Partitioning a hard drive helps keep your PC tidy. We’ll show you how to divide your hard drive.
When shipped from the factory, hard drives appear as a single drive under Windows. However, if you want to separate your Windows installation from games, programs or documents, for example, dividing it into partitions makes sense. Backup tasks can also be simplified by partitioning. Since Windows 7, you can partition your hard disks during operation – we will show you how to do it.
Before we begin, an important note: The methods shown work ideally without data loss (apart from deleting the partitions, of course). Partitioning, however, is always an “open-heart surgery”. If you want to be on the safe side, you should make a backup of your most important data and programs before starting.
Partitioning the system hard drive under Windows
Especially in laptops, there is often only one hard drive, marked with the drive letter “C:”. However, you can divide this into several partitions while Windows is running. This is how you do it:
- Step 1: Not mandatory, but helpful: Make sure you have space on the hard drive before partitioning. The more free space is available, the more memory you can allocate to a new partition. So empty the Windows Recycle Bin, delete unnecessary download files and uninstall programs you no longer need.
- Step 2: Start Disk Management. In all Windows versions, the easiest way to do this is to use the Run dialogue. To do this, press [Windows] + [R] and enter “ diskmgmt.msc ”. Alternatively, you can find Disk Management in the start menu; under Windows 10, you can right-click on the start menu and select “Computer Management” from the context menu.
- Step 3: Disk Management lists all existing hard drives and DVD drives on your PC. You will find the hard disks sorted by volume in the lower part at the top by “Volume”. The Windows system hard disk appears in the list as “Disk 0 “. Do not be surprised that there are other partitions without a drive letter in addition to the actual “C:” partition. Windows uses these to store system information and recovery functions, among other things.
- Step 4: To create a second partition, you need to shrink the current hard drive first. To do this, right-click on the area with “C:” and select the “Reduce volume …” command in the context menu.
- Step 5: In the menu that now appears, specify how much space you want to reserve for the new partition. By default, Windows reserves all free space on the current hard drive here. If you’re going to shrink less memory, change the value in the “Memory space to be reduced in MB “field. Please note: Windows calculates here in megabytes, whereby 1,024 megabytes is a gigabyte. So if you want to create a 20-gigabyte partition, enter “20480” as the value. If you are satisfied with the selection, apply the settings by clicking on “Reduce “.
- Step 6: Disk Management now lists an empty hard drive area. To create a new partition, click on it with the right mouse button and select the “New simple volume” command in the context menu.
- Step 7: In the window that now appears, first, click on “Next”. Now you can determine the size of the new partition. As a rule, you take the maximum value that Windows automatically enters and click “Next “.
- Step 8: In the next step, you assign a drive letter for the new partition. Windows uses the following free letter by default. If you want to address the division differently, select the appropriate letter.
- Step 9: Finally, define the formatting options and the name under which the partition should appear in Explorer. When formatting, you can usually use the standard “NTFS” file format and the other options provided by Windows. Click on “Next” and then “Finish” to create the new partition. This appears directly in Windows Explorer so that you can use it immediately.
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Partition and format a new hard drive in Windows
If you have installed a second hard disk on your PC, you must first initialize it via data carrier management. You can also partition them at the same time if you wish.
- Step 1: Open Disk Management as described above. Windows now recognize that you have installed a new hard disk and offers the initialization. When choosing the partition style, you can usually choose the more modern GPT. Only specific older operating systems can no longer cope with it.
- Step 2: You can now partition the new disk. This works exactly as shown above from step six: First, open the wizard for creating new simple volumes via the context menu. If you do not reserve all of the space here for the volume size, you can divide the new disk into several partitions.
- Step 3: Create multiple volumes in a row and assign the drive letters and names accordingly. This way, you can divide your hard drive (s) just as you like. You can see the result in Windows Explorer, among other things.
Delete and merge existing partitions
Of course, this also works the other way around: you can delete the partitions on the hard drive and add the free space to an existing section. Note that all files on the deleted partition will be lost. It is best to secure this before the process if it has not already happened. How to delete partitions on Windows:
- Step 1: Open the Windows Disk Management again and locate the partition you want to delete in the area below. Start the process by right-clicking and selecting “Delete Volume “.
- Step 2: Windows now warn of possible data loss. If you are sure that you do not need the files on the partition, confirm the deletion with “Yes “.
- Step 3: The space of the deleted partition now appears as “Unallocated “. Do you want the space now one still existing partition on the same disk to assign, click it with the right mouse button and select the context menu “Extend Volume “.
- Step 4: In the wizard that now appears, first, click on “Next”. In the next step, you determine how much memory you want to use for this. As a rule, you accept the specifications and end the process in the last step with “Finish “. Here, too, the changes to the storage space are immediately available.
As you can see, partitioning hard disks under Windows is not rocket science. However, there can be situations in which Windows Disk Management reaches its limits. This is simply due to the complex properties of partition tables. For example, you may not be able to add free space to an existing partition because a recovery partition is “in-between”. Unfortunately, you will not get any further here without a complicated reformatting process.
Alternatively, you can use professional partitioning tools that offer advanced features. Before you resort to such means, you should back up your most important data and programs since incorrect operation threatens data loss.
Although the hard disk offers unallocated storage space, the partition table does not allow the existing partition to be expanded using onboard tools.
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