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Create new Windows partitions with Diskpart

Hard disk drives are really big these days and it is common to have up to 1Tb even in budget PCs. If the hard disk drive in your PC came wth a single partition, or even as two, you might want to create extra partitions. These use the free space on the disk to create another disk drive and extra partitions are great for storing videos, photos and music. You can keep them separate from the rest of the files on your PC and from Windows. This makes them easier to back up, easier to find and so on.

There are several ways to creat new partitions on the disk drive and we'll look at just one of them. The Diskpart command. It might not be the first utility that springs to mind, but it is built into Windows and some command prompt tools are more powerful than their graphical counterparts. It is useful to get to know some commands and see how they work.

(A good way to experiment with the Diskpart command is in a virtual machine - use VirtualBox. You can create, format and delete partitions in the virtual machine and then delete it afterwards or roll back to a snapshot.)

Click Start, All Programs, Accessories. Right click Command Prompt and select Run as administrator, even if you are logged on as an administrator. Type diskpart at the command prompt to enter diskpart. You are now in the diskpart program and entering ? will list all the commands that are available.

Enter list disk to see a list of disks. I have only one and it's disk 0, but you may have more. Enter select disk 0 to work with disk 0. Now type list partition to list all the partitions on the disk. There's a tiny 100Mb partition in Windows 7, which you should ignore. The big partition is the main one holding Windows and your files. Enter select partition 2. We are now working with partition 2 on disk 0 and any commands we enter will work on this.

Dis partitioning with Diskpart

Enter shrink querymax and wait a few seconds for it to finish. It tells you how much the selected partition on the disk can be shrunk by, which depends on the free space. To shrink the current partition, enter shrink desired=XXXX where XXXX is the number of megabytes to shrink the partition by. Type exit to quit diskpart when it has finished.

This creates a new partition in the free space on the disk and it can be used for a variety of purposes. You could install Linux into it for example. If you want to format the new partition and use it in Windows, go to the Control Panel and open Administrative Tools, Computer Management. Select Disk Management under Storage. You'll see the new partition you created and you can format it from here. Right clicking partitions displays the menus you need.

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