Restore A System Image Backup to Computer with Dissimilar Hardware

Posted by @AOMEI

July 4, 2017

Learn how to restore a system state backup from one computer to another with dissimilar hardware, such as different make, model, or configuration. AOMEI universal restore function is an ideal solution to ensure that the system boots successfully after the restore process.

Possible Dissimilar Hardware Restore Scenarios

Transfer well-adjusted and stable OS

Most of the users are in a situation: "how do I transfer my well-adjusted and smoothly running OS, including all applications to a new computer with different hardware configuration?" Normal attempts are moving the system disk from old computer to the new one. However, after starting up the new computer, you may experience the blue screen of death (BSOD) with stop error messages as follows: Stop 0x0000007B Inaccessible_Boot_Device. This is because of drivers problems.

In this scenario, you can transfer OS by creating a bare metal system image backup on your current computer. And then restore Windows image to another computer with dissimilar hardware through bootable media.

Deploy the same operating system to many computers

Many companies are looking at upgrading their operating systems on a large scale, or they buy a batch of new computers and want to install a specially configured, unique combination of software and operating system. As an enterprise systems administrator, you may know many ways to install operating systems to new computers, or bare metal machine. If all computers are built with the same hardware, hard drive cloning software can save you a lot of effort. However, if all computers are built with dissimilar hardware, such as different motherboard, or CPU, how do you do?

In this scenario, you can make a master system image on source computer and save it to NAS/network. And then deploy operating system to all of the destination computers with dissimilar hardware restore through PXE network booting.

Instant disaster recovery in case of system hardware failures

The importance of running any business is making sure that all systems are working smoothly and always available. If systems suffer a software or hardware failure, it is important to minimize machine downtime. In that case, you can perform a bare metal recovery to different hardware.

Besides, dissimilar hardware restore also applies to the scenarios as follows: physical-to-virtual (P2V) and virtual-to-physical (V2P) migration, upgrade computer hardware before old one dies, and so on.

How to Do Dissimilar Hardware Restore with AOMEI Backupper?

AOMEI Dissimilar Hardware/Universal Restore feature allows you to restore a system image backup created on one computer to another with different hardware. With all the preparations completed, the steps for dissimilar hardware restore are easy and straightforward. AOMEI Backupper supports any version of Windows 10, Windows 8.1/8, Windows 7, Vista, XP, and Windows Server 2003, 2008(R2), 2012(R2), 2016.

Before you do:

  • Make sure you have prepared a system image backup and know where it is saved. If not, please create a system image. We suggest you save the system image to a NAS/network, which will be very convenient for restoration and cost-saving when restoring multiple computers. An external hard drive, a CD/DVD, or a USB flash drive is also available.
  • To perform dissimilar hardware restore, firstly you need to start up destination computers. AOMEI Backupper integrates PXE Boot Tool, which allows you to simultaneously start up multiple client computers within LAN through the network booting. If you wouldn’t like to use PXE network booting, please make a bootable CD or USB in advance.

With all the preparations completed, the steps for dissimilar hardware restore are easy and straightforward.

Step 1: Start up destination computers. As mentioned above, there are two ways to boot destination computers for system restore. One is PXE network booting, the other is bootable media. No matter which way you choose, the dissimilar hardware restore process is same. Here take PXE network booting for example.

Tips: If you are not familiar with PXE boot, please learn how to use bootable media to perform dissimilar hardware restore.

PXE Network Booting

Step 2: Find a system image. After the destination computers boot into recovery environment (here is Windows PE), AOMEI Backupper will pop up automatically. Then, click "Restore" tab -> Path "Browse a path to select…" to find the system image you created.

Browse System Backup

In this example, the system image is stored on NAS/network. Click "Share/NAS" and input the necessary information. At last, click "OK" to continue.

System Backup Image on NAS

Step 3: Choose a backup point and click "Next".

Restore System Image

Step 4: Select a destination location to restore system image and click "Next".

Select Disk

Step 5: Now you can preview the restore operation. There are three options in the lower left corner. The "Universal Restore" option is ticked by default. Do not untick it if you restore a system image to dissimilar hardware. Click "Start Restore" to perform dissimilar hardware restore.

Universal Restore


  • Some drivers, such as video/sound card drivers, NIC drivers, display driver etc, are not installed by AOMEI Universal Restore, as they don't affect system startup and can be installed manually in Windows after the successful restore.
  • When you finish restoring a Windows system installation to a computer with different hardware, Microsoft Windows and third-party software may ask you to reactivate or even input a second registration code. It is a good practice for you to be well aware of your software vendor's license agreement in advance.