How to partition a hard drive

Want to make one hard drive act like two? Here's how to partition in Windows

how to partition a hard drive in windows shutterstockhdd
Kirill Makarov/123RF

Partitioning your hard drive is a great way to organize your files, folders, and applications into their own virtual drives. Although there are advantages to having multiple physical drives for the same purpose, with the rise in multi-terabyte hard drives, partitioning a single drive is a viable method to give your system that multi-drive functionality with plenty of space on each, without shelling out for a second drive.

If you have just bought a new drive and want to split it up, you’ll need to partition it before using it. Whether you’re working with a new drive, or just looking to partition an existing one though, the process is much the same. Fortunately, learning how to partition your hard drive in Windows 10 is quick and easy. If you follow the steps below, we’ll help take you from a single drive system, to one with as many virtual drives as you want in just a few quick steps.

If you’re looking to create new volumes for backup purposes, we’d still recommend you use one of the best external hard drives instead. If you’d rather someone else handled the backup process for you, these are the best cloud providers.

Windows Disk Management

The simplest way to partition your new or existing hard drive is with Windows’ built-in Disk Management tool. Although some third-party applications have slightly expanded feature sets, the standard Windows tool is perfectly capable of creating new partitions for you to work with. Although the below steps are specifically for Windows 10 systems, they are also applicable to Windows 7 and 8.1, where the process is much the same.

Step 1: Use the Windows search box to search for “Disk management” and select “Create and format hard disk partitions” from the results box. Alternatively, use the Windows “power user” menu (Win key + X) and click “Disk management.”

Step 2: Select the hard drive you want to partition from the list of available drives. If it is a new drive, skip to Step 4. If it is an existing drive with files and even your operating system installed on it, you’ll need to create some “unallocated space” before you can partition it. Right-click it and select “shrink volume” from the resulting drop-down menu.

Step 3: Your PC will then calculate how much free space you can allocate to the new partition. Once completed, it will ask you how much of it you want to use. If you want to use all the free space on the hard drive, simply click the “Shrink” button. If you want to specify the size of the eventual partition, input it in megabytes in the respective field, before hitting Shrink.

The process can take a minute depending on the speed of your drive but when complete, you’ll have a new “unallocated” space shown next to the corresponding physical drive in the bottom half of the Disk Management screen.

Step 4: Right-click the “Unallocated” space and select “New Simple Volume” from the resulting menu.

Step 5: Follow the on-screen instructions and select the size of the volume (the default will use all unallocated space) and the drive letter.

Step 6: It’s wise to format new and old drives when creating a new partition. When given the option, select to do so. For “file system” select “NTFS.” The “exFAT” option is more commonly used for portable devices. You can also add a volume label — name — if you want. You can leave the “allocation unit size” at default. Select “quick format” if you are short on time. A full format is rarely required.

Step 7: Continue to click through “Next” buttons and finally, hit “Finish” to create the volume. Your hard drive will now have a brand new partition with its very own designation. You’ll be able to see it, and all the information about it, on the Disk Management page.

Third-party alternatives

If you’d rather use a specific third-party tool to partition your hard drive in Windows 10, there are a few out there worth considering. These are some we can recommend:

EaseUS Partition Master Free

With tools for moving and resizing partitions, wiping them clean, and altering labels and designations, EaseUS’s Partition Master Free is a great tool enjoyed by millions of users around the world. It even comes with a “Partition Recovery Wizard,” which can help you recover lost or deleted partitions after a hard-drive failure.

Mini Tool Partition Wizard Free

Mini Tool’s partitioning application is fully featured, even in the free version, and adds the ability to convert file systems without formatting a drive and even test the stability of your hard drive to see if there are any bad sectors.

GParted

Incredibly lightweight, GParted isn’t the prettiest of partition managers, but it has broad support for file systems and formats and has a full suite of partitioning creation, resizing and deletion abilities.

Gaming

Clear up some space on your Xbox One hard drive for the latest games

Removing and reinstalling games on the Xbox One's hard drive isn't difficult, but it's a process that not everyone is familiar with. Thankfully, our guide will run you through each step.
Computing

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step-by-step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.
Computing

Windows updates shouldn't cause problems, but if they do, here's how to fix them

Windows update not working? It's a more common problem than you might think. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot it and in this guide we'll break them down for you step by step.
Computing

Converting files from MKV to MP4 is quick and easy. Just follow these steps

MKV files have their place, but if you would rather convert your videos from MKV to MP4, there are two methods we consider the best and most efficient for getting it done. In this guide, we'll walk you through them step by step.
Web

Rid yourself of website notification requests in just a few easy steps

Wish you knew how to block browser and website notifications? You can do it on a case by case basis, but that can become dull after the 10th site has asked for your approval. Here's how to block them outright.
Computing

Don't take your provider's word for it. Here's how to test your internet speed

If you're worried that you aren't getting the most from your internet package, speed tests are a great way to find out what your real connection is capable of. Here are the best internet speed tests available today.
Computing

Decades-old Apple IIe computer found in dad’s attic, and it still works

A New York law professor went viral last weekend after he discovered an old Apple IIe computer sitting in his dad's attic. In a series of tweets, he showed that the vintage machine still works perfectly fine after 30 years.
Computing

Logitech’s G MX518 gaming mouse pairs classic looks with all-new tech

Logitech is relaunching one of its most popular classic gaming mice, the MX518. Now called the G MX518, it sports upgraded internals that give it a 16,000 DPI optical sensor and new and improved memory.
Computing

Microsoft could be planning a laptop with foldable screen, hints patent filing

Filed in late 2017 and titled "Bendable device with Display in Movable Connection With Body," the patent filing explains a new mechanism for laptops which can eliminate a hinge and allow the screen to fold shut from the inside,
Deals

From Chromebooks to MacBooks, here are the best laptop deals for February 2019

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.
Computing

Is AMD's Navi back on track for 2019? Here's everything you need to know

AMD's Navi graphics cards could be available as soon as July 2019 — as long as it's not delayed by stock problems. Billed as a successor to Polaris, Navi promises to deliver better performance to consoles, like Sony's PlayStation 5.
Deals

Here are the best Chromebook deals available in February 2019

Whether you want a compact laptop to enjoy some entertainment on the go, or you need a no-nonsense machine for school or work, we've smoked out the best cheap Chromebook deals -- from full-sized laptops to 2-in-1 convertibles -- that won't…
Computing

RTX might be expensive, but the 16 series could have the best Nvidia Turing GPUs

Set to debut at a step below the RTX 2060 on the price and performance spectrums, the GTX 1660 Ti and its other 16-series brethren could be Nvidia's killer mid-range cards of 2019 — especially with Tensor Core-powered DLSS.
Computing

Ryzen 3000 chips will be powerful, and they might be launched as early as July

AMD's upcoming Ryzen 3000 generation of CPUs could be the most powerful processors we've ever seen, with higher core counts, greater clock speeds, and competitive pricing. Here's what we know so far, based on both leaks and the recent…