Extend Volume is disabled/greyed out in Windows 7

Updated on: September 12, 2019

This article introduces why Extend Volume greyed out in Windows 7 32/64 bit and the solution when Extend Volume is disabled for system C drive or other volumes.

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 partitions and then reinstall Windows and all programs. So Microsoft added Shrink Volume and Extend Volume functions in Disk Management to help reallocate disk space without losing data.

However, both functions have limitations which bring trouble while resizing disk partitions. Search by Google and you'll find that many people have the same issue: Extend Volume is disabled for C drive after shrinking D. This article introduces the the possible reasons and how to fix Extend Volume greyed out issue in Windows 7.

Reasons why Windows 7 Extend Volume greyed out

There are 4 common reasons why Extend Volume greyed out in Windows 7 Disk Management, I'll introduce one by one. Open Disk Management and find out your own disk partition configuration and structure.

Reason 1. No adjacent Unallocated space

A 300GB hard disk cannot be increased to 500GB (except VMware/Hyper-V virtual disk), 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 increase partition size.

To get Unallocated space, you may either delete or shrink a drive. After deleting a volume, all its disk space will be converted to Unallocated but you'll lose all files in it. By shrinking a volume, only part of free unused space will be converted to Unallocated but you won't lose files.

Obviously, it's better to shrink a partition to get Unallocated space. The problem is, you can't extend a volume after shrinking other one with Disk Management. As the screen shot shows, Extend Volume is disabled for both C: and E: drive after shrinking D.

Extend Volume disabled

This is because:

  • Shrink Volume function can only make Unallocated space on the right while shrinking any partition.
  • Extend Volume function can only combine Unallocated space to the contiguous partition on the left.

This is the most common issue encountered by Windows computer users.

To extend C: drive partition, you should run third-party software to move Unallocated space from right of D drive to the left. To merge Unallocated space to the right contiguous partition (E:), 3rd-party software is needed, too.

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.

Extend Volume disabled

However, most of system C drive is formatted with NTFS, so this issue is common for data drives.

In this situation, you also need NIUBI Partition Editor, which has no difference resizing NTFS and FAT32 partitions.

Reason 3. Restriction between Primary and Logical partition

In MBR style hard disk, Free space deleted from a Logical partition can't be extended to any Primary partition. Unallocated space shrink from Primary partition can't be extended to any Logical drives.

Extend Volume greyed out

As I said above, Unallocated space shrunk from D drive is non adjacent to C drive, so Extend Volume greyed out.

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 drive. But you cannot extend a Primary partition by deleting a Logical partition, or extend a Logical drive by deleting a Primary partition.

As the screen shot shows, Extend Volume greyed out for D drive after deleting the right contiguous partition E.

To convert the Free space to Unallocated, you must delete all Logical drives and the Extended partition.

In MBR disk there are only 4 entries in Master Boot Record, so you can only create 4 Primary partitions or 3 Primary plus an Extended partition. Unlike Primary partition that works as independently, Logical drives are part of the Extended partition, this is the reason why it shows as Free after deleting.

To NIUBI partition Editor, there is also no difference resizing Primary and Logical partitions.

Reason 4. Limitation of MBR disk

Nowadays, hard disks are much larger and it is very common to use 2TB to 4TB disk for personal computers. But if you initialized the large disk as MBR, you'll encounter another problem that you can only use 2TB disk space.

Extend Volume grayed

As the screen shot shows, drive H is formatted as NTFS and there is right contiguous Unallocated space, but Extend Volume is still grayed out. If you right click this Unallocated space in Disk Management, all options are unavailable.

In this situation, you need to extend partition with NIUBI Partition Editor (cluster size is equal or larger than 4KB) or convert disk from MBR to GPT and then extend partition (when cluster size is less than 4KB).

Solution when Extend Volume is disabled in Windows 7

It seems to be a bit complicated but it is very easy to solve this problem. Firstly, you need to Download NIUBI Partition Editor and follow the corresponding method according to the reason why Extend Volume greyed out in your Windows 7 computer.

1. When Unallocated space is nonadjacent

If you have shrank drive D to get Unallocated space but Extend Volume is disabled for C drive, move Unallocated space to the left side, and then add it into C drive.

NIUBI Partition Editor

Steps to fix Windows 7 Extend Volume greyed out issue:

Step 1: right click drive D: and select "Resize/Move Volume", drag middle towards right in the pop-up window.

Move Unallocated

Then Unallocated space is moved next to C drive.

Unallocated moved

Step 2: right click C: drive and select "Resize/Move Volume" again, drag right border towards right in the pop-up window.

Add Unallocated

Then Unallocated space is added to system C drive.

Unallocated added

Step 3: click Apply on top left to execute. (All operations before this step only work in virtual mode.)

2. About FAT32 and Logical/Primary partition

When the Unallocated/Free space is adjacent but Extend Volume greyed out because of not supported FAT32 partition, or the restriction between Logical and Primary partition. Simply follow STEP 2 to combine the adjacent space.

If you want to combine Unallocated space to the right contiguous partition E, right click E and select "Resize/Move Volume", drag left border towards left in the pop-up window.

Extend drive E

3. When your disk is larger than 2TB

Right click front of this disk and select "Convert to GPT Disk", after that, follow steps above to combine Unallocated space.

If the cluster size of this disk partition is 4KB or larger, you can extend this Unallocated space to other partitions (on the same disk) without converting MBR disk to GPT.

Enable Extend Volume

Video guide to fix Extend Volume grayed out issue

Video guide

In Summary

Because of the inherent limitations of Disk Management, it is common to encounter the issue that Extend Volume greyed out in Windows 7/8/10 and other server versions. To solve this problem, find out the reason according to your own disk partition type and structure, and then follow the solutions above to resize partition, move Unallocated space or convert MBR disk to GPT with NIUBI partition Editor.

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