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I have a 500GB drive which is about 50GB full. I got a 80GB SSD, which has 74.5GB of available space. I want to clone the system drive onto the SSD.

DriveImage XML will not let me copy a larger drive to a smaller one.

9 Answers 9

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You could use something like Gparted to resize the partition on the 500GB drive to a size that will fit on the SDD and then copy the partition from one drive to the other.

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    FWIW, GPARTED is very slow on NTFS partitions. If you have VISTA or Windows 7, it will most likely be much faster if you use the OS to resize the partition first - they can even resize your "C:" drive. Here's how: Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Computer Management -> Storage -> Disk Management the right click on partition and "Shrink Volume".
    – Adisak
    Commented Feb 26, 2010 at 23:50
  • Good to know. I generally don't use Windows machines so I was not aware of this.
    – JRT
    Commented Feb 28, 2010 at 0:55
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Symantec Ghost 2003 will clone larger drives to smaller drives if the data will fit.

However, if the drive is a Vista boot drive using NTFS, you will have to use your Windows Install or Repair disc to "repair" the drive in order for it to boot. This isn't because the clone operation failed. It's because if you change the size of the NTFS boot volume without updating some parameter in Vista, it believes the HD is corrupt. This is a simple procedure that marks the correct size and then your drive works as expected.

I have done this successfully several times -- the most recent was when I went from a 300GB Velociraptor drive to a 160 GB Intel SSD for my Vista boot drive.

UPDATE: For Windows 7, you can use a newer version of Ghost like 11.5 -- Also, you may need to use "-NTEXACT" if you want the drive to boot.

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  • Active@Disk will work too. BUT, be warned about the 100 MB system partition that Windows 7 and above use for booting. If you clone onto a smaller disk, your cloning software might shrink both partitions proportionally, and you could end up with a system partition that's 50 MB or smaller. That will cause Windows 10 to choke on some updates, such as the recent anniversary edition. This was an issue for my wife's computer recently. I had to re-clone her SSD back onto an older, bigger drive in order to complete the Windows update. Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 23:02
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Use GParted and Clonezilla.

If you have Norton Ghost available that is the way to go, because it will do everything automatically. However, if you do not want to spend the money go with the GParted/ Clonezilla option, the way it works is like this:

  1. Use GParted to resize the source drive
  2. Boot the resized source drive so that the operating system in it can check for any possible filesystem errors.
  3. Use clonezilla to clone the drive

Read this article - it has everything step-by-step:

http://geekyprojects.com/storage/how-to-clone-hard-drive-to-smaller-drive/

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Symantec Ghost (Ghost32.exe v11/2003) will do it, as long as the used space doesn't exceed the space available on the target volume.

Go to Local > Disk > To Disk, select source and destination drive and let it work its magic.

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    Will the latest one do it also? Or does it have to be specifically the 2003 edition?
    – user11955
    Commented Feb 26, 2010 at 21:47
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    @yegor - there are 2 different versions of Ghost, the one i'm talking about is the 'real' ghost software, their consumer product is also called Ghost but totally unrelated, different software in fact, based on PowerQuest Drive Image which was purchased by Symantec a few years ago, the latest version of the 'real' Ghost software is included in the Ghost Solution Suite, AFAIK.
    – Molly7244
    Commented Feb 26, 2010 at 22:24
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While the majority of solutions I found on the Internet recommend to use Gparted and Clonezilla in a multi-step process, I found a Windows based one-stop solution called EaseUS Todo Backup Free (http://www.todo-backup.com/products/home/download.htm) that did the job for me very well. It can clone a disk with multiple partitions, resize the partitions on the fly and even has some "Optimize for SSD" function (whatever that does).

I copied a 1 TB HD with 4 partitions to a 512 GB SSD and could boot from the SSD instantaneously. The only thing that happened after the transfer was the fact that Windows recognized the new hardware after the first boot and asked to reboot once. After that the system worked like a charm.

Be warned though: While the "Clone Disk" function of EaseUS TBF worked perfectly, I was not so lucky with the "Clone Partition" function. Trying to clone the first partition of a disk only resulted in a non-bootable SSD, probably due to a corrupt MBR or partition table. But as long as you want to clone whole disks, this software seems to be great.

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  • For me, when I tried this, I installed it on the source drive, then in ToDoBackup's "Clone" procedure, I selected the source drive (and could see the destination drive) but when I go to select the target the destination drive was not available. This isn't working.
    – bgmCoder
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 19:06
  • Cloning is not free anymore. Commented Nov 10, 2021 at 21:04
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  1. Roadkils Raw Copy - large to small disc = HDD....
  2. EG: System OS or info HDD is the large disc and the small disc are attached as slaves = meaning as static non-OS HDDs plugged into non primary HDD ports on a mobo that has a 3rd HDD with OS to use with Rawcopy installed & ready to use....
  3. The GUI = Graphical User Interface is Source to Destination - Set this and proceed, when you see the progress readout with no errors it is still copying all info and the empty space,- Next is important!....
  4. Next you will shortly or eventually see ERRORS and this is OK and will continually log many errors, So, Cancel the copy procedure when you see the error count rising, your disc is ready or almost ready.... A Win7 clone requires the install disk to repair the Win7 clone HDD and works nicely 9 out of 10 times....

