Windows Vista - Shrink and Partition Your Disk Print

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This article will guide you through the process of cleaning your hard disk and shrinking your disk volume to create space for a new disk partition on a Windows Vista system.

How to Partition your Primary / Boot Partition in Windows Vista

The best way to partition a hard disk is to create disk partitions before you install the operating system. If you have already installed Windows Vista and are looking to resize the primary operating system partition, you will need to use the Windows Vista "Computer Management > Disk Management" utility.

This application is very similar to the Disk Management utility that we know from Windows XP, but with changes in the way Vista manages system data, you will need to perform some cleanup operations on your hard disk before proceeding to shrink a volume. In the Disk Management utility, you can "Right-Click" on a disk partition and select the "Shrink Volume" option from the context menu. This feature will review the available disk space and then allow you to specify the amount to "Shrink" on the volume.

In most cases, the amount allowed to "Shrink" is minimal, which is due to system files on your hard disk that are locked in position and restricting the Shrink feature from giving you more available space. There is a great article found here that can give you more information on this issue, and a common MFT file issue that may require some attention.

The logic is to defragment and re-structure all the files on your hard disk so that they are located at the beginning of your disk partition. This will allow the Shrink feature to recognize a large amount of "Free Space" that will be available for shrinking.

How to Cleanup Your Hard Disk Volume

  1. Disable the Windows Page File
    My Computer > Properties > Advanced > Performance
  2. Disable the System Restore Feature
    My Computer > Properties > System Protection
  3. Disable Error Logs
    My Computer > Properties > Advanced > Error Reporting
  4. Disable Hibernation Mode
    Start > Type "CMD" > Right-Click on the CMD Icon and Select "Run as Administrator"
    Type "powercfg -h off" to turn off (there is no confirmation message)
    Type "dir /a:h hiberfil.sys" to confirm the file is missing (this confirms that hibernation is off)
    * When You're Done Shrinking Type "powercfg -h on" to turn hibernation back on
  5. Reboot the Machine
    * Trick - type "shutdown -r -t 00" from a command prompt
  6. Run Disk Cleanup - Files for All Users ... Delete Everything + System Restore Points
    Start > Type "Disk Cleanup"
  7. Delete c:\pagefile.sys
    If you cannot see the file in your explorer window, confirm that you are able to see hidden system files
    Start > My Computer > C: > Press "ALT+T" > Folder Options > View Tab
    Check Show Hidden
    Un-Check Hide Extensions
    Un-Check Hide Protected Operating ...
    Confirm Changes
  8. Install and Run "Power Defragmenter"
  9. Install and Run "Auslogics Disk Defragmenter"
  10. Install and Run "PerfectDisk 2008 or Greater"
    This application will clean your MFT (master file table) which is the NTFS storage for all your disk information. This file is typically untouchable. * install and use the trial copy - then remove if you wish or pay the $39 dollars cheapy

Defragmenting your Drive is the Key

The defragmenting process is the key to shrinking your volume, and the PerfectDisk tool is the only one that can carry you through this process. There are some system files that are locked by windows once the system is booted, and windows seems to want to continually write these files into blocks toward the middle and end of your hard disk partition. PerfectDisk is the only defragmentation tool that will touch these system files (that I'm aware of) and requires some attention and repetition of the process in order to complete the task.

Using PerfectDisk to Deframent and Consolidate your System Files

  1. Perform the above listed actions
  2. Open PerfectDisk (we are using PerfectDisk 2008 for this example)
  3. Select the "SMARTReplacement" radio top left
  4. Right Click on the Partition you wish to shrink and select "Entire Drive"
  5. Once complete, Right-Click on the same partition and select "System Files"
    This will prompt you to close all application and reboot so the process can run on startup - click ok and let it run
  6. Now repeat steps 3 - 5 until you have consolidated the files as much as possible

    At this point you may still had system file segments popping into the disk toward the middle of the partition. These small segments will cause the "Shrink" feature to deny you any of the space located before that system data.

  7. Shrink your volume as much as allowed - if what is allowed is more than you intended from the beginning, then you are done!

    If you need to do more shrinking, then Shrink the maximum allowed amount, and start over with step 3. With each run through these steps, you will be allowed to shrink another 50% of the disk. There seems to be some magical connection with 50% - it may be a shrink limitation, but it appears to be related to the system files which want to start writing exactly halfway through the active partition.

    * These problems should only be experienced when attempting to shrink a boot partition

Shrinking Your Drive

Assuming you've read the above, Shrinking is the final step and very simple...

  1. From the start window, type "Computer Management" and press enter
  2. Select "Disk Management" from the left menu
  3. Right Click on the partition you wish to shrink and select shrink from the context menu
  4. Specify the amount to shrink by

    If you have a 100gb Partition and you want to shrink it to 40gb, you will shrink using the amount 60gb or 60000.

    * NOTE * It is nearly impossible to get a drive to be exactly 40gb or any exact integer - drive partitions are not exact because they allocate a portion of the space of a given partition to be held for hard disk boot straps and other core system information. If you are smart enough to calculate what that size would be, then you already stopped reading this article =)


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