Backup fails in Windows 7 when trying to create a system image


Consider the following scenario:

  • You are running Windows 7.
  • In the Backup and Restore Control Panel applet, you click on the link to "Create a system image".
  • The source volume that you are imaging is 2 terabytes in size or larger.

In this scenario, after the backup process has started, you may see an error similar to the following:

The backup failed.

Volumes larger than 2088958 megabyes cannot be protected. (0x807800B4)

The only option is to close the dialog box and exit out of the "Create a system image" wizard.


When creating a system image in Windows 7 using the "Create a system image" wizard, a virtual hard disk (.vhd) is created and the system image is written to it. The current virtual hard disk specification limits the size of a virtual hard disk to be 2040 GB, which can fit a volume size of 2040 GB - 2 MB (i.e. 2088958 MB). Due to this limitation, the source volume size must be 2088958 MB or less for the system image to be created.

Note: All of the above values values are slightly under 2 TB in size (2 TB = 2048 GB = 2097152 MB).


To work around this limit, shrink your volume size to 2088958 MB or less prior to creating the system image. More information on shrinking a basic volume can be found in the following TechNet article:

Shrink a Basic Volume


Article ID: 2696906 - Last Review: Apr 17, 2012 - Revision: 1