When Do You Need Dissimilar Hardware Restore?

Scenario 1: Transfer well-adjusted and stable OS

Most of the users are in a situation: "How do I transfer my well-adjusted and smoothly running OS, including all applications to a new computer with different hardware configuration?" Normal attempts are moving the system disk from old computer to the new one by system clone or disk clone.

However, after starting up the new computer, you may experience the blue screen of death (BSOD) with stop error message: Stop 0x0000007B Inaccessible_Boot_Device. This is because of drivers problems.

In this scenario, you can transfer OS to a new computer by creating a bare metal system image backup on your current computer. And then restore Windows image to another computer with dissimilar hardware through bootable media.

Scenario 2: Deploy the same operating system to many computers

Many companies are looking at upgrading their operating systems on a large scale, or they buy a batch of new computers and want to install a specially configured, unique combination of software and operating system on all the computers.

As an enterprise administrator of operating system, you may know many ways to install operating systems to new computers, or bare metal machine. If all computers are built with the same hardware, hard drive cloning software can save you a lot of effort. However, if all computers are built with dissimilar hardware, such as different motherboard, or CPU, what can you do?

In this scenario, you can make a master system image on source computer and save it to NAS/network, and then deploy operating system to all of the destination computers with dissimilar hardware restore through PXE network booting.

Scenario 3: Instant disaster recovery in case of system hardware failures

The most important thing for running any business with computers is making sure that all systems are working smoothly and always available. If systems suffer a software or hardware failure, it is essential to minimize machine downtime. In that case, you can perform a bare metal recovery to different hardware.

Besides the three scenarios mentioned above, dissimilar hardware restore also applies to: virtual-to-physical (V2P) and physical-to-virtual (P2V) migration, upgrade computer hardware before old one dies and so on.

Professional Software to Perform Universal Restore

Powerful Windows backup software - AOMEI Backupper offers you all-around backup and recovery solutions.

  • It offers four backup types to meet your different needs: System Backup, Disk Backup, Partition Backup and File Backup.
  • It is embedded with the Universal Restore (Dissimilar Hardware Restore) feature. You are allowed to restore a system image backup created on one computer to another with different hardware.
  • It has different editions for Windows PC and Server systems. For Windows 10/11, Windows 8.1/8, Windows 7, Vista, XP, you may pick the Standard or Professional edition; for Windows Server 2003, 2008(R2), 2012(R2), 2016, etc., the Server edition is applicable.

Dissimilar hardware restore is supported in paid versions. You may want to download free trial to have a try.

Download Free Trial Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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How to Do Dissimilar Hardware Restore Step by Step

Before you do:

  • Make sure you have prepared a system image backup and know where it is saved. If not, please create a system image. We suggest you save the system image to a NAS/network, which will be very convenient and cost-saving when restoring multiple computers. An external hard drive, a CD/DVD, or a USB flash drive can also be chosen to save the image files.

  • To restore to dissimilar hardware, firstly you need to start up destination computers. AOMEI Backupper integrates "PXE Boot Tool", which allows you to simultaneously start up multiple client computers within LAN through the network booting. If you wouldn’t like to use PXE network booting, please make a bootable CD or USB in advance.

Detailed steps to migrate operating system to dissimilar hardware:

With all the preparations completed, the steps for dissimilar hardware restore are easy and straightforward.

Step 1. Start up destination computers. As mentioned above, there are two ways to boot destination computers for system restore. One is PXE network booting, and the other is bootable media. No matter which way you choose, the dissimilar hardware restore process is same. Here take PXE network booting for example.

Tip: If you are not familiar with PXE boot, please refer to how to boot from the network using PXE.

PXE Network Booting

Step 2. Find a system image. After the destination computers boot into recovery environment (here is Windows PE), AOMEI Backupper will pop up automatically. Then, click "Restore" tab -> "Select Image File" to find the system image you created.

Select Image File

In this example, the system image is stored on NAS/network. Click "Share/NAS" and input the necessary information. At last, click "OK" to continue.

Select Path

After the network path is added, you can navigate to the system backup image you need, choose it and click “OK”.

Select System Backup Image

Step 3. Select to restore the entire system or a part and click "Next".

Restore Entire Backup

Step 4. Select a drive on the destination computer to receive the restored data and click "Next".

Select Destination Drive

Step 5. Now you can preview the restore operation. The "Universal Restore" option is ticked by default. Do not untick it, or you may encounter boot issues after recovery. Click "Start Restore" to start system restore to different hardware.

Universal Restore


  • Some drivers, such as video/sound card drivers, NIC drivers, display driver etc, are not installed by AOMEI Universal Restore, but they won't affect system startup and can be installed manually in Windows after the successful restore.

  • When you finish restoring a Windows system installation to a computer with different hardware, Microsoft Windows or third-party software may ask you to reactivate it or even input a second registration code. It is a good practice for you to be well aware of your software vendor's license agreement in advance.

  • To learn more details, please visit Dissimilar Hardware Restore Video Tutorial.