A partition is a way for you to slice up your local drive into multiple pieces. It can be for a variety of reasons, whether you are dual booting different operating systems, storing files or applications or creating a space to store your backups. Each operating system platform has its own way of partitioning a drive. In this article, we will look at the three major ones. Feel free to skip ahead:
Create Partitions in Windows 10
Depending on your computer configuration, Windows 10 can use as little as four primary partitions—using the MBR partition scheme—or as many as 128, if you are using the newer GPT partition scheme. The GPT partition is technically unlimited, but Windows 10 will impose a limit of 128, but each is primary. Within a primary partition, you can have an extended primary partition and create additional logical partitions. Extended partitions work around the limits of MBR, but there are limitations associated with it too since they cannot be used to keep a bootable copy of Windows. This is where the advantage of the newer UEFI GPT standard comes in.
MBR, GPT, EFI – What’s the Difference?
These acronyms refer to the partitioning and boot scheme used by your operating system to handle disks in Windows.
MBR – known as the master boot record, has been around for many decades and accompanies the older BIOS (Basic Input Output System) used to boot older computers. When your computer starts, it checks the BIOS for a bootloader (in Windows 10 known as winload.exe), which loads the operating system into main memory.
EFI – known as the extensible firmware interface, came into the mainstream more than a decade ago with systems such as the first Intel Macs and computers pre-loaded with Windows Vista. UEFI offers more advanced options than BIOS, with support for features such as a graphical user interface and mouse support, making it easier to configure boot and hardware settings.
GPT – GUID or Global Unique Identifier Partition Table, is the successor to MBR and is an integral part of modern UEFI systems for booting Windows. If you are using a drive that’s larger than 2 TBs, GPT is recommended.
Check out our guide to learn more about configuring your computer boot options.
There are multiple ways to create a partition in Windows 10. You can use the operating systems built-in Disk Management utility, Disk Part from the command line or a third party program such as Easeus Partition Home (free).
(Note: We recommend you suspend BitLocker Drive Encryption before making changes to your partition.)
Press Windows key + X and click Disk Management. Select the drive, right click it then click Shrink Volume to create a new logical partition.
Your ability to shrink the partition will depend on certain factors. According to Windows:
You cannot shrink a volume beyond the point where any unmovable files are located.
Clearly, I have more than 2 GB of free space available that I can shrink, so what’s blocking that? This can be attributed to a number of factors. Files on the drive such as your hibernation file, page file, or shadow copy files used by System Restore and Previous versions might be in locations on the drive that cannot be moved. It turns out that the easiest thing you can do is temporarily disable all three in order to shrink the drive to the desired size.
To disable hibernation, click Start, type: CMD, right click CMD then click Run as administrator. At the command prompt, type the following then hit Enter, exit the command prompt then restart your computer:
powercfg -h off
To disable System Protection, click Start, type: CMD, right click CMD then click Run as administrator. At the command prompt, type the following then hit Enter, exit the command prompt then restart your computer:
Disable-ComputerRestore -Drive C:
To disable Pagefile, click Start, type: CMD, right click CMD then click Run as administrator. At the command prompt, type each command then hit Enter, exit the command prompt then restart your computer:
wmic computersystem set AutomaticManagedPagefile=False
wmic pagefileset where name=”C:\\pagefile.sys” delete
Open Disk Management again, right-click the partition, then click Shrink. Choose the amount of space you would like to allocate for the partition. For my purposes, I will choose 3000 MBs (3 GBs) then click Shrink.
This will create a new unallocated partition within Disk Management. Currently, it is not usable, so, you will need to initialize it. Right-click the partition then click New Simple Volume…
If you want, you can shrink the partition even further to create additional partitions. For my purposes, I will stick with the current volume size. Click Next.
You can assign an available drive letter, so, the partition will be mounted in File Explorer. Click Next.
You can give the volume a label so it can be easily recognized. You also have the option of choosing another file system such as FAT or FAT32. Click Next
Click Finish to apply changes.
Your new partition will show up in Disk Management and File Explorer as a local drive. You can store files there or even redirect your personal folders there.
If you don’t want to go through all this trouble, then you can download a free tool such as Easeus Partition Manager and it will take care of all of this for you.
One last thing: If disabled your hibernation, page file or system protection, make sure you re-enable them all in an administrator command prompt:
- Enable hibernation: powercfg -h on
- Enable system protection: Enable-ComputerRestore -Drive C:
- Enable pagefile: wmic computersystem set AutomaticManagedPagefile=True