You may view your hard drive in Disk Management and realize that there are unallocated spaces. The space will be on the hard drive, but Windows cannot use it. It is like having a spare room in your house but it is locked off. The house plan will show it, the location, and the size, however, the occupants can’t get to it. In this post, we will show you how to use Unallocated Drive Space in Windows 11/10.
How to use Unallocated Drive Space in Windows 11/10
Unallocated space on your hard drive is taking up valuable space but until it is allocated, Windows can’t use it. Note that when you buy a hard drive, you cannot use the full amount that is listed on the hard drive. For example, you may buy a hard drive with 1 terabyte but when you check the size on your computer you will see less than 1 terabyte. This is because the hard drive needs that space for formatting information. This is not an unallocated space that is spoken of, the unallocated space is that space that may be on your hard drive that Windows cannot use until you make it accessible. Unallocated space can be assigned its own volume letter or used to extend another drive.
Types of Partitions
To make the unallocated space useful, you need to make it into a new volume that Windows will recognize. There are three types of volumes that you can create with unallocated space.
- Simple: This typical hard drive is the type that most PC users have in Windows. If you’re shrinking a volume to create a new logical drive, such as a new drive F (or something), this option is the one you want.
- Spanned: A spanned volume combines two or more unallocated volumes, even on separate physical hard drives, creating a new drive. The new drive combines all the space of the various unallocated volumes into a single volume.
- Striped: Striped volumes are used to improve disk performance by spreading information between multiple disks. The net result is that several drives are used to quickly access information, which makes all disk operations faster. You need two or more unallocated chunks of disk space to set up a striped volume.
Make a new volume
To use up the unallocated space on the hard drive, you need to go to Disc Management.
To get to Disk Management, right-click on the WinX Menu and select Disk management.
- The Disk Management tool will show the drives, their names, sizes, and status. The unallocated drive will show the size and the label Unallocated.
- Right-click on the unallocated volume. Choose New Simple Volume from the shortcut menu.
- The New Simple Volume Wizard appears, click Next.
- Set the size that you want the new volume to have (set size in MB). To convert gigabytes to megabytes multiply the amount of gigabytes by 1024. The default size will be the full size of the unallocated section, you can set a smaller size. However, the remainder will be left unallocated. Click Next after choosing.
- You then assign a drive letter or keep the Windows assigned a drive letter.
- Choose the file system (NTFS), and choose the volume label/name and the other settings. Click Next when you are done.
- The Simple drive wizard will display the information you chose. If you are satisfied with the options, click Finish to have the new volume created. you can click Back to go back and make changes or click Cancel to stop the new volume creation process.
Windows prepares the disk by formatting it. The amount of time taken to complete the operation depends on the size of the volume. Larger disk drives take longer to format. If you look you will see formatting where the drive is. Windows is formatting and preparing the drive for use.
The display in the Disk Management console shows the drive being formatted; you can watch its progress in the Status column at the top center of the window. The drive isn’t assigned its new letter until after it is formatted.
Disk Management console showing the newly allocated space. The Unallocated space was renamed New Allocated Space and assigned a drive letter.
Extend existing volume
Unallocated space can be used to make another drive bigger by choosing to extend it. This is merging the two drives into one or adding part of another drive to another. This will allow the existing drive to be bigger so that it can store more data.
- Open Disk Management by right-clicking on the start button and clicking Disk Management.
This is the Disk Management console showing the C drive before it is extended.
- When the Disk Management window opens, right-click on the volume that you want to extend. The drive that you want to extend has to be beside the unallocated space that you want to use to extend it. If any other volume comes between it will not work.
- The Extend volume wizard will pop up, click Next to continue.
- The Extend volume window which will require you to enter the size will appear. Choose the size that you want to extend it by. The default value would be the size of all available space. It would be recommended to use the default size, but it is ok to choose a smaller size. The remaining space on the donor volume will remain unallocated. When you are done choosing click Next.
- The final stage of the Extend wizard will pop up showing the disk selected and the among of space that will be extended. To close the wizard and commit the changes, click Finish. To make changes click Back or click Cancel to stop the extension process.
This is the Disk Management console showing the extended drive C with more space. There is also the unallocated volume.
Note: Before you begin the process of making a new volume or extending an existing volume, make sure that your laptop is plugged into power so it is kept on. Also. if the electricity goes, the battery will keep the computer on until the process is completed. On a desktop computer, only some form of Uninterruptable power supply can be used to keep the power on if the electricity goes. When the disk is being worked on, it can be damaged if the electricity goes before it is completed.
How do I use unallocated disk space?
Instead of creating a new partition, you can use unallocated space to expand an existing partition. To do so, open the Disk Management control panel, right-click your existing partition and pick “Extend Volume.” You can expand a partition only into physically adjacent unallocated space.
Fix: Unallocated Space error on USB drive or SD card in Windows
How do I use unallocated space on an SSD?
To use up the unallocated space on the SSD, you need to go to Disc Management. To get to Disc management, go to any folder then go to the left panel and right click on This PC then click Manage. In Windows 11 when you right-click on This PC, you may have to click Show more options to see the Manage option. You can also click Start or click the Search magnifying glass on the Taskbar and type Computer Management. Right-click the unallocated space on the SSD and select New Simple Volume and follow the instructions. The steps to using the unallocated space on an SSD are the same as if you are using it on a regular hard drive.
Fix: Unallocated Hard Drive without losing Data in Windows
How to change free space to unallocated space?
Go to disc management and right-click on a partition with enough free space. Shrink the partition and leave the extra partition created unnamed. The unnamed portion will be unallocated since Windows will not be able to access it until it is made into a named volume.
What are the pros and cons of partitioning a hard drive
- Separates OS and program files to optimize interaction with the operating system.
- Better organization to allow frequently-used data and programs to be near each other.
- Allows multi-boot setup options.
- Protects and isolates files.
- Enables image backups to be made of only the operating system and installed software.
- Reduces the total space available for storage on the drive.
- Reduces performance on HDDs when accessing data frequently on different partitions (does not affect SSDs).
- Prevents using the whole disk capacity for a single large folder/file/application.
Why is the Extend option unavailable (greyed out) when I try to extend?
The Extend option can be greyed out because you do not have a valid volume to extend to. This will also happen if you have a valid volume or unallocated space but it is not exactly beside the volume that you want to extend. In this case, you will have to get both volumes beside each other and then extend. The ideal place would be to get the donor drive (the drive that has the space you want) to the right of the drive that you want to extend.
The drive that you want to extend and the drive that will be giving the space can be placed beside each other if you know how and you have the time. Depending on where the unallocated drive is, what drives fall between them, and the data they may contain, the process of getting both drives beside each other can be tedious but it can be done. If recovery partitions are blocking the way, the recovery partitions cannot be simply deleted or formatted, they have to be changed through Command Prompt or with third-party software.
Once they are beside each other with the donor drive to the right, the extending process is just as it is in the article above.
There is third-party software that allows drag and drop movement of volumes so that extending can be easier, even if the volumes are not beside each other.