How to Shrink Partitions in Windows Vista

Windows Vista not only allows you to extend volumes, but even allows you to shrink simple and spanned volumes (in dynamic disks) and primary and logical partitions (in basic disks). In a scenario where you buy a laptop a PC from a reseller where Windows Vista comes preinstalled on the machine, the Windows Vista OS typically spans the entire hard disk space and there is hardly any space left to install Linux or any other OS on another partition.

Lets say you have a 160 GB HDD where Windows Vista is installed on 120 GB of disk space (say C: ). In case you feel that you need another partition for storing backup data or installing another OS, you can ‘SHRINK’ the Windows Vista volume!

Shrinking the volume actually relocates data from the end of the partition to contiguous spaces on the disk so that space is freed up from the end of the partition. But shrinking is not able to relocate the unmovable files like pagefile and shadow copy files from their original locations. So in case these files are located at the rear end of the partition, you can first move them manually to another partition, shrink the original partition and then copy them again to the earlier partition. Shrinking thus frees up space and marks it as “Unallocated” disk space that you can then use to create new partition, format it and use it to write data, or install another OS.

Here is how you can do this:

1. Open Computer Management by typing compmgmt.msc . Click Continue in the UAC prompt. (Shrinking requires Administrative privilages).

2. Click Disk Management in the Storage Menu.

3. Right Click the partition you need to shrink and click ‘Shrink Volume’ on the shortcut menu.


4. This opens the Shrink Volume dialog box that allows you to specify the amount (in MB) of the disk to shrink. The maximum allowed is given by default.

Note: The “Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB” value specifies the amount of space that will be freed up as unallocated space.


5. Enter the value and click ‘Shrink’.


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