How can I clone Windows to work on a new computer?

Mick Coder June 17, 2011

Why does Microsoft make it so confounding to migrate a good operating system on a good hard drive from a dead PC to a new, but different one? I’d understand if just some of the drivers didn’t work, but it won’t mount the system at all. Does Sysprep make it easy or is that wrought with limitations?

  1. Anomaly
    June 25, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    This one area Mac and Linux beat Windows big time. I have moved Mac and Linux installs to new machines no problem.  Cloning a Windows install and restoring it to the same machine is very easy but Microsoft purposely makes it almost impossible to move the clone to a new machine.

    Macrium Reflect is an excellent cloning program for Windows. The paid version has a feature that will move your image to new hardware. The feature is called Macrium Redeploy. Here is a link to an article on how this feature works.

    June 18, 2011 at 3:58 am

    Hello, sysprep could make it very easy but it is better suited for big migrations.  It works based on an image that you can create yourself after you have your system installed the way you want it and then you move it to a network drive or server....only caveat is that it works better if all the computers where you are installing the image have the same hardware configuration.  I guess you could try some third party utilities to move your system. 

    I recently used Paragon Drive Copy to move my complete operating system to an SSD drive and it worked pretty well and it took less than 2 minutes to accomplish the move.  It worked without a hitch and so far there has been no problems.  Here is the link:

    Also PCmover from Laplink produces good results.  Here is the link:

    There are a few choices for freeware software but as you can imagine, everyone of them has their pros and cons.  Here are a few choices:

  3. Joseph Gorman
    June 18, 2011 at 2:16 am

    If I understand correctly, you're asking if you can mount the hard drive from an old computer into another one to transfer data (it's nearly impossible to "clone" a Windows installation, especially if you are moving to a different hardware configuration). The easiest way to do this, especially if your "dead" PC was older and uses a different interface than your new PC, is to find the type of hard drive you have (simply google the model number found on the drive, some drives even say the type on it) and find an enclosure that matches it (example:, you can pay a little more and get a pop-in enclosure rather than one where you have to screw the drive in). Simply install the drive in the enclosure and treat it like you would an external hard drive.

  4. Mike
    June 17, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    The problem with cloning to a new computer is that
    1. not all drivers for the new system might be available
    2. Windows uses unique identifiers for drives which will change on a new system
    3. depending on the new Hardware and settings (SATA/RAID settings within BIOS or EFI) the old Windows installation is not able to access the SATA Controller and therefor the Hard Drive

    For example it's very difficult, sometimes almost impossible to switch your SATA Controllers mode from "IDE Mode" to "AHCI/RAID Mode" after Windows was installed.

    The same problematics along with others happen if you clone or even use an old installation with a new Hardware.

  5. Tina
    June 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm


    which version of Windows are you trying to clone? Did you try to connect the system hard drive from the old computer to the new one as primary hard drive? What exactly are the issues you are experiencing?