Keeping a computer at its peak performance is a challenging task from day 1 for every user. Whether PC or a laptop, it doesn’t matter as the task gets more difficult with all the moving parts starting to depreciating with usage. If you’re looking to change your computer hard drive, perhaps you’ve encountered one of the following cases:
- PC runs slowly, and you need to replace the HDD or upgrade to an SSD for more speed
- Need to upgrade to bigger storage as the current one is almost full
- Corrupted hard drive or indications of HDD failure
But solving all these problems creates another problem which is – install Windows on a new hard drive. And, if you don’t know how to do that, you can’t even change the hard drive. So, this is where we address the bigger problem – how to install Windows after replacing the hard drive?
I’ve worked as an IT guy for over 4 years. During this time, replacing HDD and installing Windows on new hard drives was the only consistent work I had. In this article, I will tell you everything about how to install windows on a new hard drive.
Let’s get onto it…
Tools You Need to Install Windows on A New Hard Drive
You only need a handful of things to replace a hard drive. And you may need a few more extras depending on whether you’re using a PC or a laptop. Here’s what you need:
- Set of screwdrivers
- Bracket/caddy (for laptops)
- Laptop charger (for laptops)
- Working mat (for keeping the peripherals and the screws)
- New Solid State Drive (SSD) or a Hard Disk Drive (HDD)
Ordinary SSDs are 2.5 inches in length, and so, to fit them on a 3.5-inch slot on a desktop PC, you need an additional mounting kit/ bracket/ caddy or whatever you call it. But these days, most SSDs come in a default kit that is adjustable on both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch slots.
6 Easy Steps to Install Windows 10 On A New Hard Drive
We will discuss the fundamentals of how to replace and reinstall Windows on a new hard drive. All tips are discussed below, so keep reading.
1. Ensure Data Backup Before Replacement
The most important thing to do before replacing your PC or laptop’s hard drive is to take a data backup. And this includes your documents, pictures, videos, installed third-party apps, downloaded files, and lastly, your Windows 10 files.
Data backups are easy to do these days. All you need is a free third-party app like MiniTool ShadowMaker. MiniTool is a fantastic app that not only lets you back up data on your computer but also makes partitions, performs disk cloning and file sync. Besides, you can use it to restore files, folders, disks, and Windows files.
2. Create A Separate Installation Drive or USB Boot Drive
Creating a separate installation drive or a USB boot drive is the only way to install or reinstall Windows without losing files on a computer. The idea is to use a separate drive that your computer can use to run the installation.
But before you do that, quickly visit the Windows website and download the ISO file of the chosen version of Windows 10. Additionally, you can use a third-party app like Media Creation Tool to create a bootable USB drive using that ISO file.
While you do this, make sure your USB drive has enough space and nothing on it except for the ISO file. It’s better to keep at least 8GB of space. Here are 4 simple steps on how to use MiniTool for backup data:
- Launch MiniTool after installation
- Choose the Backup option from the interface, and you’ll find that the app backs up the Windows 10 files by default. If you want to manually back up files using MiniTool, choose Source from the menu. Next, choose the Folders and Files you need to keep, and finally click OK
- Choose a Destination to store the backup files and make sure to have enough storage space to save them. For convenience, you can choose an external hard drive or a USB flash drive.
- Finally, click on Back Up Now to start the backup process.
3. Remove the Old Hard Drive from Your Device
The basic work is over, and now it’s time to get all the hands-on-deck inside the computer. Here’s what you need to do:
- Power off the device and make sure it is also unplugged
- Open the back cover by removing the screws if it’s a laptop and open the tower casing of your computer if it’s a desktop PC
- Locate the position of the hard drive and remove the data connector and the power cables from the disk
- Remove the screws that attach the hard drive with the mainboard and pull the hard drive out
Displacing the hard drive may be tricky if you’re doing it after a long time. So, take your time to use a constant force while pulling it out; otherwise, you may accidentally damage the pins.
4. Install the Brand-New Hard Drive
This is where you reverse engineer all the steps that you’ve been through. But it should be pretty much easy at this point. Usually, all hard drives on a computer remain clearly visible and are very easy to detach without opening any other computer parts. Here’s what you need to do:
- Put the new drive in its place and make sure it fits perfectly on the dock
- Use the screw to attach the drive in its position
- Connect the data connectors and the power cable for the hard drive
- Reattach the case, and you’re good to go.
5. Reinstall Windows 10 After Replacing the New Hard Drive
With the hard part done, now you need to turn on your computer and prepare to install Windows on the new disk. The instructions are pretty much similar for all Windows installations, and here it is:
- Plug in the USB boot drive that has the windows in it and enter the BIOS menu on your computer while it starts. The BIOS menu is easily accessible when the computer starts and should work by pressing F12. Usually, each manufacturer has its own specific key to activate the BIOS menu, so find it out to avoid the hassle.
- Click Install Now on the installation window to start the process.
- The setup is a straightforward process and mostly requires you to click Next and move forward. Also, you’ll be asked to provide a product key which you can provide instantly if you have one, or you can choose to activate it later.
- The setup will ask you to choose the edition that you have your license for. Most people use Windows 10 Pro as it has most of the features you need for personal use. Choose the right version depending on your usage.
- Accept the terms and conditions that you are required to comply with to use Windows.
- Next, select the type of installation on your drive and click Custom: Install Windows Only (Advanced) and continue the process.
- Choose an unallocated space where you want to install Windows, best to format the drive once and then install Windows on it. Click Next to proceed.
- The setup tool will start unwrapping the files, which only takes a few minutes to install completely.
Do I need to reinstall Windows after replacing the hard drive?
Not necessarily; if you back up your Windows files on a separate drive before the replacement, you can easily use Windows on your new drive without any installation. Windows does a pretty nifty job of reconfiguring itself on the new drive, provided you’ve created a backup of the old files correctly.
While you’re at it, try using a secondary drive – an external hard drive, a pen drive, etc. for the backup. Make sure to keep at least 8GB of space so that you can copy all the files required for the reconfiguration.
In my opinion, this article has all the information to tackle your question – how to install Windows after replacing the hard drive. Here’s a quick summary – you learned about the different approaches to using Windows with and without installing it. I tried to introduce you to some smart tools that should help you to speed up the installation process.
More so, if you want all your programs to be backed up and ready for use in your new hard drive, then there is another fast and safe option called Hard Drive Cloning.
And besides, at the end of it all, it all boils down to the user choosing the best hard disk replacement method based on your comfort level with the tools.