How to Shrink C Drive in Windows 11 Without Losing Data

by John, Updated on: September 27, 2022

If there's only C drive (except reserved small partitions) on system disk, you'd better shrink it to create more partitions. For example, at least one separate partition for programs. Don't throw everything to C drive. Otherwise, your computer will becomes slower. To shrink C drive partition in Windows 11 desktop/laptop/tablet, there are 2 options - native Disk Management and third party software. This article introduces how to shrink C drive in Windows 11 computer without losing data or programs.

How to shrink C drive in Windows 11 Disk Management

From Windows 7, new "Shrink Volume" and "Extend Volume" functions are added in Disk Management. Windows 11 has the same functions without modification. It is easy to shrink C drive volume in Windows 11 Disk Management, but in some cases, this native tool doesn't work. I'll talk about this in next section.

How to shrink C drive in Windows 11 with Disk Management:

  1. Press Windows + X together on your keyboard, and then you'll see Disk Management in the list.
  2. Right click C: drive and select "Shrink Volume".
  3. The maximum available space will be given by default, enter a smaller amount by yourself if you want to shrink C drive with less space.
  4. Finally click Shrink to proceed. C drive will be shrunk in a short time.

Caution: take care of your data if C drive is on a MBR disk and there are Logical drives on the same disk. I've encountered the issue several times that Disk Management destroyed my partitions.

The cases cannot shrink C drive partition in Windows 11

Disk Management can only shrink and extend NTFS partitions, however, it is not an issue to C drive, because the system partition is formatted as NTFS by default. But you still cannot shrink C drive volume in Windows 11 Disk Management in some cases.

1. File system error

When there's file system error in C drive, Shrink Volume option is activated but Shrink button is grayed out in pop-up window.

2. Unmovable files

If there are unmovable files in C drive, even if there is plenty of free space, Disk Management gives you little or even 0MB space to shrink.

If you want to decrease C drive to extend System Reserved, EFI, Recovery or other data partition, Disk Management cannot help you. Because the Extend Volume option is always grayed out.

Shrink C drive in Windows 11/10 with free partition software

Comparing with Windows Disk Management, third party partition software is much more powerful. There are many disk partition software for Windows 11 computer, but NIUBI Partition Editor is recommended by many users. It is 100% free to Windows 11/10/8/7/Vista/XP home computer users. It is 100% clean without any bundled advertisement or plugins.

The most attractive aspect, it is much safer and faster. This program has unique 1-Second Rollback, Virtual Mode, Cancel-at-will technologies to protect system and data. The special file-moving algorithm helps shrink and move partition 30% to 300% faster. To shrink C drive in Windows 11 computer with NIUBI, you just need to click, drag and drop on the disk map.

Download the free edition and you'll see all storage device with partition layout on the main window. Single partitions are listed with detailed information. Right click each disk and partition, you'll see available operations.

NIUBI Partition Editor

How to shrink C drive in Windows 11/10/8/7 without losing data:

  1. Right click C: drive partition and select "Resize/Move Volume".
  2. Drag right border towards left in the pop-up window, then Unallocated space will be made on the right.
  3. Click "Apply" on top left to take effect.

If you want to make Unallocated space on the left of C drive, drag left border towards right in step 2.

After shrinking C: drive, you can create new volume(s) or add Unallocated space to other partition(s) to increase free space. Watch the video how to shrink C drive partition in Windows 11 to create new volumes:

Windows 11

Follow the steps in the video if you want to extend System Reserved, EFI or Recovery partition by shrinking C drive.

Besides shrinking C drive in Windows 11/10/8/7/Vista/XP, NIUBI Partition Editor helps you shrink any NTFS and FAT32 partitions. This free partition software also helps you extend, merge, move, copy, convert, defrag, hide, wipe partition, scan bad sectors and much more.