Case: Need to move hard drive to new computer in Windows 10/11
I bought a new computer a couple of days ago. Every time I try to move my hard drive to my new computer, I always get boot errors, or Windows 10 needs to be activated again! How do I move my Windows installation to my new PC without having to format the old drive or reinstall Windows? Any advice would be appreciated.
Are you in the same situation as this user? Don’t worry! This post will help you transfer hard drive to new computer without reinstalling Windows 10/11.
Unlike cloning Windows 10/11 hard drive on the same computer, when you move your Windows 10/11 operating system to a new computer you’ll need to consider a variety of important factors, like the Windows activation license and the hardware of your old computer - all the relevant questions will be answered in the following article.
Can I move my Windows installation drive to new computer?
When buying a new computer, many users would prefer adding old hard drive to the new computer to doing a fresh install so that they can have all their data and old OS on the new device. Whilst a fresh install is not very complicated, it can take a long time to reinstall all of your old applications and drivers after OS reinstallation.
The main advantage of directly moving hard drive to new PC is that you don’t need to reinstall any applications, drivers, or copy your data as everything is migrated across at the same time.
It might sound easy to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to your new PC but don’t be fooled, it isn’t! You will come across both software and hardware issues unless you use specialist Windows 10 migration tool. Following are two important issues you should take care when performing hard drive transfer to a new computer:
▶ Different hardware types
When moving your Windows installation, you have to consider potential hardware compatibility issues – one of the main issues you need to consider is the system driver. If your new system has identical hardware to the old one, then the process is extremely simple. You can simply add the old hard drive to the new system and it will boot without any issues.
However, if the two computers don’t have identical hardware (which is usually the case) then you will encounter “move hard drive to new computer in Windows 10 won’t boot” error due to driver incompatibility, and your Windows 10 OS will need to be activated again.
▶ Different license types (Microsoft Windows)
Windows activation is another problem you will need to contend with, even when you have solved the hardware issues we mentioned above. If you don’t want to purchase a new Windows 10 license from Microsoft, then you will need to figure out a way to transfer your old Windows 10 license to the new computer.
Microsoft produces three types of Windows license key for users globally. They are: Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) licenses, Retail licenses, and Volume licenses.
>> If your license is Retail or Volume, then Windows will automatically activate when you connect your new system (with the cloned drive) to the internet. You should be aware that Microsoft only allows you to transfer your license once, so if you have transferred your license ever then you will need to purchase a new license key from Microsoft.
>> Transferring an OEM license is not as straightforward as Retail and Volume licenses. OEM copies are designed to be locked to the hardware they were originally installed on by the manufacturer. Microsoft only support transferring OEM Windows 10 to new hard drive on the same computer, thus you cannot move OEM copies of Windows to another computer.
If you have managed to move your OEM license to another computer, then you have to call Microsoft support and ask them to activate the license. Otherwise, you will get into “move hard drive to new computer in Windows 10 not activated” issue.
Move hard drive to new computer in Windows 10/11 without hardware issue
How to move Windows 10/11 to another hard drive without experiencing hardware or license issues? Thankfully, there’s powerful third-party software that can help to make the process quick and easy.
☞ Software to move an HDD to a system with different hardware
AOMEI Backupper Professional Edition is powerful backup and restore software designed specifically for Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP users. It allows you to create system backups, disk backups, and partition backups with just a few clicks. You can then use the images to restore your system and data whenever you experience any problems.
Also, the Universal Restore feature (also called Dissimilar Hardware Restore) is the key to transfer hard drive to new computer without reinstalling Windows 10/11. It allows you restore a backup image created on the old computer to a new computer even with different hardware. It will also help you to transfer Windows 10 license to new computer. What is more pleasant is that all your applications will be moved across, so you don’t need to manually install them.
Wanna have a try? Please click the button below to download the free trial of AOMEI Backupper Professional Edition:
☞ Step by step guide to move hard drive with Windows 10/11 to a new PC
Part 1. Create a disk backup image of the old PC
To move boot drive to new PC, you need to create a disk backup containing OS and all the data on the old computer, and then save the backup image to a place where the new computer can access. AOMEI Backupper supports backing up Windows 10/11 to USB drives, HDDs, SSDs, and network location, etc.
If your new computer is a machine without anything installed (a barebones machine) then you may create a bootable CD or USB with AOMEI Backupper to boot your PC.
Part 2. Restore image to the computer with dissimilar hardware
Step 1. Boot the target computer up using the AOMEI bootable media you created before. It will bring you to the main window of AOMEI Backupper where you should click Restore.
Step 2. Click on Select Image File and locate the backup disk image you created earlier. Be aware that the drive letter may change when you are using the AOMEI PE system.
Step 3. In the “Image Information” page, select the option Restore the entire disk or Restore a partition in the disk and then click Next.
Step 4. Choose a disk on your new PC to restore the disk image to and click Next.
Step 5. In the “Operation Summary” page, tick the Universal Restore option to ensure the system is bootable after recovery. Click Start Restore to begin the process.
After the restoration process has finished you should be able to boot the new computer with the old operating system, programs, and files installed. If you have a Windows 7 PC you can follow the guide backup Windows 7 and restore on another computer to transfer your system.
That’s it! See how simple it is to move your hard drive to a new computer in Windows 10/11 using AOMEI Backupper. You can save yourself a ton of time compared to reinstalling Windows, all of your applications, and messing around with the license issues. AOMEI Backupper can also help you clone old hard drive to an SSD.
If you’re in the business world and want to protect an unlimited number of computers you can use AOMEI Backupper Technician Edition. With the inbuilt AOMEI Image Deploy tool, you will be able to deploy/restore system image files on the server-side computer to multiple client-side computers over the network. Also, it allows you to backup, restore or clone on different computer without installing first by creating portable version of this sofwtare.