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Many computers come with a pre-configured restore partition, often drive D:. If you backup properly, it's not needed; I'll look at recovering the space.

My hard disk has a partition 'D' for restoring, but it is six years old and I keep my own image copies. How can I free up D for my own general use? I've got an HP with Vista.

Many computer manufacturers create an additional partition on your hard disk that contains everything needed to restore the computer to its original state, called a restore partition. Sometimes, it's a hidden partition, sometimes it's drive D:. In either case, you can use Windows built-in partition management utility to remove it, assuming you've backed up properly.

In this video segment from an Ask Leo! webinar, I review removing the restore partition.

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My hard disk has a partition 'D' for restoring, but it is six years old and I keep my own image copies. How can I free up D for my own general use? I've got an HP with Vista.

So, many computers come with the normal C partition on to which Windows is installed and a second partition (sometimes, it's not even visible; sometimes, it shows up as drive D) on to which the manufacturer has placed their recovery information. And that recover information can, but doesn't always include the original installation media for Windows.

It can also include additional utilities provided by that manufacturer. As you point out, if you're religious about taking image backups and particularly if you take an image backup immediately after getting a machine, the recovery partition, the D partition kind of becomes superfluous. There's not really a lot of utility for having it around anymore.

I'm not a big fan of it to begin with, simply because if your hard drive dies, then not only does your C partition go, but your D partition is on that same drive. They're both gone at the same time. So when you end up replacing your hard drive, you don't have a recovery partition to use; it's on that same drive that you just got rid of.

So taking an image partition is a, I'm sorry, an image backup of your system when you get it is one way around that problem. At which point, I fire up things like the partition manager.

So, I'm going to show it here real quick. So this is Windows 7, which I believe is fairly similar to Windows Vista at least in this regard. It's not something that's changed a whole lot. Up here in the upper left here I have something called Demo VM that's really just My Computer so you right-click on My Computer and click on Manage and wait for it to come up.

And down here is this item called Disk Management. What Disk Management does is it shows you a layout of the discs that are attached to your machine. Actually, it shows you several different discs that are attached to your machine but we'll focus on the hard discs here.

In this case, I have two hard discs attached to this machine. One contains C, the System Reserved area which you can see is very small. It is not the partition that I'm talking about. What you would normally see is another partition here on this same drive that would have a different label and since you see it as D, you would actually see another box next to this that would have another label with a D colon with it.

What you can do is if you are absolutely certain that you do not need whatever is in that D partition (which in my way of thinking you've already backed it up, just in case), you can right-click on that partition and do things like delete the volume. That will make the volume literally 'go away'.

The volume then, the space where that volume, was is empty space. But it's empty space that then follows your C volume. Then what you would do, right-clicking on C you would extend the C volume to cover the space that had been occupied by the D volume that you just deleted. All that really does then is extend the C; it gives that extra space that you were actually not using because it was being used by this D drive and makes it available to the C Drive and all of a sudden you find that your C drive has some amount more free space than it had before you started. I've actually done this on a couple of machines.

I got my Dell laptop a year or year and a half ago and it was one of the first things that I did. I took a system image of the whole thing and I completely went in and deleted that extra partition because I knew that it was just something that I would ever need and it's much more helpful to me, at any rate, to have the extra disc space available. I hope that answers that question!

Article C5260 - April 26, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

April 27, 2012 8:23 AM

I avoid OEM machines anyway and one few reasons is System Recovery on D: partition. Not only I agree with you about the drawback having D: drive on the same hard drive as C:, it comes bundled with lots of useless software including OEM and third party software.

When I upgraded my Vista to Windows 7 on my HP (which was the last time I had an OEM machine) I did a custom installed and then reclaimed D: into C:

I gave that old machine of mine to someone else and made my first custom computer. Now I got Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit DVD instead. Much nicer indeed.

April 27, 2012 9:25 AM

Gawd Leo I've been using D: Data backup for a long time now and it has always worked...Is sometimes a little slow but has saved my butt on numerous occasions..The specific backup does come bundled with Computer. Have tried others but believe that 2 image backups do not not work just like 2 Av's, firewalls etc.

Robin Lake
April 27, 2012 9:45 AM

In Win7 make sure that the Recovery partition is not also the System partition, else your computer will no longer be bootable.

Gilles LaLancette
November 30, 2012 12:50 PM

I would like to remove partition D, like you explained but the file on D are FAT and my OS is XP ? Could you please help me ? Thank you.

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