Transfer Windows 7, 8, 10, 11 to New Hard Drive without CD [3 Ways]

Want to transfer Windows 7 to new hard drive without CD instead of re-purchasing license? In this post I’ll introduce the best ways to clone OS to new drive (HDD/SSD), most of them are completely free.


By Delia Updated on May 10, 2024

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Case: transfer Windows 7 to new hard drive without CD


Hi everyone, I have a hard drive with a disk read error. It has Windows 7 installed and I can't locate the installation CD anymore. I'm thinking about buying a new SSD, but the problem is I don't want to buy another Windows 7 again. Do I have an option here without having to buy a new license?

First, the answer is YES. When a hard drive goes wrong or performs poorly, you can upgrade it to a new one (like replace HDD with SSD) to boost performance.

Don't want to lose data or re-purchase a license? Try to transfer Windows 7 to new hard drive without CD and reinstalling. Usually, the license key can be used on the same computer when you transfer Windows 7 to new hard drive, even for OEM license.

Transfer Windows 7 to New Hard Drive Without CD

How do I transfer Windows 7 to new hard drive without CD?

To implement the system migration, you can either backup & restore system image, or directly clone the system disk to a new hard drive, whether it's SSD or HDD.

Backup and Restore:  It will compress all the content of a system partition or disk into an image file, and requires a storage device to store backup image temperarily and restoration before booting from it. If the computer is not bootable, you still need to create a bootable USB or CD/DVD with it. 

Clone: It will keep the original structure of system partition and disk, no image file, extra device and restoration. The bootable media is required as well if the computer fails. 

Well then, which one should you use? If you don't know how to choose between them, please refer to the following contents. And either way, try corresponding methods for system ( to migrate OS only) and disk. 

✍ If your computer only has one slot or it's a laptop, try backup and restore method.
✍If you want to transfer Windows 10 to new computer, try backup and restore method. Its Universal Restore feature is able to resolve different hardware issues between computers.
✍ If you just want to upgrade hard drive or boost computer performance, try cloning method.  And the operation is much easier.

Migrate Windows 7 to new hard drive step by step 

By now, you may have chosen one of these methods and jumped at the chance to try it. Please make some preparations in advance to ensure the target SSD is bootable after restoration and try the following method based on your needs. 

Preparations before operating system migration

Before starting, there are a few things you should do at first:

1. Clean up the current system hard drive.

You could delete some junk files, uninstall rarely used apps to lighten your system so as to speed up the transferring. But please don't move or delete those system files you are not sure what they are.

2. Connect the target drive.

Make sure the new SSD or HDD has enough capacity for the operating system, and install it alongside your old drive. If there's only one slot on your computer, you can use a USB-to-SATA adapter to connect it.

3. Pick an efficient system migration tool.

Though Windows has a Backup and Restore utility, the steps for system migration are complicated, and it requires an installation or recovery disk to restore system image to the new hard drive. So it is more recommended to use freeware like AOMEI Backupper Standard.

It enables you to transfer Windows to new drive by restoring or cloning, and greatly simplify the operation. You can download and install it to have a try. For server users, try AOMEI Backupper Server.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Way 1: Migrate Windows 7 to new hard drive using backup and restore method

This way is to use "System Backup" and "System Restore" to indirectly migrate OS to SSD free. It is more complicated and will cost much more time than cloning methods. 

Steps to backup Windows 7 and restore to new drive:

1. First, navigate to Backup section and click System Backup.

System Backup

2. Choose an accessible location to backup the system partitions (auto selected), and tap Start Backup to proceed to next step. Wait for a while till the backup process ends.

In daily use, you are still able to set schedule backup for continuous data protection. Also, you can cutomize backup method (incremental or diferential) and automatic cleanup methods in the Backup Scheme (supported by Pro version). 

Start Backup

3. Go to Restore section and click Select Task to choose the one you just created. Choose Restore this system backup, tick Restore system to other location at the bottom and click Next.

