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Windows 7: Upgrading to an SSD with Windows Image Backup

25 Feb 2011   #1

Windows 7 Professional x64
Upgrading to an SSD with Windows Image Backup

Greetings, I am new here, so my apologies if this has been answered, but I haven't been able to find an answer by searching.

I have a computer that has a 2TB C: drive with Windows, Applications and all my data on it. I would like to upgrade to an SSD and move my Windows and Applications there, and then use my 2TB drive for data only.

I have plenty of external USB drives that I can use to store data temporarily. So, I would like to use Windows Image Backup to move Windows and my Applications to the new SSD. However, based on what I have read, it is only possible to restore an image to a larger disk, not a smaller one. So, my question here is really whether this means the physical disk has to be larger, or if it should work as long as the source partition is smaller than the SSD.

So, here is what I am thinking about trying.

1) Backup my data (not Windows and not Applications) to an external drive
2) Delete my data from 2TB C: drive (leave only Windows and Applications)
3) Shrink my 2TB C: drive to something less than the SSD size using the Windows Disk Management interface
4) Make sure the rest of the space on the 2TB drive is unallocated (no other partitions)
5) Create a Windows Image Backup on the external drive
6) Shutdown, disconnect 2TB drive, and connect SSD
7) Boot from Windows 7 CD, and restore image to SSD
8) Remove Windows 7 CD and boot Windows off the SSD
9) Shutdown, reconnect 2TB drive, and boot
10) Delete all partitions from the 2TB drive using Windows Disk Management, create a new 2TB partition and format it
11) Restore my data (not Windows and not Applications) to the 2TB drive

If anyone knows if this is flawed, please let me know and save me a ton of time.

Thanks for your help.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Feb 2011   #2


Depending on the size of the SSD, you might want to move your User folders to the data drive using this method: User Folders - Change Default Location

If you do this ahead, it should leave your OS/Programs partition lean enough you can shrink it down to create an image smaller than the SSD. Then when you reimage it your User folder data will be waiting in its data partition.

If Win7 backup imaging doesn't work as you need, you can use Acronis' free app if any of your HD's are WD or Seagate, or free Macrium Reflect or Paragon 11 are also recommended.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Feb 2011   #3

Windows 7 Professional x64

Thanks for the reply, gregrocker. That is good advice, but I don't think I will need to do it. I save all my data elsewhere (C:\data), so it is just Favorites and other small files under C:\Users.

But, the important thing is you believe that should work as long as I can shrink my partition size to something smaller than the SSD?

Thanks again!
My System SpecsSystem Spec

25 Feb 2011   #5
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

Here is a migration guide I made. You may want to have a look at it. Just download the PDF from here: Install an SSD and transfer the Operating - Windows Live
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Feb 2011   #6

Windows 7 Professional x64

Thanks gregrocker and whs. Unfortunately, shrinking my 2TB partition is turning out to be more difficult than I expected.

Windows Disk Management will only let me shrink it to 1.4TB. That's nowhere near small enough.

The Partition Wizard utility that whs referred to in his guide would let me shrink it to 267GB. But, I didn't do it because I can't afford an SSD bigger than 256GB. 267GB is close, but still not small enough.

In Windows Explorer, when I right click the C: disk and select Properties, it tells me that I have 266GB of used space. However, if I select all the files and folders in the root of C: and then right click and select Properties, it tells me that the size of all my data is only 59GB.

So, do you have any idea why these numbers are so different? I thought that it might be because of a huge page file, but I checked under System Properties --> Performance Options and my page file setting is only 3.6GB.

Does this maybe have something to do with the minimum block size on such a large partition (probably bad news)? Or, is it because the data is not contiguous, meaning that I need a utility that will move the data to the beginning of the disk? Or, is there some other reason?

Is there anything that I can do to be able to shrink this partition more, or am I just out of luck here? Any additional help would be greatly appreciated.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Feb 2011   #7


Use Perfect Disk trial version first defrag for compactness, then rightclick on partition to offline defrag System Files.

Between PW boot CD and PD I have gotten the shrink needed.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Feb 2011   #8

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

You might see if deleting shadow copies will free up some space. Turn off system restore.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Feb 2011   #9
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

You have too much stuff on your HDD. I suggest you first move all user folders to a seperate partition. Here is my tutorial for that: Data Partition

Then you would only have the system left. To make your life easy, use this Paragon Tool. It is well worth the $19.95 - saves you a lot of headaches. It can deal with partitions larger than the SSD as long as there is not more data than the SSD size. It also moves your 100MB partition and aligns your SSD.

You can save some money by going for a much smaller SSD. My largest is 90GB, then 80 and 60GB and all work well - even in laptops.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Feb 2011   #10

Windows 7 Professional x64

Thanks to everyone who tried to help, but I gave up on this. If I had just started re-installing I would have been done by now, so I cut my losses and am re-installing now.

For the curious, or for those who find this later by search, here is what happened ...

1) Ran Perfect Disk, first online to consolidate free space, then offline. This took a looooong time.
2) Achieved a slight improvement, but Partition Wizard still wouldn't let me shrink to less than 260GB, even though there was less than 60GB of data on the drive.
3) Uninstalled World of Warcraft, which I don't play anymore. That brought me down to 30GB from 60GB (lol). Repeated Step 1.
4) Now PW boot CD would let me choose to shrink to 30GB. I chose 220GB. Not sure if deleting WoW or repeating the defrag did the trick. However, when I clicked to Apply the shrink, it failed saying that the disk was too fragmented (even though I just finished a defrag with PD).
5) Went back into PD and noticed there were still a bunch system files sitting in the middle of the disk. Disabled pagefile, kernel memory dump, system restore and hibernation. Repeated Step 1. Started PD again and noticed there is STILL data sitting in the middle of the disk. The page file is still there even though I disabled it, and there is a bunch of stuff listed as metadata.
6) Tried to shrink with PW boot disk again. It aborted with the same error about too much fragmentation.

So, that is when I gave up. I suspect that the data sitting in the middle of my disk is the problem, but I don't know how to get rid of it or move it to the front of the disk. It doesn't appear that PD has a consolidate free space option when doing an offline defrag, so that Windows data doesn't move.

Anyway, Windows is now re-installed fresh as I was typing this. Time to re-install my applications now. Thanks again to those who tried to help. But, my advice to others would be don't waste your time ... just re-install.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Upgrading to an SSD with Windows Image Backup

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