You may encounter the error “Unable to recover your PC. The system drive is too small” when attempting to recover your PC. However, the process may fail due to insufficient storage on the target disk to complete the installation.
- The error message appears when recovering your PC with a recovery drive or a System Image.
- It may occur due to a lack of space on your system drive, corrupt system data, temporary bugs and glitches in the PC, and more.
- You can clear space on the primary disk, run SFC and DISM Scans, and upgrade the hard disk to resolve this issue.
Why Is The System Unable To Recover The PC?
The error may occur for various reasons, for instance, when the primary drive is short on storage to store the files required during the Windows installation process. In addition, a corrupt Windows installation media is another reason you may face this error. Learn How To Update Windows [11, 10, 8, And 7] with our extensive guide.
Apart from these, the problem may lie within the System Image you created previously. Furthermore, conflicts can occur between the source disk and the target drive, thus leading to troubles while recovering your PC.
How To Fix The “Unable To Recover Your PC: The System Drive Is Too Small” Error?
You can resort to quick troubleshooting methods to recover the PC, such as clearing corrupt system data, upgrading the primary hard drive, deleting unnecessary files from the hard drive, and more.
Check Disk Space
Before anything else, inspect the total storage on your target hard drive. It should be equal to or greater than the source disk, or the error will persist.
- Come to the Desktop.
- Double-Click on This PC.
- Right-Click on the Hard Drive. It is Local Disk C in a typical Windows PC.
- Choose Properties from the drop-down.
- Stay on the General tab and note the amount of Free Space on the disk and its Capacity.
Free Up Space On The Hard Drive
Delete unnecessary programs and software installed on your PC’s hard drive to create space for the newer files required during recovery.
Alter The Minimum Required Size
While shifting the Operating System from one disk to another, you may receive this error if the target disk is smaller than the source disk. In this situation, you can change the Minimum Required Size of the target disk, which is automatically allotted to a file, $PBR_ResetConfig.xml, while creating the recovery drive.
- Go to the System Image File.
- Pick Sources.
- Next, launch the $PBR_ResetConfig.xml file on a notepad.
- Look for the code <MinSize> and change its value to a smaller number to alter the Minimum Required Size. Ensure that the new value is less than that of the target disk.
Upgrade The Hard Drive
You can upgrade the hard drive in your PC to one with a larger storage capacity. Make sure to back up all the essential data stored in the drive to external storage, such as a USB, before replacing it with a better version.
Remove The Source Drive
Remove the source disk if you are backing up the data to an external drive connected to your PC. It will prevent conflicts between the two drives, allowing a smooth recovery process.
Format And Delete Hard Disk Volume
Deleting hard disk volume creates space by cleaning unused disk partitions. Consequently, you can prepare the disk for the new operating system.
- Type Disk Management in the Windows Search Bar and launch the results, Create And Format Hard Disk Partitions.
- Right-Click on the C Drive to open a mini-menu.
- Choose Delete Volume.
- Select Yes to initiate the process.
- Once deleted, Right-Click the disk again to access the sub-menu.
- Choose Format…
Repair Corrupt Files
Running System File Checker (SFC) Scan analyzes the PC for missing or corrupt files and replaces them to solve the ongoing trouble. Meanwhile, the Deployment Image Servicing And Management (DISM) Scan repairs the Windows Image and several other system and driver errors. These scans are useful in resolving problems related to the Windows OS.
- Search cmd in the Search Bar.
- Command Prompt will pop up in the results. Run It As Administrator.
- Hit Yes.
- Enter the code, sfc/scannow, to let Windows look for and resolve errors.
- Once done, execute, dism/online/cleanup-image /checkhealth.
- Next, run the code, dism/online/cleanup-image /scanhealth.
- Lastly, type and enter dism/online/cleanup-image /restorehealth.
