How to Resize a Windows Vista Partition

manage and shrink your drive partitions easily in Windows Vista

Unfortunately, resizing your Windows Vista partition isn’t particularly easy. That fact is regardless of the presence of Vista’s drive management tool, the piece of Windows functionality that should make it easy to shrink or extend your drive partitions.

So, while I’ve been preparing to install Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope I’ve had to learn how to get around this problem. I thought I’d share the process with you and add some value to this forum post by testing the process and simplifying it with screenshots and a step by step guide.

The problem with Windows Vista drive management

Does this screen look familiar? The total available shrink space on your C: drive is zero or very low:

no available shrink space windows vista

The reason why you can’t just shrink a Windows Vista partition is largely due to the existence of files that can’t be moved through conventional means (or even standard defragmentation) such as the Master File Table, Pagefiles and Hibernation data. To actually make some free space available to the drive management tool, you’ve got to get your sleeves rolled up.

How to shrink your Windows Vista Partition

1) Disable hibernation

To disable hibernation, open up a command prompt window as administrator and key in the following command:

powercfg -h off

use command prompt to turn hibernate off in Windows

2) Disable system restore

Right click on your My Computer icon and click properties. Click the “System Protection” tab and uncheck the drive you want to
disable hibernation for, and confirm your choice.

turn system restore off in windows

3) Disable the pagefile

In the same system properties dialogue, go to the Advanced tab and click the Performance button.  Under Advanced, click “Change” and select “No Paging File”

disable paging file in Windows
4) Disable the kernel memory dump

Once again, return to the Advanced System Settings dialogue and go to the Advanced tab and click the Settings button under “Startup and Recovery”. Under “System Failure”, change the drop-down menu to (none).

disable kernel memory dump in Windows

5) Clean your disk

Now, Run the disk cleanup wizard and be sure to delete all of your previous restore points and hibernation files.

delete all previous restore points

7) Download and install the 30-day free trial of PerfectDisk 10 Professional

This is the software I used to complete the defragmentation process and it worked. While there are a number of other advanced partitioning tools out there, I cannot recommend any until I’ve tried them. If you have a recomendation, please leave your comments below. I downloaded the free trial for the professional version.

8) Start the defragmentation process

In the Perfectdisk interface, select your drive and run a SMARTPlacement defragmentation – click the image to enlarge. The SMARTplacement defrag option is the radio button in the top left hand corner. Click “Start” to get going – the whole process could take a while so be prepared to wait an hour or so.

smartplacement defrag

9) Nearly finished

Finally, do a consolidate free space defrag. This will further maximise your available free space and completes the process.

consolidate-free-space

When all of this is complete you’ll see results that look a little similar to this:

finished

10) Shrink your volume

You should be ready to shrink your system volume, so, click “manage” with a right mouse button click on the My Computer icon:

Manage your computer

11) Manage your disk

In the Computer Management Dialogue, double click “Disk Management” and right mouse click on your C: drive to begin the volume shrinking process. When you’re done, you’ll see a new, unallocated space like this:

drive resized

That’s it! Remember to return the settings you changed earlier on in the process back to their original values, and if you’re not sure about carrying out any of the instructions in this post you’d be well advised to back up a copy of your hard drive first.



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32 thoughts on “How to Resize a Windows Vista Partition

  1. It was a great tutorial. This will help me install UBUNTU on my machine.

    Thanks again!

  2. obiero george says:

    its great for a novice like me. i will try it out on my clone pc. i know we will all celebrate.

  3. Per S says:

    This is quite impressive. Great tutorial.
    I, too, want to try out Win7. But when I’m about to create a new partition I find that I can only make one of 72Mb. After I did this though, and a boot time defrag for good measure with the same software, there’s like of magic three 0s after that 72. A lot more than I ever dared to hope for!
    Thank you!

  4. Sayne says:

    I did it and it came up with all “0”s but i shrank it anyway…i now have a partitioned drive with 13.9 GB on it :/ is this normal?

  5. @Per S – glad to hear you found the tutorial useful!

    @Sayne – if you’ve got a spare 13 gigs to make a partition, that’s great!

  6. kevin says:

    i was only able to shrink 600mb, so i followed this guide. after defragging with perfectdisk, i was able to shrink 90gb, so i did the consolidate free space thing, and after it finished my available shrink space went back down to only 7gb :(

  7. @Kevin – that’s really strange! If you work out what happened, let us know.

  8. kevin says:

    I found the solution!
    after defragging over and over with perfectdisk, power defragmenter and auslogics disk defrag with no results, i found the answer here: http://www.ghacks.net/2009/01/11/windows-vista-shrink-volume-problems/
    i used the system files button in perfectdisk, and upon reboot, found my available shrink space to be all 277gb of the free space on my hdd!

  9. Alex says:

    Wow! That tutorial was amazing…
    It freed up 49GB without a defrag… But my problem is that it always says “Error: Access is Denied.” Do you know how I could fix this?

  10. Shahzad says:

    Very nice tutorial, very well explained. Thanks

  11. nasmal says:

    hi… any one tell me hw to partition the vista , I hv a C: drive with 450 GB , I wanna make it to 60GB & create another drive of 390GB,
    pls help me…

  12. Alex Warren says:

    Great tutorial – But like Kevin I did not have nearly enough space afterwards (9900mb) so I followed his link to the http://www.ghacks.net/2009/01/11/windows-vista-shrink-volume-problems/ web site and did an off line defrag of the system files. This gave me back 38000mb on a 76317mb drive.

