Partition a hard drive in Windows 11: How it works

Hard disks are usually integrated into the hardware setup as a single drive. However, if you want to separate the Windows installation from your games, programs, or sensitive documents, it makes sense to partition the hard drive. Continue reading to find out how to do this in Windows 11.

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Step by step: How to partition hard disks in Windows 11

It has been possible to partition the hard drive at any time since Windows 7. This can usually be done without losing any data – but unfortunately, there is no guarantee that data will not be lost. It’s important to create a backup if you plan to format a hard drive which already contains important data.

Tip

Read the following article on how to create a backup in Windows 11!

Step 1: Open Disk Management

No additional software is required to partition a hard drive in Windows 11. The operating system has its own tool exactly for this purpose, known as the Disk Management. There are two options to start this tool:

  1. Use the key combination [Windows] + [R] to open the “Run” dialog box and choose the command “diskmgmt.msc”.
  2. Right-click on the Start menu icon in the taskbar and select “Disk Management”.

Step 2: Selection of the data carrier

The Disk Management lists all the hard disks and removable media which are connected to your device. Firstly, select the hard disk you want to format. In Windows, you will see two overviews – sorted by volume and sorted by disk. Clicking on one of the volumes in the upper window will automatically show the corresponding disk overview below.

Note

Windows 11 is installed on the hard disk marked as “Disk 0”. In addition to partition “C:” (or the respective drive letter selected), you will also find other partitions that Windows 11 automatically generates during installation for firmware and system recovery files.

Step 3: Shrink volume

In order to partition a hard disk in Windows 11, you must first reduce the size of the disk. To do this, right-click the disk you have chosen – in this case, the Windows disk will be the main partition – and then click “Shrink Volume”.

In the following dialog box, you can specify how much space the new partition should have. By default, Windows 11 will offer to shrink the entire available memory on the hard disk. If you want to assign a smaller amount of memory to the partition, simply adjust the value beside “Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB”. You can specify the value in megabyte. For example, to reduce the current volume of the partition by 200 gigabytes, specify the value “204800”.

Finally, click “Shrink”.

Step 4: Create partition

In the overview, you will see an unallocated storage quota whichyou can use for the new partition. Right-click the area and then select the “New Simple Volume” in the menu.

The New Simple Volume Wizard will begin. Firstly, click “Next” and then specify the volume of the new partition. Keep the maximum value if you want to work with the entire amount of memory previously which was previously shrunk. Then click “Next” again.

The next step is to assign a drive letter. Windows 11 will automatically default to the next letter of the alphabet – but you can also select any other available letter by opening the drop-down menu.

In the last step of the disk partitioning, you must set the formatting options and the name of the new partition. For this, choose the option “Format this volume with the following settings” and select:

  • the File system – the classic choice for Windows systems is: NTFS
  • the size of the Allocation unit size, also called cluster size (recommended setting: “Default”)
  • the Volume label (name of the partition)

Check the “Perform a quick format” box and finish partitioning the hard disk by clicking “Next” and “Finish”.

The new partition of the hard disk will be displayed in Disk Management if the formatting and partitioning were successful.

Windows 11: Delete and merge hard disk partitions

Once your hard disk is partitioned, you have the flexibility to delete the new partition(s) at any time and add it/them to another existing partition. However, any data on the deleted partition will be lost during this process! Ensure you back up any important files in advance.

Step 1: Open Disk Management

In the first step, as with the creation of new partitions, open Disk Management:

  • use the key combination [Windows] + [R] and choose the command “diskmgmt.msc” or
  • right-click on the Start menu icon in the taskbar and select “Disk Management”.

Step 2: Select and delete partition

Find the hard disk partition you want to delete in the list of volumes or in the disk overview, and right-click on the entry. Then click “Delete Volume”.

You will receive a message confirming you want to delete the data from the hard disk partition. Click on “Yes” to continue the process.

Step 3: Extend volume

After you have deleted a hard disk partition in Windows 11, the space of this partition will appear in the Disk Management with the label “Unallocated”. You can now assign the quota to another existing partition on the same hard drive by right-clicking the partition you would like to extend and clicking “Extend Volume”.

In the wizard, click “Next” to begin. In the following overview, you will see how much storage space is available for extending the partition – in this case, the available storage corresponds to the 200 gigabytes that are “unallocated” after performing the previous step. Either accept the suggested maximum value or choose an individual value by adjusting the number beside “Select the amount of space in MB”.

Click “Next” and “Finish” when prompted to complete merging the partitions – which will be immediately available in the new form.

Tip

Is rebooting your device taking more and more time? Learn how to set up the startup folder in Windows 11 to speed up the startup process.


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