Need to move hard drive to new computer in Windows 10?

"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."

This post will help you move your old Windows 10 hard drive to a new computer without losing your Windows 10 activation. Unlike cloning Windows 10 hard drive on the same computer, when you move your Windows 10 operating system to a new computer you’ll need to consider a variety of important factors, like the Windows activation license and what hardware you have.

Can I move my Windows installation drive to new computer?

When buying a new computer most users will prefer to move their data as well as their Windows 10 OS from their old computer to the new one rather than doing a fresh install. Whilst a fresh install is not very complicated, it can take a long time when you consider the time it takes to reinstall all of your old applications and drivers. The main advantage of moving your old HDD to your new one 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 cloning software.

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.

Unfortunately, if the computers don’t have identical hardware (which is quite likely) 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, these 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 before then you will need to purchase a new license key from Microsoft.

Unfortunately, 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 doesn’t allow you to move OEM copies of Windows to another computer and if you have managed to move your OEM license to another computer, then you have to call Microsoft support to ask them to activate the license. If you choose not to call Microsoft support after moving the OEM license 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 without hardware issue

Are you looking for a way to move an old hard drive to your new computer without experiencing hardware or license issues? Thankfully there’s loads of powerful third-party software on the internet that can help to make the process quick and easy.

If the new computer doesn’t have identical hardware to the old system, then you will need to use the Universal Restore feature of AOMEI Backupper to transfer your Windows system and all of your data from the old computer to the new one. AOMEI Backupper will also help you to transfer your old Windows 10 license to your new computer.

Software to move a HDD to a system with different hardware

AOMEI Backupper Professional Edition is powerful backup and restore software designed specifically for Windows 10, 8, and 7 users. It allows you to create system backups, disk backups, and partition backups with just a few clicks. Which you can then use to restore the system whenever you experience any problems.

The Universal Restore feature (also called Dissimilar Hardware Restore) lets you restore a backup image created on one computer to a different computer, this means you can restore backup images to a new computer that has different hardware to your old system. Using this feature means you won’t have to worry about license issues or moving your applications across manually.

Step by step guide to move hard drive with Windows 10 to new PC

Let’s take a closer look at how to move a Windows 10 hard drive to new computer. First, you should download the free trial of AOMEI Backupper Professional Edition and run it.

First, you need to create a disk backup on the old computer and then save the backup image to a place where the new computer can access it. AOMEI Backupper supports backing up Windows 10 to USB drives, HDDs, and SSDs. If your new computer is a machine without anything installed (a barebones machine) then you will be able to use the create a bootable CD or USB feature in AOMEI Backupper to help you boot your PC.

Now follow the steps below to complete a ‘Dissimilar Hardware’ restore.

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.

Select Image File Winpe

Step 3: Choose the backup image and click on Next to continue.

Select Backup Image

Step 4: Select the option to either Restore the entire disk or Restore a partition in the disk and then click Next.

Restore Entire Disk or Partition

Step 5: Choose the destination where you want to restore the disk image to and click Next. Then, in the preview summary window and click Start Restore.

Select Destination

Helpful Tips:

  • Edit Partitions: you can edit the size of the partitions by using this feature in AOMEI Backupper.

  • SSD Alignment: if the storage device on the new computer is an SSD, you should enable this function to increase the read and write speeds of the SSD.

  • In order to ensure that the restore process is successful, you must inspect the backup image files first to check if the backup image is intact or damaged.

After the restoration process has finished you should be able to boot the new computer with the old your 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.


And that’s it! See how simple it is to move your hard drive to a new computer using AOMEI Backupper in Windows 10. 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 hard drive in Windows 10 to your new SSDs.

Or 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.