Create, resize, move partitions with Partition Wizard

Partition large disk drives with this free utility

Would an extra disk drive be useful for storing photos, videos, music and documents? How about installing an extra operating system, such as a different version of Windows or even Linux? This is possible using a free tool called MiniTool Partition Wizard.

Partitioning a disk drive makes a single physical disk drive work like they were two or more separate disk drives. For example, if you had a 500 GB disk, you could create two partitions of 300 GB and 200 GB, four partitions of 125 GB, or whatever you wanted. Window treats a partition as a separate disk drive and they appear as disk drives in Explorer and to applications when you open or save files.

Windows has some very basic partitioning tools built in, but they don’t have many features and they are quite limited in what they can do. MiniTool Partition Wizard is much more powerful and you can resize and move partitions, create, delete and format partitions, split partitions, copy, recover and rebuild partitions, convert file systems on partitions, and much more.

Partitioning the disk drive in your home PC is not something you do every day and many people might only do it once. For this reason, Partition Wizard is free for home users. There are Pro, Server, Enterprise and Technician editions that offer extra features and can be bought for business use though. If you are a technician building or repairing PCs then Partition Wizard is a utility you will use a lot and so you will need to buy it, but home users can go ahead and download it for free.

The program has a straightforward interface with a menu at the top, but most of the functions you need are in the toolbar or in the Actions and Wizards panel on the left.

The contents of the toolbar and the left panel change to reflect the actions you can perform. So if you select a partition for example, you can move it, resize it, delete it, format it and so on. Select unallocated empty disk space and the options are limited to creating a partition in it. It is straightforward and logical.

Partitioning isn’t for novices and it is best to read up on the subject before actually using this tool to modify the disk drive. Of course, you do need to have a backup of your files before you start. It is not that partitioning is dangerous, but this is a power tool and it gives you the power to do anything, even delete everything on a disk drive. Having a backup means that you can restore your files in the event of a disaster.

Rather than bore you with all the technical details of the software, here is a simple guide to creating an extra partition on the C: drive of a Windows PC. You could then use it to store music, photos, videos, documents and other files.

Create a new partition with Partition Wizard

Select an existing partition, such as C: (do not touch the System Reserved partition). Click Move/Resize in the toolbar at the top.

View the partitions on a disk drive

The following window opens and you can drag the right edge of a partition to shrink it. This leaves empty space and you can see this as a grey area on the right.

  Shrink a disk partition

The C: partition which contains Windows and because it already contains lots of files, you can only shrink it so much. You can’t shrink it past the point at which there are files and you can only shrink the free space on the partition. The new size of the partition and the unallocated space that is created is displayed.

The partition can be adjusted by directly entering the size if you want. It is normal to display sizes in megabytes, but disks are so big these days it would actually be better to show sizes in gigabytes. Just remember that 1000 MB is 1 GB.

After shrinking the partition, the space created can be seen both in the graphic at the top and the partition list below. It is marked as Unallocated. Select it and the toolbar and actions in the left panel show what you can do with it.

  Shrink a disk partition

Click Create in the toolbar at the top. This enables you to turn unallocated space into useful disk space in which you can store files. Enter a name for the partition in the box at the top and select the file system below. NTFS is recommended because it is reliable, it works with any size disk, and it is the default for Windows. FAT and FAT32 are often used for USB flash memory drives or external USB drives that you want to share with Mac or Linux users. The Ext2/3/4/Linux Swap file systems are all for Linux and Windows cannot access them.

Format a new partition

The Create As menu has Logical or Primary as options. Your choice will depend on whether you want to store files on it or install an extra operating system.

A logical partition is used for storing files, such as music, photos, videos, documents and so on, and a primary partition is used for an operating system. You could, for example, install Linux or another version of Windows in a primary partition.

So far nothing has actually been done to the disk drive. Partition Wizard simply creates a list of actions to perform. This means that you can cancel everything leaving the disk unchanged by clicking the Discard cross in the toolbar, or undo the last action by clicking the Undo button.

 Disk partitioning

If you are sure you want to apply the actions, click the Apply button in the toolbar. You may find that the PC needs to be restarted to apply the changes. This is normal. When the desktop reappears, open an Explorer window and take a look at the new disk drive.

 Windows Explorer

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