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My laptop came with Windows 7, probably 6+ years ago. Since then I did the free upgrade to Windows 10. However, the current HDD has a SMART Drive Error. Which, honestly, doesn't seem to affect it at all except for it reminding me every time I boot it up. I haven't been saving anything important on there in case it does blow, though.

Today, I bought a new HDD for it which is completely blank (no bootable device -- insert boot disk). I don't really care about any of the files on the old HDD, just the operating system. Unfortunately, I need a disk to boot from to install an OS onto the new HDD. I have no Windows 10 disks, and have long lost the Windows 7 disks (if it even came with any). It seems Microsoft has discontinued their free upgrade program, so I can't find an ISO of 10 anywhere.

I've searched for tools that can migrate the bad disk over to the good one, but all the ones I have found require both disks being connected at the same time. My laptop only supports connecting a single HDD.

I have a 32gb flash drive I bought to put the ISO on and boot from, but that's hard to do without an ISO.

I've seen some comments various places talking about creating system restores/image backups, but I'm not sure how any of that works and can't seem to find a simplistic guide in doing so that enables me to boot and install an OS.

What are my options here? I don't care about files from the old HDD. All I want is to install Windows 10 on my new HDD, preferably without paying for what I already had.

marked as duplicate by Ramhound, JakeGould, Dave M, music2myear, G-Man Jun 2 '18 at 7:45

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • As mentioned, I can't seem to find a Windows 10 ISO anywhere. Would you be kind enough to point me towards one? The Microsoft site only has upgrade executables for existing Windows 10 users, and I'm not interested in an unsigned/pirated copy. – Mr Awesome8 May 19 '18 at 1:37
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    Every single option, outlined here, is directly or indirectly from Microsoft and a hundred thousand percent legal. – Ramhound May 19 '18 at 1:39
  • I put the Windows 10 ISO I downloaded from your link onto a USB via these instructions: docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server-essentials/install/…. Now when I boot it says "An operating system wasn't found. Try disconnecting any drives that don't contain an operating system." Even with removing the HDD I get this error. This happens despite going into startup options and selecting the USB to boot from. Is this an issue with the ISO image, or something else? – Mr Awesome8 May 19 '18 at 2:20
  • Those instructions are not applicable to a Windows 10 ISO – Ramhound May 19 '18 at 2:25
  • I downloaded Windows 10 Version 1607, Redstone1 [Jul2016]. I just used the server link for instructions on how to create a bootable USB. – Mr Awesome8 May 19 '18 at 2:26
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Download Windows 10 ISO

  1. Visit TechBench.
  2. Choose ISO

    2a. Type - Windows (Final)

    2b. Version - Windows 10, Version 1803 - Redstone 4 [Apr 2018] (build 17134.1)

    2c. Edition - Windows 10

    2d. Language - English

    2e. File - Win10_1803_English_x64.iso

Mounting Drive

  1. Download Rufus 2.18.
  2. Select your USB (must be at least 8gb for x64, 4gb for x32).
  3. Under Format Options > Create a bootable disk using > ISO Image > Click icon and point it to the ISO you just downloaded. You can leave other options as default. Click Start.

Installing Windows on new HDD

  1. Plug the USB you just formatted into the computer with the new HDD (or swap hard disks).
  2. Boot it up and go to Startup Options (ESC key for me).
  3. Tell the BIOS to boot from your USB.
  4. Follow on-screen instructions for installation. I had to choose I did not have a product key and then chose Advanced Setup.


Your HDD Should be all set with Windows 10. I used a separate computer to format the USB and get the ISO, but this process can also work if you have a single computer with a hard disk that still works. You just have to swap the disks.

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