Software

Repartition your hard disk on-the-fly with Windows Vista

Here's how you you can use Windows Vista's Disk Management console tool to repartition your hard disk.

As you know, the Disk Management console tool in Windows XP will allow you to create a new partition using any unallocated, or free, space on a hard disk. However, if there is a single partition that takes up the entire hard disk, you can't use the Disk Management console tool to repartition the hard disk into two or more smaller partitions. If you want to accomplish this task in Windows XP, you will have to invest in a third-party console tool such as PartitionMagic. Of course you can back up the disk, reboot with a DOS startup disk, and then use DOS FDisk command to repartition the disk, but then you'll have to reformat and reinstall, which is a lot of work.

Fortunately, Windows Vista's Disk Management console tool will allow you to repartition your existing hard disk any way you want. In other words, it will now allow you to shrink, extend, create, and format partitions without putting your data in jeopardy. Of course, before you perform any of these operations, you should back up, just in case.

In this edition of the Windows Vista Report, I'll show you how you can use Windows Vista’s Disk Management console tool to repartition your hard disk.

Accessing the Disk Management console tool

To access the Disk Management console tool in Windows Vista, you can either right-click on My Computer and select the Manage command from the context menu or you can access the Run dialog box, type Diskmgmt.msc, and click OK. You’ll then encounter a User Account Control dialog box and will need to respond accordingly.

If you use the Manage command method, you’ll see the Computer Management console tool and will need to click on Storage and then on Disk Management in the Console tree. If you use the Run dialog box method, you’ll see the Disk Management console tool in a stand-alone configuration, as shown in Figure A, and are ready to proceed.

Figure A

In the stand-alone configuration, both the Console Tree and Action panes are closed.

Repartitioning

As you can see in Figure A, this example 80-GB hard disk is currently configured as a single partition. To divide it into two partitions, right-click on the dark blue bar and select the Shrink Volume command, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

You’ll use the Shrink Volume command to divide single partition into two partitions.

When you do, the Disk Management console tool will check to see if there is enough free space on the disk to create a new partition. As if does so, you’ll see the Querying Shrink Space dialog box, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

While the Disk Management console tool is checking for free space on the disk, you’ll see the Querying Shrink Space dialog box.

As soon as the Disk Management console tool verifies that there is indeed enough free space on the disk to create a new partition, you’ll see the Shrink dialog box, shown in Figure D. As you can see, the value in the Total Size Before Shrink box indicates the current size of the partition and the value in the Size of Available Shrink Space indicates the maximum size that you can allocate to the second partition.

Figure D

The Shrink dialog box shows you how much disk space you can allocate to a second partition.

Understanding the size discrepancy

Chances are that you’ll discover that the Size of Available Shrink Space can be much less than you would see if you were to look at the amount of free space displayed in Computer. As you can see in this example Shrink dialog box, the maximum amount of space that the Disk Management console tool can use for a second partition is 7 GB even though Computer shows that there is 61 GB of available space.

The reason for this discrepancy is that the size of the available space can be restricted by the amount of space currently allocated to and the location on the hard disk of page, restore, shadow copy, and hibernation files. The location of the files plays a big part here for the mere fact that these files are marked as unmovable and the Disk Management console tool is unable to relocate them.

 As such, if these unmovable files are located middle of the total amount of free space on the disk, only the amount of free space on the other side of the files will actually be available to the new partition.

The Disk Management Help file briefly mentions that you may be able to work around this scenario by moving the page file to another to another disk and deleting the show copies. However, after disabling the page file, disabling hibernation, disabling the System Restore, using Disk Cleanup to delete System Restore and Shadow Copy files, and defragging the hard disk, I was still unable to get more available space for the second partition.

I’ll continue to investigate this in more detail and see if I can come up with a native solution.


Once you enter the amount space that you want to have available on the second partition in the Enter Amount Of Space To Shrink text box, the value in the Total Size After Shrinking will change accordingly. When you click the Shrink button, you’ll see the mouse pointer change to the Busy pointer for a period of time. When the operation is complete, the Disk Management console tool will update its display and you’ll see the new partition, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Once the Disk Management console tool finishes, it will show the new partition as unallocated space.

