Els's blog

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Disk management in Windows Vista

In earlier versions of Windows it was not possible to extend your system and boot partition. You can extend data partititons in Windows Server 2003, even on a basic disk (using diskpart), but system/boot is not an option unless you turn to some third-party tool.
And shrinking partitions was completely impossible.

Up until now!

In Vista, you can do it all:
  • You can shrink any partition.
  • You can extend any partition.
  • Including system and boot partition.
  • Both on dynamic and on basic disks.
  • Using Disk Management (GUI) or Diskpart (cmd).
There is only 1 limitation: when you try to extend a partition, you'll see that it is still only possible to extend with contiguous free space.
Thus, let's say you have the following situation:
  • C: drive (50 Gb)
  • D: drive (50 Gb)
  • Free space (100 Gb)
Then you will be able to extend drive D: but you will not be able to extend drive C: since the last one does not have any white space directly following the partition.
If you're in this situation, you still need a third-party tool.

Another thing that seems to have changed, has to do with the types of partitions.
When you try to create a new partition in Vista, you'll see that the only thing you can create is a "volume".
What happened to primary and extended partitions?

Let's take a look at Windows Server 2003.
There are 2 types of disks there: basic disks and dynamic disks.
On a basic disk, you create partitions (primary or extended). On a dynamic disk, you create volumes.

How does this work in Vista?
The only thing you can create here on a basic disk is a volume. But in fact you are creating a primary partition. Vista does not give you the choice anymore, it decides for you.
The first 3 volumes that you create, are actually primary partitions. When you create a fourth volume, Vista will automatically create 1 extended partition using the remainder of the free space on the disk. Within that partition a logical drive will be created with the size you specified in the new volume wizard.

So, basically nothing has really changed there, you just don't get to choose the type of partition to create anymore.

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