Extend Volume grayed out in Windows Server 2016

Microsoft added “Extend Volume” and “Shrink Volume” feature in Disk Management snap-in from previous version Windows Server 2008. It is very easy to understand – Extend Volume is used to expand disk drive and Shrink Volume is used to reduce partition size. Many server administrators that do not want to use 3rd party software and try to re-size partition size with these functions. For example, shrink D to expand C. However, most of the people encountered the problem that Extend Volume grayed out when right clicking C drive. Why Extend Volume is grayed out in Windows Server 2016 Disk Management console? What to do when Extend Volume is disabled? You’ll know the answer after reading this article.

Extend volume grayed

Why Extend Volume grayed out in Server 2016 DM

To better explain the reason, this issue should be reappeared.

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

Scenario 1

If you right click a drive without contiguous Unallocated space, Extend Volume is absolutely grayed out.

Cannot extend C

Scenario 2

Some people try to shrink D to get Unallocated space: Right click D: and select “Shrink Volume”

Shrink drive D

Shrink 10GB space.

Shrink drive D

Now, 10GB free space has been taken out from D. Right click C drive and Extend Volume is disabled.

Extend volume disabled

Scenario 3

From Microsoft explanation, to extend a drive there should be adjacent Unallocated space, so try to delete D.

Delete drive D

However, Extend Volume is still greyed out after deleting.

Cannot extend C

Scenario 4

The experienced server administrator will find that the space deleting from D shows as “Free space” instead of “Unallocated”. Yes, this is because the free space is in Extended Partition. To convert the free space to Unallocated, you should delete the Extended partition. This means you have to delete all volumes in the Extended partition first.

Delete volume E

Delete the Extended partition.

Delete extended partition

Now, the disk space shows as Unallocated, and Extend Volume becomes available.

Extend available

The reasons why Extend Volume grayed out:

  1. You may use FAT32 file system. From Microsoft explanation, only NTFS and RAW format partition can be extended.
  2. There is no adjacent Unallocated space. Only when the Unallocated space is adjacent and at right side of C drive, you can expand C drive with the Unallocated space.
  3. If the adjacent drive D is in the Extended Partition, you cannot extend C drive by simply deleting D. You should delete all volumes in the Extended Partition and then delete the entire Extended Partition.
All operations above are used to explain why Extend Volume grayed out in Disk Management, they are NOT the steps to fix this issue. It is NOT a good idea to extend C by deleting these partitions.

What to do when Extend Volume greyed out in Server 2016

The key limitation in Server 2016 Disk Management is that it cannot MOVE the Unallocated space, otherwise, this problem can be solved easily. In this situation, you need 3rd-party partition software.

Steps to fix Extend Volume grayed out:

Let’s begin from the most common situation: you’ve shrank D and got some Unallocated space.

Volume shrank

Download and install NIUBI Partition Editor, the same as DM, 10GB Unallocated space is behind D.

Unallocated behind D

Step 1: Right click D: and select “Resize/Move Volume“.

Move volume

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

Drag to move

Move D drive

Move D

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

Unallocated moved

Step 3: Right click C: drive and select “Resize/Move Volume” again. 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, the Unallocated space that shrank from D added into C drive.

Volume extended

Step 4: Click Apply on top left to execute, done. Check in Disk Management

C drive extended

In Summary

The main reason why Extend Volume grayed out in Windows Server 2016 is because the Unallocated space that shrank from D is not adjacent to C. The main limitation of Disk Management is that it cannot move partitions. Anyhow, this problem can be solved easily by partition software. Actually, you can shrink and extend volume in Server 2016 much easier with NIUBI Partition Editor, check the video:

 

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