How to partition a drive in Windows 11

How to partition a drive in Windows 11

Many users, when installing a system, after or on a newly purchased PC or laptop, want to partition one drive into two or more: in Windows 11 this can be done with the tools built into the system or with third-party software, including freeware .

This step-by-step tutorial details how to partition a hard drive or SSD into multiple drives in Windows 11 in different ways: during installation or on an already installed system.

How to partition a drive when installing Windows 11

First of all, about partitioning the disk into multiple partitions (logical disks) during a clean installation of Windows 11 from a flash drive or disk (read more: How to install Windows 11 from a flash drive). The steps will be the following:

  1. In the installer, after the initial steps, and after selecting the type of installation: "Custom - Windows installation only (for advanced users)", a window will appear showing all connected local drives and the partitions on them.
  2. The fastest method of partitioning a drive is to delete all partitions on the selected physical drive, using the "Delete" button (this will delete all data accordingly, if you want to avoid this for individual partitions - skip to step 5).
  3. Select “Unused disk space”, click “Create” and specify the size of the first (system) partition in megabytes, then click “Apply”. This will also automatically create small system partitions.
  4. Repeat the same steps to create additional partitions on the unused disk space (by default, the “Size” field shows all available free space – no need to manually specify the size when creating the last of the partitions).
  5. Format the created partitions by selecting the partition you need and clicking the corresponding button. Small system partitions do not need to be formatted, nor does the main system partition need to be formatted: to install Windows 11, just select the partition and click Next, it will be formatted automatically.
  6. If we need to keep data in separate partitions on the disk, and others that we need to partition, we can delete not all partitions, but only those that do not contain important data. Then use steps 2-4 to create new partitions from the unused disk space.

Normally there are no problems and this method can be used if the disk is not busy with the data you want to keep.

Unfortunately, the graphical partition configuration interface in the Windows 11 installation does not allow shrinking an existing disk partition (saving data) and creating a new one on the freed space. However, you can use the following command line method to create partitions, and the command line in the installer can be invoked by pressing Shift+F10 (or Shift+Fn+F10 on some laptops).

How to create new partitions on a drive in Disk Management system utility

If Windows 11 is already installed, you can use the built-in "Disk Management" system tool to partition the drive. Normally, the following steps are sufficient:

  1. Press the keys Win + R on your keyboard (or right-click the Start button and select Run), enter diskmgmt.msc and press Enter.
  2. Disk Management opens. At the bottom, right-click on the disk (partition on it) that you want to split into two or more, and select “Compress Volume”. In the image example, I am trying to split C drive into two disks.
  3. Specify the size allocated to the new drive in the “Size of space to compress” field (note: if you are partitioning drive C, don't leave too much free space on it – it will make the system unstable), and click “Compress” .
  4. After a while, a new area will appear next to the partition to be partitioned, marked Unallocated. Right-click and select "Create Simple Volume."
  5. In the Volume Wizard, use the steps to create a new disk partition (by default, all available space in the unallocated area will be used).
  6. In the process, you'll also be able to assign a drive letter, select a file system for it, and specify a drive label. Click Finish.

After completing the steps above, a new, empty drive, ready to be used, with the drive letter you assigned, will appear in Disk Management and Explorer.

How to partition a drive in DISKPART (at the command line)

The command line method of disk partitioning can be used both when installing Windows 11 (press Shift+F10 in the installer to open the command line) and on an already installed system:

  1. Run the command line as administrator (Terminal as administrator will also do).
  2. Enter the commands in order
    diskpart list volume
  3. A list of partitions on the drives will be displayed. Write down the number of the volume you want to partition. For example, in my screenshot it is drive C or Volume 1.
  4. Enter the command select volume N (substituting N for the desired volume number).
  5. Enter the command desired shrinkage=SIZE substituting SIZE for the desired size under the new disk in megabytes, running will free disk space for the new partition.
  6. In order, enter the following commands (in the example, create a new disk, format it to NTFS, and assign it a letter D, which you can substitute your own, as long as it is not occupied by other disks, as I have in the screenshot )
    create partition primary format fs=ntfs quick assign letter=D exit

You can then close the command line - the disk will be created, formatted and ready for use.

Disk partitioning programs and partitioning one disk into two or more on them

There are many software programs available to work with disks and partitions on them. Among the most popular and free of conditions:

  • Aomei Partition Assistant (unfortunately, in the free version of the program even partition functions have become paid, but the program has the advantage of the Russian interface language)
  • MiniTool Partition Wizard Free
  • I can add DiskGenius – its advantage is that most of the features are available even in the free version (unlike the previous two)

Warning: The risk of something going wrong (corrupt disk partition or problems booting Windows 11) when using this type of software is potentially higher than when using the built-in system tools. Take care to protect important data and follow the steps described at your own risk.

The steps required to partition a disk in all these programs are very similar, I'll show you using MiniTool Partition Wizard Free as an example:

  1. Download the program from the official website and install it on your computer (ignoring all additional suggestions).
  2. Launch the program and select the drive you want to split, right-click it and select “Split”.
  3. Specify the size of the new disk partition by moving the divider or entering it manually. Click OK.
  4. Click Apply at the bottom left and confirm that you have applied the changes. If you are partitioning a disk partition that you are using (for example, the system partition), you may be prompted to restart your computer – do so by clicking Restart Now (note that in this case the partition will be initialized after reboot before Windows 11 starts, and there may be multiple automatic reboots, so there may be errors in the process).
  5. Wait for all disk partition operations to complete.

If all goes well, which it usually does, you will end up with a new disk of the size you specified.


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