Subscriber Mike G wrote with a question about hard drive partitions, after getting a new computer that was set up strangely:
I thought I understood disks and knew how to partition them.
I got a new system with Windows 7 already installed. It has a large partition of about 682 GB in addition to the other partitions:
• System Reserved — primary
• Windows 7 boot (C) — primary
• Temp (T:) — a logical drive
• Comm (D) — primary
The large partition is shown as unallocated.
I wanted to change it to "free" and then add another partition from it, logical if necessary.
However, the Disk Management tool under the control panel will not let me do anything with it.
I get the message that there are too many partitions when I try to take / make a smaller partition from the big one.
Mike’s basic problem is that Windows will only allow four (4) primary plus extended partitions on a hard drive. He’s at the limit already.
Three are obviously primary partitions, and that’s the limit for primary ones.
The logical drive is the problem one.
A logical drive is set up within an extended partition, but doesn’t have to take up all the space of the extended partition. (Yet, this one does…) Extended partitions can contain multiple partitions. For some reason, the person setting up his computer didn’t include all the hard drive space within a partition.
Mike refers to the large amount of unallocated space (682 Gigabytes) as "the large partition." However, that’s not quite right. It is simply space on the hard drive that is not allocated to any partition (any of the up-to-four allowed primary+extended partitions).
If the Temp (T:) logical drive is the last one on the drive (contiguous — next to — the unallocated space), he can move his files from it to another drive, delete the logical partition, delete the extended partition, create a new extended partition to include all the open space, and then create his Temp (T:) drive again on the extended partition, and can create additional logical drives there. There’s an easier way, though.
However, if the Temp drive is not the last one on the hard drive, all is not lost.
Once you understand the concept of partitions and drives, and how they differ, a disk partition utility helps you solve the issues much more easily than making the changes manually.
That’s where a disk partition utility comes in handy. Many of those can move or resize partitions without damaging the data within the partition.
The one I use is EaseUS Partition Master Professional (http://www.partition-tool.com). For home use only, not business use, they offer a free version — Partition Master Free.
In the first case (T: is the last allocated space on the drive), he can use Partition Master to expand the Extended Partition that contains the T: logical drive. At that point, he can create an additional logical drive, or he can increase the size of T:.
If T: isn’t the last, he can move the last partition to the end of the drive (using Partition Master) and then expand the Extended Partition to include the currently unallocated space.
Either way, he should be able to do this without losing anything. Of course, the safest route is to back up the to-be-affected drives before modifying their partitions.
The paid version (Professional) allows business use (on one PC) and has free tech support. There are also licenses available for multiple machines and technician use.
Tip — if you buy the Professional version, consider get the Lifetime Upgrade option. You’ll find it as an option on the web site, but I’m not sure the lifetime upgrades option is in the program’s trial version.