Establishing a simple Volume

Now that you’ve created a new partition, you’re ready to make the new partition usable. To begin, right-click on the partition and select the New Simple Volume command as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

You’ll use the New Simple Volume command to begin making the new partition usable.

The New Simple Volume Wizard will then appear as shown in Figure G. To begin this phase of the operation, just click Next.

Figure G

The New Simple Volume Wizard will walk you through the steps necessary for making the new partition usable.

In the first step, the wizard will prompt you to choose a volume size that is between the minimum and maximum values, as shown in Figure H. When you click Next, you’ll be prompted to choose a drive letter, as shown in Figure I.

Figure H

The wizard will first prompt you to decide how much of the unallocated space you want to devote to the new volume.

Figure I

You then must choose a drive letter to assign to the new volume.

When you get to the Format page of the Wizard, you can accept the default values for the File System and Allocation Unit Size and type in a name in the Volume Label text box. You can then save yourself some time by selecting the Perform a Quick Format check box, as shown in Figure J.

Figure J

On the Format Partition page, you can save yourself some time by selecting the quick format option.

When you arrive at the last step in the Wizard, shown in Figure K, just click the Finish button. You’ll then see the new volume in the Disk Management console tool, shown in Figure L. Once you close the Disk Management console tool, you can open Computer and begin using the new partition just like you would any disk drive.

Figure K

The last page in the wizard provides you with a quick synopsis of the operation.

Figure L

When you return to the Disk Management console tool, you’ll see the new volume and can begin using it immediately.

As you can see, Windows Vista’s Disk Management console tool now has the capability to resize partitions on the fly with out destroying your data. Of course, if you want to perform more complex partition tasks, you’ll want to invest in third-party partitioning software.

Have you used the Disk Management console tool in Windows Vista to shrink a volume? If so, please drop by the discussion area and let us know what you think about this new feature.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

73 comments
hackpo86
hackpo86

ausum link helped me a lot

kvkiller
kvkiller

as you have said that only 7 gb can be partitioned!! i partitioned 53 gb with the same method!! thanks anyway!! it really worked nicely!!

vinayb1983
vinayb1983

I disabled hibernation, cleaned hibernation files, disabled page files, deleted system restore points. I gained a mere 3 gb because of this. My hard disk is 250 gb. and shrink vol went up from 7 to 10 gb. Thats worth nothing ! Could anyone give me some pointers to what else i could do ? I need to have this disk partitioned.

vinayb1983
vinayb1983

Is it possible for me to make it a Logical partition as against a Primary ? I do not intend to install any OS on the new partition.

rexrzer1238477
rexrzer1238477

I am, I guess, an advanced user...and use some professional tools that are not Windows OS tools. I use/we use Paragon Software Group's Partition Manager v9.x very routinely to totally restructure HD's that we add to a given computer system under Vista. First of all, I think I should mention that there are only 4 partitions maximum available on a single HD or active command partition. This is important to understand. With many new computers under Vista there are already 4 partitions, OEM from the manufacturer, also. So the task becomes one of "reallocation" of the existing space available, ie if you have a 500GB 2.5" notebook drive, and it's already divided into 4 partitions natively by the computer manufacturer, then your job becomes one of redistributing the space available to your own needs and wants. Conversely, when you increase the HD space by adding a new 500GB HD, up from say 250GB, then the task becomes much more difficult, unless you use a tool like Paragon's Partition Manager. There are so many "situations" that particular exercise gets into that I don't know where to start, so I won't here. But suffice to say the partitions that you modify, merge, or otherwise change to suit your need must be ocntiguous, or right next to each others before you can work on them. I also recommend that people use something like Drive Backup 9.x Personal to back up your HD before you attempt to manage it, in any serious way you're going to be moving things around or re-allocating space, merging or changing paritions, all of the above! If that's not an option, there are many "free" programs out there, none of which do what is necessary very good though, but nonetheless there are free backup programs out there. Consult CNET for instance, to find those free programs to back up your HD before you attempt anything like partition changes, or modifying the HD in any serious way, and they are all serious to me! Everybody DOES back up their HD's correct? At the very least, you should use Windows new functionality in Vista to one's benefit, as it's a vast change from any flavor of XP, though people damn it constantly. I find it's quite good actually!! Just have to know WTF you are doing, that's about it I guess, is the bottom line. And you only learn by experimenting and changing your own computer around, at first, we all know that...so back it up before you do ANY modifying is my recommendation, first off. The partition management tool I recommended above is a very powerful HD and system tool, so BE CAREFUL when using it, or any other for that matter. This is a good discussion, but just exercise reasonable judgment and foresight, and protect what you have before you begin any partition magic of your own!

