Question How To Expand/Merge HDD Partition

Mantrid-Drone

Senior member
Mar 15, 2014
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As a secondary HDD I installed a WD 160GB alongside the SSD (Win 7 64bit Primary) and Seagate 1TB main storage HDD.

The 160GB HDD has a full Windows XP 32bit OS installation on the first partition (Drive X 40GB) mirroring my old XP laptop and set up for manual dual boot. The whole of the rest of the 160GB HDD ie. about 120GB was partitioned as Drive Y and mainly used for data/docs backup of the XP drive and a later installed XP VM on the SSD. Everything NTFS as you would expect.

I've been running out of space on the Y drive so as I have a spare WD 320GB in an external USB housing I decided to clone the WD 160GB to that using EaseUS cloning tools. All went well, all appears good and I thought it would just be a simple matter to expand the Y drive to make use of the roughly 150GB unallocated space on the new 320GB HDD.

Apparently not.

Windows Disk Management > Storage tools only allow shrinking of the existing Y drive and whether I leave the 150GB new space unallocated or formatted as a Simple Volume to NTFS I don't appear to be able to expand/merge the extra empty space with the existing Y drive. I get warning message that it will mess up any boot sector on that partition. There isn't one, the XP OS installation is on the X partition but that still had me worried.

However when I proceeded there was an error message saying the Windows tools do not support this action or words to that effect.

The 'obvious' solutions are either just to create a third partition on the 320GB HDD or delete the whole Y drive partition and cloned content so I get one big unallocated space (120GB + 150GB). That can be formatted as one new partition and then it would be a simple matter of copying the files from the the original 160GB HDD Y drive partition to that.

But I'd like to know if there a correct way of expanding/merging the Y drive partition to make use of the extra empty 150GB unallocated space or a recommended tool that can do this without messing up the existing data/docs on the Y drive?
 

damian101

Senior member
Aug 11, 2020
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That's weird. Expanding and shrinking NTFS partitions shouldn't be an issue, that boot sector message should only appear when you want to move an NTFS system partition.
I would try with another partition manager, my DiskGenius is my favorite one for Windows.
 

Mantrid-Drone

Senior member
Mar 15, 2014
292
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Thanks for the reply - I have come across DiskGenius in my searches for an explanation, Macrium Reflect too. I have been trying using the reliable, if now old, Paragon Partition Manager version I've used for years. However like Windows own Disk Management tools that too offers no Expand option when the Y drive is selected.

One thing I was wondering is could that lack of an Expand option, despite the 150GB unallocated space available to the right of the Y drive on the 320GB clone, be due to trying to do this using the USB external HDD enclosure?

My idea was to sort out the new partitioning before installing the 320GB HDD as a replacement for the 160GB. Maybe there's some problem doing it that way.
 

Mantrid-Drone

Senior member
Mar 15, 2014
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I've decided to use one of the more obvious solutions mentioned: delete the 320GB clone HDD 'Y' partition and convert the whole of the, now unallocated, free space to a simple volume and copy the contents from the Y partition of the original 160GB HDD.

I was getting some help with this on another forum too and various solutions and other tools were recommended but it was all getting a bit too complicated sorting out what was wrong with the Y partition clone.

Whilst I don't like not understanding it and how to fix whatever the problem was either with the way it was cloned or the original partitioning I was hoping it would be relatively easy. I just want the new 320GB HDD to behave like the old one. It seems to me at this point it makes more sense to go for a simple solution which I can't think of any reason why it won't work instead of trying to fix the problem.
 

Mantrid-Drone

Senior member
Mar 15, 2014
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Just as an update: I recently decided to replace the 320GB HDD with a 1TB one and after trying several different methods again, cloning the (X) volume WinXP partition and the (Y) volume storage partition I still couldn't get the (Y) volume partition expanded once cloned to use the new extra free space without it affecting the (X) volume too.

I could do it via Windows tools (Win7) but both (X) and (Y) were turned into 'dynamic' volumes in the process. Apparently using CMD "diskpart" I could convert the (Y) volume back to a 'simple' or 'logical' volume but it would delete the content. The (X) volume may also have been wiped in the process; it was not clear.

There are third party tools you can use to do what I wanted. EaseUS - the cloning tool I used, has some very helpful information on their web site about such matters, obvious skewed towards their other software but still useful.

However in the end I did what I'd done before with the 320GB HDD. I NTFS formatted the whole 1TB HDD then cloned the (X) volume partition to that. That displayed as an Active, Primary Partition.

The remaining space, now marked as Unallocated, I formatted using Paragon Partition Manager and, apparently, by default, that creates a Primary partition in the Unallocated space instead of the Logical volume I have on the 320GB HDD.

That makes no difference to me as I don't intend to do any other partitioning and I suppose offers the potential to install a bootable OS to it if wanted, which I don't.

Anyway after that I simply copied over the content from the (Y) 320GB HDD to the (Y) 1TB HDD partition.

Using my new StarTech eSATA external HDD enclosure rather than my USB one for all of this speeded up the whole process very noticeably.

Job done.
 

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