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Windows 7 - How to Use Disk Management

Disk Management is an extremely useful feature included in Windows since Vista. It allows you to manage your hard disk(s), create and modify hard disk partitions, change drive letters and more. In older versions of Windows, it was always necessary to use a third-party program to perform these tasks. Many of these partition managers were anything but user-friendly, however. By contrast, Windows Disk Management is fairly easy to grasp even by most novice users. The feature is included in all editions of Windows 7.

The main advantage of Disk Management is the ability to manage and add partitions in your hard disk(s) without having to use third-party software. If you're unsure of what a partition is, it's actually quite simple. Partitioning a hard disk refers to dividing into two or more sections. Each of these partitions acts like a separate hard disk as far as Windows Explorer and all of your other applications are concerned. This is extremely useful for keeping your files organized and when it comes to maintaining your computer by running Disk Defragmenter. For example, you can have one partition for Windows and your programs and another containing your music and video collection. You can also have a partition for conveniently and quickly backing up your files.

Follow the steps below to learn how to use the main features of Disk Management.

1 – Open Disk Management
To access Disk Management, type it into the "Search programs and files" box at the bottom of the start menu and press enter. The Disk Management utility will appear. In the lower pane of the window, you'll see all of the details about your hard disk, partitions and any other storage devices connected to your computer. If you have multiple physical hard disks, the one at the top is most likely to be the primary one and the one with Windows 7 installed on it. This will be referred to as "Disk 0" followed by the disk type and the total size of the physical disk. To the right, you'll see a list of partitions, scaled by relevant size.

2 – Creating and Resizing Partitions
To create a new partition, you'll first need to have some unallocated disk space. This means that you will need to shrink an existing partition (volume). To do this, right-click on the partition and click "Shrink volume." It may take a few seconds to a minute for Disk Management to work out how much available space there is to shrink the volume by. You can try running Disk Defragmenter to make it possible to shrink the partition further.
When the window appears, enter the amount of disk space to shrink the volume by. Enter the value in megabytes. This should be the desired size of your new partition. Click "Shrink" when done. You can also reverse this process by right-clicking on a partition and clicking "Extend Volume." If you want to extend the size of another volume, you can also do this. Be aware, however, that the volume you want to extend needs to come right before the unallocated space.
To create an entirely new partition from the unallocated space, right-click on it and click "New Simple Volume." Click "Next" and enter the desired size of your new partition. The value already displayed is the maximum available, so you'll probably want to leave this as it is. Click "Next" again to continue. On the next page, you can choose a drive letter or leave it as default. Press "Next" again. On the next page, you can leave all of the settings to their default values. Click "Next" again and once more to get to the confirmation page. Click "Finish" and your new partition will be created and formatted. It will now appear when you open Windows Explorer and it will be ready to use.

3 – Assigning Drive Letters
Another useful feature of Disk Management is the ability to change, add and remove drive letters. You may want to change a drive letter to help organize your files or simply to customize your computer. On many computers, especially new ones, you'll often see a recovery partition in Disk Management which has no letter assigned to it. If a partition has no letter assigned to it, then it will be hidden from Windows Explorer and most other programs. If you want to hide a drive, you can remove the letter.
Right-click on the partition and select "Change Drive Letter and Paths." Note that this option does not appear on your primary partition (the one which Windows in installed on). You cannot change the drive letter for this partition. For any other partitions, you shouldn't have a problem.
The window which pops up is fairly self-explanatory. Here you can add, change or remove a drive letter.


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