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Restoring a backup to a larger drive is not a problem. You may end up needing to do some partition management.

This is really a "what if" question. I don't currently have a problem, but I'm trying to make sure I understand some basics if I ever have to recover, rebuild, or restore my hard drive. I think it's likely that if I ever had to restore my system image to a new drive because of a drive failure, I'd want to replace the current drive with a larger drive and have more space. So, if I have a full system image of my hard drive and I use Macrium Reflect, and my PC's hard drive dies, can I restore my backup to a larger capacity hard drive? For example, the current drive is 150 GB and the new drive is a 500 GB drive. Thanks.

In this excerpt from Answercast #44, I look at what happens when you restore the backup of a smaller drive onto a larger replacement.

Restoring to a larger drive

Today, your new drive is going to be more on the order of a terabyte or two or maybe even three... but the short answer to your question is absolutely yes, you can.

Two things can possibly result.

  • One is your 150 GB drive would show up as a 150 GB partition on that new drive;

  • And the rest of the drive space would remain unallocated.

Then you would use a partition manager in Windows.

Resize the partition

You haven't indicated whether you're using Windows 7 or not.

In Windows 7, after you've rebooted (after having done this restore):

  • You can use the partition manager to extend the size of your C drive from its original 150 GB up to the maximum space on that drive.

It's actually really nice; I'm really glad they added that functionality in Windows 7.

If you're using something other than Windows 7, you can:

  • Create a second partition in that empty space;

  • So you would have a D drive that would take up all the rest of that space;

  • Or you can go out and get a partition management tool (that would allow you to do the same thing that I just described as the Windows 7 tool doing) allowing you to expand the size of the C drive.

It's very possible (I haven't done this lately and I haven't done it with Macrium Reflect to be completely honest), but it's very possible that the backup software you're using will also include a partition management tool to do this for you.

  • They may ask when you restore;

  • Or they may simply offer the functionality to expand the partition after the restore is complete.

Partition Management software

So do take a look at the backup software. It's very possible you already have everything you need.

  • In fact, if you're running Windows 7, you have everything you need.

  • It's possible that you may have everything you need if you're running Macrium Reflect – and that tool includes some kind of partition expansion on restore.

If not, there are several free tools – EaseUS Partition Manager is one that comes to mind – that would (for free) allow you to do exactly what I just described.

So the short answer is yes and there are a couple of different ways to proceed when you get that far.

Article C5696 - August 15, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

August 16, 2012 7:25 PM

If the replacement is a "bare drive" would it have to be partitioned and formatted first, before using the image? And by changing out a major piece of hardware would that alter Microsoft's security hash that proves the OS is genuine? #Other forums, including Microsoft Answers, seems to show some people get a not genuine warning and have to phone activate at some future point in time.#

August 16, 2012 8:01 PM

Here's an article from Leo on the validation problem: Why does my cloned drive report as failing genuine validation?

August 21, 2012 11:32 AM

My thinking is that if I ever have a hard drive failure, I will replace the drive (probably larger), do a clean fresh install of the OS, then restore the files and folders I want from my Macrium Reflect backup. The clean install bypasses all the sludge in the disk image, and this approach precludes having to mess around with partition management. And for me, in reality, I keep very little on my PCs besides apps and games; my music, pictures, and documents on are external hard drives, which are of course all backed up to another drive using Macrium Reflect.

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