First off. Mods, feel free to move this if the location is no good.
As with any work in progress, please leave ANY feedback on this guide. I may add third party software(Easeus Partition Master) to it in the future if users request it.
This guide focuses on shrinking your Windows partition to allow a safer place to store your files if you need to reinstall windows. While this guide has been written for hard drives, it can be used with SSDs, but the defrag step should be skipped(third party software can re-size the partition better in this case).
This guide focuses on trying to use as much software that is included with Windows as possible. I may add a 3rd party guide in the future as it will help XP users.
-Even if you do not want to reinstall, having your files on another partition NOW means that if you have to reinstall in the future, you can do so without file loss. This is the reason I started doing this(way back with Windows 95) before multi drive systems became more common place.
-Many times users just mess something up or want to reinstall to eliminate old junk that has built up over the years. This keeps files in a safer place
-Moving a hard drive from one system to a new system requires a reinstall of Windows(and a new key for legal reasons for OEM versions of windows.)
-A technical side effect of having windows forced to stay closer to the start of the drive is that it can be a bit faster(the smaller the windows partition, the faster the head can get from place to place, but when the new partition is in use, all bets are off).
Some games and other programs/games do NOT save data(settings/save games/screen shots) in the users folder, this data should be manually copied to the newly created partition for safe keeping before installing. This is NOT meant to be a replacement for regular file backups, having your files on 1 drive with no backup means if the drive fails, all is lost.
-This does not work well on systems with extremely full hard drives. You need at least as much room as the files you intend to move FREE on the drive. While you can shrink move files shrink move files. That takes much more time(and 3rd party software may be faster).
-You may need to defrag to move files to the start of the drive.
-Moving the page file can not be done from the same system(while in the active copy of Windows). The solution is to disable it(then restart) then defrag(Defraggler is HIGHLY recommended over Windows built in defrag) the system.
Step by step(Shrink and Create new partition.)
1. Hold START + R to bring up the RUN window.
2. Type “diskmgmt.msc” and hit ENTER
3. Right click on your c : and select Shrink Volume
4. Wait while Windows see how much space you can have. This can take a bit of time
5. Enter the value of space you want(this depends on what files you are backing up.). I used 50gigabytes(50 x 1024) for this example.
If you can not get the space you need but have more then enough free space, you may need to disable the page file(because it can not be moved, then restart) and defrag the system. This takes time, but I am trying to stick with as much included software as I can.
6. When everything is done, you should see the Unallocated space you requested.
7. Right click on this Unallocated space and select New Simple Volume. All the default settings should be fine, You can give it a name like DO NOT FORMAT ME or something on the last screen.
You should now have a new drive(its just a partition on the same drive but will have its own letter. In my case d : ) showing up in my computer.
You can now copy files you want to save to this partition. Right clicking a file/folder/selection box and selecting copy then right clicking in a empty space on the new partition you created will allow you to paste the files. CTRL + C and CTRL + V can replace the right click copy and paste. You can also use CUT[MOVE, so do not CUT user folders](CTRL + X) and PASTE(CTRL + V)
A good place to start is the User folder(I copied it all but the APPDATA[a hidden folder] folder), but remember to look around and grab any bookmarks from your browser or save games you want as well(I made a folder called “Backup” for those things).
Now onto the reinstall(if that is your goal).
Insert your Windows DVD and boot the computer. Most systems will boot from the DVD. If not, you will need to enter the bios and switch the boot order. Your motherboard manual will have the steps for this(most times it is under BOOT).
When you get to the Install screen select Custom(advanced)
The next screen will have an option called Drive Options(advanced)
Now you can format the old Windows partition and hit next to install on it. click here for image. Sorry about the quality.
Do NOT mess with the System reserved or DO NOT FORMAT ME partition. Some systems may have a system restore/recovery or similar(it would be a much larger partition then the System Reserved). This is up to you(it should be safe to remove and the space can be added to the Windows partition.). Some users remove it. If you have one of those, it is for a factory restore feature and once gone, you will have to install windows with a DVD every time.
How to better use this new Partition.
Once you have the files you want on the second partition, you may want to make windows use this location for users folders(Desktop/Documents/ect).
Once you are SURE you have the files you want on the new partition, you can actually remove the files from the old users folders and right click(select Properties - > Location tab) on the given folder to change its location. This works on most of the Users folders and while they have a MOVE option, I have not personally used it as on my actual systems, those folders are large and had been setup from the start. If you have already copied you files to the new partition anyway. you do not need to move the current files over again anyway.
Example image of a location change to some Users folders.
As with any work in progress, please leave any feedback on the guide. I may add third party software to it in the future if users request it.