By Ivy / Last update October 20, 2022

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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 a bare computer. Is it possible to make it? If so, how to migrate Windows 10 system? Please contine to learn more in this article.

Can I move Windows 10 to new computer?

"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 wondering 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 advance."

Move Windows 10 to New Computer

You can definitely move Windows 10 to new computer, and boot from it successfully, but with some caveats. Please read this article to learn more about this and the operating steps.

Is Windows 10 license types transferable?

In fact, there are 3 different license types in Windows 10, some of them can be transferred, and it is usually tied to the important hardware of your computer, motherboard, for instance, and some can't. Thus, if you want to transfter Windows 10 to a new computer permenantly, you need to check your license type and if it's transfterable. 

  • OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer): This license comes preinstalled on the hardware (ie, motherboard) of your computer and it's tied to the first computer, so you cannot transfer Windows 10 license to new computer. Note that you can transfer Windows 10 OEM license to new hard drive and your system will be activated once you connect it to a network.  

  • 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 from which it is derived.

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

Is it safe to migrate windows 10 to new computer?

In general, there are two situations for system migration, and you are able to make it safe in this article:

  • If your new computer has identical hardware to the old one, then the process to move Windows 10 to another computer is extremely simple and safe. You can simply install the old hard drive to the new computer, and boot from it.  
  • If your new computer has different hardware, usually, this is the situation most users face in system migration, since it's difficult to get a new computer with the same hardware or at least similar hardware. You may encounter hardware incompatibility issues, and lacking system drivers are the most likely cause of boot failure.

From above, you may clearly get the first situation is very easy and the easiest way is to find a reliable disk cloning software and clone Windows 10 to new computer with it.

But the second is a little tricky, may result in to an unbootable device, in this case, you may need to turn to a professional backup and restore software that supports dissimilar hardware restore. And I'll introduce you to one such software.

Backup hard drive in Windows 10 Just in case 

In general, the system migration process means transfering everything from old computer to new computer including the operating system, installed programs, drivers, configurations, personal data, etc. So you can't be too careful to deal with system crashes or data loss risk in this process. 

Thus, it's suggested to create a disk image or system backup in advance. If something goes wrong, you can restore computer to an earlier date quickly. This mean you need a reliable backup and restore software, AOMEI Backupper Professional, for example. 

Please download it to have a try! 

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

After downloading this software, install and launch it, click Backup and click Backup and select Disk Backup to start the process of creating a disk backup image in Windows 10. You will be asked to select source disk and new drive for backup task and then click Start Backup.

Disk Backup

Except for creating a single backup, you still can use it for long-term data protection. And the following features make it easier:

Options: It allows you to comment on this task, set compresion level, split backup image, etc. 
Schedule Backup: It supports daily, weekly, monthly, event triggers like system shutdown, and USB plug in.
Backup Scheme: It is able to save backup disk space or directly free up space by backing up only changed files with incremental or differential backup and deleting old backups automatically with cleanup methods

In addition, if you are worried about your computer may fail, you could create bootable USB or CD/DVD. This software also helps.

Switch to Tools and select Create Bootable Media. Then, you will be asked to select bootable disc type (Windows PE or Linux), and storage device (USB, CD/DVD or ISO file). 

Create Bootable Media

How to move windows 10 to new computer

To transfer Windows 10 to another computer, you can choose to clone hard drive in Windows 10 or restore Windows backup image to new computer, depending on the computer hardware. Before starting, you need to make some preparations:

  • A USB-to-SATA cable to connect the target drive. If the new computer uses an M.2 slot, you need to prepare an M.2 connector, USB-to-M.2 SATA or USB-to-M.2 NVMe, for example.
  • A  target drive to store the backup image you want to restore. If you don't have a backup image, you need to transfer Windows 10 to new hard drive 

Then, select one of the following methods and learn how to copy windows 10 from one PC to another. 

Method 1: Clone Windows 10  to new computer with same hardware 

Step 1. Open AOMEI Backupper Professional. Click Clone > Disk Clone in order. 

Disk Clone

Step 2. Select the source disk (Basic GPT) on the Windows 10 computer  and click Next. And usually, the disk that contains your operating system, installed program and files etc.

Source Disk

Step 3. Select the destination disk (Basic GPT) and click Next. 

Destination Disk

Then, yu will be told that the destination disk will be overwritten. So if there are any important files, you need to backup it in advance. If not, click OK to continue.

Warning

Step 4. Make sure you're selecting the right disk, otherwise all the data on it will deleted. Tick SSD Alignment to accelerate the reading and writing speed of target SSD and click Start Clone to start the process of cloning Windows 10 to new computer. 

