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Windows XP doesn't include built in partition management that will let you resize a partition. Instead, I'll walk through doing it with Linux.
I've had a laptop for many years running with Windows XP Home edition and an 80GB hard disk. I wanted to upgrade the hard disk capacity and had bought a new 120GB hard disk. My backup and restore program moved all the data properly, but the result was ... an 80GB partition, and the rest of the drive unavailable. Can I resize that partition to take all the space? How?
Yes you can.
It's a pity you're not running Windows 7, where the disk management tool will allow you to resize partitions.
For XP you're going to need an additional tool. The tool I'm going to have you use is free, albeit just a little more work to use than some of the alternatives.
I have an ulterior motive.
Now, if you're restoring from a backup image as you've just swapped out your hard drive, you've done this already. However not everyone who wants to resize a partition does so because they've changed hardware.
If that's you, backup first.
Nowhere is failure easier, and the cost of failure higher than when messing around with partition tables. While the tool we'll be using can preserve data on existing partitions as you change them, by applying the wrong configuration it can also quickly and efficiently make the data disappear in a virtual cloud of smoke.
Naturally we'll use the tool carefully so as not do to that.
Backup first anyway.
The tool we're going to use is the GParted utility that's part of almost all Linux distributions.
Yes. And that's my ulterior motive - I'd like you to also see that Linux need not be scary, and that it can be used safely for many useful things.
Like resizing your partitions.
There are other utilities (Easeus Partition Manager is mentioned often), but I believe being familiar with Linux and having it available in the future is a valuable thing. So I'm going to demonstrate that path.
The first step is to get Linux. I recommend getting the latest version of Ubuntu Linux from the Ubuntu web site.
What you'll download is an "iso" file which contains an image of a bootable Ubuntu Linux CD; the 32-bit x86 version of the latest Ubuntu Desktop will do quite nicely. Using a tool like ImgBurn burn the iso file to a CD (making sure to use the ISO burning option). If you're not up for downloading an entire CD image, then there are also options to purchase or request that a CD be mailed to you.
Now Reboot, this time from the Ubuntu Linux CD inserted in your CD/DVD drive.
IMPORTANT: if you encounter a screen asking if you want to TRY or INSTALL Ubuntu, select TRY:
You do not want to install Ubuntu. We're just going to run it from the CD directly to try it and run a utility or two.
Congratulations! You're now running Ubuntu Linux.
The exact look of your Ubuntu might be slightly different. Much like any operating system things do change from release to release.
In the default UI the menu of programs to run - the equivalent of Windows Start menu - is up at the top of the screen.
Click on the System menu, then on the Administration sub-menu, and finally on GParted, the tool we want to run.
It begins by scanning the existing hardware on the machine:
This can take a little time. Once complete GParted will show you the existing partition layout of your "first" hard drive. (If you have multiple hard drives installed, use the selection menu in the upper right to choose the drive to operate on.)
What we can see here is that our hard drive has a single partition a little under 19 gigabytes, and about 12.5 gigabytes of unused space on the drive.
I made up the size and allocation on this drive, but it's similar to what I've seen backup programs create when the restore what was a complete image of a drive onto a new drive that is larger - the image is restore to its original size, and the remainder of the drive is left unallocated.
You could, at this point, create another partition to use the unused space, but we'll simply expand the existing partition to fill the space.
Right-click on the drive in the list, and then click on Resize/Move:
That then brings up a dialog into which you can enter specific numbers:
There are two ways to expand the partition:
Enter the "Maximum Size" value into the "New Size" field. (There may still be some of unused space no matter what due to rounding depending on the exact size of your drive.)
Click and hold on the right-most side of the partition's boxed representation:
While holding drag it completely to the right to consume the most space, and release.
Well, not quite nothing. There's now a "Pending Operations" section which lists the change we've just requested.
GParted works by first collecting all your desired changes, such as the resize we've just requested. Once all the changes have been specified, you then tell GParted "Go!" and it actually makes the changes you've requested.
Nothing's actually changed on the hard drive until you tell GParted "Go!".
You tell GParted to go by clicking on the green checkmark in its toolbar:
Once you're sure you have the operations queued up that you want, click it.
As I said earlier, partitioning - no matter what tool you use - can be is a very fast, very efficient way to lose all of your data. Thus GParted simply asks for confirmation before proceeding.
Simply extending a partition will not lose data, so we proceed by clicking the Apply button.
It can take some time depending on the size of your drive, but eventually it completes:
Click Close and GParted will rescan the drive and display its new current configuration:
We're done with GParted; exit it by clicking on its GParted menu and then the Quit item.
In fact, we're done with Linux too. Shut down Linux by clicking on the power icon in the upper right, and then clicking on Shut Down....
When the shutdown is complete, remove the Ubuntu CD, and reboot into Windows.
It is extremely likely that Windows will want to run CHKDSK when you reboot - that's ok. Essentially Windows has noted that the file system has changed in an unexpected way and wants to make sure that it's in good shape. Let it check, no problems should be found.
Now you have a larger C: drive, and a little Linux experience under your belt.
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