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(Windows) How to partition a drive without formatting it?

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February 25, 2007 4:32:25 PM

Hi all, I searched around a good bit before writing this, but couldn't find any answers, so please help me out if you can. Here's the situation:

I recently bought a new hard drive (160GB), made it into one big partition, formatted the whole thing as NTFS, and installed Vista on it. Now, in retrospect, I wish that I hadn't done this. In particular, I would to like to partition the drive into 3 chunks: 1 10GB partition for Windows 98SE (for some older, DOS-based games that don't really play nice with DosBox), 1 10GB partition for Ubuntu, and the rest (approximately 140GB) for my Vista install. The question is, can I do this without formatting my drive and starting over (i.e. reinstalling Vista)? And, if so, how? I've heard of some programs that sound promising (like Partition Magic), but I'd like to know (1) whether it'll really work and (2) whether there is a free alternative before shelling out.

Thanks for your help.
February 25, 2007 4:47:17 PM

Quote:
Hi all, I searched around a good bit before writing this, but couldn't find any answers, so please help me out if you can. Here's the situation:

I recently bought a new hard drive (160GB), made it into one big partition, formatted the whole thing as NTFS, and installed Vista on it. Now, in retrospect, I wish that I hadn't done this. In particular, I would to like to partition the drive into 3 chunks: 1 10GB partition for Windows 98SE (for some older, DOS-based games that don't really play nice with DosBox), 1 10GB partition for Ubuntu, and the rest (approximately 140GB) for my Vista install. The question is, can I do this without formatting my drive and starting over (i.e. reinstalling Vista)? And, if so, how? I've heard of some programs that sound promising (like Partition Magic), but I'd like to know (1) whether it'll really work and (2) whether there is a free alternative before shelling out.

Thanks for your help.


honestly, partition magic is your safer way to go...
I have yet to see a free program that does this with the efficiency of Partition magic..
February 25, 2007 4:50:05 PM

There are some programs out there that will shrink NTFS partitions to make space for your other partitions that you want. I believe Partition Magic is one of them. From what I've heard, that program is a very professional one, and works most/all the time. Now I can't say from experience, 'cause I usually trash all my partitions at once when I repartition things.

From what research I did when I was in your shoes (middle of last year) there aren't any free alternatives. I would attribute it to the closed sourced-ness of NTFS, and the fact that Microsoft wants everyone to pay for their software, go figure!

As far as your proposed partitioning is concerned, I don't see any serious problems with it, just make sure to install ubuntu last (for the bootloader) and win98 might give you some problems with the bootloader as well, since vista is so much newer than 98. I'm also not sure on how well 98 supports Sata, so if that's the kind of drive you have, I'd recommend researching that a bit further before you do anything drastic...

Good Luck!
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February 25, 2007 4:56:25 PM

Thanks for the advice, guys. Also, thanks especially for the note regarding Win98 and SATA--that's something I hadn't even considered, but had better check on!
February 25, 2007 5:29:22 PM

Just thought you should know before you buy a partition utility for Vista. Vista already has the utility built in. It will enable you to shrink an existing partition, and then reformat the available hard drive space. This utility is located in administrative tools. Just navigate to manage hard drives in administrative tools. :D 
February 25, 2007 5:34:15 PM

Well, hey! There you go. Hadn't played with Vista to know that yet. I wonder though, will it modify a partition that is currently in use? That is a limitation of a lot of Linux partitioning tools, so I didn't know if it would be as such for the windows one...
February 25, 2007 5:38:46 PM

I've used PM8 many times and it has done exactly what I wanted on either a running OP/SYS HDD, or separate internal or external HDD, and its never screwed anything up. Hope this helps.
February 25, 2007 6:07:36 PM

I have used the Vista partition tool. There is a manual adjustment for the partition size, or it will automatically do it for you. I used the automatic format just to be on the safe side, however had I done it manually, I would have reserved more space for the new partition. As I understand it, when formatting a drive that will have Vista installed on it, the recommendation is to use the Vista NTFS format for better compatibility. I am not sure how accurate this is, but I read this on the Microsoft website and Google searched it and discovered more times than none, the recommendation is to use Vista to format your hard drive. 8)
February 25, 2007 6:32:43 PM

The only free tool I know of is Digital Dolly. It's a unix/linux utility that has been around for years and is very good. There is a live cd version of it.

I have also used PM. It works very well.

As with any BACKUP all important data, prior to making changes. Murphy is looking over your should.
a c 342 G Storage
February 27, 2007 3:39:38 PM

If you're going to try the free included-in-Vista utility for this, check carefully. I know in previous Windows (like XP Pro I have) this utility will do all this adjusting of partition sizes, etc, but NOT on the specific drive that is used for the boot drive. I found that out on the M$ tech documents site. On the other hand, I have READ (never used it) that Partition Magic does this properly.
February 27, 2007 4:01:16 PM

Quote:
I have used the Vista partition tool. There is a manual adjustment for the partition size, or it will automatically do it for you. I used the automatic format just to be on the safe side, however had I done it manually, I would have reserved more space for the new partition. As I understand it, when formatting a drive that will have Vista installed on it, the recommendation is to use the Vista NTFS format for better compatibility. I am not sure how accurate this is, but I read this on the Microsoft website and Google searched it and discovered more times than none, the recommendation is to use Vista to format your hard drive. 8)


Unless I'm misunderstanding what the OP is saying he wants to repartition an already active and used HDD, I don't think Vista will do that.
February 27, 2007 4:58:53 PM

i tried to figure it out and couldn't,is there any way for you to do a walk through step by step on this. thanks
February 27, 2007 5:39:56 PM

Quote:
Hi all, I searched around a good bit before writing this, but couldn't find any answers, so please help me out if you can. Here's the situation:

I recently bought a new hard drive (160GB), made it into one big partition, formatted the whole thing as NTFS, and installed Vista on it. Now, in retrospect, I wish that I hadn't done this. In particular, I would to like to partition the drive into 3 chunks: 1 10GB partition for Windows 98SE (for some older, DOS-based games that don't really play nice with DosBox), 1 10GB partition for Ubuntu, and the rest (approximately 140GB) for my Vista install. The question is, can I do this without formatting my drive and starting over (i.e. reinstalling Vista)? And, if so, how? I've heard of some programs that sound promising (like Partition Magic), but I'd like to know (1) whether it'll really work and (2) whether there is a free alternative before shelling out.

Thanks for your help.


I beilieve Vista has an option in Disk Management that lets you "shrink" a partition. I imagine if you do that enough, you'll have enough free space to do waht you're looking to do.
February 27, 2007 6:26:31 PM

Check GParted. It's Lnux based but can easily be burned to a LiveCD, so it's OS independant. It even handle NTFS and FAT32 partition.

Here's the wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GParted

The interface is quite easy and looking at forum, most poeple seem very please with it. One more good thing... IT'S FREE!
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