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I've got a drive layout that looks a bit like this:

| Swap | Ubuntu (ext4)        | Windows (NTFS)         |

The issue I'm facing is that I seem to be running out of space on my Windows partition. My usage on the Ubuntu partition is not near what I'd initially thought it would be, either. So, I'd like to shrink the ext4 partition by a hundred or so GB and grow the NTFS partition to the left. Taking backups beforehand, of course.

Initially I was looking at using GParted (which uses ntfsresize, I think) to expand the partition. Let's assume that the NTFS partition is full of data at the beginning of the drive. Would a grow operation "leftwards" require all of this data to be moved as well? How long would such an operation take?

If this doesn't sound like a great idea, are there other options? Should I create a new partition in the middle and try to "merge" them somehow? Am I better off nuking the partition and restoring data from backup?

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Yes, the data would probably have to move, and that would take around 1 minute per GB (based on my past experience). Plus there's usually a surface scan, but you may be able to skip that step. – user3463 Nov 26 '10 at 19:33
as Randolph says. Mainly because the beginning of the partition needs to be at the beginning of the space, and if you shrunk the ext4 part then the free space would be in the middle and not at the end of the drive. – Xantec Nov 26 '10 at 20:26
Makes sense. I was more curious about whether all of the data needs to be moved to the start, and whether the tools doing the moving would recognize that. – Jacob Peddicord Nov 26 '10 at 21:00

I've done this exact operation a few times, and modern GParted will do everything for you if you tell it to resize the partitions (or shrink the Ubuntu partition and grow the Windows partition). It does take a long time, though, due to moving the data - try leaving it overnight.

As per the below comment: do take a backup first, though. The chance of losing data isn't high, but it's high enough that having a backup of anything your care about first.

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I'm not wholly convinced; I ended up trying this last year and the partition was hosed. Had a backup, though. – Jacob Peddicord May 15 '12 at 23:14

You should use GParted.

By GParted, you can expand your drive. but there is a data loss chance.

So, you should create a backup from every files on your drive (or an image backup), then expand your drive. But if you back up your drive, I suggest you to re-create and re-format that ntfs drive and then copy (restore) your data to your new drive.

You can install GParted on your ubuntu via software center, or you can run it from livecd. (it is already installed on livecds), or you can download bootable one from their site.

You should use this command to run GParted if you want to run it inside your ubuntu (or ubuntu livecd):

sudo gparted
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