Move Partitions Around on Vista

Move Partitions Around on Vista


One of the cool things about Vista is its ability to resize partitions using diskmgmt.msc. This works great for those times when you need to shrink or grow a partition. Unfortunately, if you need to move things around as I did this weekend, you won’t be able to use the built-in tool.

I needed to delete a partition I wasn’t using and also give more space to my Vista partition. So I turned to the trusty Gparted (a free alternative to tools like Partition Magic). It performed the partitioning flawlessly, but Vista refused to boot after that. I was prepared for that, thanks to the Gparted Vista HOWTO, and had my Vista boot DVD ready to perform the post-Gparted operation:

  • Boot up the installation DVD
  • Choose the repair option
  • Let the installation DVD repair the disk automatically when prompted to do so

This let Vista boot, but there was still a problem… one that I remember from messing up drive letter assignments in previous versions of Windows: Vista booted up, took me to the login screen, but wouldn’t show my desktop. (In theory, the HOWTO should have worked perfectly, but I have a dual boot Vista/XP system, and things got confused).

So I had to do one more thing:

  • Boot Vista into Safe Mode
  • Log in
  • Hit Ctrl-Alt-Del to get Task Manager to appear (the desktop will not appear normally when the drive letter is messed up)
  • Use Task Manager to run Regedit and make my way to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMMountedDevices and fix the drive letter assignments.

The drive letter assignments can be tricky, because you probably need to do something like rename DosDevicesC: to DosDevicesD: and vice versa, but you can’t have duplicate names, so you’ll need to change one of them to something temporary, like:

  • DosDevicesC: to DosDevicesX:
  • DosDevicesD: to DosDevicesC:
  • DosDevicesX: to DosDevicesD:

Once I did that, I rebooted, and all was right with the world!


  • Gparted – Link
  • How to restore the system/boot drive letter in Windows – Link
  • Howto move Vista – Link
  • LH Top 10: Free Computer System Recovery Tools – Link
  • How to Shrink and Extend NTFS Volumes in Windows Vista – Link
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I'm a tinkerer and finally reached the point where I fix more things than I break. When I'm not tinkering, I'm probably editing a book for Maker Media.

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