How Can I Restore Windows System Image to a Smaller Disk?

Restoring system image (like Windows 10/8.1/8/7) to a smaller disk can be easily achieved as long as you seek help form the right software. And AOMEI Backupper is the one that you can rely on.


by Delia Updated on October 19, 2022

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Is it possible to restore system image to smaller hard drive?

Q: "I created a Windows 7 system image of a 500 GB partition with only 80GB used. I want to change that system to a new 160GB SSD on the notebook. Is it possible to restore a system image to a smaller drive? Is it necessary to shrink the partition on the source drive before creating the image? I tried to shrink the original volume and was only able to shrink it to 250GB with 80GB used disk space. Are there other parameters to consider? I've just searched the internet but can’t find a conclusive answer for that question..."

Many Windows users may have the same confusion similar with the questions above. Because a large numbers of backup tools do not support restoring system image to a smaller hard drive. They are only helpful when the capacity of the objective drive is equal to or larger than the original drive. In such circumstance, restoring system image to a smaller hard drive is only a fantasy.

Luckily, there will always be a way out. And AOMEI Backupper has stepped forward to address this issue.

AOMEI Backupper will never disappoint you

AOMEI Backupper Professional is a piece of backup tool aiming at solving various data protecting issues. To address the problem of restoring system image to smaller hard drive, you can seek help from Universal Restore provided by AOMEI Backupper. This is a function designed to realize transferring a system from one computer to others. The reason why Backupper can restore a system image to a smaller disk is that it only backs up the used space of the system partition. So the ONLY requirement is that the target disk should be large enough to store the source system. In the above example, as long as the target disk is larger than 80 GB, Backupper can help you to restore the original system to the 160 GB SSD.

Step 1. First of all, you need to prepare a system image backup of the master computer. Launch AOMEI Backupper and turn to the Backup tab to find System Backup, follow the guidance to finish creating a system image.

Tips: You are strongly advised to backup system image to share network/NAS to avoid the necessity of extra hardware.

System Backup

Step 2. Then change the interface to the Tools. Find AOMEI PXE Boot Tool to create a bootable environment.

Aomei Pxe Boot Tool

Step 3. In the following page, choose a way to create the bootable environment. It is recommended to select "Boot form AOMEI Windows PE system" because the tool helps you to create directly a Windows PE system for network boot. Then, click Start Service.

Pxe Options

Step 4. Now open the client computer that has the smaller disk. Because it is lack of an operating system, you need to set it to boot from network in BIOS. Since AOMEI PXE Boot Tool is providing service, this client computer will enter into AOMEI Windows PE, there AOMEI Backupper is on standby. You need to turn the main interface to Restore, and find the system image of the master computer by browsing the path: share network/NAS.

Select Image File Winpe

Step 5. AOMEI Backupper will ask you whether you are going to do this system restore, click Yes to go on.

Step 6. Choose "Restore this system backup" to continue.

Restore Entire Backup

Step 7. In the Operation Summary part, you know exactly what is going to execute. Please make sure you have ticked Universal Restore before you finally press the Start Restore button. When the restoration is finished, disconnect the service provided by AOMEI PXE Boot Tool, next time you open the client computer, it will be normally booted and contains a same system with the master computer.


Through reading this article, you know how to restore Windows system image to a smaller disk by using AOMEI Backupper. Apart from this practical function, Backupper is also of great help in various backup and clone needs (View full features). Now FREE DOWNLOAD this powerful program to have a try.

Delia · Editor
Delia owns extensive experience in writing technology-related blog posts, and has been a part of AOMEI since 2020 to provide expertise in data security and disaster recovery. She works with Windows operating systems, SQL databases, and virtualization platforms such as VMware and Hyper-V, specializing in troubleshooting and advising on data protection and migration.