Migrating Windows 10 to a larger hard drive

The idea of copying a Windows 10 install to a new hard drive seems like it should be easy on the outside -- you have the old hard drive, and you just copy it exactly to the new one, not hard, right?

As it turns out, very wrong -- while I was able to migrate from a HDD To a SSD in the past, looking back, I was migrating from a 1TB drive to a 1TB drive; and this is not a problem to do with a utility like Gparted, which can be run off a USB.

However, today, I was trying to upgrade from a 500GB SSD to a 1TB SSD; and GParted cannot simply clone the 500GB drive to the 1TB drive -- even if I don't resize anything, Windows still shits the bed.

Google was my next stop, and there's plenty of articles which seem to all concur on using some sort of commerical program to clone the drive. But I'm mistrustful of apps which seem to get presented as the "super easy third option" in a guide, moreso if they're called "EasyClone" or some shit like that.

As it turns out, my instinct was right, and there's a built-in windows utility for making a system image -- it's labelled as being for Windows 7, but don't let that fool you. It's guaranteed to shit the bed if you're going from a larger to a smaller drive, but the other way around shouldn't be an issue.

I made the system image on one of my numerous media drives, backed out of windows, unplugged the original drive just to be safe, used GParted to clear the new 1TB drive to be sure it'd accept the image, booted up with a Windows 10 install CD, and tried to repair with the system image.

It's pretty easy -- the restore image was detected easily, and nothing can or needs to be changed by default.

No dice -- Image was made with UEFI, and I'm running BIOS. Turns out that how you boot into the install disk can matter. I use the BIOS menu to boot into the CD using UEFI, and try again.

No valid disks found -- stumped again.

Then I found https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/all/no-disk-that-can-be-used-for-recovering-the-system/f5977605-29b1-46d8-bec6-ba3921755180, and inside that, IbrahimRasheed52's reply was the key -- I had cleared the drive, including various "windows" mini-partitions, and their absence was causing the problem.

I followed Ibrahim's guide, choosing "new" for the 1TB drive during install, and once it had been set up, backing out -- but Ibrahim might have left out a crucial part of step 5: Don't just cancel out of install, but entirely reboot the computer.

I suspect that not doing so simply causes the image restore tool to not see / detect the newly-formatted disk. But after turning off and on again, it did not throw a shitfit when I tried to start the restore.



TL;DR How it worked for me:

  1. In Windows, open the control panel, and create a system image.
  2. Turn off computer, entirely switch old drive for new. Disconnect any surplus drives that you might have, just to be safe.
  3. Specifically boot to Windows install media -- even if your computer is set to automatically boot from CD before any internal drives. (Letting it do so automatically put it in "BIOS" mode, which was not good.)
  4. Begin the install process, ensure that the new drive is not just an "empty" one, it needs to have like 4 partitions. If it's empty, select it, click "new" and let system partitions be created.
  5. Cancel out of the restore process, reboot.
  6. Boot back to the Windows Install media
  7. Instead of installing, repair
  8. Choose advanced optuons
  9. Restore system image
  10. Follow the prompts to completion

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