Windows Server 2012 native Shrink Volume function

Updated on: November 16, 2019

This article introduces Shrink Volume function in Windows Server 2012 (R2) native Disk Management, how to shrink partition and its disadvantages.

Benefit of Shrink Volume

Many Server 2012 have running for several years, so one of more partitions may become full. To system and other special partitions, this problem cannot be solved by simply moving files. It can't be better if you can shrink other partition with plenty of free space and move to the partitions that are running low. In some situation, you need to shrink a large volume to create new without formatting.

The same with previous version, Windows Server 2012 has built-in Shrink Volume function in Disk Management. It is able to shrink system partition and data volumes without losing data. Better than 3rd-party partition software, it can shrink all partitions on the fly without rebooting.

How to shrink partition volume

Actually, it is very easy to shrink an allocated partition in Disk Management, you just need several clicks. But on the other hand, it is too simple, so it can't shrink partition in some situations.

Steps to shrink volume 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 the partition and select Shrink Volume (here is D:).

Shrink Volume

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

Shrink window

In a short while, partition D is shrank from 50GB to 31.04GB.

Partition shrank

Can't shrink volume in Server 2012

D drive in my test server is blank, but in the shrinking window, Disk Management gives me only 19417MB (18.96GB) available space, so I can only shrink D drive to 31.04GB.

Cant shrink

In some server or PC, you can't shrink volume for even 1MB. I've encountered such issue in my Windows 10 computer.

Can't shrink

There is a tip in the middle of this shrinking window - "You cannot shrink a volume beyond the point where any unmovable files are located". This is the reason why I cannot shrink D drive to smaller size, because I have Page File in it.

The unmovable files include Paging file, Hibernation and other large files. If any type of unmovable files are located in block 3, you cannot shrink this partition to block 2 or 1, although there is free space there.

Unmovable files

Another restriction: Disk Management only support NTFS partition, FAT32 and all other partitions can't be shrank. When you right click these partitions, Shrink Volume is disabled.

Disk Management can't shrink a volume to expand other one

Server 2012 Shrink Volume function can only help you decrease a drive and make Unallocated space to create new one. If you want to extend other drive with this Unallocated space, it is impossible, although there is another Extend Volume function.

Extend volume disabled

When you shrinking a volume in Server 2012 Disk Management, the only option for you is entering an amount of space, you cannot indicate shrinking to which side.

Disk Management will shrink this partition towards left and make corresponding Unallocated space on the right side.

As you see in my test server, Extend Volume is disabled for both C and E drive after shrinking D, because Extend Volume can only combine Unallocated space to the left adjacent partition, all other partitions cannot be extended.

With NIUBI Partition Editor, you can shrink a volume towards either side and combine Unallocated space to any partition in the same disk.

Shrink volume with partition editor

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 volume in Windows Server 2012 with NIUBI:

Right click drive D (or other one) and select "Resize/Move Volume".

Option 1: If you drag left border towards right in the pop-up window:

Shrink rightwards

Unallocated space will be make on the left side of D.

Volume D shrank

Option 2: If you drag right border towards left in the pop-up window:

Shrink leftwards

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

Volume D shrank

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

Video guide

Comparing with Shrink Volume function in Server 2012 Disk Management, NIUBI has advantages such as:

Comparing with other 3rd-part tools, NIUBI Partition Editor has unique 1 Second Rollback, Virtual Mode and Cancel-at-well technologies to protect system and data.