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How To Extend Windows Vista System Partition?

Windows Vista Disk Management tool allows user to extend or shrink the disk partitions online, without relying on 3rd party partition utilities (e.g. Partition Magic).

That’s to say, if you’re running out of free disk space on one partition, there is no need of running fdisk to recreate partition and then reinstall Windows (like my time with Windows 95/98).

However, the step to extend or resize partition with Windows Vista Disk Management tool might not be that straightforward in some cases.

For example, the Extend Volume option might be greyed out if you want to extend C: drive (which is the Windows Vista system partition):

How to extend Windows Vista system partition with the built-in Disk Management tool?
How to extend Windows Vista system partition with the built-in Disk Management tool?

You can’t extend Windows Vista system partition, because the built-in Disk Management tool is only able to extend the volume with focus into next contiguous unallocated space! In the screenshot (above), there is no “contiguous unallocated space” immediately after C: partition.

How to extend Windows Vista system partition with the bundled Disk Management tool?

There must be unallocated disk space after the partition that you want to extend. Unallocated disk space means a raw partition which is not formatted with a valid file system (e.g. NTFS, FAT32, EXT3,etc).

Thus, in this following screenshot, Windows Vista Disk Management is certainly able to extend or resize C: partition (i.e. system partition) by using the contiguous unallocated disk space:

How to trick Windows Vista Disk Management tool to extend C: partition?
How to trick Windows Vista Disk Management tool to extend C: partition?

If you have two partitions, one being the system partition (e.g. C: drive) and the other being the data partition (e.g. D: drive), there are two ways of creating a contiguous raw partition to extend C: drive:
  • The easier way: Copy all data/files in D: drive to an USB hard disk (e.g. Western Digital My Book), right-click D: drive and click Delete Volume… to erase the D: drive file system.
     
  • Troublesome way: Shrink the D: drive partition to create new partition (e.g. E: drive), move D: drive data/files to E: drive, and apply Delete Volume… in D: drive.

The second way might not viable if there is not enough free disk space to backup the data/files in D: drive.

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  2. Fikre 12-02-09@23:18

    My Windows Vista system partition is on the right hand side (the last partition to the right). If i unallocate space from the partition on its left adjacent partition the extend volume option is still greyed out.
    Any ideas?

  3. Walker 13-02-09@19:14

    You’ve a good scenario and obviously you can’t use this trick, because the extend process is working from left to right.

    In opposite, the shrink process works from right to left. So, you could shrink your system partition on the “right-hand side” but not to extend.

  4. hayer 29-08-09@06:01

    thanks alot, it really works………………i solved a year long problem using this article…..finally m able to extend my C drive………….thanks again

  5. Rod 03-10-09@01:40

    This is the 1st time any article has mentioned that there has to be unallocated disc space to the right of c drive. It worked. Thanks

  6. Garywu 22-10-09@13:12

    If there isn’t any unallocated space next to the C drive, Vista doesn’t allow you to extend it.

    And if the C drive is FAT but not NTFS. Windows Vista doesn’t support FAT extension or shrink.

    Here is a free tool help you to extend Vista C drive freely and even there is no unallocated space or the partition is FAT.
    http://www.partition-tool.com/resource/resize-vista-partition.htm

    It can also help you to transfer data and upgrade disk:
    http://www.partition-tool.com/easeus-partition-manager/disk-copy.htm

  7. milan_bgd 26-10-09@01:06

    Thank s for information. First i was afraind but everything pass well. thanks again

  8. uewwar 16-12-09@12:42

    If C drive is FAT, it is possiable to convert FAT to NTFS, then extend system partition by Windows disk management.
    To convert to NTFS in cmd: “convert.exe C: /FS:NTFS”

    I saw an another article about how to extend system partition in Windows Vista/2008 and Windows 7, share for everyone:
    http://www.extend-partition.com/extend-system-boot-partition.html

  9. wekebu 13-02-10@01:03

    Thank you. Your instructions allowed me to extend my Vista volume.
    -Wendy

  10. JBG 17-05-10@00:58

    Thanks. Simple instruction and it works, don’t have to use partition magic.

  11. terry chulee 20-10-10@16:54

    Thank you so much…. Finally, it works…….

  12. helen 27-10-10@01:40

    what if the delete d drive option is greyed out?

  13. Karen B 30-11-10@18:03

    Thanks so much for this excellent tutorial!

  14. Sundus 15-01-11@16:35

    I think you have explain it in excellent way. Thankx and keep it up.

  15. Rajee 11-03-11@05:15

    It works perfect…great job..thank u soo much

  16. T_T 02-09-11@12:40

    Thanks for the workaround. I’ve been searching for how to expand the system partition in Vista for a some time.

  17. JohnB 30-11-12@19:46

    Thank You, I am upgrading this vista crap to windows 8 and it came up with not enough space prior to install. Had space on the D: partition but couldn’t extend c: without this great info.

  18. Claire 10-01-13@16:59

    When there is no next contiguous unallocated space behind system partition, you can use AOMEI partition Assisant to move free space from other partition to system partition.

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