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Disk & Partition Management

Table of Contents

Disk Managment

You can open disk managment by pressing Win+R and typing diskmgmt.msc.

Disk managment can only be run from a installed copy of windows, and has limits on what partitions and disks can be edited. For a more robust solution, consider using diskpart or gparted.

Create a new partition

New partitions can only be created from unallocated space.

  1. Right click on the unallocated space and choose “New Simple Volume”.

    NewSimpleVolume-DiskManager.png

  2. By default, the size will be the entire unallocated space. Most of the time, this is fine.

    NewVolume-Prompt-1a.png

  3. You can assign your new partition any drive letter you would like. However, assigning A or B may cause issues.

    NewVolume-Prompt-2a.png

  4. Set the filesystem to one of three options (there are 3 options (you may have less depending on your drive):

    FAT32 Desgined to be used with smaller USB drives 32GB or less in size.
    exFAT Desgined to be used with all USB drives. Can replace FAT32.
    NTFS Designed to be used with hard drives and SSDs of all sizes, internal and external.

    Set the label to what you want. NewVolume-Prompt-3a.png

Change drive letter

  1. Right click on an existing partition and choose “Change Drive Letter and Paths…”.
  2. If the drive doesn’t already have a letter, choose “Add…” on the open dialog. If it already has a letter, “Change…”. To remove the drive letter, choose “Remove”.
    NewDriveLetter.png

Change file system

Note: This is a destructive action, and all data on the drive will be deleted.

  1. Right click on an existing partition and choose “Format…”.
  2. Leaving allocation unit size at default and quick format selected will usually work.
  3. Choose a filesystem:

    FAT32 Desgined to be used with smaller USB drives 32GB or less in size.
    exFAT Desgined to be used with all USB drives. Can replace FAT32.
    NTFS Designed to be used with hard drives and SSDs of all sizes, internal and external.
  4. Click “OK” to format the drive.

FormatDrive.png

Changing drive label

  1. Right click on an existing partition and choose “Properties”.
  2. From this menu, you can change your drive label to anything you would like

Deleting a partition

  1. Right click on an existing partition and choose “Delete Volume…”
  2. Click “Yes” to delete the partition. You will loose all data on this partiton.

Diskpart

Diskpart is a command line tool that doesn’t have as many restrictions as disk manager. It is still limited when working on the C: drive, and not a good tool for partition manipulation. To use it on the C: drive, run it from run from the windows installer or from the windows PE.

This guide will walk you through wiping a disk and creating a single empty partition using the entire drive. However, this will not securely erase your data, see the wiping disks article to do that.

  1. To open diskpart, you will need an elevated command prompt. Just type diskpart and diskpart will load.
  2. To identify your disk, type list disk, then type select disk X where X is the disk number. (Choosing the wrong disk will cause data loss)

    ListDisk.png

  3. To wipe all partitions from your disk, type clean
  4. For disk type and partition structure, most cases will want basic and GPT. If this disk needs to be read on older systems, use MBR instead of GPT. Run convert basic or convert gpt based on what you need.
  5. To create the raw partition, run create primary partition. If you picked MBR, run active after creating the partition.
  6. Run detail disk and list partition to ensure that your disk looks correct and you have both the partition and volume selected. You should have a star next to the volume and partition.

    If either the partition or volume is missing, type exit, reconnect your drive and start over.

    If the partition or volume isn’t selected (you can tell by the star on the right), type select partition X or select volume X.

    Detail-PreFormat.png

  7. To format tbe partition, type format fs=<filesystem>. For what file system to use, reference the following:

    FAT32 Desgined to be used with smaller USB drives 32GB or less in size.
    exFAT Desgined to be used with all USB drives. Can replace FAT32.
    NTFS Designed to be used with hard drives and SSDs of all sizes, internal and external.

    To add a label at this stage, add label=<label> to your command.

    If you are using NTFS and want to enable file compression, add compress to your format command.

    To significantly speed up the format time, add quick.

    A full format command will look something like format fs=fat32 label=Drive quick. This will do a quick format with a label of “Drive” and file system of FAT32.

  8. To assign a drive letter to the new partition, run assign letter=X where X is the letter you choose.
  9. Type exit to close diskpart. Your drive is formatted.

GParted

This is used via a Linux live environment.

Gparted has the advantage of working on almost any disk, when in Windows you cannot operate extensively on your main C:\ drive but Gparted is booted from its own media and not running on C:\ so it does not have this restriction.

Check the Gparted guide here.