By Ivy / Last update October 20, 2021

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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

"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."

Move Windows 10 To New Computer

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 encounter during the process, for example, the activiation issue of new computer and the hardware issue between two computers.

Get clear ideas about license issue and hardware problem

Can I transfer Windows 10 license to new computer?

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.

  • 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.). 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, and boor from it.  

But the problem is that it's difficult to get a new computer with the same hardware or at least similar hardware. Therefore, in most cases, you will encounter hardware incompatibility issues, lacking of system driver is the most likely cause of boot failure. 

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

How to move Windows 10 to new computer with dissimilar hardware effortlessly

Here you will use the “Universal Restore” (also called “dissimilar hardware restore”) in AOMEI Backupper Professional to restore Windows image to new computer with different hardware. 

It can greatly overcome the hardware incompatibility issues and ensure secure boot. And this method works well in all the Windows operating system, including Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP/Vista.

Make preparations before you restore image to new computer:
• Download AOMEI Backupper Professional and install it on your old computer. Then, use it to create a disk backup or system image in Windows 10.
•  Create a bootable media 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.

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

Then, follow detailed steps to transfer Windows 10 hard drive to new computer. Please check the video tutorial first to quickly understand the entire process and then get details from graphic tutorial.

Video Tutorial: 

Graphic Tutorial: 

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

▪ If you only has two computers, the process is easy to operate. But if you have multiple computers, the process will be a little tedious and time-consuming. At this time, you could consider using "AOMEI Image Deploy(supported by AOMEI Backupper Tech)" to restore image to multiple computers simultaneously. 
▪ This software is still disk cloning software, so you can use it to clone Windows 10 to new computer if both computers have the same hardware or similar at least.

Reactivate your Windows 10 license 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”.

Reactive Windows 10

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

With the help of AOMEI Backupper, you can easily move Windows 10 to new computer, even the computer has different hardware. You just need to confirm the license is transferable.

Although Windows 10 has greatly improved the compatibility, your computer may still fail to boot. Therefore, it's suggested to use "Universal Restore" feature in AOMEI Backupper Professional, which is designed to overcome the hardware incompatible issues.