When 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.
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.
Right now I have three volumes (C, D, and E) and some unallocated space.
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.
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…
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.
For the changes to come into effect, you have to reboot the computer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When you’re done click > OK. In my example, the result looks like this:
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 To Set Up A Second Hard Drive In Windows: Partitioning
- How To Format A Large Hard Drive With Either FAT Or FAT32
- Create & Resize Windows Partitions with Free PartitionManager
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?