Overview of system reserved partition and how it works
System reserved partition contains boot files that are required to start Windows, so your computer will not boot if this partition is missing. To avoid this situation, you need to move system reserved partition to another drive. Before that, let's get basic of system reserved partition. It contains two important things for computer startup.
1. The Boot Manager and Boot Configuration Data.
When your computer boots, the Windows Boot Manager starts up and reads the boot data from the Boot Configuration Data (BCD). Then, your computer will boot the bootloader off the System Reserved partition. At last, the Windows will boot from your system drive.
2. The startup files used for BitLocker Drive Encryption.
If you ever decide to encrypt your hard drive with BitLocker drive encryption, the System Reserved partition contains the necessary files for starting your computer. Your computer boots the unencrypted System Reserved partition, and it will decrypt the main encrypted drive and boot the encrypted Windows system.
Need to move system reserved partition to another disk
By default, it's not suggested to move system reserved partition in Windows 10/8/7. But if the system reserved partition is on wrong drive or the disk is experiencing smart error, you have to do so. Then, let's have a closer look at these situations.
Situation 1: The system reserved partition on wrong drive
Sometimes, you may forget to disconnect extra hard drive when you clone disk or install Windows 7/8/10. Then, you may find your C drive on disk 1 and system reserved partition on disk 2. If you remove disk 2, your computer will fail to boot. Therefore, to ensure your disk can boot properly, you have to merge system reserved partition with C drive on disk 1. Also, you may find nothing in system reserved partition on disk 1.
Situation 2: The disk containing system reserved partition is experiencing smart error
If your computer is experiencing smart error, you may receive an error message, saying, "SMART Failure Predicted on Hard Disk 0: WD5000BEVP-75A0RT0-(S1). Warning: Immediately backup your data and replace your hard disk drive. A failure may be imminent. Press F1 to Continue. ". In this case, your disk may fail at any time, so you need to move system reserved partition to a healthy disk immediately.
Don't worry about it too much, keep reading below, I'll show you 4 ways to safely move system reserved partition to another disk.
How to move system reserved partition to another disk effortlessly
Here you will learn how to move system reserved partition to C drive. You have 4 ways, among them, Method 2 is the easiest, and you can directly go to it if you want. Note that changing system reserved partition in Windows 11/10/8/7 is dangerous and may cause system failure, please create a system backup or disk backup just in case. Then, let's have a closer look at them one by one.
Method 1: Move system reserved partition on wrong drive with Disk Management
The first method is to use built-in Disk Management to move boot partition on wrong drive. Without further ado, let's get started.
Step 1. Create a new simple partition on disk 0 with disk management. Please note that the System Reserved partition is 100 MB on Windows 7, 350 MB on Windows 8, and 500 MB on Windows 10.
To open disk management, you can click “Win+R” and type diskmgmt.msc in the run box. Then right-click the unallocated space and choose New Simple Volume. If you do not have unallocated space on disk 0, you can shrink the partition first.
Step 2. Assign a drive letter for your newly simple partition (Z:).
Step 3. Copy everything from the system reserved partition to your newly simple partition (Z:), Including Boot folder, bootmgr, BOOTSEC.BAK
Step 4. Remove the drive letter from the system reserved partition on disk 1.
Step 5. Set the new partition as "System Reserved".
Step 6. Remove the drive letter of your new System Reserved partition, then mark it as active.
Step 7. Restart your computer and delete system reserved partition on disk 1 if Windows can start. If not, start your computer using the previously created repair disc and repair it using Startup Repair option.
Method 2: Move system reserved partition to SSD with System Clone
- It will clone all the boot drive(s) including the system reserved partition and move them to second drive, either HDD or SSD.
- It could ensure secure boot after cloning by setting the active system reserved partition as a primary partition and avoid unwanted deletion by hiding its drive letter.
- It still supports "Disk Clone" and "Partition Clone" to transfer system and data from one disk/partition to another. You are allowed to clone MBR disk to GPT and vice versa.
Preparations for moving system reserved partition:
♦ Prepare a new SSD and be sure it can be detected.
♦ Download and install AOMEI Backupper Professional. To merge system reserved partition with C drive in Server 2012/2016/2019/2022, etc, try server cloning software - AOMEI Backupper Server.
Now, take Windows 10 as an example. Let's start to learn how to move system reserved partition in Windows 10 with "System Clone" feature.
Step 1. In the main page of AOMEI Backupper Professional, select Clone and System Clone. Then, it will automatically select the operating system and system reserved partition required to start Windows.
Note: If you want to include all the content on the hard drive with system reserved partition, you could consider cloning hard drive to SSD or another HDD with Disk Clone feature.
Step 2. Select the recognized SSD (or unallocated space) as destination path, and click Next.
If the destination SSD is partitioned, you'll receive a prompt reminding you the partition will be overwritten or deleted. Click OK to continue or click Cancel to backup important data first.
Step 3. Tick SSD Alignment to accelerate the writing and reading speed of the SSD and extend its lifespan. Then, click Start Clone to perform Windows 10 move system reserved partition. And you will be asked to upgrade to the full version of AOMEI Backupper Professional to launch the cloning process, because System Clone is not available in the trial version.
