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My machine has a 300 GB hard drive. I'm planning to reinstall Windows 7 on this machine soon. It has three partitions: a System partition, and two equal data partitions for particular types of data (music, photos, docs, etc). These data partitions are too small for the data they hold, and the system partition is large enough to be shrunk.

I want to create four partitions in preparation for the fresh reinstall, a System partition, and three data partitions of varying sizes (40, 50, & 60 GB respectively).

My question: Can I shrink the System volume, create another partition, and make the existing two data partitions bigger without losing any data that is currently on the hard drive?

Or is it better to format the whole thing, and create partitions after (thus removing the current OS) with a partitioning tool booting from CD? Can I reformat and create partitions with the Windows 7 set up DVD?

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Similar/Related question: superuser.com/questions/94066/… –  studiohack Dec 20 '10 at 23:54
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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Use ubuntu live cd as recommended before, or you can get the free EASUS partition manager home edition (considerably smaller than the full ubu cd) and it will do the resizing before windows starts, 2 things before you resize:

search for errors on the partitions (right click on the letter of the partition, properties, tools, disk check) and

you should defrag your partitions first, it will make the resizing a lot faster, well actually if you want to get smart about you should defrag the data moving each cluster to the begining or the end of the partition(depending on where the partition boundary will move) for this you can use Defrag Professional by O&O Software , be warned that it is not free, but the trial should be sufficient for the task.

You can skip the defragging but in my experience it will save you a ton of time, for some reason moving data is slower for the partition tools than it is for the defrag ones.

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thanks for the tips! +1 –  studiohack Dec 22 '10 at 1:48
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I use a Ubuntu Live CD and Gparted for such tasks, never had a problem with them. You might want to image your drive to an external hard drive though, just to be on the safe side.

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Not the biggest fan of Linux, as I am unfamiliar with them and don't want to trust my system/drives to that... thanks! +1 –  studiohack Dec 22 '10 at 1:48
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Why not simply use Dynamic Disk? On Disk Management, just convert your disk (currently a basic disk) to Dynamic Disk. The fun thing with Dynamic disk is that it enable "volumes to have noncontiguous extents on one or more physical disks". That means you can simply tell the D, E and F partition to extend themselves to free space in C. Of course, it probably won't work well with Linux or Mac, but otherwise it's the simplest solution I usually use

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good idea, but I like tighter control. thanks +1 –  studiohack Dec 22 '10 at 1:47
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You can do it without loss of data but as there is no way to guarantee it and you are only removing space from your system partition.

A good backup and system image is required to a usb drive. You have a retail/Microsoft installation disc should anything go wrong [which will have partition and format software that appears close to the start of the installation]. The recovery disc does not.

As removing the partition is quicker than reinstalling, these may of use:

This page provides a good how to and download for partition magic [a easy to use system]:

http://www.partition-tool.com/resource/resize-partition-windows-7.htm

If you wish for selection The freecountry has this page:

http://www.thefreecountry.com/utilities/partitioneditors.shtml

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thanks for the info! +1 –  studiohack Dec 22 '10 at 1:47
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