rakesh.n07
rakesh.n07

very cool ideas . i was unaware about the partitioning directly with out using partition magic as we use in xp. thankyou

trudig
trudig

Partition is too small, I would prefer it half the disk, or close to it.

anto6ik
anto6ik

Thank you for the information.

yujia2007
yujia2007

My Vista is Home Premium, I logged on as an Administrator, went to Disk Management, went to shrink partition, got Access Denied. No other message at all. I then right click C drive and use properties-security trying to check full control for my account. However,when I try to apply it. It says: An error occurred while applying security information to C:\log, C:\boot, etc... Cannot partition, please help !!! BTW: I already turn off the user account control My C drive has 500GB, really want to get couple more partition out of it! Please help :)

pink.floyd
pink.floyd

Thanks for the step-by-step instruction. I was able to partition my primary drive without any issues. Now instead of a humongous 220 GB C: drive, I have a respectable 70 GB C: for programs and windows updates, 50 GB secondary drive for music, and four 25 GB auxiliary drives. PK

cthio
cthio

Hi, will I always need to format the new partition? Will it always be NTFS? I want to resize my partition d, to say, E drive (i.e. shrink the d drive). I then want to install WIN XP in the E drive. In my c drive, I have Vista and I don't intend to touch the c drive. My overall objective would be to have a dual boot, my choice of either Vista (the original pre-installed OS) or WIN XP each time when I restart my notebook. Any help would be much appreciated.

abbas111
abbas111

I have done this procedure...but i really have a problem! after click the FINISH button,as in FIGURE K, system give this message to me: action is not completed,there is not enough space to do this action! though i have checked several times the capacity for new partition and also i have choosen the value of only 40MB! for new partition,but it doesn't work. what should i do?

truaxis
truaxis

truaxis@ameritech.net I did this flawlessly which was good. The bad is, I was trying to create dual boot w/ existing Vista and installing XP. Didn't work and I had to reinstall Vista with recovery disks. I'm still having problems with trying to install XP. I even tried the floppy install of SATA drivers for my 2-Sata controllers operating in IDE mode. No soap. Any suggestions?

poisonous.antidote
poisonous.antidote

I've got 19.53GB Unallocated space & wen going thru d "New Simple Volume Wizard" I get d error "There is not enough space available on the disk(s) to complete this operation". So wat to do wid dis???

vietnamrepublic
vietnamrepublic

I think there is better approach than using Vista. 1. Create disk image using Ghost 12 2. Use WD Data LifeGuard Tools or or Maxtor MaxBlast III to re-partition/format partitions with the amount of disk space you desire - not what amount Vista can shrink. 3. Use Ghost 12 CD to restore disk image.

msggaurav
msggaurav

i tried doing it, but i am getting a error msg. "there is not enough space available on the disk to complete this action" wht do i do now ??

adedipeo
adedipeo

Ok, I just followed these staeps in an attempt to repartition my laptop. I created an unallocated space of 42.17 GB but when I clicked the finish buttom for the new simple volume wizard, it gave an error that I did not have enough space to complete the task. what do I do now.

kylee
kylee

Good job, Greg. Thanks.

