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One hard disk. 3 partitions (C D E). Windows XP on C and D. E just has data.

I am booted to D. I want to reformat of the other boot, i.e. C, for space.

I see windows management console doesn't allow me to format C, probably for good reasons. I saw people had issues forcing the format of C through other means like GParted; the reason being that they lost boot.ini.

Also, It would be nice if I could consider the space as the part of E instead as a separate partition. But it is not mandatory.

How can I go about it?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jul 12 '10 at 16:44

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This should be posted on SU. –  Walter Jul 12 '10 at 16:41

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Easy way I think would be to run windows xp setup and format the partition you want to format.

to format a partition safely, LABEL your partitions if more than one, so you know which is which. And you can remove any hard drives with partitions you don't want to format.

You can format from windows xp setup cd. (important to have one anyway if you have windows xp installed!)

A less easy way, would be to make the other windows partition active, the C and D will then be the other way around. You'll want to format D. And you can do that by booting off C and starting windows from C.

Here is some terminology that may be of interest to you http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314470 difference between system volume and boot volume (though terminology seems a bit counter-intuitive to me, and I don't really use it, system volume starts first, then the boot volume.. and with that termonology i guess it looks like 3 volumes.. a system volume and boot volume, (C), and a boot volume D)

i'll use the word start instead of boot, so as to avoid confusion with that MS terminology.. the active partition with boot.ini that one starts first and is C. The other partitions it sees with windows on them, are later letters. Make any one of those other partitions the Active one (give them the boot.ini and other few files..), and that partition will then be C.

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I am booted to D. If I make D as active partition, is that enough to reformat C safely? Or will it screw up booting to D? –  rpattabi Jul 13 '10 at 4:27
    
If I were you, I wouldn't rely too heavily on what you work out regarding drive letter assignments. For example, a person could have a short term memory failure, and format the wrong one! or they could miscalculate, or forget something and then there's no going back. So, best thing, is to go into windows, and label your partitions. That gives them names. You can name the one you want to format as FORMATTHISONE Also, if you do the formatting from Win XP Setup CD(so not booted into any), then I don't think you'd need to change which is active. (though if you did it'd be no real screw-up). –  barlop Jul 13 '10 at 11:25
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@rpattabi as long as you don't format the wrong partition, then there will be no screw up. If you make a different partition active then it's changeable. Nothing to be afraid of. Infact, within the realm of nothing to be afraid of.. making the other partition active(as I originally suggested) may not work, 'cos it may need some boot record stuff as well as boot.ini etc files.Though if you're a little bit of a techie then no harm in trying 'cos you can just make the right partition active again. I do suggest formatting from the Win XP Setup CD.(and having partitions labelled,can't go wrong) –  barlop Jul 13 '10 at 11:31
    
By the way, Formatting will always lose you any files on the partition including boot.ini if it's on it and it would be in your case. one thing that you could do, is run the win xp setup cd, and choose R to fix from the recovery console, type HELP, and you see commands BOOTCFG , FIXMBR, FIXBOOT. You can try them all. I know BOOTCFG can rebuild a boot.ini So.. maybe.. Label your partitions, labelling C as "foramtthis". Go to win xp setup, format that partition, or delete it if that is what you want. Make remaining windows partition active. Run recovery console to put boot.ini on it. –  barlop Jul 13 '10 at 11:40

Windows likes to install its core operating system files on C:. Also, C: and E: are probably not contiguous, so it's impractical to join them into a single partition.

Backup and use GParted.

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Merging to E is not important for me. Does GParted takes care of moving the system stuff like boot.ini? –  rpattabi Jul 12 '10 at 16:49
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From GParted website NOTE: If you move a partition that is used in the operating system boot process (for example the C: drive in Windows), then the operating system might fail to boot. To fix this problem you will need to repair the boot configuration. ... (for windows xp) To repair the Master Boot Record of the boot disk: fixmbr To write a new partition boot sector to the system partition: fixboot To rebuild the boot.ini configuration file: bootcfg /rebuild –  rpattabi Jul 12 '10 at 17:00
    
GParted does not fix bootloaders. However, you can just mount the NTFS filesystem and fix it, if you're booting from a Linux LiveCD. –  Hello71 Jul 12 '10 at 17:25

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