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If you're doing backups properly, recovery partitions can become redundant. I'll look at how to remove a recovery partition and reclaim the space.

My hard disk has a partition (D:) for restoring, but it is very old and I keep my own image copies. How can I free up D: for general use? I use Windows Vista.

First, good on you - really - for maintaining your own set of image backups. That's typically much more useful in the long run than a recovery partition will ever be, especially if you take an image immediately after getting your machine.

But it does leave you with that silly partition.

A partition that you might not even realize is there, taking up space.

I'll show you how to get rid of it using a tool that works on both Windows Vista and XP.

First: Back up

It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: backup your machine first.

Take an image backup that includes the partition that we're about remove.

You know - just in case.

Finding that partition

Much like Windows XP before it, Windows Vista does not come with any useful partition management tools for a situation such as this (although Windows 7 does). So we're going to have to look into a third-party application.

I'm going to use EaseUS Partition Master. Be sure to download the free version that's available for home use - it'll do the job quite nicely.

After installing and running the program, Partition Master displays the current drives and partitions as found on your machine:

EaseUS Partition Master

In the drive & partition list, you can see that the first drive has three partitions:

  • System Reserved - This has no drive letter assigned and is often put there by Windows Setup, particularly Windows 7. This is not the partition that we want to remove.

  • C: - This is the drive with Windows and our installed applications on it. We certainly don't want to delete this.

  • Secret Recovery Volume - This is an example of a recovery partition added by a computer manufacturer. You can see that it's taking about one gigabyte; space that we'd like to recover and be able to use.

You can also see in the graphical display below the list that the Recovery Volume is a small item at the right end of Disk 1.

Deleting the partition

Right-click on the recovery partition in either the list or graphic display.

EaseUs - delete partition option

Click the Delete Partition option.

EaseUs - delete partition confirmation

Click OK to confirm that you do indeed want to delete the partition.

Results of deleting a partition

EaseUS does its thing and the result is that the partition becomes "unallocated," which is exactly what we need for the next step.

Expanding a partition

To make use of the space that we just freed up by removing the recovery partition, we want to expand the partition that is adjacent to it - in this case, the partition that contains C:.

Right-click the C: partition:

Resize/Move option for a partition in EaseUS Partition Master

Click Resize/Move partition.

Partition Resize/Move dialog

There are several ways to expand the partition in the Resize/Move partition dialog. One of the easiest is to click and hold on the end of partition indicator and drag it as far right as it will go.

Partition Resizing

Alternately, you can click on the little up-arrow that's part of the Partition Size entry field and hold it down until the partition size has increased to its maximum value.

Click OK.

Partition layout after removing recovery partition

As you can see, the C: partition is now larger, having been expanded to include the space freed by deleting the recovery partition.

It looks like you're done, but you're not.

Applying the changes

Most partition tools operate by collecting a series of changes to be made, and then applying them en-masse.

EaseUS is no different.

So far, all that we've done is give it a set of changes, but those changes have not yet been applied to the hard disk.

Click the Apply button in the upper-left corner of the EaseUS interface:

EaseUS Apply Changes button

Click that button to actually have EaseUS write the changes to disk.

Apply changes now?

EaseUS will present a confirmation dialog. Click Yes.

You may then see this:

EaseUS reboot required

Click Yes to reboot your machine and apply the changes.

Before Windows boots, you'll see EaseUS do its thing:

EaseUS working at boot time

You may need to reboot the machine manually if EaseUS doesn't reboot the machine when it's complete.

Now, you're done.

Article C5114 - March 14, 2012 « »

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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.

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11 Comments
Roger-Cyndy
March 16, 2012 11:29 AM

I recently purchased a new Laptop for my hubby. It is a Toshiba running Windows 7. I tried to make an Image copy of the original hardware... to a clean never used disk... but was hit with the error message, "Cannot make an image copy... not enough memory on disk". Are there certain disks that one must use to make an image copy? If not, why would I get this type of message using a new, never used CD?

Randy G.
March 16, 2012 12:05 PM

Another free partitioning software is Partition Wizard which is very easy to use as well.
http://www.partitionwizard.com/download.html

Snert
March 16, 2012 12:18 PM

Try a DVD instead of CD.
There's a lot more room on a DVD.

