Advice sought on shrinking W7 partition

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Second Round
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Advice sought on shrinking W7 partition

Post by Second Round »

tl;dr version:
On a 10 yr old Dell XPS tower with a 1TB HDD split 50/50 with W7 and Linux Mint Xfce, I wanted to resize the HDD partition so it's more 90% ext4/LM and just 10% Windows. But due to "unmovable" files on the Windows partition, it appears the best I can do (moderately easily) is 65%/35%. Is it worth taking more involved (and risky?) measures to get an extra ~235GB space?

Helpful additional detail:
A couple weeks ago I changed my 10-yr-old W7 computer [Dell XPS 7100, 1TB HDD, 6GB RAM, AMD Phenom II 6-core processor, integrated graphics (I got tired of replacing graphics cards).] to one set up as dual-boot system with LM Xfce. By the end of day 1 I had 90%+ functionality up and running. Since then I've been tweaking things and trying to close the gap. My intention was to leave a minimal Windows 7 install "just in case", and out of convenience for a couple use cases [scanning and podcasts (w/ syncing to MP3 player) ... I can do both on LM, but so far, not as well].

I went after my Windows partition hard, moving files off, uninstalling software, disk cleanup, removing most restore points, disk defrag, etc. I got it down to roughly 45-50 GB of files, and was hoping to shrink the partition to 80 GB. Those files plus the "recovery" partition total a bit over 90GB, close to my goal of 10% of the 1TB drive. I figured that left enough headroom for those use cases, and probably for unanticipated stuff too.

Then into W7 Disk Management, and I found that of the 466 GB on the Windows OS partition, the most it would let me shrink away is 151 GB, leaving 314 GB on that partition (when I only wanted ~80). Although I'm a Pi fan (3.14 ...) that was disappointing. My Linux side of the disk is about the same total size, but 50% full, i.e., about 233 GB free.

From what I read, there may be some ways around the unmovable files, via disabling hibernation, page file system, re-defrag, etc. But I'd only want to go down that road if it was considered a very reliable method ... not something more experimental / YMMV / fails half the time, etc. How reliable is doing that?

If it's not a great idea for a risk-averse user like me to try to shrink the Windows partition further, it seems I have 3 main options:

a) take the 151 GB that I can get "easily" and forget about trying to bring over the unneeded excess.
b) get rid of Windows entirely with a clean install (but have to do all my setup work again! and I'll lose my "just in case" functionality, as well as my preferred software for scanning and podcatching/syncing), and/or
c) add a HDD for more space (I have an open internal bay, but it's SATA II controller, so I'm not sure that a new HDD will work. I could go external, even though my transfer speeds would be limited by my tower's USB2 interface).

Which would you recommend? is there another way to make good use of the excess free space on the Windows partition? I apparently can't shrink it below 314GB, but can I carve out some space around the unmovable files and make use of it for my Linux install? Or does that whole 314GB need to remain contiguous for stability?

I do note with interest that Linux can read that NTFS partition (once mounted) but Windows can't read the ext4. So it still could serve as storage space, I guess. Just not as convenient, it seems, since it doesn't automatically mount, it's not on the same partition, etc.

Thank you! Despite these things that perplex me, I'm a bit happier with each passing day having moved off Windows. Feel like I'm regaining control of my system and data. Though perhaps it's a tenuous hold, given a 10-yr-old machine!
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AndyMH
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Re: Advice sought on shrinking W7 partition

Post by AndyMH »

Try turning off virtual memory in win7, it might be the page file that is stopping you shrinking the partition as much as you want.

control panel > system > advanced system settings > performance settings button > advanced tab > virtual memory change button > no paging file

Don't know if you need a reboot for it to take effect.

When you have finished shrinking the partition you can switch it back on.

You can also shrink the win partition from mint with gparted.

Whatever you do, take a backup first.
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rene
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Re: Advice sought on shrinking W7 partition

Post by rene »

The hibernation file is another usual culprit. To disable it, you launch an admin-level command prompt and run powercfg -h off. If I'm not mistaken (may very well be) you may even after a reboot have to manually delete c:\hiberfil.sys and/or c:\pagefile.sys. To do so, you again open an admin-level command prompt, run dir /a c:\ to see if they're in fact still there, and if so, attrib -s -h -r c:\pagefile.sys, del c:\pagefile.sys and the same for hiberfil.sys.

