How to Manage Hard Drive Partitions and Volumes in Windows 10 (2023)

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When installing Windows, did you consciously use the space on your hard drive? Windows is slow due to running out of disk space? or you have very littlebackup space, while the system partition has many GB left? It may be time to reorganize the free space on your hard drive.

Whether you're trying to install an additional operating system, manage multiple storage devices, or expand your storage space, read on to demystify storage management in Windows 10.

Partitions and Volumes: An Overview

The difference between partitions and volumes can be confusing. But the terminology is important, so let's get it straight.

given arbitrarilystorage mediumLike your computer's hard drive, it contains a single block of free, unallocated space. Before we can use this space, e.g. to install Windows, we need to create one or more partitions.partitionsare segmented portions of disk space (complete definition of a partition). Typicallyvolumesare partitions formatted with a single file system (complete definition of a volume).

File systems are ways of organizing different ways (complete definition of a file system). On Windows, you usually see drives formatted with NTFS (New Technology File System). You will usually find FAT32 (File Allocation System) or exFAT on removable drives. Mac computers work best with HFS+ (Hierarchical File System). The standard Linux file system is called ext4 (Extended File System).

If you have two separate partitions (on the same drive or two different drives) on your PC and both are formatted with a file system, they will both be labeled with different letters. Usually you have oneC:and theD:Drive. These two units are volume.

(Video) How to create Partition on Windows 10 | Partition Hard Drives

For our purposes, suffice it to say that you can create a volume from a partition and integrate multiple unused partitions into a single volume. For example, installing an operating system usually creates a couple of partitions: an accessible primary partition and a secondary recovery partition that boots things (like startup repairs).

partition management

Now let's see how to shrink, merge and delete partitions in Windows 10. This way you can add or remove space to your partitions.


Before manipulating your partitions, you must first defragment your hard drive. This will consolidate all your data into onePiecespace that can helpfaster display speeds.

Disclaimer:Although it is recommended to defragment your hard drive for this process, it is not required.SSD defragmentation(Solid State Drives), unlike HDDs (Hard Disk Drives), can affect the life of your drive, so keep that in mind before proceeding.

To defrag your hard drive, presswindow + p, Typdefragmentand selectDefragment and optimize drivesof results Here you can optimize or defragment your drives. Note that Windows may be set to do this automatically.

After analyzing and defragmenting your hard drive, you will find that the data displayed in your software is collected in one section.

How to Manage Hard Drive Partitions and Volumes in Windows 10 (1)

The remaining white space is used by partition management tools to create new partitions. If your data is scattered on the hard drive, you can't manage the disk space since the original partition is there.

Disk Management

To open Windows 10 Disk Management utility, presswindow + p, Typto shareand select thatCreate and format disk partitionPossibility. In the next window, you will see both your partitions and volumes arranged in different blocks according to your different disks.

How to Manage Hard Drive Partitions and Volumes in Windows 10 (2)
(Video) Setting up drives and volumes in Disk Management for Windows 10

You'll notice that the categories above show a number of parameters in particularCapabilityjfree space. You may not reduce or detach a portion of storage that is larger than the free space on yourhard disk. Even then, you may not be able to separate the exact free space from your storage as some of the data may be scattered.

Therefore, please act accordingly when proceeding with your disk management. Try not to mess with the separateddiskPartitions, since they are intended for restoring your installed operating systems.

reduce a volume

If you have free space on your drive, you can shrink a volume to create a separate partition. Right-click aVolumeand selectTurn down the volume. This will analyze your remaining free disk space and prompt you to enter the disk space you wantshrink(i.e. separate) its volume by.

How to Manage Hard Drive Partitions and Volumes in Windows 10 (3)

Once you've lowered your volume, you should now be able to see a black box that is labeledUnallocatedin the Disk Management window.

How to Manage Hard Drive Partitions and Volumes in Windows 10 (4)

That's all! You have successfully shrunk a partition.

Create a separate volume

Now that we have some Unallocated space, we can create a separate volume. Right click on yourUnallocatedSpace and selectnew simple band. Follow the wizard, assign your drive letter and format this volume with NTFS or FAT32.

How to Manage Hard Drive Partitions and Volumes in Windows 10 (5)
(Video) Move or Rearrange Your Hard Drive Partitions in Windows

Now you can use thisMI:drive just like a standalone hard drive or flash drive. To change the drive letter of this drive, simply right-click on the space and selectChange drive letters and pathsand follow the magician. To delete, right click on theVolumeand selectDelete volume. Your volume will then revert to unallocated space.

format a volume

Sometimes you may want to format a volume with a different file system so that you can use it on multiple operating systems. To do this, right-click on aVolumeand selectFormat. In the next window, choose what type of file you want to add to your volume.

