions" will bring you to this interface.
Step 6: Click Start Clone to start the clone.
The cloning process will take an hour or so, depending on how many 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 upgrade disk to SSD, you can also use this freeware to do the clone. It allows you to clone HDD to smaller SSD. Besides, it provides an option to Align partition 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.
Tips: To clone MBR disk to GPT disk without converting its partition style on system disk, please upgrade to advanced editions.
Besides the cloning feature, you can also use AOMEI Backupper to backup your old hard drive and then restore it to a larger one. You will need a USB drive 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.