Upgrade Hard Drive in Windows 10 - No Reinstallation

Need to upgrade hard drive to a larger drive or an SSD in Windows 10? Read this article carefully to get the best disk cloning software to help you.


By Lily Updated on October 7, 2023

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The case

How do I move Windows 10 to a new hard drive?

The hard drive on our American Legion Post computer is getting shaky and I'm wanting to get a new drive and install back into the same computer - same motherboard etc. The Windows 10 OS is the upgrade to an existing installation of Windows 7, so I do not have a disk. Is there a way to put this Windows 10 OS on a new drive or do I have to purchase Windows 10?

- Question from Microsoft.com

Upgrade Hard Drive to SSD

Just like this user, you may want to upgrade hard drive in Windows 10 because the current drive is failing. Upgrading hard drive is also needed in following situations:

◈ The current drive has small capacity, so you want to upgrade to a larger hard drive to gain more storage space.
◈ The computer is running slowly, and you want to replace hard drive with SSD to improve the working speed.

The most important part of hard drive replacement is OS transfer. Some users choose to reinstall Windows after replacing the old hard drive. However, the reinstallation process is really time-consuming and all your data and applications will be erased. You have to reinstall those applications and recover files after reinstalling Windows 10. How frustrating it is!

Is there an easier way of replacing hard drive in Windows 10? Disk clone is the answer.

Best disk cloning software - AOMEI Backupper

AOMEI Backupper Professional, the best disk cloning software for Windows, can help you with upgrading hard drive in Windows 10.

  • Disk Clone: it can clone the entire disk. All data in the source disk including the operating system, applications and user files will be transferred to the destination disk after cloning.
  • System Clone: it helps to transfer only OS to another drive.
  • Partition Clone: it will clone a particular partition, such as D: drive, E: drive, etc.
  • SSD Alignment: if you are replacing hard drive with SSD in Windows 10, you can use this option to optimize the SSD performance.
  • Supported OS: All Windows PC operating systems like Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP are supported.

Just download AOMEI Backupper and learn how to upgrade the current hard drive to an SSD step by step from the next part.

Download DemoWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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How to upgrade hard drive to SSD in Windows 10 step by step

▶ Preparations

1. Connect the target SSD to your computer and make sure it is detected.

  • If there is an SSD drive bay inside your computer, you can install your SSD there.
  • If there is no SSD drive bay available, you can connect it externally through a SATA-to-USB adapter.

2. Backup files on the destination SSD, because the drive will be overwritten during the cloning process.

▶ Detailed steps of cloning hard drive to SSD

Step 1. Run AOMEI Backupper. Click “Clone” on the left pane and select “Disk Clone”.

Disk Clone

✐ Note: To clone OS only to the destination SSD, please use the System Clone feature.

Step 2. Select the current hard drive as the source disk and click “Next”.

Source Disk

Step 3. Select the destination SSD you have connected to your PC and click “Next”.

Destination Disk

Step 4. Tick “SSD Alignment” to improve the reading and writing speed of the target SSD. Confirm the operation and click “Start Clone”.

Start Clone

>> Edit Partitions: it enables you to resize partitions or convert partition style of the destination disk.
>> Sector by sector clone: it will clone every sector on the source disk no matter it is used or not, thus costing more time. It requires the destination disk to be equal to or larger than the source disk.

▶ Tips on replacing hard drive

1. Boot from the cloned SSD.

  • If you have installed the target SSD in the SSD drive bay, you can change boot order in BIOS to boot from it.
  • If you have connected the target SSD externally, you can now remove the old hard drive and put the new drive there. A mounting bracket may be needed to fit the size of the HDD drive bay.
  • If the source and destination disks are in different partition types (one MBR, one GPT), you should then change boot mode in BIOS to boot from the cloned drive.

2. If the cloned SSD works perfectly, you can wipe data on the old hard drive to release storage space.

About Windows 10 license after upgrading hard drive

You may care about whether Windows 10 license can be transferred to the new hard drive. There are four different situations for your reference:

1. If you upgraded from a retail version of Windows 7, 8, or 8.1, you can transfer your license only once.

2. If you have a full retail copy of Windows 10, you can transfer as many times as you want.

3. If you upgraded from an OEM Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 license or used OEM Windows 10 license, then the license cannot be transferred.

4. If you upgraded using the Easy Upgrade to Windows 10 Pro Pack from Windows 10, you can transfer the license using Digital Licensing.

To sum up

That’s all about upgrading hard drive in Windows 10. AOMEI Backupper offers you the easiest way to upgrade hard drive to SSD. Apart from the clone feature, AOMEI Backupper is a professional backup and restore tool. You can use it to backup Windows 10 to NAS and upgrade motherboard and CPU without reinstalling Windows. Don’t hesitate to give it a try!

Lily · Editor
Lily Green joined AOMEI in 2018 and has since become a professional in the areas of data protection and data transfer. She is committed to helping users protect their precious computer data and troubleshoot Windows system errors. She consistently stays vigilant about the latest trends in technology, guaranteeing that the given information aligned with the ongoing advancements in the field.