Recreate System Image
Creating a System Image refers to creating a backup of all your files, data, programs, and settings. It is ideal before updating the system’s operating system, resetting Windows, or upgrading your PC. With System Image, you can restore your PC to a certain point.
On the other hand, a faulty System Image tempers the recovery phase on your PC. It could be possible that the data within the System Image is corrupt or contains temporary bugs or glitches.
Store the backup on an external storage device or a separate disk to ensure your data is intact if anything goes wrong during installation or update.
- Open the Control Panel from the Desktop.
- Click on Backup And Restore under the System And Security heading.
- Hit Create A System Image from the list of options on your left.
- You will see a pop-up, Looking For Backup Devices.
- Choose any drive other than the Primary Hard Drive with ample free storage.
- Next, pick the drive that needs to be backed up. In this case, it is the Primary Hard Drive or Local Disk C.
- Press Next.
- Finally, select Start Backup.
- Windows will start saving the backup file.
- Click Yes on the pop-up box.
Recover Via USB Drive
You can restore your PC to a previous state and reinstall the Windows Operating System with a recovery drive. It stores the essential files of your system so you can access them in case of system failures or other technical faults. Thus, try recovering from a drive to resolve the error “Unable To Recover Your PC: The System Drive Is Too Small” on your PC.
Create A USB Recovery Drive
- Insert an empty USB into your PC. It should have a minimum of 16GB of space.
- Navigate to the search bar, write Create A Recovery Drive, and launch the results.
- Check the box beside Back Up System Files To The Recovery Drive, then press Next.
- Select the connected USB Drive and hit Next.
- Finalize by pressing Create.
- The PC will begin Creating The Recovery Drive.
- Hit Finish once it’s ready.
Recover The PC
- Connect the USB to the PC you need to recover.
- Turn On the PC and enter the BIOS mode. The Boot Menu keys vary with the different manufacturers.
MANUFACTURER BOOT MENU KEY Lenovo F1, F2, or F12 HP F10, Esc, Or F9 Dell F2 Or F12 Asus F2 or Esc Acer F2 Or F12 Samsung F2 Or Esc Sony F1, F2, F3, Or F11
- Set the Current Boot Device to the USB Storage Device.
- Pick your Keyboard Layout.
- Click on Troubleshoot.
- Select the second option, Recover From A Drive.
- Go with Just Remove My Files.
- Press Recover.
Use MiniTool Partition Wizard
You can migrate the Operating System from a larger source disk to a smaller target disk using MiniTool Partition Wizard. However, the total occupied space on the source disk should be less than the free space on the target drive.
- Begin by downloading MiniTool Partition Wizard on your computer from https://www.partitionwizard.com/free-partition-manager.html.
- Connect the Source Drive and the Target Drive to your PC.
- Launch Partition Wizard once installed.
- Highlight the target drive and click on Delete All Partitions from the left panel.
- Hit Yes.
- Next, press Apply in the bottom left corner.
- Select Yes to save the changes on your disk.
- Highlight the Source Drive and choose Migrate OS To SSD/HD.
- Decide the Migration Method from the dialog box.
Option A copies all partitions on the system disk, such as OS, games, and other programs, and moves them to the target disk.
Option B only copies the necessary partitions from the source to the target disk.
- Mark the relevant box and press Next.
- Choose your Target Disk and hit Next. It should be Unallocated since we deleted all its partitions in Step 4.
- You will be presented with two Copy Options. Select the first option, Fit Partitions To Entire Disk, if the target disk is smaller than the source disk. Otherwise, go with the second option, Copy Partitions Without Resize.
- Click Next.
- Choose Finish.
- Again, press the Apply button.
- Pick Yes to start the process.
- The Migration should now begin.
Extend Drive Size
You can use third-party software to extend disk size by clearing unnecessary files and programs. Be careful to back up your data before resizing the partition using any software since any fault could lead you to lose the disk data.
Resize System Reserved Partition
- Highlight the C Drive. Ensure that you are running MBR; otherwise, you cannot resize the partition on your PC.
