No matter you use SSD, HDD or any types of hardware RAID array for your server, you need a disk management tool to help manage disk partitions. There's a native free Disk Management in Windows Server 2012 (R2). It can only help you create, delete, format, partition, set partition as Active, change drive letter and path. Although there are Shrink and Extend Volume functions, it cannot help you extend a partition by shrinking another one. If you want to resize partition without limitation or need other ability such as merge, copy, convert, wipe partition, you need third party disk partition manager. In this article, I'll introduce how to open Disk Management in Windows Server 2012 (R2), what does it do and the disadvantages comparing with third party disk management software.
How to open Disk Management in Windows Server 2012
There are 2 ways to open Disk Management in Windows Server 2012 R2:
- Press Windows + X on the keyboard and click Disk Management in the list.
- Press Windows + R on the keyboard, type diskmgmt.msc and press Enter.
The ability of Windows Server 2012 Disk Management
Disk Management is a Microsoft Windows built-in utility first introduced in Windows XP. It has similar ability with Diskpart command but work with a graphical interface. It displays all connecting hard disk with layout on bottom, it also lists all single partitions on the top followed by the type, file system, status, capacity, free space, usage percentage, etc.
It enables users to view and manage the disk drives installed in their computer and the partitions associated with those drives. Windows Server 2008 improved the ability by adding new Shrink and Extend Volume function. Windows Server 2012 inherited the interface and all functions without any modification or improvement.
What does Windows Server 2012 Disk Management do:
To a brand new hard disk:
Online, offline and initialize. Hard disk must be online and initialized before creating new volume. When initialize disk, you can select partition style as MBR or GPT.
To Unallocated space:
Create one or more new volumes.
To a disk with volume:
Convert basic disk to Dynamic disk.
To a disk without any volume:
Convert MBR disk to GPT and vice versa, convert basic disk to Dynamic disk and vice versa.
To an allocated partition:
- Open root directory with File Explorer
- Mark partition as Active
- Change drive letter and path
- Format partition
- Shrink volume and make Unallocated space on the right.
- Extend volume with Unallocated space behind it.
- Delete partition
- Add mirror
If you select Add Mirror, both disks will be converted to dynamic.
To dynamic disks:
Disk Management can create Simple, Mirrored, Spanned, Stripped and RAID-5 volume.
To create RAID 5 volume, there must be at least 3 dynamic disks. There are only two in my computer, so this option is grayed out.
Though Windows Disk Management has this ability, but it is not suggested to use dynamic disk volumes, because:
- It uses much resources of this computer and degrade performance.
- Many software do not support dynamic disk volumes.
- Hard disk and RAID controller are much cheaper now.
How to shrink partition with Disk Management
One of the useful feature of Disk Management is Shrink Volume, which is able to reduce allocated partition without losing data. Unallocated space released from this partition can be used to create new volumes.
- Press Windows and X on the keyboard, then click Disk Management in the list.
- Right click a partition (such as D:) and select Shrink Volume.
- Enter an amount of space and click Shrink in the pop-up window.
- Only NTFS partition is supported.
- Unallocated space can only be made on the right side when shrinking.
How to extend partition with Server 2012 Disk Management
- Right click the partition with adjacent Unallocated space on the right, and then select Extend Volume.
- Simply click Next till Finish in the pop-up Extend Volume Wizard window.
- Only NTFS partitions are supported.
- Extend Volume function only works when there's contiguous Unallocated space on the right. You cannot get such required space by shrinking other volume in Disk Management.
Disadvantages of Windows Server 2012 Disk Management
Comparing with Server 2012 Disk Management, NIUBI Partition Editor has more advantages while resizing disk partitions:
- It can shrink and extend both NTFS and FAT32 partitions.
- It can make Unallocated space on either left or right when shrinking a volume.
- It can merge Unallocated space to either contiguous partition by 1 step.
- It can move and merge Unallocated space to any non-adjacent partitions.
- It can merge 2 contiguous partitions in one step.
Besides shrinking and extending partition, NIUBI Partition Editor helps do much more disk/partition management operations in Windows Server 2012/2016/2019/2022 and previous Server 2003/2008.
What does NIUBI Partition Editor do?
To Unallocated space:
- Create one or more volumes
- Wipe data in it
- Surface test (scan bad sectors)
- View properties (detailed parameters)
To whole disk:
- Change status to offline or online
- Set read-only attribute
- Wipe disk (cannot be recovered)
- Surface test
- View properties
- Clone disk to migrate data and OS
- Convert MBR disk to GPT
- Delete all partitions
- Cleanup disk
To single partition:
- Resize volume (shrink and extend)
- Move location
- Merge two adjacent volumes by 1 step
- Copy to Unallocated space
- Convert to Logical or Primary partition
- Optimize file system
- Convert NTFS to FAT32
- Change drive letter (such as D:)
- Change label (add a name or modify)
- Set as Active
- Check file system integrity
- Defrag to improve performance
- Hide from File Explorer
- Delete (files can be recovered)
- Format volume to use as new
- Wipe (erase data permanently)
- Surface test
- Explore (view files/folders with directory)
- View properties
Comparing with other disk management software, NIUBI Partition Editor is much safer and faster because of its innovative technologies:
- Virtual Mode - all operations will be listed as pending for preview, real disk partitions won't be modified until click Apply to confirm.
- Cancel-at-well - if you applied wrong operations, it doesn't matter, you can also cancel the ongoing operations without causing damage.
- 1 Second Rollback - if encounter any error while resizing partition, it automatically reverts server to original status in a flash.
- Advanced file-moving algorithm - resize and extend hard drive 30% to 300% faster, saving much time especially when there are large amount of files.