By Ivy / Last update September 23, 2021

The need to backup and restore Windows 10/11 to new hard drive

Given that you have a laptop that can only hold one hard drive which is failing, how do you transfer Windows 10 to new hard drive without wasting time reinstalling the operating system and programs? In this case, you can backup Windows 10 to external hard drive or USB and then restore Windows 10 system image to new hard drive or SSD. 

Although the final version of Windows 10 has been released for a long time, it still has many bugs reported by users. Therefore, it is essential to create system image with Windows 10 backup utility, so you can restore system from backup in the event of hard drive failure or any other unexpected error.

When it comes to migrating Windows 10/11 to new hard drive free, you could consider using built-in Backup and Restore (Windows 7) or a reliable backup and restore software - AOMEI Backupper Standard. Both of them can help you create Windows 10/11 backup image as well as bootable USB to boot your computer, but the latter is simpler. Keep reading to learn the two methods one by one or get the easier way directly.

Method 1. Restore Windows 10/11 system image to new hard drive with Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

Now, let's start to restore Windows image backup from external hard drive to new hard drive or SSD. You should prepare one external hard drive or USB flash drive to save the backup image. And one CD/DVD is required to create the system repair disc.

Part 1: Create Windows 10/11 full system backup with Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

Step 1. Go to Control Panel, click System and Security and Backup and Restore (Windows 7) in order.

Step 2. Click Create a system image in the left pane.

Create A System Image

Note: There‚Äôs one option named ‚ÄúSet up backup‚Ä̬†at the right side. You can also click it to backup files and include system image backup during the process. On this occasion, you can add backup files, system and other partitions by checking it in the last window.¬†

Step 3. Choose the destination drive (external hard drive or USB flash drive) to save your backup.

Step 4. The drives that are required for Windows to run will be included by default and click Next to continue.

Step 5. Confirm the settings and click Start backup.

When the backup is done, you'll be asked if you want to create a system repair disc (CD/DVD) to access the recovery options when your computer is unable to boot, click Yes to execute. If you do not have the CD-ROM device, you can choose to create Windows 10 recovery disk with your USB flash drive instead.

Part 2: Restore Windows 10/11 system image to new hard drive

In the following, we will use Windows 10/11 system image recovery, a recovery tool in Windows recovery environment, to help users restore Windows 10/11 image backup to another drive and get computer back to a normal state.

Step 1. Shutdown the computer and switch hard drives in Windows 10/11. 

Step 2. Connect the external hard drive containing Windows 10/11 backup image to your computer. Also, the system repair disc is required.

Step 3. Boot computer from the system repair disc. Change your system's BIOS settings to make sure it can boot from the CD/DVD by hitting the specified key on the first screen.

Step 4. Click Next when you see the Windows Setup interface for the first time, then choose Repair your computer > Troubleshoot > System Image Recovery > Windows 10/Windows 11 subsequently.


Step 5. In the re-image your computer window, tick Use the latest available system image and then click Next.

Use the Latest Available  System Image

Step 6. Choose Format and repartition disks option, then click Next > Finish > Yes to restore Windows image to another drive. 

Part 3: What to do after backup and restore Windows 10/11 image to new hard drive?

Is it over here? No, you still need to do something per your situation. Here are two main situation, please stay for a while and check it carefully, which can help you make full use of disk space on the new hard drive and avoid system restore failed error. 

Situation 1: Restore Windows 10/11 backup to larger hard drive

If the new hard drive is larger than the old one, there will be an unallocated space at the end of new disk. Thus, you need to extend the partition size, otherwise you cannot use it to store data or do any operation. Here I'll  show you the simple steps to extend partition.

1. Press Win + R to open the run window and type diskmgmt.msc to open Disk Management in Windows 10/11.

2. Right-click the partition at the left side of unallocated space and select Extend Volume. Then, you will enter the Extend Volume Wizard, click Next to move on.

Extend Volume

3. Select the disk you want to extend the partition and click Next. Usually, you can only use unallocated space on the same disk to extend volume. 

4. Click Finish to start this operation.

This method works in most cases, but there is an except. If there is the 450MB recovery partition or other partition between the system partition and unallocated space, this method will become invalid. At this time, you need a professional partition resize feature, such as, "Edit Partitions" in AOMEI Backupper.

Situation 2: Restore Windows 10/11 image to smaller drive

Also, there are some users who restore Windows 10/11 image to smaller drive, and most of them are out of luck. They will encounters the major problem of Windows backup and restore software: it does not support restoring to partition layouts that smaller than the original disk. 

For example, if you restore a system image in Windows 10 created on 500GB hard drive to 250GB SSD, you will receive the system image restore failed error and indicated the disk is too small.