- Navigate to the bottom of the dialog box and right-click on C:(NTFS).
- Pick Move/Resize from the sub-menu.
- Locate the Size And Location slider on the dialog box. Move it slightly to the Left using the Arrow Button on the extreme right of the slider. Keep sliding until the Unallocated Space After box is set to about 1GB.
- Press OK.
- Hit the Apply button.
- Select Yes.
- Choose Restart Now to take space from your C Drive.
Extend System Reserved Partition
- Launch MiniTool Partition Wizard.
- Highlight the Target Disk that you need to extend.
- Right-Click on System Reserved Partition.
- Go to Extend.
- Click the box beside Take Free Space From and choose Unallocated Space.
- Press OK.
- Apply the changes.
- Confirm with Yes.
- Hit Restart Now to configure your drive with the new changes.
Create Installation Media Via Windows Installation Media Tool
A bad Windows Installation Media will cause problems during the recovery phase on your PC. Therefore, re-create the installation media with the Windows Installation Media Tool and restart the installation process to solve the “Unable to recover your PC. The system drive is too small” error.
Download Installation Media
- Download the Windows Installation Media Tool on your PC. Each Windows version has a separate file, so ensure to select the right one.
- Insert an Empty USB with at least 8GB of Storage.
- Open the Media Tool after installation.
- Pick Create Installation Media (USB Flash Drive, DVD, Or ISO File) For Another PC and press Next.
- Put a check on Use Recommended Options For This PC. Click Next.
- Choose USB Flash Drive and hit Next.
- Select the Connected USB and go Next.
- Let the Downloading complete.
- Click on the Finish button.
- Connect the USB to the PC where you need to Install The Windows.
- Hit Next.
- Press the Install Now button.
- Accept The Terms and select Next.
- Mark Custom: Install Windows Only (Advanced).
- Highlight the Target Disk and press Format.
- Choose OK from the pop-up.
- Restart the installation with Install Now.
- Pick the Target Disk and go with Next.
- The dialog box should read Installing Windows. Allow it to finish.
You can use these troubleshooting steps when the system says, “Unable to recover your PC. The system drive is too small.” We recommend not turning off your PC when installing or resetting Windows to avoid such errors. Also, read our guides on Intel Chipset Device Software Failed [FIXED] and Origin: We’ve Noticed Your Computer Is Offline [FIXED].
Frequently Asked Questions
You need a USB with at least 16GB of space to create a recovery drive for the latest Windows versions. Also, use an empty USB because any pre-existing data will be deleted.
Re-create the System Image, run SIFC AND DISM Scans, delete disk volume and partitions, and create Windows Installation Media properly to fix the error.
Yes, deleting the volume in a disk erases all the data contained within its partitions. Back up crucial files before deleting the volume on your hard disk.
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[Errors Troubleshooting Expert]
Arsalan Shakil (aka GuyThatDoesEverything on YouTube) is a PC Tech Enthusiast and Electronic Geek. With over 10+ years of experience in Electronics, he then decided to explore Software Engineering to design embedded products and automate existing hardware solutions.
When he started tearing down old cameras to understand how they worked, he was shocked (literally, when he got zapped by a flash discharge capacitor), giving him the power (debatable) to fall in love with videography/photography. He also started making some fun videos that later became YouTube tech reviews.
- 10+ years of experience in Electronics design, embedded solutions, and prototyping
- Majored in Software Engineering
- Research paper publication in IEEE for Embedded Military Uniform & LoRa WAN wireless technology
- Specialized in IoT Solutions
- PC Enthusiast & PC Modder
In his local region, he’s known to expose cheap PSU brands, often claiming fake certification or false claims on the box. He’s a true nerd and needed some friends in his life. Then he met some guys who work at Tech4Gamers, and they also came out to be equal nerds who suggested he join Tech4Gamers as a Hardware Expert.