How to shrink C drive and data volume in Windows 7
Some people forget to create and edit partition when installing Windows 7 on a new disk, so all disk space except the system reserved partition is occupied by C drive. In this situation, you can shrink C drive to create more drives. Some people want to shrink volume D to extend C drive, because it is running out of space. In this article I’ll introduce how to shrink volume in Windows 7 (32 and 64 bit) Disk Management. If you cannot shrink C drive with this native utility, run professional disk partition software.
Shrink C drive in Windows 7 Disk Management
To shrink partition C in Windows 7, you can accomplish with built-in Disk Management without 3rd-party partition software. The advantages include:
- Shrink volume without reboot.
- Safe in most conditions.
- Fast, it can be done within several minutes.
However, there are some inherent limitations and I’ll show you later.
How to shrink C drive in Windows 7 step by step:
Step 1: Press and on keyboard, type diskmgmt.msc and press Enter to open Disk Management.
Step 2: Right click C drive and click Shrink Volume.
Step 3: Enter the amount of space and click Shrink to execute.
C drive will be shrank in a while.
Limitation of Disk Management to shrink volume:
As you see, my Windows 7 test computer C drive has 146.43GB free space, but I can only shrink 78.65GB free space. Why I cannot shrink volume to smaller size?
Have you noticed the tip in Step 3? “You cannot shrink a volume beyond the point where any unmovable files are located.” What does it mean?
For example: C drive is made up of 4 blocks 1, 2, 3 and 4 as below. If the unmovable files are located in block 3, you cannot shrink C drive to block 2 or 1 even though there is free space.
Then what are the unmovable files? It could be Page File, Hibernation file or other large files.
Can only generate Unallocate on right side
This is another obvious limitation of Windows 7 Disk Management, which cause you unable to extend C drive by shrinking D. When shrinking partition D with Shrink Volume functionality, Unallocated space is generated on the right side of D, but to expand C drive with Extend Volume, the Unallocated space should be on the left side of D.
That means, you can only decrease a partition to create new drive with Shrink Volume. If you want to shrink a drive to extend another one, it is impossible.
FAT32 partition cannot be shrank
Shrink Volume only supports NTFS partition, FAT32 and other types of partitions cannot be shrank.
Luckily, no matter you want to shrink C drive or any data volume in Windows 7, you can accomplish with professional disk partition software such as NIUBI Partition Editor.
Shrink volume in Windows 7 with software
As I said above, some people want to shrink C drive and some want to shrink data volume to extend C drive, here I’ll introduce one by one.
1. How to shrink C drive with NIUBI
Step 1: Download NIUBI Partition Editor and you’ll see the main window, disks and partitions are displayed on the right side, which is similar with Disk Management, right click C drive and select “Resize/Move Volume” feature.
Step 2: In the pop-up window, you’ll see disk map on the bottom and single C drive on the top.
Drag the right border leftwards and then C drive will be shrank.
Step 3: As you see, C drive is shrank to 30GB, but in fact, this software works in virtual mode to avoid mistake. To shrink real C drive, you need to click Apply on top left to confirm.
NIUBI Partition Editor can move the “unmovable” files when shrinking volume on Windows 7, so it can shrink C drive to minimum size.
2. How to shrink volume D with NIUBI
It is similar with shrinking C drive, but NIUBI Partition Editor can shrink drive D and produce Unallocated space on the left side to expand C drive. For example, I created several new drives and D is 50GB.
Right click D and select “Resize/Move Volume”, drag left border rightwards to shrink D in the pop-up window.
20GB Unallocated space is generated on the left side of D (behind C drive).
To extend C drive: right click it and select “Resize/Move Volume” again, drag right border rightwards to combine the Unallocated space.
C drive is extended with the Unallocated space.
If you want to shrink and extend other drives, it is similar with steps above.
If you want to shrink partition in Windows 7, the built-in Shrink Volume in Disk Management can help you, but it can only produce Unallocated space on the right side. In addition, you cannot shrink C drive to smaller size if there are unmovable files. To shrink either system partition or data volumes, NIUBI Partition Editor is better choice. Comparing with Disk Management, NIUBI has advantages such as:
- Both NTFS and FAT32 partitions are supported to shrink and extend.
- Unallocated space can be generated on either side when shrinking a drive.
- Both system and data partitions can be extended with Unallocated space on either side.
- Nonadjacent partitions can be shrank to extend other drives.
Besides shrinking and extending volume to optimize disk space, NIUBI Partition Editor can help you do many other disk and partition management operations.