How to Manage and Create Disk Partitions in Windows 7

October 13, 2010, By Christian Cawley

Windows 7 features improved disk management options allowing you to partition, name and perform all the usual disk management tasks that third party applications provide but previous versions of Windows didn’t.

Not only does Windows 7 let you manage and create disk partitions, it does it pretty quickly too! In fact improvements to disk management options should result in there being few occasions in which a third party app will be required in future.

Let’s take a look at the most popular disk management options of:

  • Formatting and creating partitions
  • Resizing partitions

Before proceeding, open the Disk Management tool – this can be found by going to Start > right-click Computer > Manage > Disk Management.

Formatting, Managing and Creating Partitions

Creating partitions is the best way to extend the lifespan of your hard disk drive – by splitting the disk into segments that can be identified by their drive letter (partitions) the drive will work more efficiently.

To create a new partition, first check that you have enough space. A good size for a new partition is 30-50GB. You can do this by right-clicking the drive, selecting Properties and viewing the General tab, although the information is also presented in both windows of the Disk Management tool.

You shouldn’t really be creating a new partition on a disk that already has data on it, however. To do this, you should first make space by shrinking the volume – see “Resizing a Partition”, below.

To create a partition on a blank disk, right-click and select New… – you will then have an option to create a new volume or partition. (With a RAID-compatible disk and motherboard, you will also have options to create a striped or mirrored partition.)

Name the drive, assign a drive letter, and then let Windows format it.

Resizing a Partition in Windows 7

With Windows 7, Microsoft has included the tools to allow you to manage your partitions more effectively with tools to shrink or increase the size of a partition/volume. If you choose to use these options, be aware that shrinking a volume can only be done up to the point where any existing data is saved within the partition. Therefore you could shrink a 30GB partition to 5GB or 27GB – there is no definitive rule.

To resize this space, right-click the drive and choose Shrink Volume… . Windows 7 will advise you how much smaller the volume can be made, although this might take some time to calculate.

When this is done, you are then able to specify a new size for the volume, either based on the suggestion or your own requirements. Click on Shrink to proceed, and the drive will be resized without affecting any of the existing data.

Using similar means, you can also Extend Volume – this lets you resize a different partition to take advantage of the space freed up in the shrink process.

Once this is complete, you then have complete control over the partition or volume, just as you would with any other disk. You can save to the disk, back it up using Windows System Restore and even access it in DOS/Command Prompt as a genuine, logical partition.

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