How to Manage Hard Drive Partitions and Volumes in Windows 10 (6)

You have three different options forFormat a volume:

  • NTFS:The de facto file system for Windows, you can write and view any file you want through Windows in this file format. However, you cannot write to this file format using a Mac OS distribution.
  • FAT32:The de facto file system for USB drives, FAT32, allows you to write data to this file type from any operating system. However, this file format does not allow you to upload individual files larger than 4GB.
  • REF:The latest file format of the three,REFS (Resilient File System)It offers better protection against file corruption, runs faster, and offers a few other benefits like larger volumes and filenames than its older NTFS counterpart. However, REFS cannot start Windows.

Choose your option, proceed through the wizard and you're done!

(Video) How to Manage Disks and Partitions on Windows 10 & 11 without Losing Data?

expand a volume

If you have unallocated space, don't let that space go to waste. Because more space is always better. To extend space on your volume with Unallocated space, right click on your volumeexisting volume, in my case theD:drive and chooseexpand volume. Follow the wizard - it should select your unallocated space by default.

How to Manage Hard Drive Partitions and Volumes in Windows 10 (7)

Please note that you can only extend the size of your volume with the Unallocated space shown on the right side of your volume in Windows 10 Disk Management software.

How to Manage Hard Drive Partitions and Volumes in Windows 10 (8)

The process is quite simple and will allow you to use all your Unallocated space.

Demystify your memory

Now you know how to change disk space from one partition or volume to another. Next time you run out of space on a volume, you don't have to manually move the files, you can just add more space.

No space left? It may be timefree disk spaceRemove temporary files and other space wasters.

If you are just setting up your new PC and are wonderinghow much disk space does windows 10 need, We'll cover you.

What did we miss? Can you recommend any third-party partition manager software? Let us know in the comments below!


Is it OK to delete drive partitions? ›

All partitions except the EFI partition and the partition where the C drive resides can be deleted, but it is not recommended. I recommend compressing the space on the C drive to make room for other systems.

How do I remove unwanted partitions in Windows 10? ›

To delete a partition (or volume) with Disk Management on Windows 10, use these steps:
  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Disk Management.
  3. Select the drive with the partition you want to remove.
  4. Right-click (only) the partition you want to remove and select the Delete Volume option.
Jan 3, 2023

How do I manage a partitioned hard drive? ›

Right-click This PC and select Manage. Open Disk Management. Select the disk from which you want to make a partition. Right-click the Unpartitioned space in the bottom pane and select New Simple Volume.

How do I see all partitions in Windows 10? ›

Click Start, right-click This PC, and then click Manage. The Computer Management window opens. Click Disk Management. The list of available drives and partitions appears.

Does formatting a partition delete everything? ›

Otherwise, formatting a hard drive using the quick format option (or an earlier version of Windows) will not actually erase all of its stored data. When you choose to format a hard drive, you are essentially only removing the pointers to the data as the partition table is either cleared or rebuilt.

What happens if I delete all partitions? ›

If you delete or format a partition, you lose all the data. The drive space for a deleted partition will be marked as raw or un-formatted. To use the free space you will either have to extend the other partitions or you can create a new partition.

How do I delete unnecessary partitions? ›

  1. Click the Windows "Start" button and type "partition" into the Search field. ...
  2. Right-click on the partition you wish to delete and click "Delete volume."
  3. Click "Yes" when asked to confirm the deletion.

How do I Unpartition a hard drive and format it? ›

2 - Unpartition a Hard Drive with Disk Management
  1. Right-click the Start Menu, and select "Disk Management".
  2. Right-click the drive or partition by clicking "Delete Volume" in the Disk Management panel.
  3. Select "Yes" to continue the removal process. Then you've successfully deleted or removed your Windows 10 disk.
Sep 22, 2022

How do I partition and Unpartition my hard drive? ›

Step 1: Open the Start Menu on Windows and type Disk Management in the search bar. The control panel section will pop in the results, open it. Step 2: In the Disk Management panel, right-click the drive or the partition you want to delete and select Delete Volume from the drop-down menu.

Does Windows 10 have a partition manager? ›

Overview of Windows 10 Disk Management

Disk Management is a built-in tool in Windows 10 that is widely known by PC users. It is able to help you manage hard disk partitions without rebooting the system and any interruption.

How do I see all partitions on my hard drive? ›

To see all of your partitions, right-click the Start button and select Disk Management. When you look at the top half of the window, you might discover that these unlettered and possibly unwanted partitions appear to be empty.

What are the three types of hard drive partitions? ›

You can divide your hard drive into multiple partitions. You can create separate system, recovery, Windows, or data partitions.

How do I solve the number of partitions? ›

A multiset of positive integers that add to n is called a partition of n. Thus the partitions of 3 are 1+1+1, 1+2 (which is the same as 2+1) and 3. The number of partitions of k is denoted by p(k); in computing the partitions of 3 we showed that p(3)=3.

