By Ivy / Last Updated October 28, 2020

Need to move Windows 10 to new computer

Nowadays, due to various reasons, many users want to move Windows 10 to a new computer. Maybe the computer is too old, it runs too slow and the program takes too long to load. or your computer crashes but you don't have a system image for it. or the new computer is bare computer. Here is an example from TenForums.com.

"Hello everyone, I have a question: I am building a new PC and I want to sell my old one. But I want to keep the HDD of my old PC with Windows 10 installed. I was wandering if I can move Windows 10 to new computer with dissimilar hardware, will it automatically run Windows or do I need to purchase a new product key? Thanks in advancd."

Don't worry about it too much, and this article will help you safely transfer Windows 10 to another computer in simple steps. Before that, we need to talk about two major problems many users will enounter during the process, for example, the activiation issue of new computer and the hardware issue between two computers.

Can I transfer Windows 10 license to new computer?

Here is the first problem, Windows activation issues, most users concern. Windows 10 licenses are tied to the important hardware of your computer, motherboard, for instance, and some of them can be transferred, but not all. Now, let's start to learn.

There are three main Windows 10 license types, including OEM(the short of Original Equipment Manufacturer), Retail, Volume.

  • OEM: This license come preinstalled on the hardware (ie, motherboard) of your computer and it's tied to the first computer, so you cannot transfer it to a new computer. The process is automatic when your computer connect to internet.

  • Retail: This license is purchased online and can be transferred to another computer once. If you free upgrade from a retail copy of Windows 7, Windows 8 or 8.1, the Windows 10 license still keeps the retail rights which it is derived

  • Volume: This license is used on large organizations, such as businesses, universities, or governments, and you can use one single license key to activate numerous installations.

One thing worth mentioning, you can upgrade your hard drive on the same computer with an OEM or volume license. Repalcing HDD with a larger one or SSD to get more capacity or better performance is absolutely fine under the Windows 10 licensing rules.

Can I move Windows 10 to another computer with dissimilar hardware?

If your new system has identical hardware to the old one, then the process to move Windows 10 to another computer is extremely simple. You can simply install the old hard drive to new computer, start your computer and then it will try to boot from the new drive automatically.

But it's difficult to get a new computer that has the same hardware or at least similar hardware of your old computer. Therefore, you may need to solve the potential hardware compatibility issues, system driver is the most important one. In most cases, your computer fail to boot, most likely because it does not have drivers required to start Windows.

Well then, how to solve this issue? You could try AOMEI Backupper. It provides users with two useful methods, namely, disk clone or disk backup and restore. Please keep reading below to learn details.

Method 1: Free Clone Windows 10 to new computer without hardware issue

Compared with earlier versions of Windows, Windows 10 has greatly improved compatibility, so you can clone Windows 10 to new computer without affecting by the device drivers. With the help of AOMEI Backupper Standard, you can choose to clone the entire disk with "Disk Clone" feature.

Step 1. Connect the external hard drive to your computer and make sure it can be detected. Then, click the download button below to install AOMEI Backupper Standard.

Step 2. Open this free disk cloning software, you will see its deep-blue interface. Then Click "Clone" and "Disk Clone". To clone OS only, you can click "System Clone".

Disk Clone

Please note that the “Disk Clone” feature is free only when you clone system disk with the same partition style, clone MBR disk to MBR disk, for example.
To check partition style between hard drive and target SSD. You could go to disk management, right click the hard disk or the SSD, choose Properties -> Volume -> Partition Style, then you will see its partition style, either MBR or GPT.

Step 3. Select the current hard drive where Windows 10 is installed on, and click Next.

Select Source Disk

Step 4. Select the connected external hard drive as destination path, and click Next.

Select Destination Disk

Step 5. Preview the details of both disk and click "Start Clone" to transfer Windows 10 to new hard drive. If the target drive is an SSD, please tick “SSD Alignment” to accelerate its reading and writing speed to reach its peak performance.

