What to do when Extend Volume is greyed out/disabled in Windows Server 2008 (R2)?

Similar experience – extending C drive grayed out in Server 2008

In Disk Management of Windows Server 2003, you can only do basic disk partition operations such as create partition, delete and format partition, change drive letter. When system C drive is running out of space and becomes full, many people have to start from scratch. In Windows Server 2008, Microsoft add new Shrink Volume and Extend Volume, with which you can decrease and increase partition size without reinstalling Windows. So many server administrators begin to do this, however, most of them found Extend Volume is greyed out in Windows Server 2008, for example:

I am running out of space on my C drive, running Windows Server 2008 R2 in VMware. the option to extend C drive is greyed out, what to do?

I am trying to enlarge an existing volume via DM on a Server 2008 R2 environment. Disk management displays the unallocated directly behind the D: drive, but the Extend Volume is greyed out when I right-clicking C drive, anything wrong?

Extend volume grayed out

In this article, I’ll show you why Extend Volume is grayed out in Server 2008 and give you the easiest solution to get out of this trouble.

Why Extend Volume greyed out in Server 2008

To better explain, please open Server 2008 Disk Management by clicking Server Manager > Storage > Disk Management.

From this console, there are 4 drives in Disk 0: System Reserved, drive C, D and E. If you right click C drive, Extend Volume is greyed out.

Add space to C

Try to decrease D drive with built-in Shrink Volume function.

Shrink volume

10GB free space shrink from D.

Got free space

Extending C drive is disabled:

Extend disabled

Okay, delete drive D and retry.

Delete D

Now there is 40GB free space behind C drive, but Extend Volume is still unavailable.

Drive deleted

Delete the Extended partition:

Delete partition

Now extend volume becomes available.

Extend available

The reasons why extend volume grayed out:

  1. The partition you want to expand is FAT32, only NTFS or RAW style partition can be extended.
  2. To extend C drive, there must be adjacent Unallocated space, so the Unallocated space shrank from D cannot be added into C drive.
  3. Only available option is deleting drive D, if D is in Extended Partition, you have to delete all volumes in this Extended Partition and the Extended Partition itself.

The key limitation in Server 2008 Disk Management is that it cannot MOVE the Unallocated space, otherwise, this problem can be solved easily. To extend C drive, it is a BAD idea to delete D as well as all volumes in the adjacent Extended Partition.

Steps to fix Extend Volume greyed out

Step 1: Download and install NIUBI Partition Editor, right click drive D and select “Resize/Move Volume“.

Move unallocated

Step 2: In the pop-up window, drag middle position rightwards to move this partition.

Move volume

Move D drive

Volume moved

Click OK and back to the main window, where the 10GB Unallocated space moved to behind C: drive.

Unallocated moved

Step 3: Right click C: drive and select “Resize/Move Volume” again.

Extend C drive

In the pop-up window, drag right border rightwards to hold the Unallocated space.

Drag to extend

Extend C drive

Extend volume

Click OK and back to the main window, where C: drive increased to 40.14GB by holding the Unallocated space. Click Apply on top left to execute, done!

Volume extended

Unallocated space can ONLY be generated behind the drive you shrank in Disk Management, but the partition software can generate before or behind this partition. Actually, if you use 3rd-party software to shrink and extend partition, it is much easier and you won’t see Extend Volume grayed out in Server 2008.

Video guide to shrink and extend volume on Windows Server 2008

(Recommend full screen by clicking the square at bottom right of this video)


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