How to fix Extend Volume grayed out/disabled in Windows 7?
C drive full and low disk space is most common issue on Windows 7 computer, no matter you use laptop or desktop, use SSD or traditional mechanical hard disk for operating system. Nobody likes to recreate disk partition and then reinstall Windows and all programs. So Microsoft added Shrink Volume and Extend Volume in Disk Management to reallocate disk space. However, I don’t know why Microsoft add such semi-finished functionalities.
Shrink Volume can only generate Unallocated space on the right side and it even cannot shrink a drive if there are unmovable files in it
Extend Volume only works on very limited condition. Search by Google and you’ll find that many people have the same issue: Extend Volume is disabled for C drive after shrinking D.
In this article, I’ll explain why Extend Volume greyed out in Windows 7 Disk Management, and how to fix this issue with detailed steps.
Why Extend Volume is greyed out
There are 3 obvious reasons why Extend Volume greyed out in Windows 7 Disk Management, I’ll explain one by one.
Reason 1 – no adjacent Unallocated space
A 300GB hard disk cannot be increased to 500GB itself, so before extending a drive you should get some Unallocated space. As the name, this space is not allocated to any drive. In Windows XP Disk Management, Unallocated space can only be used to create new drives. In Windows 7, it can be added to other drive. To get Unallocated space, you may either delete or shrink a drive.
From Microsoft, Windows 7 built-in Extend Volume functionality only works when there is adjacent Unallocated space on the right side. So if you right click C drive without such required space in Disk Management, of course Extend Volume is grayed out.
Actually, many people tried to shrink the adjacent partition D to get Unallocated space, but as I said above, it doesn’t work. After shrinking D with Shrink Volume, Unallocated space is on the right side of D, but to extend C drive with Extend Volume, Unallocated space must be on the left side of D (behind C drive). This is the most common problem that Windows 7 users encountered.
As you see in my Windows 7 laptop, Extend Volume is disabled for C drive after shrinking D.
Reason 2 – only NTFS is supported
Another annoying restriction of Extend Volume is that only NTFS partition is supported. You cannot extend FAT32 or any other types of partition even if there is adjacent Unallocated space on the right side. However, most of system C drive is NTFS, so this issue is common for data drives.
To show you the truth, I formatted original drive D to FAT32. As you see, Extend Volume is grayed out, though there is 20GB Unallocated behind D.
Reason 3 – Free space in Extended partition cannot be extended to Primary partition
To understand about this limitation, you should know some basic knowledge about disk and partition.
Windows 7 format a hard disk as MBR by default when installing. There are only 4 entries in Master Boot Record, so you can only create 4 Primary partitions or 3 Primary partitions plus an Extended partition. If you have created 4 Primary partitions already, you cannot create new drives. If you have created 3 Primary partitions, all new drives can only be created as Logical partition. Extended partition works like a container and all Logical partitions should be in it.
Because Extend Volume doesn’t work, some people tried to delete a partition to get adjacent Unallocated space. It works when you extend a Primary partition by deleting the adjacent Primary partition, or extend a Logical partition by deleting the adjacent Logical partition. But you cannot extend a Primary partition by deleting a Logical partition, or extend a Logical partition by deleting a Primary partition.
To show you the result, I deleted drive E. As you see, drive D is Primary and original E is Logical, so Extend Volume is greyed out. Different with Primary partition that converted to Unallocated after deleting, Logical partition will be converted to Free space.
How to fix Extend Volume grayed out on Windows 7
There are many limitations of Extend Volume functionality and it seems a bit complicated, but it is very easy to solve this problem. Firstly, you need to run NIUBI Partition Editor.
Download this partition manager software, you’ll see all disk partition on the right side, all available operations to selected disk or partition on the left side.
When Unallocated space is nonadjacent
Step 1: Right click drive D and select Resize/Move Volume, drag the middle position rightwards in the pop-up window.
Unallocated space is moved to the left side of drive D.
Step 2: Right click C drive and select “Resize/Move Volume” again, drag the right border rightwards in the pop-up window.
Unallocated space is added into C drive.
About FAT32 and Logical partition
When the Unallocated/Free space is adjacent but Extend Volume is disabled because of not supported FAT32 partition, or the restriction of Logical and Primary partition. Simply follow Step 2 to combine the adjacent space.
Because of some inherent limitations of Disk Management, Extend Volume maybe greyed out on Windows 7 in many situations. To solve this problem, you just need to run NIUBI Partition Editor to move Unallocated space to adjacent and combine to the drive that you want to extend.