The same with previous version, Windows 11 computer has small EFI and Recovery partition. Many people don't know what they are used for and how to extend these partitions without causing damage to operating system. In this article, I'll introduce what EFI and Recovery is, why they are on front or end of disk in different computer, and how to extend EFI/Recovery partition in Windows 11 laptop/desktop/tablet computer without losing data.
What is EFI and Recovery partition in Windows 11
EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) system partition or ESP is a partition on a data storage device (usually a traditional mechanical disk or SSD) that is used by computers adhering to the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). When a computer is booted, UEFI firmware loads files stored on the ESP to start installed operating systems and various utilities.
An EFI system partition contains several types of files including:
- The boot loaders or kernel images for all installed operating systems in this computer.
- Device driver files for hardware devices and used by the firmware at boot time.
- System utility programs that are intended to be run before an operating system is booted.
- Data files such as error logs.
EFI partition in Windows 11/10 is formatted with an atypical FAT file system. That means, the specification of this file system is based on FAT file system, but it is independent from the original FAT specification. In Windows 11 native Disk Management tool, there is no file system shown for EFI partition.
Recovery partition in Windows 11/10 is kind of partition that helps restore computer to the factory settings if there is some kind of system failure. This partition has no drive letter, no file system is shown and there's only Help option activated in Disk Management. There are 2 types of Recovery partitions in Windows 11/10 computers:
- Windows Recovery partition with a negligible amount of disk space.
- OEM Recovery partition that is set by the computer manufacturer (like Lenovo, Dell or HP). It occupies a significant amount of disk space because it contains the manufacturer settings for application drivers and other things that allow you to restore these default settings.
Why is EFI and Recovery partition created on front or end of disk
In some Windows 11 computer, EFI partition is on the front of disk but Recovery partition is on the end of disk. In some computers, EFI partition is on the front and Recovery partition is on the middle of disk. In some other computers, EFI and Recovery partition are adjacent and on the end of disk. Why there's such difference and whether it impacts computer performance? Actually, it doesn't matter. EFI and Recovery partition can be created on any position of a disk. With disk partition software, you can even resize/move/extend EFI and Recovery partition in Windows 11 laptop/desktop/tablet without damaging system.
How to create EFI/Recovery partition and manage position when installing Windows 11:
1. If there's no partition on the disk and all disk space is Unallocated space, after installing Windows 11, EFI and a MSR (Microsoft System Reserved) partitions are created on the front of this disk. Recovery partition is created on the end of disk.
Tips: The MSR partition is empty and it can be deleted safely. Disk Management doesn't show the small MSR partition. To delete it, you should run third party software.
2. If you create several partitions and select the first one when installing Windows 11, EFI and MSR partitions are also created on the front of this disk. But Recovery partition is behind C: drive, other partitions are on the end of disk.
3. If you have Windows 10 on a MBR disk and converted this disk to GPT, after updating to Windows 11, EFI and Recovery partition will be created behind C: drive. If you shrunk C drive and created several partitions, both EFI and Recovery partitions are on the end of disk.
Note: if you enabled UEFI in BIOS, you cannot install Windows 11 on a MBR disk until deleting all existing partitions. If you install Windows 11 on MBR disk with an existing partition, you'll receive error message "Windows can't be installed on this disk. The selected disk has an MBR partition table. On EFI system, Windows can only be installed to GPT disks.".
How to move/extend EFI and Recovery partition in Windows 11
As I show you above, EFI and Recovery partitions could be on any position in a Windows 11 computer, so I cannot give you steps how to operate the exact partition. But you can follow the universal method below.
Steps to resize/move/extend EFI and Recovery partition in Windows 11 computer:
- Download NIUBI Partition Editor and shrink an adjacent partition to get Unallocated space. If the EFI partition is on the left, shrink the adjacent partition and make Unallocated space on the left. If the Recovery partition is on the right, shrink the adjacent partition and make Unallocated space on the right. To shrink this adjacent partition, right click it in NIUBI and run "Resize/Move Volume", drag one border towards the other one in the pop-up window.
- No matter you want to extend EFI or Recovery partition in Windows 11, right click it in NIUBI and run "Resize/Move Volume". Drag one border opposite to the other one to merge adjacent Unallocated space.
- If there's a third partition in middle of the EFI/Recovery partition and Unallocated space, right click the middle partition and run "Resize/Move Volume", drag the middle block to move this partition.
To better show you how to move and extend EFI/Recovery partition in Windows 11 laptop/desktop/tablet, there are several videos with different partition layout. Follow the corresponding method according to your own partition layout.
1. When EFI partition is on the front, C drive is in the middle and Recovery partition is on the end of disk:
2. When EFI partition is on the front, C drive and Recovery partition in the middle, other partitions on the end of disk:
3. When both EFI and Recovery partitions are on the end of disk:
Besides moving and extending EFI/Recovery partition in Windows 11 computer, NIUBI Partition Editor helps you do many other disk partition management operations.