Shrink partition/volume in Windows Server 2012

Updated on: November 16, 2019

This article introduces how to shrink partition in Windows Server 2012 without losing data. Shrink volume with Server 2012 Disk Management and partition editor.

In some situations you need to shrink a volume, for example: C drive occupied all disk space after installing Windows. By shrinking C drive 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 any other data volumes to increase C drive space. In this article, I'll show you how to shrink partition in Windows 2012 Server without reinstalling or losing data.

Shrink partition via Server 2012 Disk Management

Windows Server 2012 native Disk Management tool has Shrink Volume function, which is able to shrink disk partition on the fly and without losing data. However, it has two serious limitation:

Steps to shrink partition in Windows Server 2012 Disk Management:

Step 1: Press Windows and 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 volume beyond limit

It is easy to shrink a NTFS partition in Server 2012 Disk Management, but you may encounter issue in some situations. Have you noticed 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, 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 the Unallocated space. Learn why Extend Volume greyed out in Server 2012 Disk Management.

Shrink Volume limit

Shrink volume with partition editor software

Comparing with Server 2012 Disk Management, NIUBI Partition Editor is much more powerful.

Download NIUBI Partition Editor 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 and Unallocated space can be make on either side.

How to shrink partition in Windows Server 2012 with NIUBI:

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 side of D.

Volume D shrank

Option 2: If you drag right border towards left:

Shrink leftwards

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

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 and extending partitions, NIUBI Partition Editor helps you move, merge, copy, convert, defrag, hide, scan, wipe partition, etc.