Shrink volume

How to Shrink Volume on Windows PC and Server?

In some situations, you need to shrink a partitioned drive, for example, forget to create and edit partition when installing Operating System to a new hard disk, so C drive occupied all disk space. You can create new volumes by shrinking volume C. Another typical example is that C drive runs out of space but there is plenty of free space in other volume such as D. So many people wonder whether it is possible to shrink volume D and extend C drive. In this article, I’ll show you how to shrink partition in Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP and Server 2016, 2012, 2011, 2008, 2003 (32 and 64 bit).

Shrink volume

How to shrink partition with Disk Management

Disk Management is a Windows built-in component that shows connected storage device as well as the detailed info of each volume. You can only do some basic operations such as create, format and delete partitions in Windows XP and Server 2003. From the later Windows versions, Microsoft integrated Shrink Volume and Extend Volume to change size of partitioned drives.

The benefit to reduce partition size with Shrink Volume is fast and without reboot. Meanwhile, it has some limitations and I’ll show you later.

How to use Shrink Volume:

1. Press Windows and R on keyboard, type “diskmgmt.msc” and press Enter, and then Disk Management will be opened.

2. Right click the drive you want to decrease (here is D:) and select Shrink Volume.

Select Shrink Volume

3. Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB and then click Shrink to proceed.

Type amount

In a while, volume D is shrank and 20GB Unallocated space is generated behind D.

Volume shrank

Limitations of Shrink Volume

1. You cannot shrink volume beyond half size.

Shrink Volume limitation

From the screenshot, my volume D is 50GB (51200MB) and is empty, however, when I shrink it, the total available space is only 20950MB.

There is a tip below “You cannot shrink a volume beyond the point where any unmovable files are located“. It is strange, right? My drive D is empty even if I display the hidden files. So the little File System files that won’t be displayed is unmovable to Windows?!

2. Unallocated space can only be generated on the right side

As you see, Unallocated space is generated on the right side of volume D, and there is no option to select left or right side. So this Unallocated space can only be used to create new volumes. You cannot extend C: drive by adding this space with Extend Volume functionality, except that you can move partition D rightwards. This is the reason why Extend Volume is disabled for C drive after shrinking D.

How to shrink drive with DiskPart command

Diskpart is a command utility running from cmd. Comparing with GUI Disk Management, diskpart is more difficult to use. In addition, in Disk Management you’ll see partition layout and detailed information of each volume, but in command, Unallocated space and some information won’t be displayed. To me, there is no advantage, however, some computer users like to use command tool.

Steps to shrink volume with diskpart: 

1. Press Windows and R on keyboard, type cmd and press Enter.

Run cmd

2. In the command window, type diskpart and press Enter.

3. Type list volume to display all drives.

List volume

4. Type select volume X (X is volume number)

Select volume

5. Type shrink desired=XX (XX is the amount of space you want to shrink, in megabytes)

Shrink volume

Shrinking partition with Diskpart is more difficult and the limitations are the same with Disk Management.

How to shrink volume with partition software

Partition software is much easier without such limitations. If you use Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP, you may use free partition software to shrink disk drives.

Download NIUBI Partition Editor and you’ll see all disk partitions.

1. Right click drive D and select Resize/Move Volume:

Shrink D

In the pop-up window, you’ll see disk partition layout on the bottom.

Original drive D

Drag the left border of D rightwards on the partition bar below Size and Location on the top.

Shrink D

20GB free space is released from D.

Volume D shrank

Click OK and back to the main window, as you see, 20GB Unallocated space is created on the right side of volume C:

Unallocated created

Better that Windows Disk Management, you can generate Unallocated space on either right or left side with NIUBI Partition Editor.

If you want to extend C: drive with the Unallocated space, right click C and select Resize/Move Volume again, in the pop-up window, drag right border rightwards to combine the Unallocated space.

Extend C drive

Note: different with Windows Disk Management or Diskpart command that proceed instantly, NIUBI Partition Editor work in virtual mode to avoid mistake. Only when you press Apply button on top left to confirm, the program will proceed.

How to shrink volume for Windows without losing data?
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