Reducing your RPi SD card image size using AOMEI Backupper on Windows (8.1 but sure 7 onwards OK)

It looks like my first SD card is getting a bit flaky (about 5 months wear).

The problem I had was moving the image onto a new SD card.  I made the mistake of popping in a 16GB SD card and then expanding the file system to fill it.  To compound the issue I have run into the same problem as lots others - 16GB (etc) is not the same on all cards.

The goal was to drop the image size to, say, 7.5Gb so I can use any 8GB or greater card and then just use Win32 Disk Imager to back up/restore images.

A lot of Googling later I found myself at a dead end.  I could reduce the partition size (GParted worked as did a couple of Windows based backup/partition managers) - the issue was Win32 Disk Imager would always create a 16GB (etc) image as it dumps the full card regardless of whether there was any data in a partition.  So your X GB card always produces an X GB image - and as SD cards seem to be a few bytes different  even if the same brand/type then Win32 Disk Imager will give you a "cannot fit" type of error.

It looked like my only option was going to be running DD in a Linux environment - maybe Ubuntu live on a USB keydrive.  Before I went this route I thought I would have a quick look at some back up software options I had installed to see if any of them was happy with reading Linux partitions.

I struck lucky first time with AOMEI Backupper (a cuddlier front end to the AOMEI freeware disk cloning/ partitioning software). By now I had already shrunk the partition to around 7GB using GParted on a boot CD , however, I have used AOMEI before to do this.  I did a backup of the 16GB card and simply restored the image to an 8GB SD card.  

For the restore I only restored the Boot (FAT32) and Data (Linux) partitions leaving out the unallocated space created when I reduced the Data partition beforehand. A quick finger-cross later and it seems to be working.

I will report back if any issues show up.