By Teresa / Last update October 20, 2022

[Case] I want to install Windows 10 on a new SSD

I want to do a clean install of Windows 10 OS on a new ssd and make this the boot drive. I would like to keep the old WD 1T hard drive as a storage drive. What is the best/easiest procedure for extracting the old windows 10 OS from the old hard drive. I'm not sure that I know how to properly identify the OS files.

- Question from

Windows 10 SSD Upgrade

Should I install Windows 10 to SSD?

It is probably common knowledge now that SSDs (short for solid-state disk) can be better boot drives than HDDs. To be specific, an SSD is based on NAND flash memory technology and uses integrated circuit assemblies to store data persistently. It doesn't track down information by physical spinning disk & movable read–write head, and therefore has quicker access time, lower latency, less noise, etc. compared with HDD.

Due to these benefits, many users would like to upgrade old system disk to SSD, or install OS on a new SSD to make the computer boot up faster, and runs smoothly even with multiple programs in the background.

So, how to install Windows onto SSD? There are usually two ways: one is to clean install Windows 10 using an installation disc, and another is to clone Windows 10 to SSD via reliable disk cloning software. For more details and specific approaches, please keep reading.

Preparations before installing Windows 10 on new SSD

How to replace hard drive with SSD and install Windows on it? This may be a doubt for many users. Therefore, I'm here to introduce all the preparations need to be done, and then walk you through every detailed steps to install OS on a new SSD. 

  • Ensure the security of your data and system. To do fresh or clean install, it's better to backup files that are important to you, because personal data on the old hard drive will be removed during the process. To prevent unexpected system failures, you could backup the system as well, this is especially important for a novice. 

  • Initialize and format SSD for Windows 10 install. In general, a disk without initializing cannot be used normally. And, you may receive error message like "You need to format the disk before you can use it". 

  • Prepare a SATA-to-USB adapter or encloser to connect SSD if you are using a laptop or your computer only has one slot. If you need to swap hard drive of Windows 10, please prepare a well-matched screwdrivers. 

  • Put a diet on old drive (*if you want to migrate Windows 10 from old HDD to new SSD). As known, SSDs are generally smaller than HDDs at the same price, so it's recommended to free up space on HDD by deleting the backed up personal data, removing useless files with Disk Cleanup, uninstalling useless programs, etc.

Method 1. How to reinstall Windows 10 on SSD using installation disc

A clean install gives you a brand new operating system just like the computer you first started - it only has all the bloatware installed by manufacturer. And the process will remove the current Windows operating system and user files during the installation.

Besides, all the personal data on the system hard disk will be wiped out. You can backup Windows 10 to USB drive or external hard drive in advance. This method requires a CD or USB drive to boot a computer. If you want to install Windows 10 on SSD without CD or USB or keep your data and programs intact, you can refer to Method 2 to move Windows 10 from HDD to SSD.

The most common situations for cleaning install Windows 10 on SSD:

  • Want to replace Windows 10 hard drive with serious problems and install Windows 10 from USB or CD/DVD.

  • Want to wipe the SSD and perform a clean installation.

To clean install Windows 10 on SSD from USB, follow the steps below:

1. Create a new and correct installation media for Windows 10.

Download Windows 10 Media Creation tool, start it up, then select “Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC” option and follow the wizard to create installation media. 

Create Installation Media

2. Install the SSD and connect the Windows 10 installation media.

After creating Windows 10 installation media, shut down your computer to replace the old hard drive with the new SSD. If your computer has extra slot, you can also keep the old drive (as the second storage afterwards), and connect the SSD alongside it.

3. Set the installation media as the first boot option.

Start your computer and press a specified key (usually F2 or F12) to boot into BIOS, then go to the Boot ab and use "+" to move CD/DVD to the first choice, then press "F10" or “Enter” to exit this window and restart from the installation disk. 

4. Click "Install Now" in the initial Windows Setup screen.

5. Type your product key (digital license) or skip it. 

6. Select installation type "Custom". The first option “Upgrade” is used to upgrade from a lower version of Windows.

Clean Install

7. To partition SSD for Windows 10 install, click Delete or Format, and then create a partition with New option. Then, select the new partition on SSD disk and click Next. Wait until the process ends and set preferences as you like.

Install Windows 10 on SSD

Note: Whether you upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7/8/8.1 or do a clean install on a brand new SSD, you have to buy the product key to activate Windows. If your SSD has installed Windows 10 already, you can skip to next step, Windows 10 will get activated after fresh installation.

Method 2. How to install Windows 10 on SSD from HDD without CD or USB

Fresh install Windows 10 will erase all your data on the computer. Besides, it is time-consuming and troublesome. If you prefer an easier way to add new SSD to Windows 10 without CD or USB drive and keep all your data intact, you could use a reliable third-party software – AOMEI Backupper Professional

It's all-in-one SSD cloning software for Windows 7/8/10/11, which contains "Disk Clone", "System Clone" and "Partition Clone" options to meet the needs of different users. 

