| A screenshot of Partition Magic
It’s amazing — the cheaper hard disks become and the more data they hold, the more your requirements increase. With movies, music, games and photos, space is exhausted in no time. The 160 GB that you got for a song with four partitions is just not enough any longer.
Lately, I have been downloading a lot of movies and my C, D and E drives are practically full. But there is a little space left, about 3 GB, on my E drive. And the D drive has another 4 GB. If I could join the D and E drives, I would have around 7 GB. This would be enough for at least six more movies. So how do I do this'
The space crunch can be a major problem. A good way to solve this is to use specialised software such as Partition Magic. The programs will resize and even combine partitions, like the D and E drives. You can also create bootable CDs with these applications.
Another way to do this is manually. For this you have to use a feature that comes with Windows XP called Dynamic Disks. Dynamic Disks can be expanded within Windows, extended across physical drives (spanning) and transported from one computer to another. Any partition or drive can be converted to a Dynamic Disk without any loss of data. However, there is one drawback: you cannot reverse the process.
This is how you do it. Right click on My Computer on your desktop and choose Manage. A Computer Management Screen pops up. Select Disk Management. The lower part on the right contains information on your drives and partitions. Under the heading for each disk is labelled either ‘basic disk’ or ‘dynamic disk’ depending on their current type. To convert the disks from basic to dynamic, right click on the grey box on the left that contains the disk names (disk 1, disk 2) and select ‘convert to dynamic disk’. To access these features, make sure your disks have been formatted as NTFS and not FAT32. Otherwise, it will not work.
Now that you have turned your disks to dynamic, if you have blank space on one of your drives and would like to merge this with an existing partition rather than create a new partition with a new drive letter, you can.
With Dynamic Disk and NTFS file system, enlarging an existing partition on the same disk and spanning are both possible. Spanning means you can enlarge an existing partition to include the free space on another disk. Note that you cannot span or extend the system volume, the partition in which Windows is installed.
To span or extend an existing partition, open Disk Management. Right click on the partition you would like to expand and select Extend Volume. The extend volume wizard will pop up. Press ‘ok’ to get to the ‘select disks’ window. Any available space on your dynamic disks will be displayed in the left-hand box. Choose the space you would like to use and click Add, then Next and finally, Finish. XP will format the blank space and add it to the current partition. You don’t have to restart your computer.
There are other common things you should do to deal with the problem. Regularly Defrag your PC. Defrag improves file access by rearranging data so that whole files are stored in contiguous sectors on a hard disk. You will find Defrag under Accessories—System Tools.
Also, files that you do not use frequently should be compressed with Winzip or Winrar and backed up on a DVD or CD. If you are really desperate, then you can turn off System Restore. This is slightly dicey, but useful to bail you out of a tight situation. To Turn off System Restore, go to Start—Programs—Accessories—System Tools and click on System Restore. On the left, you will see System Restore Settings. Click on it. Under Disk Space Usage, move the slider to the left towards minimum.
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