If you receive this error, the backup image is useless unless you replace the smaller hard drive with a larger one. Instead, you can use a third party tool like AOMEI Backupper to backup and restore only used sectors on the old hard drive or consider directly cloning Windows 10 to new hard drive.

System Image Restore Failed

Besides the system image restore error, Windows built-in backup tool still has backup errors, such as, system image backup failed because of shadow copy storage, not enough space, EFI or BIOS, no disk can be used, backup error 0x80070002, etc.

Method 2. Restore Windows 10/11 image to new hard drive with AOMEI Backupper Standard

AOMEI Backupper Standard is trust and reliable Windows backup and restore software to help you backup and restore Windows 10/11 system image to new hard drive smoothly, even a smaller one, while your computer is running well. Also, it's appliable to restore system image to new SSD. In addition, it allows you to create bootable media and boot the unbootable computer. 

More so, you can perform Windows 10 system image restore to different computer , even with different hardware. However, you need the help of "Universal Restore" feature and this feature is only available on the paid version, such as, AOMEI Backupper Professional. And this software can help you reuse unallocated space after restoration with its "Edit Partitions" feature. The premise is the restored hard drive does not have multiple partitions.

Step by step guide: Perform Windows 10/11 system image restore to new hard drive

To restore Windows 10/11 image to new hard drive using AOMEI Backupper, you need to do some preparations first.

  • Download and install AOMEI Backupper Standard on your computer.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Then, let's see how to restore from system image in Windows 10/11. 

Step 1. Install new hard drive in Windows 10/11, and connect  external drive containing system image as well as bootable media to your computer.  Then, boot your computer from the bootable media. 

Step 2. After loading, you will see the main page of AOMEI Backupper Standard. Then, click Select Image File under the Restore tab and find the image on your external drive. 

Select Image File Winpe

Step 3. Tick restore this system backup and Restore system to other location, then click Next to continue. If you set a scheduled full/incremental/differential backup task, there will be a few backup images that you can choose.

Restore to Other Location

Step 4. Select your new hard drive as destination to restore the image and click Next. 

Select Destination

Tip: Please select the first partition on the target disk as destination, otherwise the system could not boot from the target disk. 

Step 5. Click Start Restore to install system image on new hard drive. 

Preview Restore to Other Location

◒ If you want to perform windows 10/11 system image restore to different computer, it's suggested to tick "Universal Restore (supported  by AOMEI Backupper Professional)". Because this feature can install all drivers required to boot Windows.
‚óí If you are restoring Windows 10/11 system image to new SSD, please tick "SSD Alignment". Because this feature can accelerate writting and reading speed of SSDs with 4k alignment technology.
‚óíExcept for restoring Windows 10/11 image to new hard drive, you still use it to restore Windows 7 system image to new hard drive as well as other operating system, such as, Windows 8.
◒ You can also choose to create a disk image in Windows 10/11 if your new hard drive is big enough to hold everything on the old disk, and then restore Windows 10/11 disk image to new hard drive.

That's the entire process to restore Windows 10/11 system image to new hard drive, it's not difficult to understand. But what if you want to restore system image on different computer without installing this software?

You could upgrade to AOMEI Backupper Technician and create a portable version of this software on USB drive with "Create Portable Version" feature. Then, you can run this software from USB flash drive on any computer and then use all the features of it. For example, you could perform automatic USB backup portable and take it everywhere.

Create Portable Version

Frequently asked questions about Windows image backup restore to new drive

1. Can I restore Windows 10 system image to a new hard drive?

The answer is YES, you can restore Windows 10 system image to new hard drive with a reliable backup and restore software. You can use built-in Backup and Restore (Windows 7) or third -party tool AOMEI Backupper Standard. 

2. How do I restore a system image to another computer?

Usually,  you cannot restore a system image create on one computer to another, because every computer has its specific drivers required for start Windows. But if you can resolve the drive incompatibility issue, for example, use the "Universal Restore" feature in AOMEI Backupper, the operation is available.

3. Does a system image save everything?

A system image is a snapshot of your system partition and all the items on it will be included, such as, operating system, system files and drivers, installed programs, personal data, etc.


That’s all for how to restore Windows 10/11 image to new hard drive. You can make it with Windows built-in tool or AOMEI Backupper Standard. No matter what method you use, a bootable media is needed if your system crashes, Either optical drive or USB flash drive will be fine.

Besides system backup, you still can use this software to backup hard drive, partitions and files. Also, you can set custom schedule backup task to backup them automatically, such as, daily/weekly/monthly backup, event trigger backup, USB plug in, differential backup etc. Trust me, it's one of the most powerful software for you to secure your data and system. Just explore it by yourself now!