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Free, Non-Destructive Disk Partitioning on Any System

gparted drive partition close up So you’ve installed Windows 7, and have decided you want to repartition your disks.  You could use Windows 7’s built-in disk partitioning features, but what if that doesn’t work?  That recently happened to me.  Windows 7 refused to partition the disk, telling me ‘There is not enough free space on the disk to complete this operation,’ even though I had ample space on the disk.  A Google search revealed this to be a common problem.  I searched for and found an alternate solution.

First, I looked into free Windows programs, such as Paragon’s Partition Manager 10 Express and EASEUS Partition Master 4.0.1 Home Edition.  Unfortunately, neither of those programs work with 64 bit systems, so I continued my search.

I then turned to a non-Windows alternative, GParted.  GParted is a GNU/Linux partition editor, but don’t let that scare you away.  If found using it to be very easy.  Go to the download page on Sourceforge, and download the latest stable .iso version (not the .zip version).  Once it is downloaded, burn it to a CD or DVD as an image.  In Windows 7, this is as simple as right-clicking on the file, and selecting "Burn Disc Image."

Before taking the next step, it is a good idea to jot down the size of each disk on your system, as well as the amount of free and used space on each disk.  This is helpful, as GParted won’t identify your disks by drive letter.  Also, it is strongly encouraged that you backup the drives that you plan to partition, as there is the chance that you could destroy your data any time you use a disk partitioning program.

From there, reboot.  Make sure that the CD/DVD that you’ve made is in the drive, and select that drive as the boot drive.  On my system, this involved repeatedly tapping the ESC key until a screen appeared that presented me with boot options. On that screen, I selected the DVD drive.  After that, I clicked through the default options during the boot sequence, and then GParted started.

GParted Partition Editor

Once in GParted, things are pretty straightforward.  Right-click on a disk to resize it, or choose other options.  In my situation, I shrank a drive to free up space for another partition, and then formatted that free space as an NTFS partition.  When done, I closed GParted, and shut down my machine via an icon on the desktop.

The only glitch I ran into was that, upon rebooting into Windows 7, I found that the drive I shrank had lost its drive letter assignment.  Since that was the drive containing my user profile and documents, Windows gave me a few errors upon rebooting.  Fixing this was simply a matter of using the Windows Disk Management tool to reassign the letter.

Otherwise, GParted was painless.  So, if you’re looking for a free drive partitioning program that will work on 64 bit systems, give it a try.  Does anyone know of any free apps that run natively in Windows, and work on 64 bit systems?