  • The "Disk Clone" feature allows you to clone entire hard drive to SSD, even for new hard drive with a different partition style, clone MBR disk to GPT, for example. 

  • The "System Clone" feature allows you to clone only C drive to SSD without efforts, which is especially useful if you want to migrate Windows 10 to smaller SSD

  • The software is running in "Intelligent Clone" mode by default, which will only clone the used sectors to save space. Optionally, you can also create an intact copy with sector-by-sector mode.

  • You can tick the "SSD Alignment" option to accelerate the writing and reading speed of target SSD. 

  • You can use it to clone all kinds of HDDs and SSDs, regardless of disk brands, disk size or interface.

Preparations for migrating OS to SSD in Windows 10: 
Insert your SSD into the drive bay and make sure it can be detected. If there is no extra room inside the laptop to install more disks, you may need to install SSD via a SATA-to-USB adapter. If you have neither a second drive bay nor a SATA-to-USB adapter, you can use "System Backup" feature to create a system image, and then restore it to the SSD.
 Install and launch AOMEI Backupper. You could find the free trial below.
The cloning process will overwrite everything on the target SSD, so if you've stored any important data on it, make a backup first.

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

To install Windows 10 on SSD without CD/DVD, use the following steps:

1. Click "Clone", then select "System Clone" in the main page. To clone entire disk, click "Disk Clone" instead. 

System Clone

2. Just select the SSD as the new location, and then click "Next" to continue. Because the program is designed to automatically select system partition and boot related partitions for you.  

Choose Destination SSD

3. Confirm the operations, tick "SSD Alignment" to speed up the performance of SSD and click "Start Clone" to install Windows 10 on SSD without removing HDD.

Clone System to SSD Preview

Tips ✎...
• "Sector by Sector clone" is only suitable for target disk of the same size or larger than source disk. 
• After cloning only OS to SSD, you can keep the old disk as a second storage, or remove and discard it. To avoid data leakage, it's suggested to wipe system partition, or clean a hard drive in Windows 10 completely.
• If you want to install SSD on unlimited PCs within one company, you can use AOMEI Backupper Technician. With the help of AOMEI Image Deploy, you can deploy OS to multiple computers simultaneously. You can also create portable AOMEI Backupper to run system clone on any computer.

Boot from the new SSD

After the system clone finishes, shut down the computer. And then disconnect the source disk and connect the destination disk to the socket of the source disk. The source disk could be plugged into another socket as a secondary storage device. 

Next, restart your computer, and press a specific key to enter BIOS when you see a message like "Press ESC to enter BIOS". Go to the Boot tab and change the first boot option to new SSD. At last press "F10" to save changes and boot your computer.


Quick fixes: can't install Windows 10 on SSD

Sometimes, you will receive error messages like "Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk is of the GPT partition style", "Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The computer's hardware may not support booting to this disk" when you reinstall SSD in laptop or desktop Windows 10 using installation media. Why can't I install Windows 10 on SSD? How to solve it? 

Windows Cannot Be Installed To This Disk

For the first error, it may be caused by a wrong boot mode. Your computer only supports Legacy BIOS rather than both Legacy and UEFI boot, and the traditional BIOS can only boot from MBR disk, so you can only install Windows 10 on a second hard drive with MBR. To resolve it, you could consider converting GPT to MBR before running Windows installation. 

For the second error, there are two possible reasons. First, your computer has hard disk protection enabled. Second, the SATA Controller mode was set incorrectly. To fix this problem, you need to read the specification and confirm if the problem is caused by hard disk protection. If so, please remove it. If not, please change the controller mode in BIOS. If your BIOS shows AHCI, just change it to IDE.

Further reading: how to install Windows 11 on SSD

As Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 11 is launching on October 5, some Windows loyal users and technophiles may want to install Windows 11 to explore the new, powerful features brought by Windows 11. The new features include easy-to-use tools to help optimize your screen space, a taskbar embedded with Chat and calling, and Microsoft Store allowing Android apps from the Amazon App Store to be used, etc.

>> Follow this guide to install Windows 11 to SSD.

Windows 11


No matter which way you choose, clean clean or clone System with a reliable disk cloning software, you may already install Windows 10 on SSD successfully. If you encounter the Windows 10 not installing to SSD error, fix it with the given solutions and then install Windows again.

If you want a time and effort saving method, select the second method. And it will keep all your data as it was. In addition, this software also support "Disk Clone" and "Partition Clone" feature, so you can use it to clone SSD to larger SSD, clone hard drive to WD SSD, clone HDD to samsung SSD, replace ASUS laptop hard drive, etc.

It's suggested to keep AOMEI Backupper installed on your computer, which can also be regarded as backup software to protect your personal data or system with its comprehensive features, including, system backup, disk backup, partition backup,and file backup. In addition, it allows you to  enable daily/weekly/monthly and perform schedule automatic backup in Windows 10, event triigers, incremental and differential backup, etc.

Download AOMEI Backupper, use it to upgrade hard drive to SSD in Windows 10 and later protect your data and system security.