By Emily / Last Updated September 20, 2022

Two ways to migrate OS to SSD/HDD for free

If you want to transfer the operating system (OS) to a new hard disk drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD) without reinstalling Windows, you can use the Windows built-in backup and restore tool or third party free OS migration software.

1. Migrate OS with Windows built-in tool

If you want to migrate OS without third-party tool, you can create a system backup and then restore it to the new hard drive or SSD. In Windows 11,  10 or Windows 7, you can create an image backup including all critical volumes. If you are using Windows 8 or 8.1, you can still create a system image.

However, before you do, you need to confirm the following:

1. The destination drive must be equal or large to the hard drive that you backed up.

2. Only NTFS formatted volumes can be protected. You may need to format or convert partition to NTFS file system.

3. The destination drive must have the same partition style (MBR or GPT) as the source drive.

2. Migrate OS with free OS migration software

If the first way is a little bit complicated for you, you can move the operating system to another SSD or HDD drive using a third-party free OS migration tool like AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. This freeware comes with  "Disk Clone Wizard", enabling you to clone the operating system and all applications in the boot partition (usually the C: drive) to another drive so that you don't have to spend lots of time on reinstallation. Now, free download it and see the detailed steps:

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard only supports clone OS between MBR and MBR disks. If you need to migrate OS from MBR to GPT or GPT to MBR/GPT, you can employ its Professional version.

 Step 1. Download and install AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. Then, run it and click "All Tools" -> "Disk Clone Wizard" in the left pane.


Step 2. Choose a clone method in this window. Generally, we recommend the "Clone Disk Quickly" and click "Next".

Copy Disk Quickly

Step 3. Choose the old hard drive as the source drive in this step and click "Next".

Select Source Disk

Step 4. And choose a new hard drive as the destination drive. If the destination hard drive is SSD, you can check“Optimize the performance of SSD” and click "Next".

Target Disk

Step 5. In the "Edit Disk" window, you can resize the partition to fit the new disk and click "Next".


Step 6. Finally, click "Apply" to submit the operations.

Further Reading: Can I move just my OS from HDD to SSD?

If your new SSD is not big enough to hold the entire hard drive, AOMEI software also provides you the "Migrate OS to SSD" feature to clone only OS and system-related files to the new hard drive after you upgrade to the professional edition.  Here are the steps:

Step 1. Install and run AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional. Next, click on the "Migrate OS to SSD"option and read the introduction.


Step 2. Select your SSD as the destination for the OS transfer. If there are partitions on the SSD you need to check “I want to delete all partitions on the disk 2 to migrate system to the disk”. Once checked, the "Next" button will activate, you should now click on it.


Step 3. You now have to option to resize the system partition and change the drive letter on the new SSD.


Step 4. Read the troubleshooting guide on how to boot from the destination disk as you may need this later.


Step 5. Click "Apply" and then "Proceed" to transfer OS to the new SSD drive.


After transferring OS and booting the computer from the destination SSD successfully, you can format the old C drive on the source disk to free up the disk space.


The free OS migration software- AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard runs well with Windows platforms, including Window 11/10/8.1/8/7, XP and Vista. To migrate Windows Server 2022/2019/2016/2012/2008/2003 OS to another hard drive, you can use the Server edition