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Windows 7: Installed Win7 on wrong partition, what are my options?

14 Apr 2012   #1

Windows 7 Pro 64bit
Installed Win7 on wrong partition, what are my options?

I just finished building my new PC, and after a fair bit of research I decided to install Win7 (pro 64bit) to a 120gb partition on my 1.5tb drive. I blew it somehow and the OS is installed on the very big partition. I discovered this when copying my files from my old PC to my shiney new D: partition when I ran out of disk space. Whaa!?!? That was when I discovered my mistake.

I've already installed all my drivers, lots of software (firefox, libre office, call of duty, etc). In fact I've spent the better part of two days installing the OS and various software and getting it the way I want it. I need to fix this somehow.

Option 1: Move all my data files to the big partition, then install win7 into the small partition, go through all the installation and configuring hell, then delete the OS files from the big partition. I'm not even sure this would work, and I'm guessing that there are some files that cannot be deleted that I'd just have to live with.

Option 2: Move all my data files to the big partition, then use something like gparted to expand the big partition to include the smaller partition. This would probably be easiest, but would sacrifice the speed benefits of having the OS and programs on a smaller partition.

Option 3: Wipe the whole thing and start over.

Option 4: Bang my head on my keyboard until I die of massive brain damage, and don't worry about the PC. (This option has the added benefit of letting me avoid doing my taxes tomorrow)

Do I have any other options? Are there problems with any of my above 4 options that I'm not seeing? Can someone wave a magic wand and make it better so I can go back to playing Call of Duty on my shiney new PC?

Oh btw in case it matters I did let windows put the 100mb mystery partition on there.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Apr 2012   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit

Option 5; may or may not work out:

Use Partition Wizard bootable disk to shrink the big partition as much as possible, possibly after removing as many apps as you can stand. The goal being to beat C down to as small a size as possible, and definitely under 120 GB.

Then make an image of C, storing the image file on an external or any other drive you have handy other than your 1.5 TB drive. You will need to include the "mystery partition" in the image.

Also copy all data now on the small partition to some other drive.

Then have your way with the 1.5 TB drive--reformat it the way you want.

Then restore that saved image file to the correct partition.

Possible flies in this ointment:

Imaging doesn't always work.

You have to go through the hassle of burning a disc of Partition Wizard and learn to be at least a fair Partition Wizard skinner.

Partition Wizard is excellent but not infallible.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Apr 2012   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-Bit

I agree that Partition Wizard is your best option.

We'd need to see a screenshot of your hard drive structure, but I think this should work:

Boot into your Partiton Wizard disc, delete the 120 Gb partition, move the Windows partition to take its place, reduce the Windows partition to your original 120 Gb, and then create a new partition to take up the resultant unallocated space.

Apply the changes and boot back into Windows.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

14 Apr 2012   #4
Microsoft MVP


We need to see a screenshot of your maximized Disk Mgmt drive map with listings, using the Snipping Tool in Start Menu, to advise you best. Screen Shots

Using Partition Wizard CD you can delete the first partition since you have its files backed up anyway. Then rightclick on Win7 partition to Resize, slide left border all the way to the left, then right border to the left to make enough space for your desired data partition.

This is providing the System boot files didn't land on the first partition, in which case we'll need to help you recover them into the Win7 partition by marking it Active and running Startup Repair - Run 3 Separate Times.

So we need to see it first to be sure.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Apr 2012   #5
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

I would do that a bit differently.

1. Image the big partition (I assume that is the C partition) as is - and the small partition too - if you have anything in it that you care to keep. Watch out - there may be a small 100MB active system partition that contains the bootmgr. If that is the case, move the bootmgr first to C: - here is how. Else this 100MB partition will just complicate your life.

2. I recommend free Macrium for the imaging. Here is how. Make sure you burn the WinPE recovery CD.

3. Wipe the 120GB partition and the big partition with the bootable CD of Partition Wizard. Make the 120GB partition active. In PW the controls are in Partition tab (after you highlited the partition) > Modify.

4. Reinstall Win7 on the 120GB active partition so that you have something to work with. Skip all the MS updates. This is only temporary. The only program you need to install is free Macrium.

5. From this temporary installation, mount the images (which are VHDs) that you have taken (just double click on the images) and move everything that does not belong to Win7 (all your data) from the mounted images to the big partition.