Preview

Notes: 

  • If you don't tick the Sector by sector clone feature, this software will clone only used sectors of hard drive in the old computer. It's amazing if you want to clone larger drive to smaller drive, even for different computers.
  • If the target drive is larger, you need to enable the Edit Partitions feature to prevent cloned drive shows wrong size issue. Select Add unused space to all partitions unless you want to extend space for a specific partition, it's automatic and works well. 

Step 5. Cloning can take a long time to complete, depending on the data stored. Wait until the process complete, click Finish to confirm it. Then, take out hard drive in Windows 10 and install it to new computer. It will try to boot from the cloned drive, if not, you need to set it as the first boot option. 

Change Boot Order

Method 2: Move windows 10 to a new computer with dissimilar hardware

Besides, this software still supports restoring Windows 10 image to new hard drive on a different computer, even with dissimilar hardware, since its Universal Restore feature helps installing all the necessary drivers to start a computer. For other drivers, you need to download it  yourself.

  • For chipset, audio, etc, you can head to your PC manufacturer's website or  motherboard manufacturer's and download them.
  • For graphics drivers, you can also head to Nvidia, AMD, or Intel's website. 

Then, follow the video tutorial or detailed steps in the graphic tutorial to transfer Windows 10 hard drive to new computer. If you don't have a backup image in Windows 10 or bootable media, you need to create one first. 

Video Tutorial: 

Graphic Tutorial: 

Step 1. Insert the bootable USB to new computer and restart it, press a special key (eg: ESC, F11, F2, etc) to enter the BIOS mode. And then, set the bootable USB as first boot option, save changes and boot from it. After loading, AOMEI Backupper will pop up.

Step 2. To restore disk image, please connect the 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. Then, click Next.

Select Destination

Step 5. By default, this software will check the Universal Restore feature if it detected the new computer has different hardware. Click SSD Alignment to improvment SSD disk if you are move SSD with Windows 10 to new computer. Then, click Start Restore to restore Windows 10 to new computer with dissimilar hardware. 

Move Windows 10 to New Computer

Step 6. Restart your computer, it will try to boot from the cloned drive or SSD. If not, please set it as first boot option in BIOS and try again. 

Tip: To restore disk image to multiple computers, the easiest way is to deploy system image over network with "AOMEI Image Deploy" feature. It's available on AOMEI Backupper Technician or TechPlus edition. 

How to transfter Windows 10 license to new computer

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. If not, you need to deactivate it on the Windows 10 and then use it to acticate new computer. 

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”.

Reactive Windows 10

Then, select one of the following methods and activate your new computer with a Windows 10 license. 

Method 1: Activate new computer with Microsoft account 

For first situation, to reactivate Windows 10 on new computer, you just need to log in with the same Microsoft account and validate the license with the following steps.

Step 1. Log in to your account on microsoft.com, and navigate to My Microsoft Account page through this option under user account.

Step 2. Click View All Devices to check devices associated with account.

View All Devices

Step 3. Scroll down to and select the PC you wish to deactivate.  Click Info and Support > Remove this Device > I'm ready to remove this device and Remove.

Remove This Device

Step 4. Search activation, select Activation settings and open it. If you see your copy of Windows could not be activated, please continue to see steps below. If, for some reason, it says it has been activated, just exit this window and enjoy your new computer.

Step 5. Click Troubleshoot and I changed changed hardware on this device recently If it says Windows wad unable to activate. 

Change Hardware Recently

Step 6. Select the new PC you are using, click this is the device I'm using right now and Activate. Wait a few seconds, you will get the Windows is activated message. 

Method 2: Deactivate Windows 10 and reactivate new computer 

If your license is not linked to Microsoft account, try this method. Below are steps to deactivate Windows 10 and reactivate new computer.

Step 1. Search cmd in the start menu and select Run as administrator

Step 2. Typ the following command to uninstall product key from Windows and registry. Please remember to hit Enter in order. 

  • slmgr /upk
  • slmgr. vbs /cpky

Uninstall

Step 3. Enter slmbr.vbs /dli to confirm you uninstall the product key successfully.

Step 4. Now go to the activation settings window again. Scroll down to Change product key and enter Windows 10 license key you previously uninstall. 

Change Hardware

Written in the end

With the help of AOMEI Backupper, you can easily move Windows 10 to new computer, even with different hardware. You can choose to clone disk in Windows 10 or restore backup image with its "Universal Restore" feature. Besides, there are some caveats you need to pay attention to, such as, Windows license key, or hardware.

All in all, it's suggested to create a disk backup if you want to make major change. To make it easier, you can create a portable version of AOMEI Backupper and run it off a flash drive. And it also allows you to deploy image to multiple computers over network at a time. Learn more in the edition comparison page.