How To Shrink & Extend Volumes Or Partitions in Windows 7

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extend partition windows 7When you have a large hard drive and some space to spare, it may make sense to create more than one volume on this hard drive. For example you could use additional partitions to separate system files and installed programs from personal files or to open up an entire volume as a network drive.

In Windows 7 and Windows Vista, resizing your volumes or re-partitioning your hard drive has become a lot easier than in previous Windows versions. However, there are still a few pitfalls that will require you to use third party applications rather than the internal Windows Disk Management tool. In this article I will show you how to change the size of volumes or create new ones and which tools to use.

Windows Disk Management

As mentioned above, Windows Vista and Windows 7 are equipped with a Disk Management tool. With this tool you can partition your hard drive, shrink or expand volumes, and create new ones. I will walk you through the process as seen on Windows 7.

To launch the Disk Management tool go to > Start and type > partition in the search box. From the results click > Create and format hard disk partitions.

extend partition windows 7

You will now see a list of volumes and their properties. They can refer to several hard drives or partitions on a single hard drive. Below is a screenshot of what my single hard drive setup looks like.

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shrink partition windows 7

Right now I have three volumes (C, D, and E) and some unallocated space.

Example 1:

Let’s say you have a single hard drive and a single volume called C on which your operating system and all your programs are installed and on which you keep all your personal files. You have several GB of free space and want to create a new volume or partition called D to store all your personal data. You do not have any unallocated space.

Before you can create a new volume, you must free up space from which you can create it, meaning you have to create unallocated space. To do this, right-click on > C and select > Shrink Volume… Windows will take a moment to query the volume for available shrink space.

shrink partition windows 7

In my example, I only have 6217 MB available for shrinking. That’s because I already freed up 9.77 GB in unallocated space for this demonstration. You should leave at least 5 GB of free space on your C volume for Windows updates, program installations, and general Windows operations. Keep in mind that 1GB equals 1024 MB, in other words, leave at least 5120 MB of ‘available shrink space’ on C. Once you have decided on the amount of space to shrink, click the > Shrink button and wait a moment.

You will now see the space by which you shrinked C as unallocated space right next to your C volume. To create a new volume, right click > Unallocated and select > New Simple Volume…

shrink partition windows 7

The Volume Wizard will guide you through the process. You can decide how much of the unallocated space you want to assign to the new volume, you can pick a drive letter, and a file system.

partition windows 7

For the changes to come into effect, you have to reboot the computer.

Example 2:

Let’s say you already have two volumes called C and D. You want to shrink C and then add the unallocated space to D. You would go about it just as in the previous example, only that after creating the unallocated space, you would not create a new volume, you would attempt to extend volume D.

When you have unallocated space, you can in theory extend any partition by that space. Simply right-click the respective partition and select > Extend Volume… Now you might realize in frustration that this option is greyed out and hence not available.

partition windows 7

This is a limitation of Windows 7. You can only extend a volume with unallocated space that is located to its right. So in my setup, I could extend C, but I cannot extend D. This is when you need to turn to third party applications. I recommend EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition.

Another limitation in Windows 7 is that you can only shrink or extend NTFS or unformatted partitions.

EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition

In principle, this tool works the same as the Windows Disk Management tool. The difference is that it offers more features and is a lot more flexible, for example because you can extend a partition, regardless of where the unallocated space sits.

Right-click the respective partition and select > Resize/Move partition.

partition windows 7

In the window that opens you can either enter the numbers or drag the little balls on either side of your volume to change the size or move the partition.

move partition

When you’re done click > OK. In my example, the result looks like this:

extend partition windows 7

To make the changes come into effect, you must reboot your computer. Note that since the entire volume has to be rewritten, this process can take quite a while. Moreover, you should make a backup of your data before you are moving a partition!

If you found this post helpful, you might also be interested in the following articles:

How many internal hard drives and partitions on each drive do you have and if you have more than one, what do you use them for?

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Comments (10)
  • Prajeesh

    Tina thank you for this information. But I have a question. When we shrink a drive and add or extend to another drive will my data in the drive that has to be extended be formatted or erased.

    I have 40GB of space in (D:) Drive that I want to transfer to (E:) Drive. So will any of my drives be formatted. Will the data in both drives be intact after the process is done?

    • Tina


      With the methods described in the article above, you can shrink and expand active volumes without losing data (unless something goes wrong).

      You can only shrink space that is designated as empty. For example, if your partition is 60 GB and contains 20 GB of data, you can shrink it by a maximum of 40 GB (it’s recommended to leave at least 5 GB space, though) and then re-allocate those 35 or 40 GB to another partition.

      Windows native tools can only shrink and expand on the “empty” side of the volume. EASUS’ Partition Manager can handle both ends and will move data around accordingly.

      Note that the software only schedules the changes. Nothing really happens until you reboot, although you shouldn’t haphazardly delete a partition if it has data on it. Also, since things go wrong, it’s super important that you make a backup of all your data!

  • Jon

    doesnt work on changing system partition size. I want to extend it, not shrink it.

    • Rov

      I have been able to expand my system partition size to allow for the upgrade to windows 10. I got the error “Windows 10 couldn’t update the system reserved partition”. The capacity prior to expansion was a measly 25mb with only 4mb free. As per this forum: I would need at least 50mb to download and install windows 10.

      Using EaseUS I shrunk 1000mb free from my C: drive later to be merged with my System Reserved Y: increasing capacity to 1025mb.
      on EaseUS, right click on C: and click ‘Resize/Move Partition’
      Using the left hand ball drag towards the desired amount you want to allocate to system reserve, or enter in ‘Unallocated space before’. (You may have to increase partition size to decrease the amount shown in unallocated space before, as there is not much control using the ball).

      An unallocated partition will appear on the list above/ before disk C:
      Click on the unallocated disk & select ‘Create partition’
      Change Drive letter to any letter you wish (will not matter when it merges with Y:)
      Leave as Logical in ‘create as’ & NTFS in ‘file system’.

      Now click on the Y: System Reserved partition & select ‘Merge’
      Tick both Y: & the new drive you just created.
      On the drop box ‘Merge selected partitions to:’ Select Y: System Reserved. Then OK
      Y: drive has now increased capacity!

      To save changes you click ‘Apply’*
      I installed EaseUS to trial it, but in order to save the changes i made it needed me to purchase the program so it ended up costing me $40US.

      I have successfully installed windows 10 & everything is running beautifully.

  • Allam

    does it affect or corrupt the files when transferring space between partitions ?

  • Paul Lam

    can’t use Easeus to extend the new unallocated volume since the right click shows only recover partition / properties and no  Resize/Move partition command… ?

    • Tina

      Did you right-click the partition that you want to resize / extend or did you click the unallocated space?

  • Ankur

    Easeus is a must tool and much better and easy to use. 

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
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