In a previous blog post, I described how to use the Microsoft Windows 7 Disk Management tool to shrink an existing hard drive volume: “Quick Tip: Shrink a Hard Drive Volume in Windows 7.” Once you have shrunk a volume, you can then establish a new partition on the newly empty space and create a new logical hard drive for your Windows operating system. Here are the steps to make that happen.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery and TechRepublic download. The article was originally published in January 2011.

Disk Management

As in the previous post, the first step is to start the Windows 7 Disk Management tool with elevated administrative rights. Click the Start menu button and type diskmgmt.msc into the search box and then right-click the diskmgmt.msc entry to get to the Run as Administrator item in the context menu, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Open the Disk Management Tool with administrative rights.

Clicking Run as Administrator will load the Disk Management Tool, which will look something like Figure B. As you can see, we have some empty space to work with after shrinking the volume previously.

Figure B

There is empty space to fill.

Right-click on the empty area to get the context menu and then navigate to the New Simple Volume menu item, which will start the appropriate wizard (Figure C).

Figure C

Start the New Simple Volume Wizard.

Click Next on the Welcome screen (Figure D) to start the process.

Figure D

The Welcome screen starts the process.

You can take the empty space and divide it into several drives, but in our example, I am going to use the remaining space for the new simple volume (Figure E).

Figure E

Specify the volume size.

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On the next screen in the wizard you are asked to assign a drive letter or path to the new volume (Figure F). You have three choices:

  • Assign the following drive letter: Windows has suggested the next available drive letter. This is the default and will most often be the preferable choice.
  • Mount in the following empty NTFS folder: Instead of using a drive letter you can mount the drive to a folder. This essentially makes the drive look like and operate like a folder in Windows.
  • Do not assign a drive letter or drive path: You will have to assign a letter or path later in order to make the drive usable for storage.

We’ll just stick with the default and make a new drive E.

Figure F

Assign a drive letter or drive path.

The screen in the wizard deals with formatting our new drive (Figure G). In general, you should choose to format this drive under the NTFS file system; however, you can also choose to use FAT32. The other default setting should not be used unless you know have a specific reason to change the allocation size.

You should give your new drive a label to help you distinguish the new drive from other drives on your system. A quick format will take less time, but it will not find and mark bad sectors on your drive that could cause problems later.

NTFS drives have built-in compression systems that are essentially seamless to users and can be a good choice if storage space is a premium.

Figure G

Set the formatting options.

The last screen in the wizard (Figure H) gives you a summary of your choices and the opportunity to step back and make changes. When you are satisfied with your choices, click the Finished button.

Figure H

Click Finish to create your drive.

When the formatting is complete, you will have a new drive visible to Windows 7 and ready to store your files (Figure I).

Figure I

A new drive is available.