Start Clone 2

There are two more options at the lower locations, namely, “Sector by sector clone” and “Edit Partitions (available on AOMEI Backupper Professional )”. The previous one is to clone all sectors on the disk including the used sectors or not. The last one is to make full use of disk space on the target disk by adding unused space to all partitions or manually adjusting partition size.

After finishing above steps, things are done half, you just need to install the cloned hard drive on new computer and the computer will try to boot from it automatically. If not, restart your computer to access BIOS by pressing a specific key (usually F2 or ESC) continuously, and change boot order to the cloned drive.

Method 2: Backup and Restore Windows 10 to new computer with different hardware

Here you will use the “Universal Restore” (also called “Dissimilar Hardware Restore”) in AOMEI Backupper Professional to restore computer with different hardware, the advanced version of AOMEI Backupper Standard. It can greatly overcome the hardware incompatibility issues and ensure secure boot after restore system image or disk image. And this method works well in all the Windows operating system, including Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP/Vista.

Before restoring image to new computer, you need to prepare the following things first. Then, follow steps below to transfer Windows 10 to new computer.

  • Upgrde AOMEI Backupper Standard to the professinal version and use it to create a disk backup in Windows 10. Also, you can create a system image as instead.

  • Create a bootable media or PXE boot tool to boot computer when it refuses to boot. The same is true for a bare computer.

  • Prepare a target drive to store the backup image you want to restore.

  • Prepare a USB-to-SATA cable to connect the target drive. But if the new computer uses an M.2 slot, you need to prepare a M.2 connector, USB-to-M.2 SATA or USB-to-M.2 NVMe, for example.

Step 1. Boot computer from bootable media if it does not boot normally. Insert the bootable media, restart your computer, press a special key to enter the BIOS mode to select where to boot from, and you will get into the interface of AOMEI Backupper.

Change Boot Order

Step 2. Connect the external hard drive with the previously created disk image to your computer. Then, click “Restore”, and click “Select Image File” to find the external hard drive and disk image on it. It’s an image file with .adi file extension.

Select Image File

Step 3. Choose “Restore the entire disk”, and then click Next.

Restore Entire Disk

Step 4. Select the hard drive on new computer to store the disk image, and then click Next.

Select Destination

Step 5. In the operation summary window, tick “Universal Restore” to ensure secure boot if your new computer has different hardware. Then click “Start Restore” to restore Windows 10 to new computer. Wait until the process is completed 100%.

Move Windows 10 to New Computer

Note: If you want restore image to multiple computers simultaneously, you can use AOMEI Image Deploy in AOMEI Backupper Tech or AOMEI Backupper TechPlus. Also, you can use them to protect unlimited PCs or servers within one computer.

Reactivate your Windows 10 using Microsoft account

If you are told that your Windows is not activated, you can reactivate it using Microsoft account. The premise is that you have linked the license to Microsoft account.

To check it out, open the old computer, press “Win + I” and go to “System” > “About” > “Windows Specifications” > “Change the product key or upgrade your edition of Windows”, then it will tell you if the Windows is activated, just like the message “Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account”.

Windows License

To reactivate Windows 10 on new computer, you just need to log in with the same Microsoft account and validate the license. If the original computer use OEM license, you may encounter “Windows is not activated” error. To get rid of it, you can go to “Updates & Security” by pressing the Windows key + I and then choose “Activation” > “Troubleshoot” > “I changed hardware on this device recently”. After that, log in the same account again.

Witten in the end

It’s not so difficult to move Windows 10 to new computer with the help of AOMEI Backupper, even the computer has different hardware. You just need to confirm the license is transferable.

If you are using Windows 10 computer, you can use “Disk Clone” in free AOMEI Backupper Standard to clone entire disk and install it on the new computer. But if you are currently using previous Windows computer, you need to use “Universal Restore” feature in AOMEI Backupper Professional to get rid of incompatible issues. It can achieve the same effect.