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Windows 8 - Recovery partition not recognized after hard drive swapping

This article assumes that you have cloned your hard drive containing the system onto a new one with a different storage capacity. This has made it impossible to create a Recovery drive including the content of the recovery partition, the checkbox "Copy the recovery partition from the PC to the recovery drive" being disabled. The reason is simple: the BCD entries (Boot Configuration Data) are based on disk signature/partition addresses. Therefore, if partitions are moved/resized, BCD entries are no longer actual.

Usually, your PC comes with a hidden Recovery partition which has no assigned letter but only a name, and containing a file named install.wim (or winRe.wim). You cannot display the content of this partition in Windows Explorer because it has no letter. The only thing you might say about it is "this partition starts at a certain offset" (number of bytes from the beginning of the disk). Windows won't be able to find it if you provide a wrong offset, and this is exactly what happens when you install a new hard drive: the recovery partition may not start at the same offset as on the former one. So you have to provide Windows with the new offset by updating the content of a system file.

First of all, you need to determine which hidden partition contains the recovery file (install.wim or winre.wim). It's most likely the biggest and last one, and its size should be something like 14 GB or greater. In the image below, which shows the partitions of my own hard drive, the Recovery partition is named PBR_DRV and its size is 24 GB.

1 - Open a command prompt (or Windows PowerShell) with admin rights, and follow the steps below (note that my Recovery partition has the volume number 7).

In case you want to make this partition visible in Windows Explorer, so that you can check its content, you need to assign a letter to it. Simply type "assign" (that is, DISKPART> assign). Since you are probably going to remove the letter once you have checked the content of the partition, don't close the command prompt window. To remove the assigned letter simply type "remove".

2 - Open the XML file C:\Windows\System32\Recovery\ReAgent.xml. Locate the line "PBRImageLocation". Set its offset and guid accordingly to the values you found above.

3 - Open a new command prompt or Windows PowerShell with admin rights, and enter reagentc /disable, followed by reagentc /enable.

You should now be able to create a Recovery drive with the option "Copy the recovery partition from the PC to the recovery drive" enabled.

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