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Manage Disk Partitions in Windows 10

Disk partitioning is the creation of one or more separate regions on a PC hard disk (hard drive) and all modern drives need at least one partition to begin storing files. A partition could be the size of the whole drive or just a tiny part of it. There are several reasons why you might need to create a new partition on an existing hard drive and Windows 10 now allows you to do that relatively easily.

The Disk Management Tool

There are several free programs available for creating partitions but the Disk Management tool is just as good and built right in to Windows 10.

  1. The first thing you need to do is find the Disk Management tool. The easiest way to open the tool is to use the hidden Start button menu. Right-click on the Start menu button and select Disk Management from the menu that appears. There are several system tools here, so it is a useful trick to know.
  2. The Disk Management tool shows all of your internal and removable drives (even USB flash drives, etc.) along with details of the capacity and current amount of space being used. Depending how your hard drive was initially configured, you will see one or more partitions in place.
  3. You can use the seemingly simple Disk Management tool to resize, create, delete and format partitions and volumes, as well as change their drive letters and all without downloading or paying for any other software. You can also simply use it to check the health of your disks.
  4. The tool shows partitions and volumes, which are similar but different. A partition is space that's set aside on a disk separate from the other on that disk. A volume is a partition that's been formatted with a file system. We will mainly be talking about volumes in this guide.

Resizing a Volume

If your disk is set up as one big volume and you want to create an extra partition for a second volume, you will need to know how to resize the existing one.

  1. You will need to make sure that there is enough free space on the drive before you can shrink a volume. For example, if you have a 500GB volume which has 200GB of data already stored on it, you will only be able to shrink it by a maximum of 300GB, the amount of remaining space.
  2. Right click on the volume you want to shrink in either the top panel or the bottom one and click 'Shrink volume' from the Action menu. You will then need to enter the amount you want to shrink the volume by in MB. So if you wanted to shrink it by approximately 500GB, you enter '500000MB'.
  3. When you have clicked the Shrink button, you should see that the disk now contains the shrunken volume and some new, unallocated space. If desired, you could now extend the volume back into that space, by right-clicking and selecting 'Extend volume' from the Action menu.
  4. To create a new volume in that unallocated space, right-click on it and select New Simple Volume from the Action menu. In the New Simple Volume Wizard window, click Next to get started. Specify the volume size you want to create and then assign it a drive letter on the next screen.
  5. You will then need to decide whether to format the partition. You will need to format it before you can begin using it but if you are planning on installing a second operating system, in order to dual-boot, you will need to let the new OS format the partition during its installation.
  6. Otherwise, go ahead and format the disk; pick a file system to use and assign a volume label. Click Next when you're ready and then click the Finish button; Windows will now start to create the volume and, if you chose to, format it. When finished, you will see your new volume listed.