No, not any of that is dangerous. Andy mentioned switching the page file on again later, and the hibernation file you can with simply powercfg -h on from mentioned admin-level command prompt if you in fact want it, i.e., if you ever hibernate from within Windows.
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Pierre
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Re: Advice sought on shrinking W7 partition

Post by Pierre »

after those files, are removed ( they are easy to replace )
- then run the inbuilt Defrag utility - - this is one of the times, that it's actually useful.

then run the inbuilt Disk Management, again, to see how far you can shrink the C: drive.
- - don't go so low, though - - 25% for the windows, is enough, as your 10% may be too low.
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alicargra
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Re: Advice sought on shrinking W7 partition

Post by alicargra »

Hello
I'm a long time user of W7, and Linux Mint since yesterday.
I always change the size of partitions using a bootable CD, DVD or pendrive. I recommend Hirens Boot CD (it's free).
The size needed for W7 can be reduce. My notebook has W7 on 40GB partition, only with the OS and software. All of my work and stuff are in other partitions.
Like Andy said: Whatever you do, take a backup first.
Cheers.
CapraFan
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Re: Advice sought on shrinking W7 partition

Post by CapraFan »

Actually, I was also going to suggest a third-party partitioning tool. However, there's no need to resort to something dodgy like Hiren's. Minitool Partition Wizard has a very capable free version here: https://www.partitionwizard.com/free-pa ... nager.html. (Aomei and Easeus also have well-regarded free versions.) It will allow you to do much more than the very limited Windows Disk Management function.
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AndyMH
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Re: Advice sought on shrinking W7 partition

Post by AndyMH »

Actually, I was also going to suggest a third-party partitioning tool
What's wrong with using gparted which is present in the mint installation iso? If you are not going to use win7's partitioning tools, this is what I would use. There is no need to look any further. I detect a windows mindset here :)
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alicargra
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Re: Advice sought on shrinking W7 partition

Post by alicargra »

AndyMH wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:02 pm
What's wrong with using gparted which is present in the mint installation iso? If you are not going to use win7's partitioning tools, this is what I would use. There is no need to look any further.
gparted from the hirens cd, or gparted from the mint installation.
I detect a windows mindset here :)
You're right :roll: :lol:
CapraFan
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Re: Advice sought on shrinking W7 partition

Post by CapraFan »

Conventional wisdom was always to use Windows tools on Windows partitions and Linux tools for Linux partitions. Perhaps that's no longer the case. But are you sure Gparted can relocate "unmoveable" Windows files? Personally, I'd be nervous. However, I know from experience that Minitool has no problem with this situation.
Second Round
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Re: Advice sought on shrinking W7 partition

Post by Second Round »

Thank you to everyone for your thoughts, tips, and leads!

Some things came up today, and with weekend plans, I'll have a couple days to mull this over. Don't have to act immediately - I still have 233 GB free on the Linux side, probably can add 150 GB to it without tangling with Windows' Page File system etc.

But right now I'm leaning toward only trying to get the "easy" 150 GB, and forgoing trying to convert and consolidate the surplus 200-250 GB on the NTFS side to ext4. Here's my tentative reasoning:
  • On a cost of replacement basis, the value of the space left behind in NTFS is only about $6-7 (USD).
  • The drive is old (almost 50,000 hrs power up time, i.e., 5.6 yrs, and 9.3 yrs since I got it), so it might be better to regain the space I'm leaving behind (and much more) via a newer one running as a secondary HDD, having backups written to it regularly - it would be a ready lifeboat/spare tire when the old drive (or motherboard, power supply, etc) dies.
  • By putting longer-term storage (prior years) on the new secondary drive, the old drive (primary) won't likely ever fill up, since only current year stuff would be in /home. [I'd still back up current year stuff too].
  • The free space on the NTFS side can still be used for storage too.
  • I won't need to mess with moving "unmovable" files, nor lose any possible need for a W7 environment.
Anyway, those are my thoughts for now. It improves the situation with hopefully minimal risk, and recognizes that this machine may not be long for the world anyway ... therefore it's probably not worth trying too hard to convert and consolidate that emptied NTFS space.

Again, many thanks! Though i continue to welcome thoughts and opinions on this.
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Re: Advice sought on shrinking W7 partition

Post by metabolico »

My personal advice to shrink you win partition is to run Raxco RerfectDisk. It has a function to compact all data at the begin of the disk which will alllow you to recover all available space. The trial version will do the work (https://www.raxco.com/home/products/perfectdisk-pro).
Of course you need to turn off paging and hibernation while doing the defrag but that is simple.

To create the partition on the drive use the tool you prefer.
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Re: Advice sought on shrinking W7 partition

Post by rickNS »

Second Round wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:21 pm
i continue to welcome thoughts and opinions on this.
More opinions, OK, your first three replies are excellent advice, and are all the opinions you need.
Do not be afraid to remove the page file though, there's no point letting windows spread itself out all over the place needlessly, Curse word mSoft.
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