Can someone please explain these 7 partitions on my Windows hard drive and what they are used for? The original hard drive came from Dell with the system and this is a clone of it. Why does it appear there are duplicate partitions? Can I remove some of them?

$ /sbin/fdisk -l /dev/sda

Disk /dev/sda: 931.5 GiB, 1000204886016 bytes, 1953525168 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: gpt
Disk identifier: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Device          Start        End    Sectors   Size Type
/dev/sda1        2048    1026047    1024000   500M EFI System
/dev/sda2     1032192    1114111      81920    40M unknown
/dev/sda3     1114112    1376255     262144   128M Microsoft reserved
/dev/sda4     1376256    2400255    1024000   500M Windows recovery environment
/dev/sda5     2400256 1924044799 1921644544 916.3G Microsoft basic data
/dev/sda6  1924044800 1924761599     716800   350M Windows recovery environment
/dev/sda7  1924761600 1953523119   28761520  13.7G Windows recovery environment

enter image description here

DISKPART> list partition

  Partition ###  Type              Size     Offset
  -------------  ----------------  -------  -------
  Partition 1    System             500 MB  1024 KB
  Partition 2    OEM                 40 MB   504 MB
  Partition 3    Reserved           128 MB   544 MB
  Partition 4    Recovery           500 MB   672 MB
  Partition 5    Primary            916 GB  1172 MB
  Partition 6    Recovery           350 MB   917 GB
  Partition 7    Recovery            13 GB   917 GB

Also, how do I get the maximum usable space? If you add up the sectors, it totals 1,953,514,928, but the command says there are 1,953,525,168, which is a difference of 10,240 sectors. How do I access those? Western Digital SSD Dashboard software says there is 1-14 GB unallocated.

enter image description here

Windows 8.1.

  • The system's manufacturer's website should explain how to remove the recovery partitions. But keep in mind that you will have to order recovery media from them unless you create your own beforehand. Nov 6 '17 at 22:26
  • Will a Windows 8 USB key that I got from Dell act as recovery media? I don't believe it is 8.1.
    – Chloe
    Nov 6 '17 at 22:27
  • Couldn't tell you. Usually recovery media is keyed to a specific machine since it includes the product key. Nov 6 '17 at 22:28
  • @Chloe This is unrelated to this question, but you appear to have deleted your comment on my question. Did you solve your Cygwin problem? Nov 6 '17 at 22:32
  • 1
    Ah fair enough. I was going to mention that it's part of the util-linux package, which is under the Base category. Also, if you haven't already installed a package manager, I highly recommend you do. I find it annoying going through the setup.exe file every time I want to install a package, and since installing apt-cyg, I've used it to install every package since. Nov 6 '17 at 22:39

Here's a rundown of the partitions from your Linux screenshot above (since it's more comprehensive):

  • sda1 - This is your EFI partition. All GPT boot disks in UEFI systems are required to have this partition. It is where your Windows boot configuration data (BCD) files are located.
  • sda2 - This is likely the Dell diagnostics partition. Some Dell models have a BIOS boot option to run system diagnostics from this special partition. Other Dell models that support this feature have the diagnostics built into the firmware and don't use a hard disk partition. You can safely delete this partition if you want, but it doesn't it doesn't really get you anything considering it's only 40MB. Not really worth the trouble.
  • sda3 - Microsoft Reserved partition. All versions of Windows running on UEFI hardware require this partition. This is where Windows records Dynamic Disk configuration (Microsoft's proprietary software RAID solution). This partition can be deleted if you want, but you'll have to do it with the diskpart command line or from Linux, since Disk Management hides it from you. You will also lose the ability to convert your hard drives to Dynamic Disks (but who cares?).
  • sda4 - This is the Windows default recovery partition. Windows will boot to this partition automatically if your system fails to boot properly, or if you choose advanced startup options from the Recovery settings panel.
  • sda5 - This is your C: drive.
  • sda6 and sda7 - These are the Dell OS factory restore partitions, used to do a full device reset to the original Dell factory image. Since this is a clone of some other Dell machine, you can safely delete these.

Really, it's only useful to delete the last two recovery partitions. Once they're gone, you can expand out your C: drive to occupy that space and gain an extra 14GB of storage. The others are too small to really matter, and moving the C: drive's start boundary is't really worth the risk and effort for the space you'd gain (only shrinking and growing the end boundary is).

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