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On a mechanical hard drive, I have 4 partitions. I want to merge 2 physically adjacent partitions, each filled with over 200GB of data. Neither is a boot partition.

From what I've researched, the tools provided by Microsoft do not allow performing this task without data loss. Thus the required procedure is to:

  1. Back up all data.
  2. Delete or wipe all data on the second of the 2 partitions being merged.
  3. Increase the size of the first of the 2 partitions being merged.
  4. Restore all data that was deleted in Step 2.

This is obviously a time consuming task.

I've read that some partition management tools (perhaps GParted?) can possibly perform this task without manually deleting any data. Of course, creating a backup is still needed.

Will using a partition management tool make this task any faster? Or does partition management software essentially just perform the above steps, thus not providing any time savings?

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The answer is file system dependant. For FAT32 and NTFS a partition management tool makes this task faster because it does not need to move the data involved (but the smaller metdata!) but it comes at a risk of data loss as new metadata needs to be created in the former front file system pointing to the locations of data in the former back file system.

In the rare case when the location of clusters of the former back file system do not match the front one, even the data in the former back partition has to be moved as well as the metadata.

Artifical example to explain the above:

Given 8 sectors per cluster.

The beginning of the clusters of the first partition are located in sectors 0,8,16,24 etc...

The beginning of the clusters of the second partition are located in sectors 801,809,817...

If you extend the sector series of the first partition they point to 800,808,816... but are unable to match 801,809,817...

=> One partition has to be moved by a sector!

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  • Thank you. And thank you for the example. Upvoted. On which common file systems would they not make the task faster? Oct 12 at 0:29
  • I am lacking the detailed knowledge about other file systems to be able to judge that. In addition to that there is always a risk of dumb implementation slowing down a task that could be done much faster!
    – r2d3
    Oct 12 at 17:51
  • dumb implementation slowing down a task that could be done much faster - That made me smile... thanks... seen it at least a thousand times in various contexts. Oct 19 at 23:20

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