jasna819
jasna819

I done as you described above i had now 3 partitions. On the first (C) i have W. Vista Business and on second (D) i would like to install XP and on third (E) i would like to install W. 2000 Pro. What do i need to do to install XP on D and W 2000 Pro on E? And i would like to have all three OS visible when i switch on my computer. Would you please explaine to me how can install xp and 2000 pro? Thank you very much. Jasna

sreeramkannan
sreeramkannan

It was very much helpful. Btw, i also faced the problem with limited shrink volume. But when i tried after doing the following a)disk cleanup (deleting restore files) b)disable system restore, i was able to get unrestricted shrink volume.

info
info

I want to try this so I can run XP Professional as well as Vista. But is the process reversible? Will I be able to get rid of the partition (and perhaps Vista) without risking a catastrophe? Peter

kalkar.prashant
kalkar.prashant

i was able to increase the size space to shrink. All we need to do is disable the pagefiles, hibernate option (clean the hibernate file with the disk cleanup before disabling the hibernate option), disable the core dump file creation containing debugging information, and remove the auto-restore points for the drive. The page file can be disabled from Computer > Properties > Advance Options > Advance > Performance Settings > Advance > Click change button > Set No page file and click set button. This will disable the pagefiles. To clean the hibernate file run the disk cleanup for that drive and select the hibernate file. Then disable the hibernate option by opening the command prompt in admin mode and running powercfg -h off command. To disable the core dump file creation, go to computer > properties > advance options > Advance tab > Setup and recovery section click settings, in Write debug information select none instead of Kernel dump file. To disable the auto-restore option go to the computer > properties > advanced > System protection tab > Deselect the drive in the automatic restore point section. Restart PC and now try to shrink the drive. I hope this information helps. Prashant

adavellys
adavellys

i got an error when i applied simple volume on unallocated space. as soon as i pressed FINISH i got error saying "there is not enough space available". Could you please tell me why is this happening.

vijay.bathlagundu
vijay.bathlagundu

I followed the same procedure mentioned. There was a shrinkable space of 49GB/120GB. When I clicked finish, an error message pops up which says "There is not enough space available on the disk(s) to complete this operation. Please help! Thanks in advance. Best Regards VJ

pamreflects
pamreflects

I have just got a new lenovo notebook with Windows Vista Home Basic, infact I could do the partition just by reading the instructions mentioned here, and for a non technical person like me, this is worth mentioning, thus i must say, its a great piece of information and it works well! Thnks for such a wonderful information. Pramila

16quicksilver38
16quicksilver38

hoping users will upgrade from home premium to ultimate to use their instructions?? ...and neither my laptop manufacturer nor their 3rd party tech provider knew about it. For the giant hard drives being shipped now, this is wonderful...and worked flawlessly.

janusinc
janusinc

I have used PartionMagic since it's inception, so I am very familiar with the usage of such features. PartionMagic has always been a very functional utility that was always improving and expanding in usability and features over the years. Since Symantec bought them out, the development of this software came to a grinding halt and is not even available for Vista. I was glad to hear that Vista was making the capability to manipulate our hard drive partitions as a native part of the OS. It only makes sense to have this essential capability to manipulate our hard drive storage topography. I have already used this Vista feature and it does work well for what it can do, but it is very limited. It does not allow for any "moving" of the partitions within the free space areas. In my example, I needed to shrink one partition so that I could expand the partition that was immediately in front of it. However, upon shinking this partition, Vista placed all the free space at the end of the new partition with no capability to move it elsewhere. Without the capability of moving the partitions within the free space areas you are limited to expanding or making new partitions only in the immediate free area proceeding (after) the "shrunk" partitions. The partitions preceeding the "shrunk" partition cannot be expanded; the freeded up space is useless to any partition that comes before the "shrunken" partitions. Vista could easily solve this huge limitation by at least giving the option of putting the new free space that results from shrinking a partition to either the front or the back of the shrunk partition. Partition Magic actually allowed you to "slide" any and all partitions graphically to any location within available free space on the drive. Hopefully Microsoft will continue to improve on this feature.

