Shrink partition Server 2016

Shrink partition in Windows Server 2016 without data loss

Sometimes you need to shrink hard drive to decrease partition size if it is created too large or want to create more partitions. To shrink partition on Windows Server 2016, there are two choices: the native Shrink Volume functionality in Disk Management, or 3rd-party disk partition software. In this article, I’ll introduce how to shrink volume in Server 2016 with both tools step by step.

Server 2016 Shrink Volume feature

Windows Server 2016 Disk Management snap-in provides “Shrink Volume” functionalities to decrease partition size on the fly. However, it can only shrink a partition from left to the right side. In addition, you can’t shrink partition in some conditions.

How to shrink volume in Server 2016 Disk Management:

Step 1 Press Windows and X on keyboard and then click Disk Management.

Step 2 Right click the drive that you want to decrease and select Shrink Volume.

Shrink Volume

Step 3 Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB (1024MB=1GB), here I entered 20480 (20GB). Click Shrink to execute.

Enter amount

In a while, original 50GB D drive is shrank to 30GB. 20GB unused space is converted to Unallocated on the right side.

Drive D shrank

As you see, the only option Disk Management give me is entering the amount. There is no extra option to select producing Unallocated space on which side. It causes a serious issue that this Unallocated space cannot be added to other drive. In other word, you cannot shrink D to extend C drive. Because to expand C drive with Extend Volume functionality, Unallocated space must be on the left side of drive D. In native Disk Management, you can only create new partition with this space.

Cannot shrink volume/partition in DM

In fact, besides the limitation above, you can’t shrink partition with Server 2016 Disk Management in some situations. Then third party server partition software is needed.

Reason 1 – not supported partition

To show you the truth, I formatted drive D from NTFS to FAT32 in my test server. As you see, Shrink Volume is greyed out for drive D.

Shrink Volume greyed out

In fact, the build-in Shrink Volume functionality only supports NTFS partition, FAT32 and other types of partition cannot be shrank.

Reason 2 – unmovable files

Have you noticed the tip when shrinking drive D? “You cannot shrink a volume beyond the point where any unmovable files are located.”

Shrink limitation

What does it mean?

For example: C drive is composed of block 1, 2, 3 and 4. If the unmovable files are located in block 3, you cannot shrink C drive to block 2 even though it is blank. Because of this restriction, many people feedback that they can only shrink little space, or cannot shrink partition beyond half size.

Shrink C drive

The unmovable files include Page File, Hibernation and other large files, so you are likely to encounter this issue when shrinking C drive.

What to do?

You have to run disk partition software such as NIUBI Partition Editor, which can move the “unmovable” files, so it is able to shrink a drive to minimum size.

Shrink hard drive with partition software

To shrink partition on Windows Server 2016, 3rd-party partition software is much easier and without so many limitations. Comparing with Windows native Disk Management, NIUBI Partition Editor has many advantages such as:

  • Unallocated space can be produced on either side when shrinking a drive.
  • Both NTFS and FAT32 partitions are supported.
  • Drag and drop on the disk map to shrink and extend partition.
  • Unallocated space on either side can be merged to drive by 1 dragging.
  • NIUBI can shrink drive E and move the produced Unallocated space to behind C.

How to shrink volume with NIUBI Partition Editor:

Download and install it, right click the drive that you want to shrink and select “Resize/Move Volume“. In the pop-up window, drag either border towards the other side. Watch the video:

In Summary

Windows native Disk Management can only help you shrink NTFS partition and produce Unallocated space on the right side. You can only shrink little space if there are unmovable files located in this partition. To shrink volume in Windows Server 2016, disk partition software is better choice. Besides shrinking and extending allocated partition, NIUBI Partition Editor can help you optimize, copy, convert, wipe and manage disk partitions. The most important, it is much safer than other tools because of its unique 1 Second Rollback technology.