By Ivy / Last Updated November 2, 2020

The need to backup and restore Windows 10 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 drive or USB and then restore system image from external hard drive.

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 backup system image in Windows 10, so you can restore system from backup in the event of hard drive failure.

When it comes to migrating Windows 10 to new hard drive free, you could consider using Windows backup and restore software, Backup and Restore (Windows 7) or AOMEI Backupper Standard. Both of them can help you create Windows 10 backup image as well as a USB boot repair tool that can help you boot your new hard drive, but the latter is simpler. Keep reading to get the two methods.

Method 1. Restore Windows 10 system image to new hard drive with built-in tool

Now, let's start to restore Windows 10 system image from external hard drive to new hard drive. 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 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’s one option named “Set up backup” at the right side. You can also click it to create a system image. On this occasion, you can add other files or partitions that you want to backup besides the system.

Step 3. Choose the destination (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. 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 system image Windows 10 to new hard drive

In the following, we will use Windows 10 system image recovery to put Windows on a new hard drive, which is a recovery tool in Windows recovery environment to help users restore Windows 10 backup image and get computer back to a normal state.

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

Step 2. Connect the external hard drive containing Windows 10 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 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 start the restoration.

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

AOMEI Backupper Standard, as a reliable Windows backup and restore software, can help you backup Windows 10 and restore Windows 10 from backup smoothly while Windows is running well. Also, it allows you to create bootable media and boot the unbootable computerper.

More so, you can restore Windows 10 system image 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.

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

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

  • Download and install AOMEI Backupper Standard on your computer.

  • Create Windows 10 system image with AOMEI Backupper and save the image files to external hard drive, USB flash drive or other storage devices. Because it only restores the image created by itself.

  • Create bootable media for your computer. It's suggested to create a Windows PE based bootable media.

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

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

Step 2. Under Restore tab, click Select Image File to find the image on your external drive and hit Next.

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 image that you can choose.

Restore to Other Location

Step 4. Select a destination partition to restore t 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 OS on new hard drive.

Preview Restore to Other Location

◒ If you want to put Windows on a new hard drive in 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.
◒ If you are restoring Windows 10 system image to new SSD, please tick "SSD Alignment". Because this feature can accelerate writting and reading speed of SSDs with 4k alignment technology.
◒ If your new hard drive is big enough to hold everything on the old disk, you could create a disk image in Windows 10. Then, restore Windows 10 disk image to new hard drive.

Plus: system image created by Windows built-in tool

Generally speaking, if you have a system backup, you can restore a system image in Windows 10 at any time. But, in Windows 10 and earlier version of Windows, there is a one major problem when you restore Windows image backup: 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 hard drive with a larger one. Instead, you can use a third party tool like AOMEI Backupper or consider only 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, 0x80070002, etc.


That’s all for how to restore Windows 10 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 backup hard drive, partitions and files. Also, you can set custom schedule backup task to backup automatically, such as, daily/weekly/monthly backup, event trigger backup, USB plug in, incremental/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!