Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Powerful Disk management features in Windows 7

As you all might have read or heard, Visual Studio’s latest version has been shipped – VS 2010. So I decided to get rid of Visual Studio 2008 from my machine and install the latest (and greatest) version. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough space in my hard disc for installing it – there was 6 GB free space only in my OS drive (C drive) and Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate needs 6GB of space for itself. However, I had lots of free space in the other drives so I was wondering if somehow I could magically extend the OS drive by borrowing space from the other drives. Enter Windows 7 disk management.

To start using the built in disk management utility in Windows 7, just type “disk management” in the start box and click on the “Create and format hard disk partitions” link which should appear almost instantaneously. The start menu should look something like below.


The disk management UI is fairly intuitive and shows information about the drives on your hard disc in a tabular as well as graphical format. This is what it showed for my machine.


As we can see, there are 3 drives as well as a system partition of 300MB. This snapshot shows information after I extended the drive:). The C: drive was only 40 GB earlier. So let me mention the steps that I followed to extend C: from 40GB to 60GB by taking 20GB from D: drive.

  1. Backup data from D: - I copied the data to E: since I had a lot of free space in that drive
  2. Delete the D: - We need to do this to make the space available for use in another drive. To delete the drive, right click on it in the graph and select “Delete Volume”
  3. Extend C: – To do this, right click on the C drive in the graph and select “Extend Volume”. A wizard will open up asking for the amount of space you want to add to the existing space in the drive. Enter an appropriate amount of space and complete the wizard to extend the volume
  4. Recreate D: – Right click in the unallocated space between C: and E: and select the option to create a new Simple volume. Use all the space available when prompted to enter the space to be used for the drive and complete the wizard.

NOTE: In case the UI shows “At risk” for any of the drives, it will not allow the volume extension. In this case, click on Action –> Rescan disks from the menu to refresh the drive information. This should hopefully resolve the “At risk” errors, unless there is something seriously wrong with your disc :)

I really loved the disk management utility shipped with Windows and hopefully, this post will help highlight how easy yet powerful this utility really is. Hope this also helps you in resolving similar space crunch issues.


  1. Isn't feature present in other versions too?.. I remember trying it out in vista ...

  2. Yes quite possible. I never used Vista, moved from XP to Win 7 directly so I was pleasantly surprised to see this "new" feature in Win 7 :-)