suhaibfaiz
suhaibfaiz

There is not enough space available on the disk(s) to complete this operation

rhogue
rhogue

Greg, Thanks for taking your time to explore the capabilities of Vista and sharing them with us. It saves some of us time and helps us learn the new OS before we deploy it. I am sure there are many more who appreciate the info than the few who take the time to throw stones.

ddmcp2000
ddmcp2000

Who cares... Drive space is SO cheap today, go buy another drive. Who really wants to store vital data on a partition on a boot (system) drive anyway? If the drive fails for any reason, you data is probably gone as well... Ever hear of a little thing calle "drive contention"? Drive contention is the VERY reason I put my swap file on a second PHYSICAL drive... Will it allow me to delete the partition, and EXPAND the volume to regain that dataspace, should I change my mind, or if my drive is already partitioned, and I want to add a second drive?

lewie-mys
lewie-mys

Problem is: - Windows keeps putting system files towards the back end of the disk. - Windows defragger does not move files to the front to free up space at back. Tried freeware UltraDefrag to do this but failed many attempts. Finally this worked (Vista Basic, OEM laptop with 3 preset partitions, one C of 290GB): Download Free Trial of PerfectDisk10 from http://www.perfectdisk.com. Choose Home user/Free trial, follow instructions This free trial is the full version lasting for 30 days use. Switch off virtual memory (and deleted pagefile.sys), recycle bin, hibernation and system restore (Perfectdisk claims to work even with these in place, but had already done all this for UltraDefrag....) Start PerfectDisk (skip intro (finish button) if you like). Select Drive to defrag. Click Drive Properties/Online Defragmentation, and put checkmark against "Agressively consolidate free space", then press OK Select Consolidate free space (next to START button) and press START button. When done (look at Drive map likely still showing blocks hanging out loose), select SYSTEM FILES on top menu, free all file handles etc. when asked and say Yes to reboot. PerfectDisk will now reboot the pc, defragging system files before Windows itself starts. This moves more stubborn system files upfront (but see below!). Now you should be able to shrink the volume, but perhaps ONLY UP TO HALF of the available space. This is because WIndows ALWAYS puts system files back in there, usually around halfway inside the free space at the end. No problem, though, run PerfectDisk AGAIN as before, then shrink again half, and keep going till you have freed up all you wanted. Now you should be able to create new volumes in the free space and format those. Don't forget to re-enable whatever you disabled before. Hope this helps.

rakesh.n07
rakesh.n07

HI I HAVE A SINGLE DRIVE OF 180 GB . IF I PARTITION I HOPE ONLY I CAN PATITION 7 GB IN OTHER PARTITION . SO IF I WANT SOME MORE SPACE IN THE OTHER DRIVES SO IS THERE ANY SOFTWARE WHICH CAN HELP ME DOING SO .

Gameburner
Gameburner

My Vista is Ultimate, I logged on as an Administrator, went to Disk Management, went to shrink partition, got Access Denied. No other message at all.

nekholm
nekholm

Nice app. Question: I have two partitions (by default), both 70GB. Now I want to shrink C:, keep Vista on it, and install XP on the new D:. How much space should I save for Vista, and how much for XP?

bc
bc

I was able to shrink my c: of C: and D: to 35 from 50 (of 110 total). After this however, unallocated space was to the right where before it was in the middle. After shrinking there was no unallocated space to the right but I had 20000 to the left. From here the extend D: option was unavailable. I tried Diskpart but got the not enough message (presumably the unallocated space needs to be to the right). I tried GParted and extended D: another 15000. This worked fine so far. I hope to post more detail later.

laksvirk
laksvirk

Hello Sir, I m also facing the same problem after shrinking my HD, if you got any solution for that, kindly guide me. You can send me an e-mail at laksvirk@gmail.com. Thank you in advance and hope a solution from you. Lakhbir Singh.

