Every once in a while you need to repartition your hard drive; the tools shipped with Windows are sufficient for most of these occasions. Sometimes, however, even Diskpart lacks important features -- especially if you have to deal with mixed partition types. Moreover, although there is specialized software for Windows, it is usually not free.
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There are various partition tools for Linux. One of these is GParted. If you think that GParted is only capable of dealing with Linux file systems, you may be surprised to read that every option that it offers is also available for NTFS. GParted can detect, read, create, grow, shrink, move, copy, check and label almost every file system. The screenshot below gives you an overview of all supported file systems and functions.
You can download an ISO image of GParted Live from the GParted Homepage. If you intend to use it in other than virtual machines, you must burn the ISO on a CD first because you will have to boot from the CD. I usually use the tool ISO Recorder since this utility is small, easy to install, and is integrated in Windows Explorer.
You can also boot from a USB stick; however, this is more difficult than using a CD. You can find a step-to-step tutorial for booting Gparted from a USB here.
If you do not have a full backup of your data, make one before you begin the partitioning. Fiddling with partitions always comes with the risk of losing data. After you have backed up your system, insert the Gparted CD and restart the computer.
Once Linux is booted, the GParted user interface – with buttons for taking a screenshot, starting a terminal session, changing the screen resolution, or exiting the OS beside the main window -- will be waiting for your input. .
You will see the partition scheme of your primary hard disk in GParted’s main window. To change the drive, use the drop down menu in the right top corner. You have access to most of the application‘s functions through the toolbar.
Additional information such as the model, the size and the disk label type of the selected hard drive can be displayed if you choose the Option „Device Information“ under the Menu View.
If you want to move partitions from one drive to another, select the drive first and then the partition. Afterwards, click on „Copy“ and then choose a destination Drive with enough space and click on the „Paste“. Be careful though: The copy is identical to the source partition, so the Universally Unique Identifier (UUID) is also the same This can cause problems if you want to mount partitions with the same UUID; you should, therefore, change the UUID.
All changes you have made will be displayed in the lower part of the GParted’s user interface. They will not be written to the disk unless you click „Apply“. Only confirm the changes if you are certain that you have a backup of your disk.
GParted logs all errors: should something go wrong, these logs are helpful to users for problem resolution in most cases. However, basic knowledge about partitions and partition tables is needed.
After all pending operations have been completed successfully, double click on the „Exit“ button and choose „Reboot“ from the menu. Make sure you have removed the CD from the drive; otherwise, you will boot into Linux again.
I had no problems resizing and copying NTFS file systems, whether they were Windows Server 2008, Windows 7 or Windows XP. When I booted from the ISO image in a virtual machine on Hyper-V I, I received many error messages during the boot sequence. Once the system was up and running however, I experienced no problems.
You might get the following error message on Vista after booting: „Windows failed to start. A recent hardware or software change might be the cause.” You must use „Startup Repair“ from the Vista DVD to solve this problem,. After you have booted from the Vista DVD and launched „Startup Repair“, a dialog box will prompt you to answer the following question: „Do you want to apply repairs and restart your computer?“ If you answer „Repair and restart“, your PC will reboot and check the partition’s file system. After this everything should work flawlessly.
There is one last thing I want to mention: Due to a hardware/firmware bug, it is not recommended to run GParted on HP Pavilion machines.