Windows Server 2008 cannot shrink volume/partition

Updated on: July 11, 2019

This article introduces why cannot shrink volume in Windows Server 2008 R2 Disk Management and what to do if unable to shrink partition on Server 2008.

Why can't shrink volume in Server 2008 Disk Management

Better than previous version, Windows Server 2008 has new Shrink Volume and Extend Volume functions in Disk Management tool. Shrink Volume can reduce an existing partition to release free space, it is able to shrink both system partition and any data volumes without losing data and on the fly. In most cases, you can shrink partition without any software. But because of some restrictions, Disk Management cannot shrink partition in specific situation.

There are several reasons why cannot shrink partition in Windows Server 2008 Disk Management.

1. Partition is not supported

Cannot shrink

As you see in my server, both Extend and Shrink Volume greyed out for drive E, because it is formatted with FAT32.

From Microsoft explanation, Shrink Volume can only shrink the partitions that are formatted with NTFS or without any file system (RAW). So, another common FAT32 and other types of partitions are not supported.

2. Caused by unmovable files

Shrinking window

There's a tip on middle of the Shrinking window - You cannot shrink a volume beyond the point where any unmovable files are located.

For example: there's 40GB free unused space in C drive, if there are "unmovable" files are located in block 3, Disk Management cannot shrink volume C beyond this block to 1 or 2. Therefore, Disk Management only allow you shrinking C drive with free space in block 4.

Unmovable files

In few servers, Disk Management cannot shrink volume with even 1MB.

3. Conflicting available space

Shrink error

It is uncommon and few people encounter this issue.

When you shrinking a volume, Disk Management will calculate the available free space and give you the maximum amount by default.

If there are many or large files save to this volume before you clicking Shrink, you may receive error - There is not enough space available on the disk(s) to complete this operation.

Because the available free space is less than Disk Management calculated.

Why cannot shrink partition to expand other one

Cannot extend

As you see in the screenshot, Extend Volume is disabled for C: and E: drive after shrinking D. This is because:

  • When shrinking partition with Disk Management, Unallocated space can only be made on the right.
  • Extend Volume can only extend Unallocated space to the left contiguous partition.

System partition C is non adjacent and drive E: is on the right of the Unallocated space, therefore, Extend Volume is grayed out.

If Disk Management can make Unallocated space on the left and move Unallocated space to the other side, there is no such issue.

What to do if unable to shrink disk partition

To solve these problem, you just need to run NIUBI Partition Editor, it is able to:

Download NIUBI Partition Editor and follow the steps in the video to fix cannot shrink volume in Windows Server 2008:

Video guide

Explanation: right click a partition and select "Resize/Move Volume".

Besides shrinking and extending disk partition, NIUBI Partition Editor helps copy, merge, convert, defrag, hide, wipe, scan partition and much more.