This article introduces how to repartition hard drive without losing data for Windows desktop, laptop and servers.
Applies to: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012 (R2), Small Business Server 2011, Windows Server 2008 (R2) and Windows Server 2003 (R2).
Hard drive partitions are allocated while installing Operating System or by OEM manufacturers. Many people ask whether it's possible to repartition hard drive without losing data, because system partition or a data volume is getting full. Nobody likes to reinstall Operating System and all programs. The answer is yes.
To repartition a drive, you may use either native Disk Management or third party software. Comparing with Disk Management, 3rd-party software is much more powerful, but you'd better make a backup in advance and run the safest software. In this article, I'll introduce detailed steps to repartition hard drive with both tools for Windows PC and server.
How to repartition a drive with Windows Disk Management
In Windows XP/Server 2003 Disk Management, you can only create, delete and format partition. To data partitions, you have to move all files to another disk, delete these partitions, create new volume and reformat it. To system partition, you can't do anything with Disk Management.
From Windows 7/Server 2008, new Shrink Volume and Extend Volume functions are added in Disk Management. They can help you repartition hard drive without losing data (in most cases). However, both functions have shortages. First of all, they only support NTFS partition, other types of partitions including FAT32 can't be shrunk and extended. Other shortages of Disk Management include:
- It cannot shrink a partition beyond the point where unmovable files are located. These files include paging file, hibernation, restore point and other larger files.
- It can only shrink a partition towards left and make Unallocated space on the right.
- It can extend a NTFS partition when there's contiguous Unallocated space on the right.
If you just want to decrease a NTFS partition to create more volumes, you may try Windows Disk Management, follow the steps:
- Press Windows and R together on your keyboard, type diskmgmt.msc and press Enter to open Disk Management.
- Right click this NTFS partition and select Shrink Volume.
- If you want to shrink with default maximum available free space, simply click Shrink. Otherwise, enter an smaller amount by yourself.
If you want to extend a NTFS partition, Disk Management is not a good choice. Because of the shortages listed above, Disk Management can only help you extend partition by deleting the contiguous partition on the right. If you want to extend partition by shrinking another one, Disk Management cannot help you.
As you see in the screenshot, Extend Volume is disabled for C and E drive after shrinking D. Because Unallocated space can only be generated on the right when shrinking D. This space is non adjacent to C drive and is on the left of E drive, therefore, Extend Volume is grayed out.
How to repartition system drive in Windows 10/8/7 and Server 2019/2016/2012/2008 Disk Management:
- Right click the contiguous partition D: (E in some computers) and select "Delete Volume".
- Right click system C: drive and select "Extend Volume", then Extend Volume Wizard will be opened.
- Simply click Next till Finish in next windows.
The partitions to delete and extend must be the same Primary or Logical drive. Otherwise, Extend Volume still greyed out after deleting.
Better way to repartition hard drive with free partition editor
Obviously, Disk Management is not the best tool to help you repartition hard disk drive. Better than this native tool, third party software has more advantages while repartitioning hard drive:
- Support both NTFS and FAT32 partitions.
- Unallocated space can be made on either left or right when shrinking partition.
- Unallocated space can be extended to either contiguous partition by 1 step.
- Unallocated space can be moved and extended to non adjacent volume on the same disk.
There is potential system damage and data loss risk while repartitioning hard drive with both Disk Management and third party software. This is the reason why I told you to make a backup in advance. Better than other programs, NIUBI Partition Editor has advanced technologies to protect system/data and save time.
- Virtual Mode - all operations you do will be listed as pending for preview, real hard drives won't be repartitioned until click Apply to confirm.
- Cancel-at-well - if you applied wrong operations, you can cancel the ongoing operations without losing data.
- 1 Second Rollback - if any error occur while repartitioning a drive, it automatically reverts computer to original status in a flash.
- Advanced file-moving algorithm - repartition hard drive 30% - 300% faster.
There's free edition for Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP home computer users. To repartition hard drive for Windows server & PC, just drag and drop on the disk map.
Download NIUBI Partition Editor and you'll see the main window with disk partition structure and other information.
How to repartition hard drive in Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP and Server 2019/2016/2012/2008/2003:
Right click a partition such D: and select "Resize/Move Volume", you have two choices to shrink it in the pop-up window.
① If you drag left border towards right in the pop-up window,
Then Unallocated space is made on the left.
If you want to create more volumes, right click the Unallocated space and select "Create Volume". You can select partition type, file system, cluster size, add/modify partition label, change drive letter and edit partition size/location in the pop-up window.
If you want to repartition C drive after shrinking D, right click C: and select "Resize/Move Volume" again, drag right border towards right in the pop-up window.
If you want to repartition E drive after shrinking D, right click E: and select "Resize/Move Volume" again, drag left border towards left in the pop-up window.
If you want to shrink E and extend non adjacent partition C, shrink E and make Unallocated space on the left. Before adding Unallocated space to C drive, there's an additional step to move partition D. Watch the video how to repartition hard drive:
If you use any types of hardware RAID arrays, do not break raid array. The steps are the same no matter you use physical disk, hardware RAID or VMware/Hyper-V virtual machine.
How to repartition hard drive with another larger disk
In some computers, there's no other partition or not enough free space on the same disk. In that case, no software can repartition hard drive larger, because the size of a physical disk is fixed, no software can decrease a 256GB hard disk to 200GB or increase it to 300GB.
In this situation, you can copy this disk to another larger one and repartition with extra disk space.
The steps are the same to repartition hard drive in Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP and Server 2019/2016/2012/2008/2003, but free edition can't be installed in a server.