Shrink A Volume?


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How to make a Partition smaller?

Have a large hard drive and the partition or drive volume is full capacity of the hard drive?

One question that comes up in the [old] Q and A once in a while is how to make a partition or drive volume smaller or larger?

If you don't care about the data on the drive volume or can copy it to another drive then you can just delete the volume or volumes and make a new volume or volumes the size you want. If it is the OS volume be sure to have your OS installation disk!

But let's say you are one of the lucky owners of the Genius computer, that is a Genius decided that you didn't want to split the hard drive in to smaller volumes, no the hard drive is one big volume (I seen one that was 750 GB a couple of weeks ago), that is a waste. You can not do some of the Optimization techniques I teach (see the Self Computer Repair Unleashed 2nd Edition Manual for more information on optimization) when you only have one volume. Sheer Genius using all the drive for one volume.

With a desktop you have the option of adding another hard drive, then you can copy the files you want to keep separate to the new hard drive.

Then either wipe the original drive and make a smaller volume then reinstall the Operating System in the space it needs instead of one big drive now you can have two volumes on one drive.

But with a laptop and that is the only computer you have it gets a little harder to do.

Before Vista the only way to make a volume smaller or bigger without deleting the partition was to use a third party program such as "Partition Magic" or one of the other programs that will change the size of a volume with out destroying it.

I have used Partition Magic a couple of times and am not impressed. Why?

Because to remove a volume that Partition Magic created you have to use Partition Magic or an Operating System other than Windows 2000 and above. Such as DOS or Linux.

Windows 2000 and above call this volume a 'foreign disk' and will refuse to remove the volume. Pain in the back side.

So when you need to retain the data on a drive that the volume is the full size of the drive you need a way to resize it, and with Vista and now Windows 7 this feature is built in. (MS must have seen the Genius drives from around 2003-2006 and decided to help us techs out, no?)

Note: I will caution you to back up your data and insure you have a the Operating System installation disk because if you use the "recovery" option built on the hard drive it will just make the volume as large as possible as in the original install. I tried to make the volume on my ASUS Laptop smaller by deleting the original installation then running the 'recovery' CD. It used the remaining open space on the drive for the volume.

With Vista and Windows 7 you have an option to 'Shrink' or 'Expand' a volume. Now that is cool.

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For an experiment I used VM Ware to create a 50 GB hard drive, added it to a Windows 7 Virtual Machine then made two 25 GB volumes. Very nice.

And it is fairly easy to do:

  • By using the Drive Management console just right click on the volume you want to shrink or expand, select the option from the menu and follow the prompts.
  • I made the 50 GB drive in to two 25 GB drives in about five minutes with the second volume created and formatted. Took longer to make the screen shots for my new book -SSelf Computer Repair Unleashed 2nd Edition Manual that I have just published.

Something I have been thinking about but haven't tried yet is to take an older OS on a separate hard drive and installing it in a computer with Windows 7 (like my main computer) and see if I can shrink a volume and see if the older OS has any problems. I would have to install the OS on the complete drive because I normally make the OS volume as large as it needs to be such as: XP = 20 GB, Vista = 30 GB, Windows 7 = 50 GB, then the rest for data.

So if you have a Genius Computer and want to have a second volume instead of one gigantic volume it is very easy and fast to shrink a volume with the Drive Management console for Vista and Windows 7. (Backup your data first!)

Update 02/18/20 - There are other options that are faster and will give you a backup of the OS partition: Hard drive imaging programs, I use Ghost most of the time and my ERD has Drive Image XL (open source program) on it.

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