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How can I "move" the Windows 7 recovery partition to the end of the drive?

Alejandro Ramirez's Photo
Posted Mar 05 2013 06:48 AM

I recently bought an SSD drive to replace my Win 7 desktop machine's hard drive, which had the following characteristics:
  • Size: 300GB
  • Partition 1: 286GB (this is where the OS, documents, etc. are stored)
  • Partition 2: 14GB (Recovery Partition)

I used Windows Backup and Restore utility to create a disk image on an external drive, then replaced the hard drive with the SSD drive and restored the image. The SSD drive size is 512GB, but after the restore my SSD disk looks like this:
  • Partition 1: 286GB (OS, documents, etc.)
  • Partition 2: 14GB (Recovery Partition)
  • Partition 3: 212GB (Unused Space)

So, how can I "move" the Recovery partition to the last 14GB of the drive and extend Partition 1 to use the 212GB of space, instead of having 3 partitions?
Alejandro Ramirez
Digital Photography Club

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  Alejandro Ramirez's Photo
Posted Mar 20 2013 09:53 AM

Well, after many (scary) trial-and-error attempts here is my account of what worked and what didn't:

What Didn't Work (aka, Bad News First)
- The Windows Management Console will not let you "move" a partition, it can only resize contiguous partitions, but it does NOT have an option to copy the contents somewhere else.
- The diskpart command doesn't include a feature to copy partitions either, so no dice.

Disclaimer: I know there is software out there that might do the trick (Acronis TrueImage, etc.) but I wanted to this for free.

1) I did a Windows Backup with the "Windows Backup & Restore" tool before anything.
2) In Windows 7, using the Console Management tool I repartitioned my drive as follows:
  • a) First partition had the OS and files
  • B) Second partition has the Recovery partition I want moved
  • c) After that, I deleted all the remaining space, then created 2 partitions, 1 partition after the "Recovery partition" and the last partition on the drive just slightly bigger than the size of the partition I want moved (trust me here when I tell you that if you want to get the sizes exactly the same you will be doing this over and over).

You should really give your partitions VERY meaningful names so that you avoid guessing in later steps, so in my case I named the last one "Destination"

3) I found a really neat tool called Clonezilla so I downloaded it and burned the ISO file to a DVD.
4) Leave the DVD you just burned inside the drive
5) Turn off the computer
6) Unplug the original hard drives and made sure only the SSD drive was available
7) Turned on computer, force it to go to Boot Options and select to boot from CD/DVD drive
8) Follow the prompts within Clonezilla to clone a partition using "sources", not images.
9) Select origin partition (the "Recovery" partition)
10) Select destination partition (the partition I named "Destination")
11) And now wait for the magic to happen...

Once done, Clonezilla will eject the disk, so

12) Remove the Clonezilla disk
13) Reboot your machine
14) Log into Windows 7
15) Open the Management Console, then go to Storage
16) You will now have your 2 identical partitions :-)
It doesn't hurt to compare contents, just in case.

But wait, you are not done yet!
17) Delete your original Recovery partition
18) Also delete the partition that was in between that partition and the "last" partition ("Destination").
19) Extend the first partition to use all available space.
20) Now you have 2 partitions, a BIG one, and the RECOVERY one.
21) You can probably now safely rename "Destination" to "Recovery"

Hiding the recovery partition
22) Still within the Management Console, right-click on the Recovery partition and select "Change Drive Letter"
23) Simply remove the drive letter. This will "hide it"

Alejandro Ramirez
Digital Photography Club