Cannot shrink partition in Windows 10/8/7 - reasons & solutions

by John, Updated on: April 26, 2021

Besides basic ability to delete, create and format partition, Windows 10/8/7 native Disk Management utility has advanced Shrink Volume and Extend Volume functions to help resize partition without losing data. However, it can only shrink a partition towards left and make Unallocated space on the right side. In addition, in some cases it cannot shrink volume or can only shrink little space. In this article, I'll show you the common reasons why Disk Management can't shrink Windows 10 partition and what to do when you are unable to shrink volume in Windows 10/8/7 laptop/desktop/pad.

Why Disk Management can't shrink partition in Windows 10/8/7

Reason 1: File system is not supported

Disk Management can only shrink and extend the partition that are formatted with NTFS file system, FAT32 and any other types of partitions cannot be shrunk or extended.

FAT32 partition

Reason 2: Not enough free space

After running Shrink Volume, Disk Management calculates disk space usage and gives you the maximum available space by default. If you did not change or entered an larger amount, you may receive the error that "there is not enough space available".

Not enough space

Reason 3: File system error

If there is file system error or other system issue, Disk Management can't shrink partition with even 1MB.

Can't shrink

Reason 4: There are unmovable files

If there are some unmovable files such as Paging file and hibernation files are located in this partition, Disk Management can only shrink little space.

Unmovable files

What to do when unable to shrink volume in Windows 10/8/7

If you cannot shrink partition in Windows 10/8/7 Disk Management, find out the reason and follow the corresponding solutions below.

Solution 1: Shrink with partition software

If you want to shrink a FAT32 partition, Shrink Volume is grayed out in Windows 10/8/7 Disk Management. In that case, you need to run third party software such as NIUBI Partition Editor.

Solution 2: Shrink with less space

As I said above, Disk Management will calculate disk space of the partition that you want to shrink, and then gives you the maximum available space. If you entered a larger space or many files saved to this partition before you clicking Shrink button. The real available space and the calculated amount of space is conflicting. In that case, you just need to run Shrink Volume again or enter an smaller amount by yourself.

Solution 3: Fix file system error

Many computers have file system error in one or more partitions. In general, you won't find any difference in daily usage, but you may encounter issue while shrinking and extending partitions. If there's plenty of free space in a partition, but Disk Management don't allow or give you little space to shrink, try to repair file system.

How to fix file system error when cannot shrink volume in Windows 10/8/7 Disk Management:

  1. Click Windows icon or Start menu, type cmd, then you'll see a result, right click it and select Run as Administrator.
  2. In the command window, type chkdsk X:/v/f and press Enter. (X is the drive letter of the partition that you want to shrink.)
  3. To system C: drive, the command window will report that this partition can't be locked and ask you if schedule this task, type Y and press Enter.
  4. Restart your computer and shrink C drive again.

Solution 4: Shrink partition with NIUBI

If there is plenty of free space in a partition but Disk Management give little available space when shrinking, it means that there are "unmovable" files in this partition. In that case, shrink with NIUBI Partition Editor. Better than Disk Management, NIUBI can move these unmovable files, therefore, you can shrink this volume to minimum size if you want.

What to do when cannot shrink partition towards right

Windows Disk Management tool cannot change the start position of a partition, so it cannot shrink a partition towards right in Windows 10/8/7. It only gives you option to enter an amount, and then it shrink a volume towards left and make Unallocated space on the right automatically.

If you just want to shrink a partition to create more volumes, it doesn't matter. But it's big issue if you want to shrink D to expand C, because Disk Management can only extend Unallocated space to the contiguous partition on the left.

As you see in the screenshot, after shrinking D drive, E is on the right side of the Unallocated space, C drive is nonadjacent, therefore, Extend Volumes is disabled for both partitions.

Extend Volume disabled

Better than Disk Management, NIUBI Partition Editor has more advantages while repartitioning hard drive:

  1. It can shrink and extend both NTFS and FAT32 partition.
  2. It can move unmovable files and shrink a partition to minimum size.
  3. It can make Unallocated space on either left or right when shrinking partition.
  4. It can merge Unallocated space to either contiguous or any nonadjacent partition on the same disk.

NIUBI Partition Editor has free edition for Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP home computer users, which is the same with commercial professional edition except lacking of 1 Second Rollback technology and bootable media builder. To shrink partition in Windows 10 laptop/desktop/pad, you just need to drag and drop on the disk map.

Download the free edition, right click drive D (or other one) and select "Resize/Move Volume". You have 2 options in the pop-up window.

Option 1: If you drag left border towards right

Shrink D

Unallocated space will be made on the left side.

Shrink D rightwards

Option 2: If you drag right border towards left

Shrink D

Unallocated space will be made on the right side.

Shrink D lefttwards

Follow the steps if you want to expand C drive, extend system reserved partition or increase D drive by shrinking another partition. Besides shrinking and extending volume, NIUBI Partition Editor helps you do many other operations such as move, merge, convert, wipe, defrag, hide, copy partition. Better than other tools, it has unique 1 Second Rollback, Virtual Mode and Cancel-at-well technologies to protect system and data.