Monday, 2 November 2015

How To Shrink Windows 10 To Make Space For Linux

Posted by Gary Newell  |  at  20:41 37 comments


This tutorial is part of a larger guide showing how to dual boot Windows 10 and Ubuntu Linux

Regardless as to whether you wish to dual boot with Ubuntu or any other version of Linux you will need to make space for it and if you only have one hard drive the only way to do that is to reduce the amount of space that Windows is using.

This procedure is very safe as long as you don't try and shrink any further than the shrink tool suggests.

It is definitely worth checking out this guide for backing up Windows 10 first if you haven't already seen it. It is better to be safe than sorry.

The tool used for shrinking Windows partitions is “Disk Management”.

To start "Disk Management", right click on the Windows start button in the bottom left corner of the screen and click on the “Disk Management” option.

A screen will appear listing all the disks available to you and the partitions on the disk that is selected within the window.

The hard drive is usually disk 0. It is usually easy to spot because it is larger than the other drives and already has a number of partitions on it. As you can see from the image above there are 4 partitions. The amount of partitions on your hard drive may differ.

For example the screenshot above shows the partitions on my computer which used to run Windows 8 (UEFI) and the screenshot below shows the partitions on my computer which used to run Windows 7 (BIOS).

What you are looking for is the NTFS partition which is both active and primary. In most cases it is drive C. It is also likely to be the largest partition on the drive.

Right click on the partition which contains Windows (as described above, probably the C drive, NTFS file format, primary and active).

Click on the “shrink volume” option.

When the shrink dialogue box appears it will have the maximum amount of space available to shrink listed with an up and down arrow to increase or decrease the amount of space made available to Ubuntu.

Do not make the number if the “Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB” (box 3) larger than the “Size of available shrink space in MB” (box 2). This is the equivalent to ghostbusters crossing the streams.

You can make the amount of space available to Ubuntu smaller though. The minimum required by Ubuntu is 7 gigabytes which is 7000 megabytes. In reality you should be looking to give at least 20 gigabytes (20000 megabytes) to Ubuntu for a decent experience and if you have it I would go for 50 gigabytes (50000 megabytes).

Of course if you so wish you can leave the recommended amounts as they are.

When you have decided on an amount enter it into the box and click “Shrink”.

When the process has finished you should see that the C drive has become much smaller (or smaller by the amount you entered in the shrink dialogue box and that a new unallocated portion of disk space has appeared.

You now have space to fit at least one Linux distribution alongside Windows 10.

About the Author

Gary Newell started the Everyday Linux User blog in 2010 and has written reviews on dozens of different Linux based operating systems. He has also written a number of tutorials.

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  1. Hi Gary from enrico, Italy
    I've done the same thing, but with Gparted in the live USB distro (Mint).
    I mean: why don't partiton disk and then install it without exit from Linux Live?
    And i found Gparted easier than Disk management on windows :-)

    1. You can do it with GParted. The reason I use Windows disk management because it tells you how much you can shrink by without harming Windows

    2. Resizing from Windows is also the only option if the partition is encrypted with BitLocker.

  2. How can I create a "middle partition so music, movies, pictures, etc. will be accessible from both the Ubuntu and Windows partitions?

    1. Ubuntu will be able to access the Windows partitions anyway. Unfortunately Windows isn't as clever and can't access Ubuntu partitions. You can use GParted to create a fat32 partition prior to installing Ubuntu. You can then put shared files in this partition.

  3. Hi Gary, hoping you can help me. I've not been successful so far to install ubuntu on my laptop running w10. Ubuntu installer doesn't recognize windows 10 installed, so I can't (apparently) do the easy install. I've turned off the hibernate option in windows based on something I've read. That didn't appear to work. When I try to create partitions myself to install it, i create the first partition and the rest of my free space becomes unavailable. Another blogger told me not to have too many primary partitions, but I wouldn't know how or why there are too many... Any ideas?

    1. Are you using the partitioning tool as part of the Ubuntu installer to create partitions? If you are make sure that you aren't entering all of the disk space when creating the partition and leaving some free space for the swap partition. I don't think this is because of primary partitions being limited to 4 because Windows 10 uses GPT partitioning and this allows for much more than 4 partitions.

  4. Hi, I've now a "Unallocated" partition. When I live install ubuntu that partition will be seen as "unusable" and I cannot install ubuntu on it. Can you help me?

  5. Hi, is it possible to shrink my non-active partition (D:/ Drive) instead of the C:/ ?

  6. i could not install ubuntu on the volume i shrunk out of C drive. The volume was declared as unallocated in disk management. When i tried to install ubuntu on it, it showed that space as unusable and i could not install ubuntu

  7. i have 886 gigs available but when i got to shrink my max is like 1712? Ive tried defragging but that didnt help. any solutions?

