Combining and changing partitions
August 11, 2005 11:40 AM   Subscribe

I just received a new Acer laptop. The hard drive is 100GB, but it arrived divided into two partitions. According to the Windows XP Professional disk management window, the drive is divided as follows ...

ACER (C:): 45.26GB FAT32 [System]
ACERDATA (D:): 45.65GB FAT32

I want to combine the ACER and ACERDATA partitions, and then convert to NTFS. The ACERDATA partition appears to contain nothing more than a handful of system restore point folders. How can I do this?
posted by punishinglemur to Computers & Internet (22 answers total)
posted by Jairus at 11:43 AM on August 11, 2005

Response by poster: For reference, it's a Travelmate 4402WLMi system. Is there any reason to keep the hard drive divided up like this? Is there anything I'm missing here that would make my plan a Bad Idea?
posted by punishinglemur at 11:44 AM on August 11, 2005

Response by poster: And what if I don't want to spend any money?
posted by punishinglemur at 11:45 AM on August 11, 2005

A little more involved way of doing it, you can create a livecd that include the ntfsprogs. Use fdisk to delete both the partitions, then create a single partition. Just make sure you label it correctly (HPFS/NTFS - hex code 7) and flag it bootable. After you write it, you can use the ntfsresize program to grow the filesystem to the correct size of the partition. Like I said, it's a little more involved but it works well.

Also, this is your not spending any money way.
posted by chrisroberts at 11:47 AM on August 11, 2005

Response by poster: I think I would probably destroy everything if I tried that. Is there really no reasonably simple way to do this at no cost?
posted by punishinglemur at 11:50 AM on August 11, 2005

And what if I don't want to spend any money?

Then I hope you enjoy your D drive.

chrisroberts, he wants to keep the existing data. You can't do that with the current state of Linux NTFS support, unless I'm mistaken.
posted by Jairus at 11:50 AM on August 11, 2005

Yes, you can resize the filesystem without destroying it. I have been doing it all week. Also, since you are actually using FAT and not NTFS, though i would recommend NTFS, you can use the dosfstools.
posted by chrisroberts at 11:53 AM on August 11, 2005

Amazing. Last time I looked at NTFS on Linux, it was unstable to the point where copying files was hit-and-miss.
posted by Jairus at 11:56 AM on August 11, 2005

Well, as with any work with a harddrive, BACKUP YOUR DATA. Anyway, the write support is getting much better and I have been very impressed with the resizing command in the ntfsprogs suite. I am using in some scripts for cloning computers and it works like a charm.
posted by chrisroberts at 11:59 AM on August 11, 2005

Response by poster: I suppose it doesn't matter if I blow everything up. If worse comes to worse I can throw in the recovery disk...
posted by punishinglemur at 12:00 PM on August 11, 2005

If you have data back it up. Always make a backup before monkeying with partitions. Having said that Partition Magic is still your best, easiest and safest choice. I know it costs money but if you think of other solutions and then think of what your time is worth...

PM is far (very far) from foolproof though, just fyi. I've used it for ten years now and it probably works for me about 80%-85% of the time.
posted by Cosine at 12:06 PM on August 11, 2005

It's a relatively simple, but risky process. Most of the risk comes from misusing one of the more powerful command line utilities in Windows XP. For more information, see this article from Microsoft Support. I do this once or twice a month with SAN-attached servers, and it's always worked great. Usually, there isn't another partition in the way when I'm growing them, but all you have to do is delete it. This all assumes that nothing on the d: drive is important.

Essentially, this is the process:

Back up your data.
Move the files from D: to C:.
Using diskpart, delete d:.
Still in diskpart, extend c:.
posted by idlemind at 12:38 PM on August 11, 2005

Response by poster: C: is the system volume, according to the article it cannot be extended with diskpart.
posted by punishinglemur at 1:02 PM on August 11, 2005

The laptop is new, so I'm guessing you don't have any data you need backed up yet, and you do have a recovery CD...

Put the recovery CD in, and see what sort it is. If it's a custom shell that doesn't really give you any options, it will probably repartition the same way again. But if it's basically just an XP CD, you should get to choose how you want to partition. You will have to first wipe out the existing partitions, then create a new one. Format for NTFS and continue with your OS install.

If your restore CD won't allow this, try borrowing someone else's XP CD and use your key with it. Get drivers for your laptop from your restore CD, or other disc provided with the machine as appropriate.

On the other hand, using a separate partition for data is arguably a good idea in the event that your OS partition gets borked. Won't help if the whole drive goes, though.
posted by attercoppe at 1:39 PM on August 11, 2005

I've used Ranish Partition Manager to resize partitions (it's free). I haven't used it for a while, but from what I remember it can delete your D: partition and extend the C: partition into the newly available drive space. All the data on your C: drive should remain intact. Just substitute "Partition Manager" for "diskpart" in idlemind's four-step process.
posted by son of sasquatch at 1:39 PM on August 11, 2005

If you want to use Ranish Partition Manager, download the Ultimate Boot Disk. It has made my computer repair business much easier.

It is a bootable disk that pretty much has everything you need to recover data, and gives you oodles of information on your hardware as well. It is really an excellent compilation of freeware apps, and it includes ranish partition manager.
posted by Dean Keaton at 2:06 PM on August 11, 2005

Response by poster: I used SystemRescueCD, booting from the CD and then using QtParted to resize the partition. All is good.
posted by punishinglemur at 2:07 PM on August 11, 2005

Response by poster: And I'll probably end up burning a copy of that Ultimate Boot CD, just in case I ever need it.
posted by punishinglemur at 2:07 PM on August 11, 2005

I emphatically second the SystemRescueCD recommendation. I've used it to resize NTFS partitions three times on two different computers and had no problems. It's supposed to be about as safe as you can get for this sort of thing, as in something could break but practically speaking it won't. It's also nice and user-friendly. Did I mention it's free?

Just boot and type run_qtparted at the command line. Once you have the GUI, delete the D: partition and expand the C: partition to take up all free space.
posted by musicinmybrain at 5:20 PM on August 11, 2005

Put the recovery CD in, and see what sort it is. If it's a custom shell that doesn't really give you any options, it will probably repartition the same way again.

If I remember correctly this is the case with the Acer restore CD. You can change the relative size of the partitions, but only within prescribed limits. Your mileage may vary.
posted by musicinmybrain at 5:21 PM on August 11, 2005

:smacks forehead:

Now I see you're using FAT.

The SystemRescueCD will still resize just fine, I believe, but I don't know what you need for converting FAT to NTFS, for free or for a price.

You may be able to use the Acer restore CD and tell it to format the partitons as NTFS, then resize those. Then again, you may not.
posted by musicinmybrain at 5:25 PM on August 11, 2005

You should boot to the rescue/live CD of your choice, nuke the second partition, expand the first to occupy all space. Then boot back into windows and convert to NTFS from there.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:27 PM on August 11, 2005

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