I was able to archive quite a few files.
* The files from a Linux server that I hadn’t saved
* The files from a 1TB drive from an old computer
I restored the files from the archived system onto that 1TB drive.
When I booted that restored system, the hard drive was making extremely loud seeking noises. I looked quickly at the drive performance statistics and they were the same as the original drive. I shut the system down and checked and the drive wasn’t damaged.
I was able to reset with the recovery partition and now I’ve got plenty to do and the system appears stable so far….
I needed to upgrade the main disk on my Windows 8 computer. I was fortunate that the old disk allowed me to make a system image. (Monty Python: “I’m not dead.”)
I followed the instructions on a very helpful blog post “Simple steps for replacing your Windows 8.1 system disk with a bigger drive”
Everything went as directed until I got to the error message “The system image restore failed. Windows cannot restore a system image to a computer that has different firmware. The system image was created on a computer using EFI and the computer is using BIOS.”
I did an investigation of the error message using my current research workflow. (Just started using that workflow, so I have to mention it. One of its greatest attributes is that it prevents me from jumping down rabbit holes when I’m trying to learn something specific.)
The short answer:
Recent PCs can boot in two ways. One uses the old technique from a BIOS and another uses a different method called UEFI. (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) The solution was to boot the prepared USB drive the same way that the original hard drive boot used.
I found the keypress I needed to go into the boot menu, (For my computer it was F12. Other computers might use other keys.) I picked the option to boot my USB drive with EFI instead of BIOS and now the data is being restored successfully.
….It’s easy to find a long answer to solve the problem.