    Many Thanks,

    Alex Warren

  13. Mahdi says:

    Great guide. I had more problems, but managed to fix them:

    1) If you can’t resize after defragmenting, or the resize is small, in perfdisk click on system files which will do a defrag upon startup.

    2) (if step 1 fails) Usually step 1 works, but if you get an error that perfdisk cannot start, it means you have some problems on the disk. Go to c:windowssystem32, right click on “cmd.exe” and click “run as administrator”. This should open a command prompt in c:windowssystem32 (if it is another directory type: cd c:windowssystem32). Type “chkdsk /f /r” which means check disk, fix errors, recover lost data. Now do a restart.

    3) when resizing the partition, you might get an “access denied” problem. I downloaded partitionwizard (free) and it can do the resize before windows start.

    Hope this helps.

  14. It certainly does, Mahdi! Many thanks for contributing!

  15. Vidad says:

    Im probablly in the wrong place for this but I have windows 7 and am a bit hesitant to install ubuntu on a partition. I afraid I will have problems uninstalling it later on. You all look like you know alot on the subject so if you can help me, all is apreciated!

    Also great guide!!!
    thx!

  16. Mahdi says:

    If you’re not sure you like Ubuntu, try installing a virtual machine (like Virtual Box). It is a bit slower, since it runs inside Windows, but you get a taste of having another OS with no trouble. If you want to go a bit further, try WUBI. You can install Ubuntu without the need to resize your hard disk. Finally, if you’re sure you want Ubuntu alongside Windows, resize your disk and install it on its own partition.

  17. Vidad says:

    Ive tried WUBI but i had troubles with the provisional(i think thats the name) driver. I installed it for my graphics card and when I resumed, Ubuntu wouldn’t work!

    thx for the help, Vidad

  18. Siva Kumar says:

    Hai,
    I have been trying to install the HUBUNDU 9.10 Version in my Windows 2000 profession system, and its starting some downloading files from net after that showing error message. If anyone have a good experience on installing HUBUND please guide me a proper list or send documentation . i have ISO files and converted into CD (full installation files) but when i trying to install its saying that downloading files from net ? why ?

    I am new for this,please guide me and send me the details to my email id sivakumarnair@gmail.com

    rd
    siva

  19. janis says:

    It realy helps, thanks

  20. hewn says:

    hi,i want ur help to guid me how to partition windows7 operating system….
    thanks ……

  21. Sam says:

    I wish I had seen this tutorial before I used UNetbootin, now Windows 7 won’t boot…

  22. tommy says:

    If after defragmentation, the vista partition still can not be shrunk. You could try to use 3rd-party tool, Partition Assistant to resize it. Download its free version: http://www.extend-partition.com/free-partition-manager.html

  23. b p says:

    The instructions were excellent. Thanks a lot. Only one suggestion: May want to write down the settings before one changes them, so would not worry if they would be put back in the original settings at the end.
    Thanks again.

  24. I have been able to shrink my d drive but I am not able to extend that onto my c drive. Can anyone help?

  25. I am having the same problem…..Not sure why?

  26. The Tech Whiz says:

    Great Guide! i know i am maybe in the wrong place for this but when i went to install ubuntu 10.10 and will not give me the install alongside option (installing on win 7.)

  27. Josh says:

    I have just used PerfectDisk and it defragged before windows booted, it got it upto 69GB when i have 93GB free so i iwll keep on trying till i can partition 80GB off for Windows 7 :) Thankyou people for this, and the people who have commented and helper

  28. Peter says:

    Hi, and thanks so much for a clear post with a workable solution. I made the following changes which helped.

    1. It was possible to shrink the C partition a little so I did that, and created a new simple volume in the unallocated space. Then I moved the paging file to that partition, which solved some of the pain and risk of deleting pagefile.sys.

    2. In Perfect Disk 11, it was necessary to run repeated boot time defrags to consolidate the MFT fragments that were still preventing me shrinking the C Drive. I did at least ten of these, and finished with a defrag using first smart placement and finally consolidate free space.

    You can see on the map where the last rogue clusters are, and bit by bit they move closer to the start of the disk along with the other clusters.

    Eventually I could shrink the C drive from 2 gb to 50gb, which was good enough. When I’d done that, I moved the pagefile.sys back to the C Drive and deleted the small partition I’d made earlier. (some reboots required when you move pagefile.sys).

    That left me with about 1.7gb of unallocated space, and that made a nice new simple volume for my data.

    Now I have all my programs and stuff in the smaller C Drive, and I moved My Docs and all their new contents to the new 1.7gb drive which windows called G, and I labelled ‘Data’.

    Thanks again for your help, and I hope my comments help others. Be prepared for a few hours at the keyboard though!

    Peter

  29. Peter says:

    Just a revision above – the C Drive partition shrunk from 200gb to 50gb. Overall the hard disk is 232.88gb.

  30. Dimitris says:

    Very nice post, very well explained.

  31. Stf says:

    I follwed a link to this page from the Ubuntu installation guide and have a question: if I have enough space on my harddrive to make a seperate partition for the Ubuntu installation/OS is it necessary to go through the process of shrinking and allocating described above? Couldn’t I just simply make a partition with a program such as the one recommended by tommy (May 12th, 2010) and then install my Ubuntu onto it?

    Thanks.

  32. BillyBob says:

    Thank you so much for the clear and concise tutorial. Worked like a charm!

Comments are closed.