Shrink partition (C drive) on Windows Server 2016

When you installing Windows Server 2016, if you forget to create and select specific partition for Operating System, the whole disk space will be used by C drive. That is to say, only 500 MB is used for “System Reserved” and all rest disk space is created as system C drive. I think nobody would like to use such large C: drive. It is better to create more separate partitions for applications and special usage. What to do after Operating System has been installed, start over? NO, there is easier way, you can shrink C drive and reduce the partition size directly, after that, you can create new partitions or extend other volume with the free space. In this article, I’ll introduce how to shrink volume on Windows Server 2016 without reinstalling.

Shrink c drive

Shrink drive C to create new volumes

As I said in the beginning, if you created C drive too large, you can shrink it to release some free space. To shrink C: drive in Windows Server 2016, there are two choice: Disk Management or 3rd-party partition software. The benefit of DM to shrink volume is can be done online. Meanwhile, it has some limitations and we’ll explain in next paragraph.

Steps to shrink volume with Server 2016 DM

Step 1: Right-click Windows on bottom left and select “Disk Management“.

Step 2: In next Window, right-click C drive and select “Shrink Volume…”.

Shrink volume

Step 3: Enter the amount  of space to shrink from it and click Shrink to process.

Type value

Within short time, original C drive shrank to 49.51 GB. The rest free space changed to Unallocated.

Drive shrank

Limitation of Disk Management to shrink volume

  1. Windows Server 2016 Disk Management has the ability to shrink a disk drive indeed, however, not every partition can be shrank. In some conditions, you can reduce a little space. Have you noticed the tip in Step 3: “You cannot shrink a volume beyond the point where any unmovable files are located.” Generally speaking, the “unmovable files” includes Page Files, Hibernation and other very large files. If you received the error message, it means that Disk Management cannot shrink volume and you need other tools.
  2. Unallocated space is always created behind the partition you shrank.
  3. Unallocated space can only be used to create new volume, it cannot used to expand other volumes.

Shrink volume with partition software

It is much easier to shrink volume in Windows Server 2016 with partition software, and no such limitations.

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

Shrink c

Step 2: Drag either left or right border to shrink it.

Drag to shrink

If you drag right border leftwards, the Unallocated space will be created behind C drive.

C drive shrank

This software can move the large files when shrinking volume, so C drive can be shrank to minimum size.

Shrink C drive to create new volumes:

Right click the Unallocated space and select “Create Volume“, you can create new volume as you wish. For advanced users, you can do operations:

  1. Add a label (name) to this new volume.
  2. Select a drive letter.
  3. Select a File System
  4. Select cluster size
  5. Specify the size and location for this new volume.

Create volume

Shrink C drive to expand other volumes

Few people want to do this, but it works if D is full but there is large amount of free space in C drive.

Steps to shrink C and expand D on Server 2016:

Step 1: Right click D and select “Resize/Move Volume“. In the pop up window, drag left border leftwards to hold the Unallocated space.

Drag to extend

Extend D

Step 2: Click OK and back to the main window, click Apply on top left to execute.

D extended

Shrink volume D to extend C

Besides shrinking C to new volume, another most common situation is that C drive is running low and there is plenty of free space drive D, so many people want to shrink volume D and expand C. However, it is impossible in Server 2016 Disk Management, because when you right click C drive after shrinking volume D:, Extend Volume is greyed out.

Steps to shrink C drive and extend D in Server 2016:

Step 1: Right click D and select Resize/Move Volume, in the pop-up window, drag left border rightwards to shrink D.

Shrink d drive

Step 2: Right click C and select Resize/Move Volume again, in the pop-up window, drag right border rightwards to hold the Unallocated space.

Extend C drive

Remember to click Apply on top left to execute.

Watch video: how to shrink D to expand C in Server 2016

With NIUBI Partition Editor, you can shrink and extend any volume on Windows Server 2016 easily.

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