Duane Ferguson
March 16, 2012 4:50 PM

DVD ??? I'd say your new laptop would have a hard drive around 500 gigabytes capacity, with near enough to 100 gigabytes already used. You'll need an external hard drive to make a ghost image. I have a simailar situation (118 gigabytes used from a total of 500 gigabytes). The Macrium Reflect ghost image of my machine is an 82 gigabyte file, stored on our Network Area Storage (NAS) device. We use a NAS to backup five computers, with two of them backed up on a weekly basis. If you've only got the one machine to worry about, an external hard drive would be ideal. I'd suggest you'll need at least 250 gigabytes of storage space if you want to keep more than one image.

Jim
March 17, 2012 6:46 AM

Some questions:

1. Can I do this (expansion of the partition into unallocated space) with reasonable assurance that the partition and it's data will not be corrupted?

2. What if the space recovered is NOT adjacent to the partition I want to expand? My machine is a multiboot, with SEVEN partitions, formatted as FAT, FAT32, EXT3, HTFS, and Linux Swap.

3. What tool could I use to make a disk image of ALL these partitions, AND allow me to make a full recovery to a new drive? Do the drives have to be identical in size and model?

grump3
March 17, 2012 8:34 AM

Re some questions:
1. Easeus has never failed me to date but they do recommend backing up first.
2.Using Easeus it would seem you would have to shunt all your partitions around until that free space is adjacent.
3. I use Acronis in preference to Ghost but there are also free Linux applications that will do a complete HD image to any brand HD with sufficient space.

Mark J
March 17, 2012 4:56 PM

@Jim
1. To ensure against data corruption, it's always a good idea to do a backup before re-partitioning.
2. In order to join partitions, they must be adjacent.
3. I'm not sure exactly sure if this would work, but you could look into migration software such as LapLink and see one of these can do what you want.

If your non-system partitions don't have programs installed on them, you can create an image of your system partition with a backup program such as Macrium Reflect . Then, copy the contents of your other partitions to a backup disk. After that, combine all of the partitions into one. restore the image to the disk and copy the data to your system disk.

If you have programs or system folders on these other partitions, the process could get quite complicated.

Max Corrigan
March 21, 2012 6:19 AM

As a complete an absolute Noob is there any simple way i can get past this black screen with message "error:no such partition, grub rescue" i have tried many suggestions by various posters on various sites but all come back to the above message, i do not have an installation cd PC came already loaded with XP i have a set of recovery disks i made when i first got the PC and a live Linux Mint12 cd none of which can get past the above message
I originally deleted the linux partition with view of getting rid of mint 12 (obviously missing one of Leo's key points) as it was not loaded properly
Now i cannot get anything at all, only the above error message
Hope someone can come up with a "step by step" lead through! fingers crossed
Max........

Jim Sutton
March 22, 2012 4:53 AM

On a HP pc that came with XP and a D partition that is no longer needed because I installed Windows 7 and do image backups to an external 1TB drive, how do I get rid of the D partition and re-allocate the space to C in Win 7? Thanks for any help.

I'd recommend re-reading the article you just commented on. It addresses your question.
Leo
22-Mar-2012
Jim Sutton
March 22, 2012 8:12 AM

I found Windows7 Disk Management and was able to delete the D partition and then extend the C partition to incorporate the newly available space.

I apologize if I asked my original question hastily.

joseph Philbrook
July 14, 2012 8:35 AM

Ok so that's one way to delete the D: drive and grow the C: drive...(I'd probably use gparted for that.) But what I'd like to know is how to keep the D: drive as a viable drive, but to disable it's use as a windows recovery partition. (I have a freedos boot floppy, and a collection of old dos games I'd like to install to my fat32 D: drive.) But I'd like to be sure that windows won't clutter D: up with restore points and/or other auto recovery stuff. (I back-up my windows partition with clonezilla) The computer I'd like to do this on has windows xp. But if it's easier to do with vista, I could reformat the ext3 data partition that used to be D: as fat32. Though since that laptop doesn't have a floppy, I'd have to install freedos directly to what would once again be called D: by vista.

So how does one tell XP and/or Vista to stop using D: for a recovery partition without actualy deleting said partition???

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