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Unpartitioning my Hard drive

By Desertwolf ยท 7 replies
Nov 21, 2009
  1. Ok, so here's the case: I have 3 hard drives, 2 of which are being used for storage of media etc. The third hard drive is partitioned into 3 partitions:
    1) Windows 7
    2) Windows XP
    3) Software for Windows 7

    Now i did this so that I can dual boot XP and Windows 7 so that I could try Windows 7 first. Now that I have liked windows 7, I was wondering if I could remove the Windows XP partition and then combine it with the software partition. How would i do this? If I do this, would the software partition also have to be formatted/erased? Can I also join these two partitions (windows XP and software) to the one partition which is Windows 7 without it having to be formatted?

    Thanks in Advance
  2. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    It just depends upon the partitions you wish to combine being adjacent to each other on the hard disk. Failing that, it is slightly longer, as you would first have to delete one partition, then move another into it's place before being able to combine partitions. Sometimes even more complicated, you might need to move a partition to create room.

    Either way, what you need to do it with, is a free partition manager. There are several available. GpartEd is safe, if slightly 'clunky' in appearance, it nevertheless works fine. You probably already have one.

    However, messing around with partiton order, and deleting operating systems, affects your dual/multi boot settings, involving some knowledge of how to use boot.ini or the more recent method used by Vista/Win7 (sigh) why do MS always change just about everything with every new OS?.

    Then since you have a separate partition devoted to software (as I read you) there could be yet another problem in that to Win7, the drive letters will change when you change/delete/move partitions. Fortunately, Win7 allows you to re-identify partition letters (within reason), so you need to note down what the current partition letters are now, and re-establish the same lettering after the change. Otherwise, you will be in for a long session delving into the registry for drive letter changes, not to mention software local storage settings. It might be quicker to reinstall the software in that case.

    All in all, you could just leave things as they are, but remove XP from the boot, reformat the XP drive and just use it for other purposes. In your shoes, I would use it for storing drive images and other backups, for which I would strongly advise using Acronis True Image starter edition.

    Yes, it is nice to be 'tidy minded' on your PC, but sometimes it can go too far, and you should bear in mind there are actually huge advantages to having separate partitions for OS and data and backups. Think about it - what happens if everything is on one partition and the OS become corrupted by malware. How do you recover your data? Where do you keep backups safely?
  3. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    just another thought as you're already considering re-partitioning...

    Any particular reason you keep the Win7 software in a different partition? Typically (or at least typically for me) i like to keep all the software installs (both Windows and other) in the same partition. I re-direct userid/My Documents folder to a different partition
    > My Documents tends to be where the growth is
    > An occasional disk image clone backup of just the Windows/software partition is sufficient (if that's all you want to clone each time) to assure recovery after a hard drive crash - and only really needed after significant windows/software updates
    > Then you only need do daily backups of the partition with My Documents stored (plus the user's Desktop)
  4. Desertwolf

    Desertwolf TS Rookie Topic Starter

    So first thing im going to do is format my Windows XP partition (I don't use it anyways). Then Combine the Software partition and the windows xp partition. This will give my original HDD 2 partitions, 1 for software and one for the OS. Im gonna read up on GpartED and try it out, then I'll let you guys know. Thanks for all your help!
  5. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Also... i like and use Gparted but i also often use EASUS Partition Manager (freeware version) which should also do all the functions you want to accomplish (delete/resize/reformat/etc.)

    you might also want to check it out as I think EASUS has an easier user interface.

    But either one should do the trick for ya.
  6. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    I'd personally backup your data before any modifications what so ever
    LookinAround mentioned "cloning" and backing up the partition, but 1st steps should always be backup your data before any major modifications (especially when deleting/merging partitions)

    Once confirmed all data and personal settings and licenses (or what have you) are securely backed up to external media
    Then, go about reading or doing the work involved (it may work without a hitch - as it should)
    Or just install Windows clean (as well as removing all partitions) just using your Windows Setup disc (which will be certainly cleaner)
  7. Desertwolf

    Desertwolf TS Rookie Topic Starter

    O yah, i have two other hard drives inside my PC that I use to backup all my files, only software and OS are on this hard drive. But thanks for the warning anyways!
  8. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Ah, not quite right. You don't 'reformat' the XP partition and then 'combine' it with your software partition.

    You 'delete' the XP partition, then 'enlarge' the software partition to use the empty space. It is necessary to have unused disc space before you can enlarge (or move) a partition. When you come to do it, you will find the enlargement actually takes two operations - first move the partition down, then enlarge it to occupy the full amount of available space. Partition managers make it look like a single process, but it is actually two, as you will see if you watch it happening.
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