Restore Entire Backup Or Partition

4. Then select the connected new SSD or HDD as the destination. Confirm the operation and Start Restore to migrate Windows 7 to new hard drive.

restore to new hard drive

Related tips:
◆ If you want to transfer Windows 7 to another computer with dissimilar hardware (such as installing OS on new PC, physical to virtual migration etc.), you can tick Universal Restore to ensure the comptuer can boot after restoration. 
◆ If you want to restore an image file to new hard drive without booting Windows, you may create recovery environment with AOMEI Backupper in advance.

Way 2: Clone disk with Windows installed to new hard drive

Disk Clone is a more intuitive way to transfer Windows 7 to new hard drive without CD and it will include everything on the disk. With it, you can directly clone a disk instead of creating backup image and then restoring. Cloning a system disk is supported by AOMEI Backupper Professional and higher editions. In the first of place, download and install the professional version of AOMEI Backupper.

Download Free TrialWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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(Note the Clone feature in the trail version can only be demonstrated. To clone a system disk to a new drive and boot from it, please upgrade to full version.)

Steps to clone Windows 7 disk to new hard drive:

1. Switch to Clone tab on the main interface and select Disk Clone.

Disk Clone

2. Select the disk you want to clone as the Source Disk and select the new hard drive as the Destination Disk.

Select Source Disk

3. Here in Operation Summary, set up advanced settings and click Start Clone to clone Windows 7 to new hard drive.

Start Clone

Related tips:
◆ Edit Partitions: you can specify partition sizes, labels, etc. Also, you are able to convert the destination disk from MBR to GPT or vice versa.
SSD Alignment: it is suggested to check this option to improve performance when the target disk is SSD.
Sector By Sector Clone: by checking this option, AOMEI Backupper will clone every sector to the target disk, no matter whether it is used or not. Do not check it when cloning larger drive to smaller drive.

Way 3: Clone only operating system to new SSD or HDD quickly

System Clone is literally the most direct and quick solution to clone Windows 7 to new hard drive without CD. It will only clone the system and boot related drives. Follow the guidance below.

Steps to migrate only OS to new drive:

1. Navigate to Clone section and choose System Clone.

Choose System Clone

2. The system partitions will be selected directly, you just need to specify a Destination Disk and click Next.

Choose Destination Partition

3. Adjust some advanced settings like SSD Alignment and Sector by sector clone and then Start Clone. If the target disk is larger, you will see another feature - Make full use of disk space and it is checked by default to extend unallocated space to system partition.

System Clone Preview Nochecked

Related tips:
◆ If you want to transfer Windows 7 to new SSD for better performance, you could tick SSD Alignment in Step 3 to accelerate the reading and writing speed of the SSD.
◆ After cloning, the new hard drive will be overwritten. If you have some important data on it, you must do disk backup of the new hard drive in advance.
◆ The original hard drive will not be wiped out. You can use the original drive as a secondary storage or as a backup in case of a system crash.

Supplement: how to launch Windows 7 from new hard drive

In case some readers don’t know how to start Windows 7 on new drive exactly, here are 2 common used ways:

1. Shut down your PC and remove the source disk. Install the newly restored or cloned hard drive on the machine. Start up your PC. (Recommended)

2. Restart your PC and press Del (or F2, or F12) to enter BIOS. Change boot priority to the new hard drive and press F10 to save and start.

Change Boot Order Bios


It’s not complicated to transfer Windows 7 to new hard drive even without CD. All you need is a large enough and accessible new hard drive, and of course, the support from a reliable tool - AOMEI Backupper.

The first 2 methods listed in this post are totally free of charge. You can achieve your goal of Windows OS migration smoothly and intuitively with the standard version. But if you prefer more advanced features in an easier process, AOMEI Backupper Professional is a smart choice. The technician or techplus edition is much convenient for users to deploy system image to multiple computers simultaneously.

For your reference, you could also clone Windows 10 to SSD or HDD for free without installation disk, and the approaches are roughly the same. 

Delia · Editor
Delia owns extensive experience in writing technology-related blog posts, and has been a part of AOMEI since 2020 to provide expertise in data security and disaster recovery. She works with Windows operating systems, SQL databases, and virtualization platforms such as VMware and Hyper-V, specializing in troubleshooting and advising on data protection and migration.