Solved: Unable to Recover Your PC. The System Drive is Too Small

Are you plagued by the error “Unable to recover your PC. The system drive is too small” when you want to recover Windows. This article provides you 5 effective ways to resolve this error. Read on to find out.


by Yuka Updated on November 1, 2022

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User Case


Unable to recover - System drive too small

“After installing Windows 10 last week, I created a system image using the built-in backup software. The system OS SSD is 120GB. Over the weekend I restored my system back to Windows 7 using a prior image so I could transfer a software license for a program I needed. Same SSD with Win7 and Win10 - now when trying to restore my Windows 10 image, I receive the error that my system drive is too small. This doesn't really make any sense to me - I've never had this issue with Windows 7. I don't mind doing a full Win10 install again if I have to, but I'd rather not as I had it all setup how I want. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks...”.

- Question from Microsoft

Unable to Recover Your PC. The System Drive is Too Small.

When your computer is in good working order, you can use a system image to create a complete copy of all the data on your computer, including files, system settings, and Windows. If your computer suddenly crashes or otherwise unexpectedly happens, you can use this Windows system image to restore your computer to a working condition.

However, there may be some issues with the recovery process. The unfriendly error message "Unable to recover your PC. The system drive is too small" may appear. So how to fix this frustrating error? In this article, we will show you 4 solutions.

Possible Reasons for the “Unable to Recover Your PC” Error

Before we start the process of fixing the problem, we can first find out the reason behind the error and find the corresponding method according to the reason. Starting with the cause, let's see what is the culprit causing the “Unable to recover your PC. The system drive is too small” error.

✪ Insufficient disk space: The disk to which you want to restore the system image is out of space.
✪ System image issue: There was a problem with the system before the system image was created.
✪ Hard disk problems: Existing partitions on the hard disk can cause errors to occur. Or your original disk conflicts with the destination disk.

How to Fix “Unable to Recover Your PC. The System Drive Is Too Small” Error

After figuring out the cause, let's fix this error with effective solutions.

Method 1. Check the Size of the Target Drive      

When the “Unable to recover your PC. The system drive is too small” error occurs, the easiest way is to check the capacity of the hard drive. You need to ensure that the capacity of the disk is greater than or equal to the source disk. To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Right-click the hard drive on which you want to restore the system.
  2. Select Properties from the drop-down menu.
  3. Under the General section, you can check the size of the target drive.

Check Your Hard Drive Capacity

If the size of the target drive is equal to or larger than the source disk but you still get the "Unable to recover your PC" error, try the next method. If the target disk is smaller than the source disk, you can choose to clean up the target disk space or use another restore your PC to a smaller disk - AOMEI Backupper to help you.

Method 2. Change the Minimum Required Size

When a system image is created, the minimum size required for the target drive is automatically marked in the file - $PBR_ResetConfig.xml. The value you see in this file is the minimum size (in megabytes) required for the target drive. It indicates that you may encounter the error “Unable to recover your PC. The system drive is too small” even if the actual size of your target drive is greater than or equal to the source disk, but less than the value.


If this is the problem, you can try editing the value of the property. To do this, open system image file -> sources -> open the $PBR_ResetConfig.xml file on a notepad, look for attribute and change the value to make sure it is smaller than the target drive.

Method 3. Delete or Format Volumes on the Target Drive

Sometimes you will restore a system image to a used disk with partitions. If you are encountering the error “Unable to recover your PC. The system drive is too small” in this situation, you can try to delete the existing partition and format the drive to resolve this error.

❀ Note: Doing so will delete all data stored on the used disk, you can back up important files on it first.

  1. Connect the used disk to the system. Press Windows + R to open the Run dialog box. Then type diskmgmt.msc in Run and click on OK to open Disk Management.
  2. Right click on the used volume and select Delete Volume from the drop-down menu.

Delete Volume

  1. After deleting all volumes and partitions of the used hard drive, right-click it and select Format.

❀ Tip: If the disk you are using is an external disk, its name will probably appear as Disk 1 or similar under the Disk Management utility.

