In the past, managing disk partitions had to be mostly done through 3rd-party tools such as Partition Magic and others, that had to be booted externally to Microsoft operating systems from bootable CDs. Such tools allowed you to re-format your disk, manage partitions, and mostly to extend (increase the size of) and shrink (reduce the size of) disk partitions. Unlike in previous Microsoft operating systems, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 now allow for an easy, out-of-the-box, method of shrinking partitions and making them smaller, thus freeing disk space and allowing the creation of another partition out of that space. This is made possible by using the Shrink feature in Disk Management. If you have multiple partitions on your hard disk, you can delete and create partitions from the resulting unallocated space. When you delete a partition, all data on the partition will be erased. You can also repartition hard disks with a third-party partitioning program. Several third-party manufacturers offer programs that allow you to repartition your hard disk without erasing data, but that’s a topic for a future article.
Shrinking a partition in Windows Server 2008 is similar to the process in Windows Vista. I’ve used screenshots of Windows Vista, except the ones related to Server Manager in Windows Server 2008. The rest of the procedure is the same.
Note: Besides shrinking a volume or partition, in Vista and Windows Server 2008 you can also Extend a partition or volume without the need to reboot or use 3rd-Party tools. See my “Extending a Partition in Windows Vista/2008” article for more info.
Note: Shrinking any volume is fine as long as you make sure you leave enough space on the partition you are shrinking. For example, having a 40 GB system partition might seem too much at the beginning, but after a while you might find it to be less than optimal. You see, many applications such as Microsoft Office take tons of free space. So do Service Packs, hotfixes and other files. For a server running Windows Server 2008 this calculation might be different than on a workstation running Windows Vista, but in any case, make a mental note of this BEFORE shrinking your partitions.
Shrinking a partition or volume can be done via the CLI, or command line interface. This works in both Vista and Windows Server 2008. In order to do that perform the following steps:
Select disk 0 Select partition 1
Note: You may want to perform a LIST operation to view your existing disks and partitions BEFORE attempting to shrink the wrong one:
List disk List partition
The above command will shrink the partition by 500 MB.
The above command will shrink the partition by the maximum allowed size.
And with that final step, we have completed our task.
If you wish, you can now use this new free space to create a new partition.
You have successfully created a new partition out of the freed space.