Windows 7 System Image restore to smaller ssd

Hi all.  Just wanted to share this guide on how to backup windows 7 installation to an external drive and restore the system image to a smaller SSD Drive using nothing but free tools and only 1 non Microsoft tool.


Windows 7 System Recorvery CD.
Gparted Live CD - available at sourceforge

Before doing anything backup the existing drive using the Windows System Image Backup.  This is pretty basic and here are the instructions:

Now that you have the backup shrink the Windows installation partition (System Reserved partition + Free Space INCLUDED must fit on target SSD).

Shrinking the Windows 7 Partition to fit the target SSD:

Right click My Computer > Select Manage > Click Disk Management > Right click the windows installation partition (usually C:) > Select "Shrink" > select the max allowed by Windows.  After it finishes check to see if that partition along with the system reserved partition fits under the size of the target SSD.  In my case I tried using Windows Disk Management but it would not shrink past 100 GB even though there was plenty of free space and that was larger than the 64 GB ssd drive I wanted to restore to.

Shrinking Windows 7 Partition with GParted Live CD if above fails:

Restart the computer with the Live CD.

Just hit "Enter" on all the prompts to select the Default Options or, if needed, change some options to work with your hardware.  The Live CD will boot up with GParted already running.  Right Click the Windows Installation partition.  Select "Resize/Move" > Click the Right edge of the partition and move to the left to shrink it until it fits the target SSD. Click "Resize/Move" once you've set the desired size. Click the "Apply" button. Click the "apply" button once again at the warning pop up screen.  Wait while the partition re-sizes.  In my case it was about 12 minutes.  You should see "0 operations pending" on the bottom of the Gparted application window.  Once it finishes double click the "Exit" icon on the desktop.  Select "Reboot."  Remove the Live CD and press "Enter."

When restarting you will most likely see a Windows 7 disk check screen.  Let it finish checking.  
Once rebooted into the Windows 7 desktop with the desired partition size run another System Image Backup this time with the desired partition size.  Place the Windows 7 System Image Restore CD and shutdown.  Unplug the power cord from the back of the computer.

Install the SSD drive.  Restart with the Windows System Image Restore CD.

Then follow these steps.

Unfortunately you will probably get a message that the system image cannot find a suitable disk.  In that case you will be thrown to some more recovery options one of which is the command prompt.  Launch the command prompt.  In the command prompt type in 


At the diskpart prompt type 

select disk=0 


detail disk

to make sure that it is the SSD drive you have selected.

Now type 




I had to reboot the computer because without the reboot I still couldn't restore the system image.

Now repeat the system image restore procedure.  In case you forgot:

At this point the windows 7 system image restore worked!!

After rebooting Windows 7 on SSD turn on trim if supported.

Click the Start button and type


Right click the CMD and run as administrator

check to see if Trim is enabled

fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify  (credit


fsutil behavior set disabledeletenotify 0

to enable Trim.



Thank you for sharing the information.

It would help others to create how to backup windows 7 installation to an external drive and restore the system image to a smaller SSD Drive.


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Question Info

Last updated July 6, 2020 Views 30,781 Applies to: