How to restore a Windows 10 system image to an existing or larger storage device

Technical Level : Intermediate

Summary

Since Windows Vista Microsoft included a system imaging utility that makes it easy to backup your entire computer, which you can then use to restore in case of system failure, move to a larger hard disk or simply to have a working state of your computer just in case. As noted, a system image is an exact replica of your hard disk, down to the partition layout. Depending on how large your Windows 10 installation is, it can use a lot of space, so you should invest in an external USB hard disk with a lot of space. In this article, we take a look restoring the system image on a larger hard disk. This makes it quite convenient if you somehow outgrow your current storage allotment.


Details

First, check out the following article how to create a system image here.

Once you have your backup ready, you can proceed to shutdown the system, install your hard disk or restart and boot from the recovery drive or Windows 10 bootable media. If you don’t bootable Windows 10 media, see the following article for instructions:

How to download official Windows 10 ISO files

To learn how to change your BIOS options to boot from the DVD drive, see the following tutorial:

http://notebooks.com/2011/05/05/how-to-load-bios-and-change-boot-configuration/

Once your computer is set to boot from the DVD, you should see this option.

If you are installing from a thumb drive, see the following instructions how to prepare your computer to boot from one:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-NZ/windows7/Start-your-computer-from-a-Windows-7-installation-disc-or-USB-flash-drive

The Windows logo will appear on screen, this might be here for a while, as long as you see the indicater, everything should be ok.

Click Next

Click Repair your computer

Click Troubleshoot

Click System Image Recovery

Make sure your external hard disk where the system image is located is connected and turned on.

System Image will select the latest system image, if you would rather restore another image, select the Select a system image radio box and click Next and follow the on screen instructions to select an available system image.

System Image will format and repartition your hard disk, if you have partitions or other attached storage you would to exclude, click the Exclude disks... button and do so then click Next

Click Finish to begin

One final warning before the restoration begins. Click Yes to continue.

Wait wait while the restoration takes place. This can take some time.

When complete, your computer will restart automatically or you can do so right away.

Reclaim unallocated disk space if necessary

If you restorage a system image on a hard disk or SSD that is larger than the one it replaced, then you will have unallocated disk space to reclaim because the system image restored according to its known partition layout.

Press Windows key + X or right click the Start button and click Disk Management

You will notice there is a unallocated partition, this is what you need to reclaim. To do so, right click the Local disk where Windows 10 is installed, usually C:\ and click Extend Volume...

Click Next

Click Next (make sure the unallocated partition is actually selected).

Click Finish , you should now see a single disk partition for your Local disk in Disk Management with reclaimed space.

Related:

 

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Last updated November 15, 2019 Views 139,389 Applies to:

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Thanks Andre,

This is an excellent tutorial. I have a hybrid laptop that came with a 120 GB SSD for main drive and although I installed new programs on D:, it still put some on C: and I was constantly out of space. I followed this tutorial and restored my system from disk image to the new 250 GB SSD. I just have a couple remarks to make concerning the procedure:

1. I had to create and use a recovery thumb drive. (Tried to use new install of Win 10 from same external drive and did not work.) 

2. I performed the restore from image but laptop started with system repair so I had to shut down completely and then power up and it straightened itself out. However, Windows system image put a 499 MB partition at end of original C: that prevented extending to rest of drive, additional 125GB.

3. Followed Tracy King's tutorial, found here, on using disk part to delete that partition.

4. Then I simply extended the volume as provided in this tutorial.

Thanks again! 

That is all fine and wonderful, but my image restored with a 450MB recovery partition between my primary partition and my unallocated space.  The option to extend my system volume and reclaim the extra 118 GB of space in my larger drive is not available.  Any ideas how to fix this?

It is dead-bang simple to move the backup partition to the end of the filesystem with AOMEI Partition Assistant (standard - free). Just install it [https://www.disk-partition.com/] and run it, and

(1) click the backup partition that is between your original Windows partition and the new Unallocated Space of your new disk,

(2) click Move/Resize (top entry of bottom-left block of commands),

(3) simply click on the partition in the diagram that appears and drag the partition all the way to the right (end) and click OK, then Apply -- done.

Now go into disk management as usual, the Unallocated Space will be adjacent to your original partition, so just right-click your original partition and choose Extend... and you are done. Enjoy.

Problem: when the re-image begins, an error 0x80042412 is reported in a dialogue box. "No disk that can be used for recovering the system disk can be found." I double checked the drive and volume with diskpart. All is correct i.e. "C" defaults. The drive is not excluded. Ideas?

Solved: performed clean on the target partition and the re-image was successful.

Yeah this didn't work.  I got to the step where it recognized my backup image and clicked next.  The next screen basically was forcing me to create a system restore disc (even though I'm running Windows 10 and already booted into the setup using a USB-based restore disk).  It wants me to create a CD version.  I put in a blank CD into the drive to create it but it just gives me an error like "failed to create restore disc" IMMEDIATELY after clicking the next button (doesn't even try to spin up the drive).  

No idea if it even got that far if I would have the same problem as everyone else is having with unallocated disc space being in the middle of the drive.  This is crap.  If I have to reinstall Windows again I'm switching to Macbook.  

Hi, if you dont mind you can always create a second usable partition, like what you would do with a secondary hard drive. you would just have to make sure that when installing a program its being installed onto that partition
This article was the only one that actually gave me the answers I was looking for and explained it perfectly.  Thank you.

That is all fine and wonderful, but my image restored with a 450MB recovery partition between my primary partition and my unallocated space.  The option to extend my system volume and reclaim the extra 118 GB of space in my larger drive is not available.  Any ideas how to fix this?

Great tutorial. I'm just missing some intermediate steps. For example, I've 3 SSDs in my desktop, each of them with a different build of Windows 10. One is the standard version, the other two are Insider versions, one Slow and one Fast. Well I want to restore an image of my standard version. The issue is that, at a certain point, it asks which Volume with Windows 10 is my target, the one I want to restore to. I know which SSD is where (S0, S1, P1) and which Disk(1, 2 etc.) But I've no idea which Volume any of them is. Help?
what if you are trying to move windows 10 and all the Lenovo software to a smaller sized SSD drive?  Will this work?
Mine just kept reinstalling it on my current SSD rather than my m.2 SSD i want to install on? 

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