4. Shrink the mounted image volume of the big partition to less than 120GB. That is a job for the PW CD.

5. Image the shrunk mounted volume with the WinPE CD of free Macrium or with the Macrium that is on your temporary installation..

6. Restore that image to the 120GB partition.

Note: Yes you can shrink and image mounted VHDs like any old partition.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Apr 2012   #6

Windows 7 Pro 64bit
the requested screenshot

Here is the screenshot of the disk management. Thanks for all the replies.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Apr 2012   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-Bit

Thanks for the screenshot.

Greg's advice in comment #4 holds good as does Wolfgang's in comment #5.

Personally, I'd choose Greg's method, but the choice is yours.

Partition Wizard : Use the Bootable CD
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Apr 2012   #8

Linux CENTOS 7 / various Windows OS'es and servers

Hi there

If you have the time I'd suggest a completely different but IMO a very valuable approach.

This will take longer the first time and you'll have a bit of a learning curve but you'll now have an almost infallable system for recovering almost any Dead computer -- also you'll have full internet access (to get drivers etc) and you can have any applications you like on it.

Go over to W8 Forums and create a "Windows to Go" system on a USB drive (you can do it on a USB stick but it's a little bit more fiddly). Tutorial is in the Forum. Shouldn't take you more than around 60 mins and then you've got a really handy useful recovery tool you can use indefinitely on ANY computer.

Windows 8 To Go - Setup on a USB Flash Drive or USB Disk - Windows 8 Forums

For flexibility I'd choose the 32 bit version for this application -- that way you can run it on any machine not just those that are 64 bit enabled - unless you won't be using 32 bit computers any more).


Install Partition manager (or partition Wizard on it), backup software and any other app you think you want. You can always add more later.

On the USB drive have 2 partitions -- 40 GB OS and the rest as data ("C" and "D")

Now the nice thing about W8 CP which is why I suggest this route is that it has a BUILT IN .ISO mounter -- just click from Windows explorer - or right mouse click==>Mount. (Perhaps you see where I'm going with this). No more burning ISO's to DVD's or CD's needed. !!!

Boot this up on your CURRENT PC (set the BIOS to enable USB drive as first in boot order) and take the image of the Original (W7) OS and copy it to the external USB. (The external USB is now running Windows so it's OS drive will be C. All the other drive letters will have changed but use Control panel==> admin tools to see what's what.

When you've copied the OS delete the partition and restore the OS back to where you want it.

On restore if you've also got a small 100 MB reserved partition restore that to and set it to PRIMARY,ACTIVE.
If there is only ONE partition to restore set it to PRIMARY ACTIVE.

Shut down the w8 system, unplug the USB and boot.

(I use Acronis as the imaging / backup program but there are other FREE one's you can try).

This sounds a bit complex - but once you've done it you've got an incredibly powerful portable and flexible tool that works on nearly every computer you are likely to want to use it on. I've even got MS Office 2010 and Photoshop CS5.5 running on this type of system.

I agree the other solutions presented are probably easier initially -- although using WINPE IMO is more complex than creating a Windows 2 go W8 system.

However I think you'll gain decent learning from this plus you should even have some fun doing it -- your colleagues will definitely want a "Bootable Windows to go" !!!.

One "Little Warning" W8 Navigation is a bit different -- when it boots you'll see load of little squares (Metro apps) -- just click on Desktop then it all works pretty much as W7.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Apr 2012   #9
Microsoft MVP


This is quite simple really since you have your files backed up externally anyway.

Just download free Partition Wizard and burn to CD.

Boot CD, rightclick on D to Delete, click OK. Rightclick on C to Resize, slide left border all the way to left to take up deleted D space. Then slide the right border to the left to make space for your storage partition, click OK, Apply steps.

Rightclick space for storage partitiion, Create New NTFS Primary partition, assign letter D, label, OK, Apply.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Apr 2012   #10

Windows 7 Pro 64bit
thanx for the help so far, disasterous results?

I resized the partitions as greg suggested. It seemed to work beautifully. When I log on it spends lots of time "preparing your desktop" then eventually gives me a blank desktop with no bar, or start button. If I hit ctrl-alt-delete I can get a task manager.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Installed Win7 on wrong partition, what are my options?

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