    I prefer XP for cloning or doing Raw Copying - which is bit for bit copies.... When copying an XP HDD I have found it useful to activate the disc in the management console under disk-management, then close the management console, then one more unusual step after activation of the cloned partition - IS TO shut the power off to the computer not a proper shutdown......... Tho a proper shutdown usually is fine - it seem like the shutdown process marks it as a non primary disc or something similar, this may be due to the service pack edition of the OS ?......

    Rawcopy is great for data recovery on corrupted discs due to it's ability to just keep copying anyway.

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  • I tried this: I booted my laptop from a usb boot disk which ran it's own Windows7. I attached an external HDD via a USB drive bay dock. Then I used roadkil's RawCopy to copy a 750GB disk (with only 80GB data) to a 32GB disk. RawCopy worked all night without a single error. In the morning I took a look at the disk and Windows tells me it needs to be formatted and is unreadable.
    – bgmCoder
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 13:31
  • When I look at the disk in Windows Disk Management there are no partitions on it at all. I don't know what RawCopy did, but it sure didn't clone the original drive to the new one.
    – bgmCoder
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 13:50
  • I think that RawCopy is only really good for copying data like files and such - you can't clone a drive with it: roadkil.net/program.php/P22/Raw%20Copy
    – bgmCoder
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 13:57
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You could shrink the partition before cloning it.

Modern versions of Windows will allow you to shrink NTFS partitions directly using Disk Management (diskmgmt.msc). See e.g. https://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/resize-a-partition-for-free-in-windows-vista/.

You just have to right-click the drive, select "Shrink Volume...", and enter how many megabytes you want to remove from the size. It even allows you to shrink an active C:\ partition.

Disk Management - shrink volume

In situations like these, given NTFS isn't an officially open standard, I would tend to put more trust in Windows utilities than in third-party reimplementations like in GParted.

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I would use PartedMagic as it puts all this stuff together in an extremely easy-to-use BootCD/USB, including CloneZilla and GParted. The advantage is that you don't have to restart so much to use different packages, it really does make the whole deal a lot faster. In terms of process I would resize the partition using GParted, then just clone the thing using CloneZilla with the option to ignore drive size enabled. The other thing I found nice about PartedMagic is the drives always show up with their descriptors (eg. Toshiba EAV-2323 or what have you) by default, which makes identifying drives and not screwing up the source drive much less likely.

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    Why use partedmagic instead of just downloading gparted and/or clonezilla separately?
    – nhinkle
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 7:10
  • I answered that in my answer. If you want the free version of Partedmagic it's here: www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/parted_magic.html Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 8:39
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As of january 2023 it is impossible to do so using cloning software (working method on the bottom).

I tried to clone a larger HDD (930 GB, 180 GB occupied) to a smaller SSD (465 GB) preserving the OS (Win 10) and it didn't work. Simple sector copy (DMDE, Clonezilla) results in bad partition table that OS doesn't fix on startup and Windows Installation Media (WIM) doesn't fix it by any method. Cloning the drive using other software that scales the partitions (EaseUS Partition Master, DiskGenius) also results in error 0xc00000e.

In WIM I tried to fix the partition table using command line:

bootrec /fixmbr
bootrec /fixboot
bootsect /nt60 sys
bootrec /fixboot
bootrec /rebuildbcd

And then using diskpart tool:

diskpart
list disk
select disk 0
online disk
exit

Without intended results.

The workaround for me was to use WIM on bootable USB to install new Windows. Old installation is then stored in Windows.old folder and You can simply copy all the files from personal folders as Documents, Photos, Downloads etc., without settings though. Maybe saving the settings to online Microsoft account would let to migrate it but I didn't want to use it. Luckily by this method Windows didn't ask me for license key as it detected it from the old installation.

Working method:

  1. It requires a temporary drive of size at least of data on the main drive
  2. Control panel
  3. "Backup and restore (Windows 7)"
  4. "Create a system image"
  5. "On a hard disk" (use the temporary disk) > "Next" > "Start backup"
  6. Run WIM on bootable USB and restore the OS from image to the new disk

To create a bootable USB stick with WIM:

  1. Download WIM from Microsoft website.
  2. Put in the pendrive to the USB port (Windows takes up around 5 GB)
  3. Format it
  4. Run Media Creation Tool (I use MediaCreationTool22H2.exe), it will download Windows and set it up on the stick

You may step upon an error 0x8000072f8f if You're using Windows 7. It is because Win7 by default has TLS 1.0 and Win10 required newer version. To fix that You simply need to use "Easy fix 51044" from Microsoft website (this link is directly to download) or edit the registry by hand. Beware not to download some third-party software that has the same name.

Hope I helped anyone.

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