Is it OK to delete all partitions when reinstalling Windows? ›

Can I delete all partitions when reinstalling Windows 11/10? To ensure a 100% clean Windows 10 install, you need to fully delete all the partitions on the system disk these instead of just formatting them. After deleting all partitions you should be left with some unallocated space.

Why are there 4 partitions on my computer? ›

The answer to why you have four partitions is: The EFI partition is used to store files used by UEFI. Recovery and restore are used to hold system files needed when performing for example a factory reset.

What is the difference between wiping and formatting? ›

According to the comparison table, you can tell that formatting is a quick process to empty a disk, resetting the file system. While wiping is a complete way to clean up the whole disk, erasing all files.

How do I remove a partition from my hard drive without losing data? ›

Cut a part of the current partition to be a new one
  1. Begin -> Right click Computer -> Manage.
  2. Locate Disk Management under Store on the left, and click to select Disk Management.
  3. Right click the partition you want to cut, and choose Shrink Volume.
  4. Tune a size on the right of Enter the amount of space to shrink.

What will happen if I format C drive? ›

When you format C, you erase the operating system and other information on that drive. Unfortunately, it's very much not a straightforward process. You can't format the C drive like you can format another drive in Windows because you're within Windows when you perform it.

Is it good to have multiple partitions on a hard disk? ›

It's Generally Unnecessary for the Average User

But for the average user, it's often not necessary. Typical computer users don't typically have enough files that they need a different partition to manage them. And they don't often install other operating systems, negating that benefit.

How do I merge partitions in Windows 10? ›

Before attempting it, ensure you create a backup of your files on an external drive.
  1. 1 Check If Your PC Is Partitioned. Use the shortcut Windows + S to open the search bar. ...
  2. 2 Open Disk Management. ...
  3. 3 Create Unallocated Space. ...
  4. 4 Merge Partitions. ...
  5. 5 Validate Your Computer's Merged Partition.

How do I merge disk partitions? ›

Now you can proceed to the guide below.
  1. Open the partition manager application of your choice. ...
  2. When in the application, right-click on the partition you want to merge and select “Merge Partitions” from the context menu.
  3. Select the other partition you want to merge, then click on the OK button.

What happens if I delete a volume in Disk Management? ›

Deleting the volume doesn't affect the data. With proper tools (not DiskMgmt), the volume can be recreated at exactly the same spot and will have exactly the same contents.

What is the purpose of partitioning a hard drive? ›

Partitioning allows the use of different filesystems to be installed for different kinds of files. Separating user data from system data can prevent the system partition from becoming full and rendering the system unusable. Partitioning can also make backing up easier.

What are the two 2 different methods for partitioning hard drives? ›

GPT and MBR are the two different methods for partitioning hard drives. Each of them stores the partitioning information on a drive in its own way. The information includes where partitions start and begin. Therefore, your operating system knows which sectors belong to each partition and which partition is bootable.

How do I separate local disk C and D? ›

Right-click This PC and select Manage. Open Disk Management. Select the disk from which you want to make a partition. Right-click the Unpartitioned space in the bottom pane and select New Simple Volume.

What are the two types of partitioning? ›

The two types of partitions are: Primary partition. Extended partition.

Can partitioning a hard drive damage it? ›

Partitioning can't cause any physical damage to your computer. At worse you can erase all your data from your hard drive. If you partition an empty hard drive, this is completely safe.

Should I split my hard drive into two partitions? ›

Some benefits of disk partitioning include: Running more than one OS on your system. Separating valuable files to minimize corruption risk. Allocating specific system space, applications, and data for specific uses.

Is partitioning still necessary? ›

The bottom line is that whether you need a hard disk partition or not, depends on your requirement. However, partitioning a hard drive has several benefits like systematic data organization, faster data backup, and switching from one OS to another.

What happens if I delete all data and partitions from the hard disk? ›

Deleting a partition removes its drive letter, if any, and makes the OS recognize it as unallocated free space which can be replaced by one or more partitions. The data may still be present and recoverable using standard data recovery tools which cover accidental loss of partition.

What happens if I delete a partition of my SSD? ›

What happens if I delete a partition of my SSD? If you delete a partition from the hard drive, you will erase all data on it, and your drive will show as the unallocated space on the computer. You can use the unallocated space to create a new partition.

Is disk partitioning necessary? ›

It's Generally Unnecessary for the Average User

But for the average user, it's often not necessary. Typical computer users don't typically have enough files that they need a different partition to manage them. And they don't often install other operating systems, negating that benefit.

How many partitions should Windows 10 have? ›

To save drive space, consider creating logical partitions to get around the four-partition limit. For more info, see Configure more than four partitions on a BIOS/MBR-based hard disk.

Why SSD should not be partitioned? ›

However, when it comes to partitioning an SSD, you can do it for convenience. However, it would not improve its overall performance. Since SSD uses memories for storing data with no moveable component, its transfer rate of memory chips is the same. Data does not remain confined to one physical region.


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