Migrating the NUC5PGYH’s eMMC drive to an SSD

First, a disclaimer: I make no guarantees that any part of this process is going to work for you.  Try it entirely at your own risk. Consider yourself warned.

Second, if you don’t feel like reading the full story, you can skip to the needed steps.

I recently reviewed Intel’s first complete NUC system, the NUC5PGYH.  While I’ve been mostly pleased with its features and performance, I was less than thrilled with the piddling 32GB of eMMC storage it comes with.  Things took an interesting turn when I ran Windows Update. It installed a bunch of updates, but there was a large one that wouldn’t install.  This one was for Windows 10 Home, version 1511, 10586.  It was a pretty substantial upgrade. I kept getting a vague “We found some issues” message:

error1

Clicking the “Fix Issues” button simply started the (very large) download again.  After several reboots and retries, I got to a different screen, where it complained about not having enough space on C:

error2

So I set about cleaning things up.  I cleaned up some downloads, some temp files, etc. I tried again. Same error…need more space.

See…I knew this 32GB eMMC just wasn’t enough for Windows.

Fortunately the installer had the option to use a different drive for temporary storage. So I added a USB flash drive and pointed to it.  Things started to move again, but then another error came up saying that even though I had added storage Windows STILL needed more free space on C:

error3

Ugh…you know what, time to just clone this eMMC onto a larger drive and get on with my life.  So I attached an Intel 80GB SSD via my USB dock. I downloaded the Intel Migration Tool and told it to clone my eMMC to the SSD.  Everything went along smoothly until the system rebooted to start cloning. Then this happened:

error0

Weird…was there a problem with my SSD, I wondered?  I clicked through the errors, rebooted, and checked my SSD…all green, all good.  Maybe there was an issue with the eMMC, I thought. Checked that, but again no issues at all.  Ok, so maybe there was something wrong with the Windows files. I ran sfc/ scannow. After a while it came back and said everything was fine.

Again, weird. So I tried again. Same errors.

Aha! Now I had it; it had to be because I was using a USB dock. So I cracked open the NUC and installed the SSD directly.  Tried again. Failed again.

This was getting irritating: I was using Intel software on an Intel NUC to migrate an Intel eMMC to an Intel SSD. And so far this thing was treating me like an ex that you run into at the grocery store.  Ok, technically the software was Acronis, but still. You’d think things would go a LITTLE smoother. To quote the immortal Harrison Ford; “How can IT not know what IT IS.”

I poked around the internet looking for clues, but found nothing definitive. So I decided to try a different cloning method.  Ordinarily I’d just pop out the offending drive and put it in my dual dock and clone it that way, but the eMMC is soldered down so that’s a no go.

I started researching free cloning utilities.  I tried several, but found that most had similar errors, or completed the clone but the drive wouldn’t boot, or wanted me to pay for the full version to complete the clone.  I wasn’t planning on doing this again, so I didn’t see the need to drop $20-$50 on a tool I was only going to use once.

So the clone worked great (yay!) but the tool wouldn’t allow me to resize the partitions (not yay).  The layout of the eMMC was such that it had a recovery partition as the last partition on the drive, so Reflect didn’t have an option for making the regular Windows partition larger (presumably because of this recovery partition being in the way).  I went ahead with the clone, and ended up with a fully bootable SSD with the same dinky 32GB of space.  Great, so now what?

I got a little creative; I used Reflect to make a backup image of the eMMC. Then I used Windows’ built-in Disk Management to delete the recovery partition on the SSD, then resize the Windows partition to use most (but not all)of the disk . Finally, I used Reflect to restore the recovery partition from the backup image onto the SSD.

Well, it all worked. I was then able to run Windows Update and get the updated version downloaded.  It was a bit more work than I’d planned on, but in the end I got there.  I now have a fully functioning and up to date unit.

I’ve considered trying to clean things up enough that I could copy the updated Windows back to the eMMC just to see if it would fit, but for now I’m fine with it as is.

Hopefully this will help some other folks who may run into the same issues with their tiny eMMC.

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24 comments

    • The on-board nature of the eMMC adds a layer of complexity to cloning. I’m used to popping a drive out and cloning it. I get why they used an eMMC, but it makes things harder. Having a removable mSATA drive would have upped the cost but lowered the frustration.

