How to Shrink Volume/Partition in Windows Server 2012 R2

by Andy, Updated on: July 12, 2022

Sometimes you need to shrink volume for Windows 2012 server. For example: C drive occupied all disk space after installing Windows. By shrinking system partition C you can get Unallocated space to create new volumes. On the contrary, another typical issue on Windows Server 2012 is that c drive runs out of space, in this case, you can shrink partition D or other data volumes to increase C drive space. In this article, I'll introduce how to shrink volume in Windows Server 2012 R2 without reinstalling operating system or losing data.

Shrink partition in Server 2012 via Disk Management

Windows Server 2012 native Disk Management tool has "Shrink Volume" function, which is able to decrease partition size on the fly and without losing data in most cases. However, it has two serious limitation:

How to shrink volume in Windows Server 2012 R2 with Disk Management:

Step 1: Press Windows + X on the keyboard, then click Disk Management in the list.

Step 2: Right click a NTFS partition and select Shrink Volume.

Shrink Volume

Step 3: Enter an amount of space and click Shrink in the pop-up window.

Shrink window

In a short while, this partition will be shrunk.

Cannot shrink Server 2012 volume beyond limit with Disk Management

It is easy to shrink a NTFS partition with Server 2012 Disk Management, but you may encounter issue in some situations. Do you notice the message in the Shrink window - "You cannot shrink a volume beyond the point where any unmovable files are located."?

  • If there are Paging file, Hibernation or other kinds of "unmovable" files are located in this partition, Disk Management can only shrink little space.
  • If the partition that you want to shrink is FAT32 (or other type), Shrink Volume is disabled.
  • Even if you can shrink partition without issue, you still cannot extend other partition with Unallocated space. Learn why Extend Volume greyed out in Server 2012 Disk Management.

Note: you'll encounter the same issue if you shrink volume in Server 2012 with Diskpart command tool.

Shrink Volume limit

Shrink Server 2012 volume with NIUBI Partition Editor

To shrink volume in Windows Server 2012 (r2), NIUBI Partition Editor is much more powerful than Disk Management.

Download this tool and you'll see all disk partitions with structure and other information in the main window.

NIUBI Partition Editor Server

You just need to drag and drop on the disk map to shrink, move, extend partition, etc.

How to shrink volume in Windows Server 2012 R2 with NIUBI Partition Editor:

Right click any NTFS or FAT32 partition (here is D:) and select "Resize/Move Volume", drag either border towards the other side in the pop-up window.

Option 1: If you drag left border towards right:

Shrink rightwards

Unallocated space will be made on the left of D drive.

Volume D shrank

Option 2: If you drag right border towards left:

Shrink leftwards

Unallocated space will be made on the right of D drive.

Volume D shrank

How to shrink and extend partition (Video)

After shrinking a partition and get Unallocated space, you can create new volume with either Disk Management or NIUBI Partition Editor. But if you want to extend other partition with this Unallocated space, Disk Management cannot help you.

Watch the video how to shrink and extend partition in Windows 2012 Server:

Video guide

Besides shrinking partition in Windows Server 2012/2016/2019/2022 and previous Server 2003/2008, NIUBI Partition Editor helps you move, merge, extend, copy, convert, defrag, hide, scan, wipe partition, optimize file system, scan bad sectors and much more.