⊙ You could choose to clone all sectors of a hard drive to another one with Sector by sector clone feature.
⊙ If the destination partition is larger, you will see one more option called Make full use of disk space (to extend system partition size by adjacent unallocated space) and it is checked by default.
After cloning, it's advisable to create bootable media in advance, so you can boot your computer even if it's not bootable. If you have multiple computers, you could consider using PXE boot tool in AOMEI Backupper Workstation.
Then, you will still need to check if your computer can start normally from the cloned SSD.
- Restart your computer and press the manufacturer key, usually it's F2, F11, ESC, etc, to go to BIOS.
- Select the Boot tab and set the cloned SSD as the first boot option.
- Press F10 or other prompted key to reboot. Please wait patiently and see if it can start normally.
- If it is, the operation is successful. Then, it's suggested to delete system reserved partition on the original drive to free disk space.
Besides system clone, this software can still be used to clone all kinds of HDDs and SSDs, including clone Windows 10 to new hard drive, clone HDD to Seagate SSHD, clone HDD to Samsung SSD, clone NVMe SSD, etc.
Method 3: Move system reserved partition to another drive with Backup and Restore
Except for System Clone in AOMEI Backupper, you still can use "System Backup" and "System Restore" to move system reserved partition to different drive. By this way, you're doing a double workload - backup system to external hard drive and then restore to a different drive. And it requires an extra drive to store backup image temporarily.
Next, follow the steps below to move system reserved partition to SSD. At first, you need to create a system10 image in Windows 10 if you don't have one.
Launch AOMEI Backupper, click Backup and System Backup, select a destination path and click Start Backup.
After backing up system in Windows, you can start to restore system image to new SSD with this software. Please connect the new SSD to your computer right now.
Step 1. Click Restore in the main page of this software and choose Select Image File to find the image on your external drive.
Step 2. Tick Restore this system backup and Restore system to other location. Then, click Next to continue.
Note: This software will select the latest system image automatically according to its backup time. If this backup image is damaged, you can select a previous one by selecting a different time point.
Step 3. Select a destination partition on the new SSD. For safety, it’s suggested to select the first partition. Then, click Next.
Step 4. Click Start Restore to move system reserved partition and system partition to new SSD.
⊙ If you want to backup and restore system image to new computer, it's suggested to tick "Universal Restore". Because this feature can install all the necessary drivers required to boot Windows.
⊙ If the target disk is an SSD, please tick "SSD Alignment" to accelerate the writing and reading speed of SSDs with its 4k alignment technology.
Method 4: Move system reserved partition on second drive with command line
Except for Disk Management, built-in command line utility can also help you move system reserved partition to another drive, but this method only works well on Windows 7 and Windows 8. Then, learn how to change system reserved partition with the following steps.
Step 1. Open cmd as administrator, type the following command and hit enter.
bcdboot C:\windows /s C:
Step 2. Open Disk Management, right-click the C drive and select "Mark Partition as Active".
Step 3. Select the system reserved partition and tap on "Mark Partition as Inactive ".
Step 4. Restart your computer and confirm it can boot successfully.
Step 5. Right-click the system reserved partition and select "Change Drive Letter and Paths", then follow the on-screen instruction to assign a letter for this partition.
Step 6. Right-click the system reserved partition again and tap on "Delete Volume" to delete system reserved partition.
Note: If you are not familar with command line, you could consider using AOMEI Backupper Professional or built-in Disk Management.
More about Windows move system reserved partition
1. How do I get my system reserved partition back?
If the system reserved partition is on the second drive, you can choose to clone or backup the entire system with an all-in-one disk cloning software, AOMEI Backupper, for example. It will include all the boot-related partitions, such as, system reserved partition.
2. Is formatting system reserved partition safe?
By default, it's not suggested to format system reserved partition if your computer work properly. If it's on the second drive or the disk is experiencing smart error, you choose to move system reserved partition with 4 methods provided in this article and then format it for more space.
3. How do I make my system reserved partition bigger?
To make system reserved partition bigger, you can extend it to unallocated space with Disk Management. The steps should be: right-click the system reserved partition > select Extend Volume.... and follow the on-screen instruction to finish the rest of steps.
4. Can I merge C drive with system reserved partition?
The answer is Yes, but Not recommended. The system reserved partition on BIOS systems is meant to house WinRE and the boot files. In UEFI, it's meant to house WinRE only. Thus, if the C: partition is corrupted, the WinRE will be affected and you cannot boot into WinRE to fix computer issue.
Wrapping Things up
You can easily move system reserved partition to another drive, whether you are currently using Windows 10, 11, or 8, 7, XP, Vista, as long as you follow the above ways carefully. If you don't want to see the system reserved partition on wrong drive issue again, you need to ensure you take out extra devices while cloning disk or installing Windows.
In addition, to create an exact copy of your system by System Clone (eg: migrate Windows 10 to SSD) or System Backup is also a great way, please keep it in a safe place. Also, you can enjoy multiple useful features on it, such as, SSD Alignemnt for further performance enhance, Make full use of disk space to enlarge system partition, etc.