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I would like to extend a secondary bootable partition leftward (not possible).

To do so, I'm considering taking the following steps:

  1. Booting from the primary partition
  2. Backing up the files from this secondary partition
  3. Deleting the secondary partition
  4. Creating a new partition that includes the unallocated space to the left and the deleted partition
  5. Copying the files back

Will this work? The OS I'm planning on backing up/re-copying is Windows Metro RC, and I'm uncertain if there are locked files (or something) that will block the transfer.

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The partition management should work, but as you suspected, any "super-locked" files (i.e., locked in a way that prevents opening/reading) would indeed be problematic. In fact it is usually recommended not to simply copy OS files in general because of all the protected files, hard-links, and permissions.

Probably the easiest solution would be to just use a live-CD partition program like GParted or CloneZilla (both free).

You would download the ISO and either burn it to a CD (it can be an rewritable CD), or to a flash-drive. Then you boot the dedicated OS from the CD/flash-drive and run the partitioning program. Since none of the files are in use, the partition app can do pretty much anything you need.

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Right. Copying OS files at the "block layer" preserving permissions, special attributes, etc. is the safest way. And you almost never want to copy a live/running system partition, even if you don't intend to modify it. – allquixotic Jul 13 '12 at 2:25
+1 for my fav clonezilla. This is a good solution indeed. – avirk Jul 13 '12 at 2:33
Just to be clear - you're saying that gparted and clonezilla can expand partitions leftward? – b-b Jul 13 '12 at 7:10
@b-b, yes, but not in a single move. You drag the partition to the left and expand it, then it splits it into a couple of individual steps (move, then expand). Partition apps usually split any move or resize action into even smaller steps where they first create the required filesystem structures (moving any data that happens to be in the way), and then they move all the data on the drive since the filesystem has now changed. If the volume is large and nearly full, this can be excruciatingly long, but they are designed to be accurate (so long as the power down't go out in the middle). – Synetech Jul 13 '12 at 17:41

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