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How to Extend Your Hard Disk Partition in Windows Vista

When Vista's Disk Management tool refuses to resize your partition...

The Challenge

Your hard disk is partitioned to two or more drives in your system (typically C: and another drive letter such as D: or E:).

You are running out of space on your C: drive*. It is 50 GB in size but now has only 4 GB free. Your D: drive is 60 GB big and is unused. You would like to combine C: with D: resulting in a single big C: drive (having 110 GB) and no D: drive.

The Problem

You know about the powerful features via Control Panel > System and Maintenance > Administrative Tools > Create and Format Hard Disk Partitions which allow you to resize partitions on your hard disk. You expect it to use that tool to accomplish just that: extend your C: at the expense of your D:.

However, when you try doing this, you discover that the Disk Management tool in Windows Vista allows you to shrink the C: drive or shrink/extend the D: drive but doesn't allow you to extend the C: drive... What's going on? Have you missed anything?

The Solution

In order to extend C: using the space in the D: drive, D: needs to be both unallocated and reside on the same physical disk as C:.

If D: has already been allocated and formatted, simply delete D: using the Disk Management tool in Windows Vista by right-clicking D: and selecting from the context menu the menu item: Delete Volume...

Warning: Deleting a disk volume is an irreversible operation. Before doing so, make sure that you have no information on the volume you delete or that you are ready to dispense of what's already on the volume to be deleted.

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* if you ever wondered why your C: drive runs out of space so quickly, please read about Vista's System Restore feature here.

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