Cloning a larger hard drive into a smaller hard drive

I don’t know where I got this idea from, but I always have the impression that I can use imaging software (e.g. Acronis True Image) to clone any size of hard drive to other any size of hard drive, of course, as long as the content has to fit in the destination capacity.  Well, I’m wrong.

Today, I want to upgrade the hard drive on one of the senior staff laptop, he has got a 500GB SATA disk but only used 100GB, so I went to the computer shop, I bought a 250GB SSD disk and happily go back to do the operation.

I ran a full backup of the original hard drive first, just in case any thing goes wrong.  For the operation, I have physically connect the SSD drive via USB.  I started with booting up into Acronis, it detected both hard drive without any issues, I went through all the steps as usual, I used the manual method so that it shrinks the disk size to fit the new capacity (I thought it will 🙁 ), when I begin the process, I failed.  Although everything looks fine, it won’t let me do it.

I tried a few more times and also a few different tools, none of them works.  Go straight onto Uncle Google for doing some researches, surprisingly there are many results came up and found this is actually a known issue.

Cut the long story short, no typical imaging tool will do this job, and I found out this tool from one of the guru friend – Macrium Reflect Free Edition (

It lets you clone the disk partition by partition, but it also let you reduce the disk size as decided.  Compare to Acronis, it actually does reduce the size, not only shows the size changes.  once everything set and completed, I have got the new SSD hard drive working like a champ!!!

Note that, before you run the tools, you must 1) run a full backup of the original hdd.  2) run a checkdisk.  3) run a defragment.  Otherwise there are chances that the reduction might chop the valid data blocks.  So use with CARE!