  8. I can only shrink 1741, but it says theres 886 gigs in there.

    1. I have seen this happen before and it is because Windows has installed something at the end of the disk leaving hardly any space available when shrinking. Are you running any encryption tools? The chances are that there is a Windows process running which is writing a temporary file at the end of the disk. Stop the windows process, delete the file. The trouble is finding the offending process and file. I don't know of an easy fix.

    2. open "Event Viewer", double click "Application" in the "Log Summary" window at the bottom, "Event ID" 259 will display the file at the end of the filesystem that prevented the shrink

    3. There is no event with ID 259 in app log. There are some events with ID 258.
      I have deleted the pagefile, deactivated system protection and hibernation. I did defragment. i restarted.
      I still cannot shrink at all (I have 75GB free space).
      Is there another thing I can try?

  9. I followed your instructions but either there was a fix or I did something incredible because upon running efibootmgr the boot order was already set correctly! I thought you might like to know that is a possibility now.

  10. The above instructions are clearly incomplete when we are talking about the windows system partition. Windows, maybe on purpose, usually writes information on the end of the system partition, making it impossible to shrink it by the regular way. You'll have to delete previous Windows system images created by the OS to allow returning to a previous Windows state and remove the ability of Windows to use the hard disk as temporary memory, between other things. Only when the final part of the system partition is cleared of any usage, will it be possible to shrink it.

  11. Hi, I have followed all these steps I also created the swap file but it will not allow me to create the root file thus not allowing me to install UBUNTU. Would you have a solution for this?

  12. Hi! I have two primary partitions, C: and D:. What do I do?

  13. I also deactivated virtual memory. There are no windows images, no shadow copies, no restore points or anything else. Still no luck...

  14. Looks like I'm having a similar problem to a couple of others. Everything is good up until selecting the drive space to install ubuntu. When it asks me where I want to install, it doesn't give me the "install alongside windows 10" option, so I click on "something else." On the next screen, it shows the various drivesan and such, and what I think is the drive space I separated in the c drive, but lists it as unusable,so I can't put ubuntu on it. Any hand available for this?

  15. i could not install ubuntu on the volume i shrunk out of C drive. The volume was declared as unallocated in disk management. When i tried to install ubuntu on it, it showed that space as unusable and i could not install ubuntu

  16. Same here. When I pre-shrink the partitions in windows it doesn't see any operating system installed when running the ubuntu install. When going to the "something else" option to manually choose a partition it is unusable. Everything else up to that point was spot on in the articles though as far as backups and setting up ubuntu installer on jump drive!

  17. Likewise. The Alongside Windows install option isn't given to me either when pre-shrinking drive space in windows.

  18. Thanks for the guide! I have been following the steps but I got a problem. When I start the installation of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS I get this error:

    "You need at least 8.4 GB disk space to install Ubuntu. This computer has only 8.1 GB."

    This happens because ubuntu just recognize the usb drive and not the partitions of my SSD. A detailed description of the components of the laptop where I'm trying to install Ubuntu is here:

    Hope you guys can help me with this.


  19. I am facing the same problem as my frnd Anmol Kohli. After shrinking the volume is showing unallocated in disk management. When i tried to install ubuntu on it, it showed that space as unusable and and cant proceed.

  20. Hi Gary! In lieu of bitlocker I'm using veracrypt, do I need to decrypt the drive before I can install Linux Mint along side Windows 10?

  21. Make a new volume(right click on unallocated space) after you shrink the C drive. Now the memory is allocated to be used.

  22. Can I use a different drive already allocated in my HD?
    I just can't see an option to install Ubuntu on that drive and I don't have enough space to reallocate my C drive (boot drive).

  23. I am only allowed to shrink size down to 11 Gb, which clearly is not enough, even for your conservative 20 Gb minimum. How do I get around this problem?

  24. Has anyone found a solution to the issue of the unallocated space being "unusable"? I have not been able to install Ubuntu due to this issue, despite having followed the steps on this blog, and having nearly identical window to the one at the end of this blog.

  25. I just installed Ubuntu 16.04.1 using the Gary's instructions without any issues. The Ubuntu installer automatically accesses the "unallocated" partition and completes its installation if you choose "Install UBuntu alongside Windows" Option. The part of the instructions that I did not follow is the Macrium backup and boot menu.

  26. Hi,
    I tried to install dual boot (window 10 and Ubuntu 16.04.1). Installion went well.
    I dont use Macrium backup and boot menu.

    I made folloing changes in BIOS.
    The first in Boot order is window boot manager.
    F12 boot menu is enabled.

    Now I could get grub with window and Ubuntu. Alltimes it goes to boot Window, not showing Ubuntu. How can I solve the problem?

    Best regards

  27. Hi i've tried to shrink windows but it says that there is no space available to shrink. Is there anything that i can do about this? can i still install ubuntu?

  28. When I attempt to shrink the partition, it says that I can only shrink the drive to 300mb less, but I have 4gb of free space in the partition. Any ideas?


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