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Matt McSpirit on Virtualisation, Management and Core Infrastructure

Partitioning Vista...

Partitioning Vista...

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Say you've got a nice new machine, with a 100gb hard disk, efficiently running Windows XP, but what if, for one reason or another, you want to split that hard disk into multiple partitions.  What are some of the reasons you would want to create multiple partitions?  Well, how about a separate drive for your paging file, to aid system performance, a separate drive for all your media / photo's / movies, or, a separate drive, to run another operating system, in a dual boot environment.  Sound good?  How can you do it in XP?  Well, it's not the easiest thing to do...

  • Method 1: - Re-install XP (Using your bootable DVD) and partition on setup.
  • Method 2: - Use a third-party Partitioning tool, such as partition magic.

Well, looking at the first one - it's abit of a hassle, and what if you already have alot of work on there?  You will need to back it all up etc, taking valuable time and effort.  This is obviously assuming that you have the DVD of XP.  The second method would provide you with a feature-rich application, but, it's not free, and if you are only to use it once or twice, maybe the cost isn't quite justified.

So, how does this all change with Vista?

Well, although not as full featured as some third party partition management applications, in the Disk-Management snap-in, pictured below, users can shrink, extend, create, and format partitions. The new resizing features will allow users to shrink a single partition with unused space, and then create a new partition in the resulting free space, as well as extending a current partition if there is available free space after it.


Compare this with the options you have in XP:


And you can see the number of features has increased a great deal.

So, you've installed Vista, on your single-partition, but you've decided that you'd like to create another couple of partitions, one for your media, and one for your other data, keeping just your system files on the current partition.  All you have to do is click Shrink Volume, enter the details...


and your unallocated space is created, where you can subsequently create your new volume with the New Volume Wizard, allocating size and choosing drive letter, or, you can extend an already existing volume.  You can split this space again, and again, to create your required partitions.

I think you'll agree, with the new enhancements to Windows Vista Disk Management, the wizard-driven shrinking and extending partitions is now easily accomplished. As always, when making changing to the partition structure, users should ensure that all important files and data are backed up.


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  • Hi again! :-)

    I don't think putting the paging file on a separate logical drive does much for system performance, only if you put it on a separate PHYSICAL drive.

    Also, in Windows XP and Window Server 2003 you can extend volumes using the DISKPART command line tool, except that it cannot extend the current system or boot partition.

  • Hi again Gerard!

    You are indeed correct - you will see a much greater performance improvement by moving the paging file to a separate physical disk, however, I still believe you will see some improvement by moving the page file to another logical drive on the same physical partition, providing that logical drive is not being used for other, frequently accessed data, as this can lead to fragmentation and hence, poor performance.

    Thanks for the info on Diskpart - I'd completely forgotton about that!  From a user-friendly point of view, I guess Diskpart is more for the user who is familiar with the command line interface, yet, it is still a useful tool to know.  Vista Disk Management does allow the System / Boot partition to be extended / partitioned - which is great!

    For more info on Diskpart -

    Thanks Gerard! :-)

  • i have currently installed a windows xp vista and now i want to revert back to windows xp media centre. but it is not letting me to do so as it does not detect my hard disk.

    i think the problem is that i have changed my C drive to NTFS from FAT32 .

    there is also no such partition magic i can use to revert it back to FAT32.

    pls help me out with this.

  • Hi Kapil,

    Could you provide a little more information please?

    So you had a machine which previously had Windows XP Media Center edition installed, and this machine had a FAT32 file system hard disk?

    How did you perform the Vista upgrade?  Did you do a clean install, from the DVD, formatting your hard disk, or did you upgrade from XP from within XP?



  • Now that Vista and Office have hit gold, more and more partners have been asking, particularly at the

  • I have been running Windows Vista RTM since it was released to MSDN a little under a week ago. So far,...

  • I recently bout my compaq with the vista business operating system installed on it,unfortunately my printer drive disk is not installing(it says I need administrator permission)though I am the admin,and I experience problem with using my cdma phone as a modem to connect to the net and also my logitech clip on webcam does not function since the driver can't be installed.Is there a way to rectify this?If not,how do  I perform a partition with vista business???

  • Hi Geeta,

    I'm not sure I quite understand here.  Could you provide me with the model of your printer?  How does the printer connect to the machine?  If it is USB, has the driver not come down with Windows Update?  If not, have you tried the manufacturers website for the updated Vista driver?  The same applies for the CDMA phone, and the Webcam?

    More and more drivers are being made available for devices connecting to Vista, but it is somewhat up to the manufacturers to release these as quick as possible - keep checking both Windows Update, and the manufacturers websites to see if they will be releasing the updates.

    To perform a partition with Vista Busines, open an mmc interface (type mmc in start menu) and select 'File, Add Remove Snap-In' and choose Disk Management, then  follow the instructions in this post - Are you planning an XP Dual Boot?  If so, XP needs to be installed before Vista.

    I hope that helps,


  • Really helpful. Thanx for the tips guys!

  • I would be very greatful to someone who can solve the riddle of "shrinking" a partition under Vista.

    I wished to partition my 120 Gb drive as follows:

    C: 25 GB for Vista, and for files, programmes and page files I made seperate partitions. However Vista doesn't let me downsize to from 50 Gb to 25, although I did move the pagefiles to another partition beforehand. I also defragmented C and tried shrinking it again, but no luck...

    Please help!!!!!!!

  • Any Help!!

    I try to Shrink a 235 meg Partition (OS Drive) and it won't shrink but just 3 meg...part only has 13 gig used, a 8 meg Page file and no revovery file and is completely defragged, so why won't it shrink

  • Hi David, ThrashMaster.

    I think you may both be suffering from the same issue here.

    I would recommend, first, using the Drive Cleaning Tool and get rid of any hibernation files etc.  You mentioned 'no recovery file' - this is also a good way of being able to shrink the partition more.

    Secondly, I would see if you have better results with a dedicated defragmenting tool, like DiskKeeper.  There is a 30 day trial - this may free up some more disk space.

    It may also be worth investigating the creation of dynamic disks, over basic disks.  If you have 4 partitions on a basic disk, all of 30Gb, and you shrink Partition 1, by 5GB, you will not be able to extend one of the other partitions by this amount - you will only be able to extend the partition directly next to the free space on the hard disk.  Dynamic disks, I believe, solve this problem.

    I hope that helps,


  • hi...

    im a new user of vista ultimate i just want to know how i perform an easy partition for starters like me...just a simple information i would need to be sent at my email provided above hope so i would be guided accordingly...thanks...

  • Hi, Matt

    I have C drive 100 GB( Window vista home edition with media center) and 5 GB D drive ( recovery drive) along with Recovery CD.

    I am using Vista, now wish to install XP also as few old software do not suppor vista.

    What solution you suggest?

    Should i format D drive and install XP as i am having recovery CD also?

    or should i partition C drive in two part?

    How do i perform partitioning of C drive? I used partition magic 8 but it is not working

    Pl suggest

  • Hi Matt ,

    I have done the partition the way you describe and also installed XP in new partition so i can use dual boot option of running by Vista or XP.

    My PC came with preinstalled vista.

    After i installed xp with bootable CD, it is only booting with xp, not asking for dual boot option from vista/xp.

    what do i do now?

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