Method 4. Repair the System Files and Recreate A System Image

Another possibility is that there was a problem with the system before the system image was created. You can use the SFC command to repair your system files and then recreate a system image.

#1. Repair Corrupted System Files with SFC Scan

  1. Tap the Search button on the taskbar and type cmd in the search box. Right click cmd and then select Run as administrator.
  2. Type DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth and press Enter. It may take several minutes for the command operation to be completed.

❀ Note: Running the DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) tool prior to SFC is only necessary on Windows 10/8.1/8. To run sfc /scannow in Windows 7, you can skip to Step 3.

  1. Type sfc /scannow and press Enter to scan system files and replace corrupted files.
  2. When the entire process is complete, type exit and press Enter to exit the command prompt.

SFC /Scannow

#2. Recreate A System Image with Backup and Restore

  1. Type Control Panel on the search box and click to open.
  2. Click Backup and Restore (Windows 7) -> Create a System Image.

Create A System Image

  1. Follow the prompts to create the system image.

Recover Your PC When System Drive Is Small Using Reliable Third-Party Software

If none of the above methods solve your problem, don't be discouraged, here is another method that can help you recover your PC. AOMEI Backupper, a powerful backup software that can help you create system images and help you recover your PC easily. It is a multifunctional software that integrates Backup, Restore, Clone and Sync.

According to some users, they encounter the error “Unable to recover your PC. The system drive is too small” when restoring the system to a small disk or migrating the system to a smaller drive. For both cases, you can use this software to solve it. You can click the download button below to install it on your computer. I will describe the workarounds in two different cases separately.

Download Free Trial Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

#1. Restore Windows 10 Image to Smaller Drive

Many users wonder how to restore Windows 10 image to smaller drive without meeting the error “The system drive is too small”. This software makes it possible to restore system image to a smaller drive because AOMEI only backups up the used space of the system partition. The ONLY requirement is that the target disk should be large enough to store the source system. You only need to do three things to restore your computer.

  1. Open this software, navigate to Backup -> System Backup to create a system image.

System Backup

  1. Then navigate to Restore to choose the system image file and restore it to smaller drive.


✩ Note: If you want to restore system image to new computer which may contain dissimilar hardware, you will need to create bootable media in advance.

#2. Migrate the System to A Smaller Drive

If you are encountering the error “Unable to recover your PC” while migrating the system to a smaller drive, you can use AOEMI Backupper to help you. This software provides you with System Clone feature that clone the entire system partition as well as its all related partitions. This software clones the used space by default, which can ensure that the user can successfully migrate the system from a large drive to a small disk.

What's more, it ensures that you can safely boot from the cloned drive. All you need to do is navigate to Clone -> System Clone to migrate the system.

System Clone

Helpful Tips:
This software also enables you to clone OS between the same partition style (GPT to GPT or MBR to MBR) or clone from MBR to GPT and vice versa.
✮ SSD Alignment: This feature can optimize the performance if the target drive is an SSD.
✮ Make full use of disk space: This option will be provided if you are moving system to a larger drive, and it is checked by default to make sure no allocated space is left on the target drive after cloning.

System Clone to Larger Drive


This article provides you 4 effective methods to fix “Unable to recover your PC. The system drive is too small” error. But the cause of this error varies from person to person, and finding the exact cause is a bit tricky.

My suggestion is that you use AOMEI Backkuper to help you recover your PC. Whether you want to restore your system to a small drive or migrate your system to a small disk, it can help you without any problems. With its help, you can also deploy your Windows image to multiple computers easily.

Yuka · Editor
Yuka, our dedicated editor at AOMEI Technology, is committed to bringing you valuable insights and guidance in data protection. Her mission is to empower everyone with her knowledge in computer backup and recovery, disk cloning, file synchronization, and more. Yuka's goal is to do her best to make complex tech tasks simple and ensure that your digital world remains safe and secure.