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  1. Thanks Techster, great work. It’s hard to find info on this subject, I guess due to the difficult of cloning a non-removable drive. I have the same issue, so I’m contemplating migration of the OS from the eMMC to an SSD, even though MS put out a fix (KB3124260) and I’m installing the 1511 update right now. I’ve got a Samsung 850EVO at 250 GB ready to install, just waiting for Intel to ship me the missing proprietary Sata/Power cable. I’ve always had good luck with Samsung Magician software, would you know if that works? If not, no problem using Macrium I guess, it’s free after all. Was wondering why you were unable to resize your SSD partition to use the full size available, did you do that purposely to leave room for a recovery partition?

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  2. Hi Marc, thanks for replying, and thanks for the kind words! The cloning didn’t allow me to resize the partition, so I ended up doing that after the fact. What I had to do was move the partitions around first. Since the free space on the SSD was after the recovery partition, I had to move the recovery partition to the end of the drive. Once I did that, I was able to extend the C partition and use the whole drive.

    Ultimately I decided to install Libreelec on the eMMC and use it as a home theater PC, but I kept Windows on the SSD in case I decide to go back to it. So far I haven’t found a need to.

    I’ve never tried the Samsung software (haven’t bought a Samsung drive) but my guess is you’ll have better luck with it than I did with the free options. Usually the software that comes with a new SSD is set up to automatically resize the partitions to fill the drive…at least that’s been my experience so far.

    Let me know how things go for you, and let me know if I can help!

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    • Thanks Techster, I’ll give Samsung Magician software a try and let you know how it turns out. I just happened to check out your HTPC blog and video last night, another great, informative article! That KODI is a beautiful interface. It turned on instantly, moved between Movies, TV, Recording so quickly! So now rethinking my own HTPC situation, this is why I bought the Intel NUC anyway. Like you said, it is perfect for an HTPC, and I totally agree! I have 2 other HTPC’s; I could literally fit 4 of these NUC’s inside one of them! I will start looking into Libreelec, KODI, CEC, etc. and need to review your post (was getting late last night when I found it). That was a nice setup!

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      • Well I’m glad you enjoyed it! I do love Kodi. I’ve tried other HTPC interfaces but I always come back to Kodi. Even back in the day when Windows Media Center was around I preferred XBMC (what became Kodi) over it for its flexibility and add ons. And CEC really is awesome. My living room TV doesn’t have CEC capability, so whenever my wife uses the NUC in the living room she’s a little bummed that she has to have the extra remote. The other NUC with CEC has spoiled her!

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  3. I’m a bit late to the party here, but in case anybody else finds this thread, I figured out how to resize the O/S partition during the clone process using Macrium Reflect (free version).

    When you are dragging the partitions from the source drive layout to the target drive layout, stop after you’ve done the O/S partition. Then click on that O/S partition on the target drive layout and select the blue text “Cloned Partition Properties” below the target disk layout to get the resizing options. Then you can select the option to make the partition the maximum size followed by setting the Free Space option to 1GB to allow space for the last partition.

    Once the O/S partition is resized to use all but 1GB of the available disk space, you can drag the last partition into the 1GB of empty space you left when resizing.

    Then just start the clone process. The three support partitions will be their original sizes and the O/S volume will use all of the rest of the disk space once the clone process completes.

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  4. I tried to do the same thing before landing on this page. I cloned my whole 64 gig eMMC onto a brand-new 250 Gb SSD using Macrium, which is indeed a great product. The eMMC has three partitions: a 100 Mb EFI, a 450 Mb Recovery partition, and sandwiched in between them the system (C: NTFS) partition. Macrium cloned all three of them onto the SSD, leaving a ~ 170 Gb non allocated area on the SSD. However, looking at the info with Disk Manager I noticed that while the eMMC system partition is marked as “Boot, Page File, Crash Dump, Wim Boot, Primary Partition”, the corresponding copy on the SSD only shows “Wim Boot, Primary Partition”.

    I rebooted, and effectively, I had to set my BIOS to legacy to be able to see the SSD. And booting from it failed.

    So, I understand from your post that when you cloned the system partition Macrium Reflect got you a bootable copy?

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    • Hi Daniel. I didn’t run into this issue. When I was done cloning and resizing, I ended up with the same set of partitions and was able to boot from the SSD in UEFI mode. One thing you could try is cloning the partitions individually (in the order they show up on the eMMC), rather than the whole drive.

