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Shrink or Resize the Windows 7 or Vista Partition or DriveLast reviewed: May 2009
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About using Shrink
Windows 7 and Vista have a Shrink option in Disk Management that allows you to make a partition/volume smaller so you can then create another partition that will come after the shrunk partition. You can only shrink volumes that use the NTFS file system or have no file system (RAW). Unfortunately Shrink has other important limitations that affect many users.
When you shrink a partition, ordinary files on the selected partition area are automatically moved to an earlier part of the partition to create new contiguous Unallocated space at the end where the new partition(s) can be created. For some users shrinking the Windows 7 or Vista partition will be very simple - just right-click the volume in Disk Management, select Shrink, enter the amount to shrink by, show a little patience and then you have exactly what you wanted. This scenario occurs when there are no unmovable files towards the end of the partition.
For many users those unmovable files will stop the shrinking process far too soon or may even prevent it starting. The unmovable culprits virtual memory (paging file) and hibernation can be stopped beforehand and restarted later. So can the unmovable VSS shadow copy by turning off Restore Points. Another major culprit is the Master File Table (MFT) which can be anywhere on the disk (even at the very end of it!) and this cannot, and must not, be switched off even temporarily. Disk Defragmentation will not touch any files marked as unmovable.
Raxco's defragmenting utility, PerfectDisk10 Professional, will gladly relocate all unmovable files including the MFT. You can download it for a free 30-day trial period. Relocating very many files, some quite large, can be a very time consuming exercise. It's pointless spending a lot of time moving unused or unnecessary files. To this end, a good disk cleanup and a thorough disk defragmentation is desirable before you start. It will improve your hard disk performance and should even speedup the shrinking process!
Windows partition editors often use a different disk geometry than that used in Linux. Many users would be tempted to use a third-party partitioning utility like the free and excellent GParted. Unfortunately Windows 7/Vista may become unbootable - the MFT may be destroyed and the hidden sectors value may not be updated. Also, shrinking the Win7 partition under Win7's Disk Management usually creates small Unallocated partitions (about 1 MB) both before and after the Win7 drive. If you resize with third-party partitioning utilities, these will not be created, or may even be removed, preventing Windows from booting.
It's strongly recommended that you use Shrink in Disk Management to resize the partition and not a third-party utility - play safe and let Windows do it. If the space achieved is inadequate, you can switch off unmovable files and defragment with PerfectDisk10 Professional before you run Shrink again.
If you intend reinstalling Win7/Vista then you have no problem at all in gaining a massive amount of Unallocated disk space provided you use Shrink immediately after the install is complete. Unfortunately this will not apply to many users.[top of page]
Test Shrinking in Disk Management without Preparation or Defragmentation
It makes sense to test a Shrink in Disk Management before doing anything else. After all it may work! A failure of a test shrink does no harm to your computer. If it does not work you will know immediately (unlikely) or you may have to wait some time before you know if it gave you all the space you need.
The advantages of Preparing and Defragmenting are that you will have a faster/slimmer Windows 7/Vista and you can expect the desired result to be achieved.
If you decide to simply test it first, then skip down to Shrink Windows 7 or Vista Partition in Disk Management below.[top of page]
Prepare to Defragment
You will not want Shrink to spend a long time relocating files that are not required. Other files are possibly huge and can be recreated by Windows later. Nor will you wish to risk some unmovable files stopping the process before enough empty space has been gained. You can avoid this with just a few minutes work! Any changes made must be reset later.
To maximize you chances of total success you should complete this section, then use PerfectDisk10 to defragment, and finally use Shrink in Disk Management.
Defragment with PerfectDisk10
You can now Shrink Windows 7 or Vista Partition in Disk Management (next) and expect it to actually work![top of page]
Shrink Windows 7 or Vista Partition in Disk Management
You can run a defragmentation with PerfectDisk10 again if the initial shrinkage is insufficient.
If you temporarily disabled items in Prepare to Defragment above, you must undo all changes now.
Create a new Restore Point now.
Finished![top of page]
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* ALWAYS BACKUP FIRST * ALWAYS RECORD SETTINGS * ALWAYS MAKE ONE CHANGE AT A TIME
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