How to install Windows 10 on another drive?

October 24, 2019 |

greater than 14 minutes

If you upgraded your PC by replacing its hard disk drive (HDD) with a solid state drive (SSD), then it makes sense that you want to move your operating system (and all its important data) to the new drive. This way, you get a significant performance boost.

Unfortunately, Windows 10 does not provide users with a standard migration setup or function through which they get to move their operating system installations. In other words, if you want to move your Windows 10 installation to a new drive, you will have to do the job through manual procedures.

Well, in this guide, we intend to show you how to install Windows 10 on a second drive. If you are here to learn

how to install clean Windows 10 on a new hard drive

or a new SSD, then you are also likely to find the descriptions of the procedures here incredibly useful.

How to move Windows 10 to a new SSD or HDD

You have to perform certain tasks in this order.

  1. Prepare your computer for the installation:

We recommend you clean out your files first before you start copying and moving stuff. This way, your data gets structured in a way that ensures the transitions go as quickly and smoothly as possible. You can employ the Disk Cleanup tool built into Windows 10 to do the job there.

Go through these steps to use the Disk Cleanup utility for your system drive:

  • Tap the Windows logo button on your machine’s keyboard to see the Windows Start menu (or click on the Windows icon on your desktop for the same result).

Input Disk into the text box that shows up the moment you start to type. Once Disk Cleanup (App) emerges as the main entry on the search results returned, you must click on it to launch the needed application.

  • Assuming the Disk Cleanup for (C:) window is now on your screen, you have to tick the checkboxes for the items or categories you want Windows to work on.

Ideally, you should select all the file types on the list. You might want to double-check the options, though, just in case there is something you would prefer that Windows left alone.

  • Click on the Clean up system files button.

Here, you have just given Windows the go-ahead to remove some additional file types, some of which might include your previous Windows installations. If you are on the Windows 10 Insider program, then that category will be quite sizable.

  • Click on the OK button.
  • You might have to click on the appropriate button to affirm things – if a prompt or dialog box comes up.

Eventually, Windows will work to identify and gather junk and other redundant or irrelevant files on your computer and then get rid of them. The process should not take long, even if the Disk Cleanup tool has to go through several gigabytes of data.

  1. Choose the migration utility:

We already stated that Windows does not offer users any function or setup through which they can clone or migrate their operating system over to a new hard disk drive or solid state drive. If you really want to move your Windows installation, then you have to use special programs.

Several third-party programs can help you do the job. You can search online (on the web) for them and go through reviews and user experiences on their usage. You are likely to find a utility that suits your needs. Once you have chosen one from the lot, you have to download and install it.

Before you start using the tool to move your Windows installation, you might want to back up your files now. Most migration utilities are equipped with a backup function through which users get to copy their most important files to a safe location. Your migration tool should have it. You have to locate it and try to use it. You will have to select where you want the program to back up your files.

For obvious reasons, we are against you backing up your data on the hard drive you intend to use for the migration. Ideally, you should use a reliable external drive, or you can specify a cloud service for uploads. You might want to take your time to complete the backup process before you move on to the actual migration task.

  1. Select your destination hard drive:

Well, this is where the major work starts. Go through the steps below:

  • First, you have to connect your new hard drive to your computer. Or you might have to connect your old drive to your machine. It all depends on how or why you are migrating.

You can connect the second drive through different methods. Many users use SATA cables, most of which are flat and red. SATA connectors tend to have an L-shaped bend at one end.

  • You will have to find a free slot on your motherboard into which the drive must be plugged. A spare power cable (drawing energy from your power supply) should be made available too.
  • Here, assuming you are done with the connection setup, you must return to your computer and launch the migration utility you chose earlier.
  • In the application’s main menu, you must check for Migrate OS to SSD/HDD or Clone or any similar option.

Of course, you know what you are looking to achieve here, so you must determine the correct option for the job.

  • At this stage, the program is supposed to ask you to specify a destination drive for the migration or cloning. Choose your new SSD or HDD or the second drive as the destination.

You must also ensure that the destination drive has enough space for what you intend to do. Anyway, the migration utility is likely to bring up a window where the drives connected to your computer are displayed. Some useful information – about the data on each drive, their size, and so on – should be provided too.

  • Once you have selected the drive and made peace with the process there, you have to click on the Next or Proceed button to move on.
  1. Adjust the partition sizing:

There are hardly any Windows installation or operating system migration events where partitions do not come into play. Fortunately, the migration tool you chose is likely to offer you some options to adjust or customize the partitions on the drive you are using.

If the drive to which you intend to move your Windows installation has been used before or if the drive has been configured to work out of the box with a machine that differs from yours, then you have to delete the partitions on it. The same thing goes for scenarios where you know nothing about the partitions on the drive. As a general rule, when you are not sure of things here, you should be better off deleting the partitions (just to be safe).

Go through these steps:

  • Assuming you are on the Partition screen on the migration utility program window, you have to choose how the partitions get sized after the migration takes place.