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      • It worked! I removed all the partitions from the SSD (removing the EFI one was quite a challenge) and did the Macrium thing again, partition by partition, although I don’t think that was the reason for the initial failure. RED HEARRING: The different attributes that Disk Management was showing between the original system partition and the clone one was a read hearring: upon rebooting with the SSD now it is the eMMC that only shows “Wim Boot, Primary Partition”. Thanks a lot for this blog!

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  5. Just for info. Windows put alot of update files, log files, temp files etc on the hard disk. And doesn’t clean up after use, so these files just use alot of the disk space. If you have space trouble, you can always try to use the search windows feauture. Search for clean. A program called Disk cleanup will show. Right click it, and chose to run as administrator. Very important to do that, because now it will also look for update files etc. Chose C drive, and scan. It will run for a while, and a list pops up showing temporary internet files etc. And alot of data without checkmarks. Have experienced that you can clean many gb’s of data this way, by marking windows update, error logs and other files. Choose the data to clean, and start cleaning. After the window disappear, restart the computer. Now with a little luck there should be space enough to run your update and such. Might be faster than cloning or upgrading the SSD.

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    • Believe me, I tried. I used every tool and trick I could think of to clear up space, but to no avail. In the end, cloning was just the easier option. Plus I wanted to get off the eMMC.

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  6. Great solution, thanks!

    Once I’m up and running and booting safely from the SSD, should I wipe the eMMC, leave it with windows installed, or do whatever I want with it? Any pros/cons/risks to be aware of?

    Thanks again for the guide, really useful.

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    • I can tell you what I did: I left Windows on it, convinced I would eventually need it. A while later, I took Windows off of it completely (off the SSD AND the eMMC) and installed Libreelec. I haven’t looked back. I’m not going to tell you to wipe it out and reuse it, but I don’t see any reason you couldn’t. The Windows license is tied to the system, not the storage, so even if you pulled the SSD, wiped the eMMC, and reinstalled Windows from scratch, you should still be able to reactivate it.

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  7. I left the original copy of Windows on the eMMC, but simply disabled the eMMC in the BIOS (under Advanced / Devices and Peripherals / Onboard Devices. That way it’s always there as a protected copy of the factory O/S in case your SSD dies or becomes corrupted. You can simply enable the eMMC and repeat the migration to get back to a working O/S without starting from scratch.

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    • That was my original plan as well. But I decided to drop Windows and go with a Linux-based solution. I’m not terribly worried about getting Windows back on it. But your suggestion is solid for the average user. The other thing to consider is just what you’re going to get out of the eMMC if you wipe it. Let’s face it, eMMC isn’t lightning fast. And at 32GB, it’s not giving you a huge amount of space. So in the end it might be better to just leave Windows on it and turn it off.

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  8. Thank for the information and advice, everyone. I have a AMD Quad-Core E2-7110 and it’s a great and inexpensive laptop but, the 32GB drive w/operating system is a bit of a hindrance. I have decided to install a 120GB SSD and make it a lot more usable. Your comments and directions should help me get through this effort successfully. Once I install the drive and have the system recognize the SSD, I might have a repair store migrate the OS to the SSD but, your comments and directions might get me through the task. Novice Dan says THANKS!

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  9. I installed the SSD and finally I was finally successful (installation was easy, software was tricky). I used MiniTool Partisan Wizard and it seemed to work for a few restarts then about the 3rd attempt, it was not booting. I formatted the SSD and retried with Macrium. That worked. I disabled the eMMC drive through the Computer Management / Device Manager because I was not able to access that option in the BIOS. With the help of this Blog and a few YouTube Videos, I was able to do this upgrade to my HP Laptop. Thank you all for posting. I really like this HP Laptop 14 Amd E2-7110 Quadcore and this installed drive will make it much more useful.

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  10. Thanks for this article. Managed to successfully migrate OS from the eMMC of my NUC to a new SSD using Macrium Reflect (free).

    Used the same techniques here, partitioned my 1TB SSD into 150GB (sysvol) and 850GB (data) made an image of the eMMC saved to the 850GB partition. Then restored that into the 150GB, resizing the Windows partition from the 32GB to 149GB, leaving 1GB for the recovery volume.

    Rebooted, disabled the eMMC in the NUC BIOS and ca-ching.

    Cheers all.

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