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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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