Olio Botnet
Olio Botnet

I've been disecting Vista's Disk Management feature as well. I've come across a limitation on my machine that was stated in the mentioned article but my limitation came with 500GB drive after a fresh install of Vista Ultimate. The limitation I'm seeing is that I can only divide the disk to about 50%. I did this on an 80GB slave drive as well with nothing on it and was still able to only get a maximum of about 50% shrink. However, the resulting new partition I've been able to divide and shrink/expand/delete partitions to my hearts content but the primary partition of the second hard drive still remains at that original (roughly)50% barrier same as on the larger drive which has a remaining 230GB of free space with Vista on only less than 15GB of that partition. Has anyone come up with a native workaround to this limitation? I've tried disabling paging files, shadow copies, restore points as did the author but have not come up with a working solution yet. Has anyone come up with a solution?

s31064
s31064

Hopefully Microsoft will fix this because that will be a major issue. I agree with your assessment of PartitionMagic also, but it's not alone in its fate. It seems every product Symantec has bought has suffered the same fate. Look at what happened to Ghost. Remember PC Tools? Absolutely great utility package. Their only problem is they were becoming more popular than Norton Utilities. Symantec bought it from Central Point and crushed it. They never had any intention of supporting it or enhancing it. And people complain about Microsoft!

Absolutely
Absolutely

How much space is available? How large is the partition you're trying to create?

esteck
esteck

I got a laptop with vista on it. I repartitioned the HD to give me another partition to load XP Pro. Now I have a machine that is dual bootable for those apps that dont run on vista (CAD) Thanks Ed

rhasby
rhasby

This could prove usefull; but, has anyone tried using this to Expand a partition?

TechLis
TechLis

Not everybody has the money to, ?just buy another hard drive? or 3rd party software. This is good, for example, if you only have one drive, what to format it, but first save your files on another partition, (on the same existing drive), before doing so. Thanks for the tip.

NOW LEFT TR
NOW LEFT TR

who buy Partition Magic! This will also be a feature on the next Windows Server version - now what do you say?

cjreynolds
cjreynolds

I've been trying every solution I can find for this - There seems to be one file smack in the middle of my free space. It's a 500G drive, and all I can get out of it is 231867MB of available space. Tried several variations of your solution from other forums and a few of my own, but I'm beginning to think this isn't going to happen. Tried this solution twice, but it won't budge. Perhaps microsoft wins this one...

gpjaxon
gpjaxon

I'm getting this "not enough disk apace to complete the operation" too - I have 4Gb unallocated and want a Simple Volume there. There is loads of space in other partitions including the C: drive wehere I assume the program to do this wants temp space. It's a new laptop with nothing else on it, I need Xp Pro to run legacy apps, and want space to eventually run Linux too. Maybe I need Partition Magic.

shubhayu
shubhayu

Nice to know you got this working. Could you please offer some more details on the procedures. 1. The method of partitioning hard drive in Vista 2. Installing XP after the hard drive has been partitioned. Thanks a ton!

ddmcp2000
ddmcp2000

...and it's in the screenshots above. Appears as though you can extend a volume. Almost NOBODY will ever need to do this, therefore the "feature" is bloatware. Personally, I think it's a rediculous "feature", adding to the "oversizedness" that is the NEW Windows. wooo... hoo. (Make sure you get ALL of sarcasm DRIPPING from that...) Can I remove this "feature"? Do I NEED this "feature"? Probably not, and No. Another example of Microsoft and their demanding, overwhelming, and all-consuming desire to be completely monopolistic of all forms of software. Check into this little article: http://aaxnet.com/editor/edit043.html If it's NOT good enought for the DOT, NIST, FAA or TI... It's NOT good enough for me. I'll keep my W2K boxes until I can't run 'em any longer, then I'll go to Ubuntu, ( http://www.ubuntu.com ) dedicated. I am already running it on my laptop, and it's fantastic. Yes, I can run Windows applications, including Office (not that I need that - with OpenOffice, ( http://www.openoffice.org ) I already HAVE it, without M$'s help). Not being a Linux guy at all, I was scared, but having tried this distro... I'm probably hooked! Redmond is in deep kimchi if this distro catches on, and there is no reason it shouldn't. Fast and stable. Time to start exploring alternates, people. With Linux and WINE, ( http://www.winehq.com ) there is no reason to stay with Window$ anymore.