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I have an issue which has been driving me mad. I am trying to restore an image of a Windows 7 partition made with Windows Backup to a different hard disk drive (the original drive is failing) but in the System Recovery disk I always get the error "No disk that can be used for recording the system disk can be found".

The original drive was a 500GB non-SSD drive partitioned into a 40GB system partition and a 460GB data partition. I created a system image of the 40GB partition (so C: and the System Reserved parstition) using the built-in Windows Backup utility to an external USB drive. I the disconnected the original drive and installed a 180GB SSD in the system.

When I run the System Recovery Disk, everything seems fine: the utility can see the backup and my new SSD drive is listed in the Excluded drives dialogue (but not checked) and then when it comes to actually write back to the new disk I get the error.

So far I have tried creating a partition on the new SSD and running the CLEAN command on the SSD disk using DiskPart from the command line options.

There are lots of instances on the web of people getting this behaviour but none of the solutions are working for me. I'm posting here as I hope someone can actually explain WHY it is failing. My suspicion is that because the source HDD is bigger than the target HDD, even though the source partition is smaller than the target partition, System Recovery is refusing to restore.

I would have thought that people restoring from an old failed hard drive to a new one would be a common operation and should be allowed by the utility.

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did you align the SSD and define an active partition on it? – Logman Apr 21 '13 at 19:44
I did not. I had assumed that System Restore would sort that out. It seems a bit of a complex step for most users. Would the alignment actually prevent Windows from restoring to the disk though? – takesides Apr 21 '13 at 21:49
that error usually means your new hd/ssd/partition is not big enough to hold the image. Do you have more hds/ssd/partitions? I was thinking maybe it was trying to restore the image on the wrong partition/hd/ssd..... help with aligning can be found here:… – Logman Apr 21 '13 at 23:42
Yes, it is done all the time, but rarely do I read about people doing it with the windows utility, expert and consumer alike they are more likely to be using a 3rd party cloning utility, that addresses all the possible issues and problems, and provides more user oriented information when there is a problem. – Psycogeek Apr 22 '13 at 0:32
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Looks like what I wanted was not possible through the standard Windows backup utility. In the end I used Macrium Reflect ( and once installed, it took me less than half an hour to get the whole thing moved across to an SSD.

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Instead of the Windows utility try partedmagic. You download and burn an ISO to a blank CD boot from it and you should be able to delete whatever is on the new drive now. Then copy and paste the partitions you want from the old hard drive to the new one. After you apply the changes, go back and manage flags and make the bootable partition bootable on the new hard drive.

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I was able to get this to work only after I converted the new disk to GPT and Dynamic. These modes are new to me (i've only been using PCs since '82 ;-)), but they seem to be needed and not implemented automatically by the Restore. Use Diskpart Convert to do this. I think you can check the modes of your old disk to know how to match the new one. You'll need to reboot and restart WinRE.

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I finally found a solution. That worked for me...
How to....
Restore your Windows 7 machine using a System Repair Disc and a backed up system image. -If you can’t boot into Windows because of a hard drive failure or corrupt OS, you might want to restore your system using the most recent image versus a clean install. In this scenario we are assuming that we’ve exhausted every other option, and the only way to save our system is to restore it from an image.
-Boot from System Repair Disc
-First we need to boot from the System Repair Disc. Pop it in your CD drive and if the BIOS is already set to boot from CD-ROM first, then you will see the following screen. If you don’t see the Press any key to boot from CD or DVD message, then you’ll need to hit the correct key when booting to pull up the boot options screen and choose your CD / DVD Drive. Usually it’s F12 but each system varies, for instance on my IBM Thinkpad it’s a separate Access IBM button.
-While the System Repair Disc starts up you will see the message Windows is loading files…
-After that the System Recovery Options screen comes up. Here you want to choose the correct keyboard input and click Next
-System Recovery searches for the Windows installation(s) you have on the hard drive.
-Assuming we’ve already tried all of the other recovery tools, we want to select Restore your computer using a system image you created earlier and click Next.
-At this screen you can see that it found the last system image which is saved on an external hard drive. If you want to use an older system image, click Select a system image then browse through older images until you find the correct one. Because we want everything to be as close to how it was before it crashed, we select Use the latest available system image (recommended) then click Next.
-In the next screen just click on Next…there are no other partitions in this instance so we don’t need to worry about excluding disks.
-Finally you’re given an quick overview of the selected image and if everything looks right, click Finish.Click Yes to the warning message that comes up making sure you want to restore the computer with the selected image.
-The restore process will begin. It might take a few hours to restore everything depending on the size of the image and how much data there is. Provided there are no errors and the process completes successfully, your system will restart and the system should be restored.
There are a few things to keep in mind when you restore using a system image. An image is an exact copy the hard drive when it was created, so if your last backup was 3 months ago…that will be the drive you’re getting back. All of your programs, system settings, and files are replaced to how they were on the latest system image. It doesn’t allow you to choose individual items to restore, it’s an all or nothing process. This is why it’s a good idea to have your important documents and files saved to a separate drive or network location. The system image will restore your programs, settings, and files as they were when the image was created, but everything else from that point on will be gone. Depending on the date of the system image, allow enough time to run Windows Update, update drivers, patch other software, and tweak everything as necessary. The option to create a system image is available in all versions of Windows 7, and is a great insurance policy to have in case disaster strikes.
- You can use the Windows install CD instead of a repair disk.
Make sure to read this and other related articles:

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Please quote the essential parts of the answer from the reference link(s), as the answer can become invalid if the linked page(s) change. – DavidPostill Jul 5 at 20:36

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