You might be thinking of making a copy without having to resize partitions, but we must warn you about that path. You will be making such a poor decision because the processes involved do not take advantage of the tool’s capabilities you have in your hands, especially when you can shape things so easily now.

You are better off choosing the option to fit and optimize partitions to the new drive. You must check for these terms as options: Optimize, Resize, and similar commands.

  • Choose the appropriate partition option or setup and then click on the Next or Proceed button.

The migration utility cloning wizard is now supposed to take charge and execute the necessary operations.

  • You might have to confirm certain prompts at different time intervals.
  • You have to pay attention to your drive and observe how the migration processes proceed.

The operation can take a while. Hopefully, your power cables are connected properly and the old drives on your machine have enough room or space to breathe. Overheating is one thing you must avoid here. If something goes wrong with any drive involved in the migration operation or if any important component in your computer develops a fault, you might end up having to abort everything.

  • At this point, assuming the processes have reached completion and the tasks have gone well, you have to restart your computer to finish things for good.

The migration tool is supposed to prompt you to restart your PC (in any case) or even perform the reboot operation on your behalf.

  • Here, after the recommended reboot, you must check and confirm that everything works. Verify that things are the way they are supposed to be.

ØSince you are done with the migration task, you can uninstall the utility you used – if you want nothing to do with it. Otherwise, you can keep it around for data management purposes.

How to install Windows 10 on a second hard drive;

How to install Windows 10 on another drive without a migration tool?

If you want to install Windows 10 on a second HDD or SSD (and not move your existing Windows installation) or if you want to install Windows 10 on a second drive (without troubling your first installation), then the procedure we are about to describe is for you. Of course, we believe you have your reasons for wanting to do things this way.

For example, you might want to test out a recently released version of Windows 10. Perhaps, you just want your computer to run a copy of Windows 10, which you can boot up after you plug in another drive. In any case, the goal you are looking to achieve seems closer to a regular installation of Windows 10 than a migration of Windows installation.

Here too, you have to perform the necessary tasks in this order.

  1. Prepare or create a new partition on the second HDD or SSD:

You can create a partition later on in the middle of the actual installation process, but we want you to do it now for obvious reasons. Fortunately, Windows 10 is equipped with a utility you can use to prepare a partition on the drive to install Windows 10.

Follow these instructions to do the job here:

  • First, you have to connect the second SSD or HDD (on which you intend to install Windows 10) to your computer.

Windows should detect its presence almost immediately – if everything is fine with the drive.

  • Here, you have to use the Windows logo button + letter X keyboard shortcut to bring up the applications and options that make up the Power User menu list and then select Computer Management.
  • Assuming you are now on the Computer Management window, you must look to the top-left corner, check for Storage on the list, and then click on Disk Management to launch the needed tool.
  • On the middle pane, you must check for the existing volume on the second drive (HDD or SSD). There, you must right-click on it to see some options and then choose Delete.

You have to remove all the volumes. You do not need them.

  • Now, with all the volumes gone and you having allocated storage (on the second HDD or SSD), you must right click on the drive to see its context menu and then create a simple volume.

Ideally, you should specify a size of at least 50GB for the primary partition. If you want to, you can create extended partitions with the remaining part of storage. In any case, if you performed the major task correctly, then your computer should be primed to install Windows 10.

  1. Create a Windows 10 Bootable USB or prepare a similar installation medium:

You have to perform the task here on your normal running computer. You might be familiar with the traditional Windows installation process where users have to download the Windows packages or ISO files, burn them to CDs using third-party applications, and then install Windows via DVD. These days, however, things are a lot easier – since users can take advantage of the Microsoft Media Creation Tool to prepare the installation media and get other things ready.

You are free to do things your own way, but we advise you use the Microsoft Media Creation Tool to do the job. In that case, here are the steps you must go through:

  • Open your web browser app. Once the application window comes up, you must fill the search box there with these words: Download Microsoft Media Creation Tool.

Hit the Enter key on your keyboard to perform the search task for the inputted query on Google.

  • Assuming you are now on the Google Search results page, you have to click on the first entry. You will be directed to the Download page for the Microsoft Media Creation Tool.

Do what you have to do to get the utility. You might have to specify certain parameters for your device, accept Microsoft software license terms, and so on.

  • Once your browser finishes fetching the tool from Microsoft servers, you must click or double-click on it to run it.

The Windows 10 Setup window will be displayed.

  • You might have to click on the appropriate button to confirm certain prompts and accept Microsoft software license terms again.
  • When you get to the What do you want to do? screen, you must click on the radio button for Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC to get this option selected.
  • Click on the Next button to proceed.
  • On the following screen, you get to specify your preferred language, Windows edition, and architecture. Click on the drop-down menu for the relevant parameters and make your choices known.

Otherwise, you can accept the recommended options.

  • Click on Next to continue.
  • At this point, you have to decide whether you want to create a Windows installation USB or extract the ISO file (and later burn it to a DVD on your own).

Of course, we want you to go with the former. Click on the radio button for USB flash drive.

  • Here, you have to specify the USB drive you intend to use for the job.

Ideally, before you select the drive, you must move or copy all your important files from it. The drive will be formatted during the process for the creation of the Windows installation media, so you must come to terms with losing everything on it.

  • Once you have chosen the drive and are ready to proceed, you must click on the Next button.

At this stage, the utility is supposed to connect to Microsoft servers and start fetching the Windows 10 installation package. The relevant Windows updates are likely to end up on the USB drive too.

If everything goes well, you will see a message stating your USB flash drive is ready.

  • Now, you can click on the Finish button to dismiss the window.
  1. Install Windows 10:

You are going to perform this task – where Windows 10 gets installed on the second drive – on your computer. All the work you did earlier has led you here. If you have the Windows 10 installation USB and everything ready, then things should go smoothly.

Go through these steps to install Windows 10 on the second drive:

  • Connect the second drive (on which you plan to install Windows 10) to your device. Verify that the connection is steady and stable.
  • Now, you must shut down your computer. Turn it on and then make it boot from the flash drive you connected (the Windows 10 installation USB).

You might have to enter your BIOS menu to make changes to its configuration. Typically, you have to press a button to get to the needed screen. You can do more research on the procedure online. Specific instructions for your device or computer model should be available on the web. Invariably, you might end up having to place the USB drive as the first item in the boot sequence in your BIOS for the time being.

  • Here, assuming you have gotten your computer to boot from the USB drive connected, you should see the first Windows screen with the logo. There, you have to specify the language for the Windows installation, time and currency format, and keyboard or input method.

You must click on the drop-down menu for those parameters to see the options available and then make the right choices. Go through the list carefully each time before you make a selection and double-check things.

  • Click on the Next button to move on. On the following screen, you are likely to see the Install now button, which you have to click on.

Otherwise, you will end up on the Activate Windows screen where you have to enter a license key. We believe you have one.

  • If you do not have a license key ready, then you have to click on the I don’t have a product key link.

Windows will allow you to skip the operating system activation phase for now, but you will be prompted to input the license key later.

  • Assuming you are now on the Applicable notices and license terms screen, you have to click on the box for the I accept the license terms parameter.

Of course, you are always free to read through the license terms and notes.

  • Click on the Next button.

If you have gotten to the Which type of installation do you want? screen, then you must know you are at a critical stage where the decision made can make or break the process or goal you are looking to achieve.

A brief explanation on the options might be in order here. If you want to just reinstall Windows 10 on a drive, then the upgrade option is fine. If you are looking to do a clean installation of Windows 10, then the custom option is what you must use.

  • You must choose the Custom: Install Windows only (advanced) option – since you are looking to install Windows on a second drive, which lacks an old Windows installation.
  • On the screen that follows, the tool will ask you to specify the location for the Windows 10 installation. You have to choose the second drive.

Since you have multiple drives connected, you must be careful to choose the right one. Otherwise, you might end up destroying your old Windows installation.

Multiple drives will be marked with numbers. For example, you should see Drive 0, Drive 1, and so on. Information on the drive sizes and storage space available will be provided too. In fact, those details should help you distinguish the drives somewhat.

If the required drive is already partitioned, then it should be good. You can choose it and proceed with the task. Otherwise, you might have to start deciding on the partitions and creating them.

We already provided a short guide on partitioning earlier, so you might want to scroll up and check it – if the second HDD or SSD is not ready. In any case, you can get away with deleting everything on the second drive, making the drive free or unallocated, and then choosing it as your location for the Windows 10 installation.

  • Once you are done with the selection on the partition screen, you have to click on the Next button to proceed.

Windows is now supposed to initiate the primary installation process. The installation operations are mostly executed automatically (without major input from you), but you will do well to keep an eye on the Windows Setup screen and watch how things play out.

If the tool encounters issues, then Windows will do its best to tell you what went wrong. You might have to redo certain tasks or make different choices and then try to install Windows 10 again. If solutions to the issues continue to elude you, then you might have to search online for fixes and apply them.

  1. Sign in to Windows 10 and finish things:

Once the installer finishes doing its job, your computer will be forced to boot into the clean Windows operating system environment. There are still some tasks left for you to perform, though.

Here are some of them:

  • You might have to give replies to certain questions on prompts or dialogs. You will have to sign in with your Microsoft account.
  • You might have to download and install Windows updates. You might be prompted to select the applications or features you want to use in Windows.

You get to decide on Cortana, for example.

  • Eventually, especially when you get to the Windows desktop, you might have to connect to a network.

Your computer likely needs your internet connection to perform certain tasks. It might try to search for and fetch Windows updates, drivers, and so on.

You can get Auslogics Driver Updater and let this program assist you with all the driver operations. It will scan your PC to figure out the drivers your computer is missing and then proceed to fetch and install the needed software.

  • Later, you can activate your Windows installation. You can also move your files and install the apps you use.

Well, your work is finally done.


If you decided to install Windows 10 on a second drive because you are having issues with the current (first) Windows installation on your computer, then you might be interested in Auslogics BoostSpeed. If there are any repairs or optimizations that can get your PC functioning better (or operations that can improve its state), then the recommended application will gladly help you perform (or execute) them.

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