Making the most of Disk Management on Windows 10

A close up image of a hard disk

Microsoft replaced the Command Prompt fdisk function with the Disk Management tool which was introduced to users in Windows XP.

Disk management in Windows 10 is a useful tool that allows users to view and organise the disk drives they have installed on their hardware. The range of disks that this encompasses includes flash drives, hard disk drives, and optical disk drives, as well as allowing for fairly advanced storage tasks.

For example, you can use it to extend, create, or delete drive partitions that you no longer need or want to keep. This is also useful since it helps you run two operating systems from just one drive. Through the tool’s Master Boot Record (MBR) and GUID Partition Table partitioning structure, you can also use it to format drives and set up new ones, all from Microsoft’s pre-installed tool.

What are the advantages of Disk Management?

Disk Management is only pre-installed on PCs that run Windows 10, as it’s an extension of the Microsoft Management Console. It allows users to manage the disk-based hardware, as long as it’s recognised by the machine’s operating system. Freeing up precious disk space is one of its most vital functions on the operating system.

If you’re prone to storing plenty of unused files or folders on your machine, then you can take full advantage of its utility feature. This handy tool will help make your data more accessible by rearranging it. This helps to combine drives together in a larger volume but comes with the added bonus of making your files and folders easier to discover and search through.

That being said, this is one of the Microsoft operating system's more basic functions. IT administrators also use plenty of the other advanced features found in the Windows 10 built-in Disk Management tool to work out how free space should be distributed and determine why the machine or software may not be as rapid as they should be.

How to open Disk Management

As we stated before, Disk Management was first unveiled to the world in Microsoft’s Windows XP, which had an extremely useful GUI to take the place of its Command Prompt interface which was more or less unintuitive.

  • Quick access menu: right-click the Windows Start button and select it from the menu that appears
  • Using Run: quickly open Run by pressing Windows+R and type diskmgmt.msc into the text field before pressing OK
  • Taskbar Search: Opinions are divided on the search feature in Windows 10, but it still does the job here. Simply search for 'disk management' and an option for 'Create and format hard disk partitions' will appear - that's the one you want
  • Taskbar search 2.0: alternatively, you can just type diskmgmt.msc into the search bar and hit Enter to open the utility
  • Command Prompt: If you want to go old school, open up a Command Prompt window, type diskmgmt and hit Enter to open it up

How to use Disk Management

With Disk Management open you can carry out a number of tasks.

Extend a partition

To do this, right-click the partition you would like to expand and then choose Extend Volume. Sometimes a user will find the Extend Volume option is greyed out this is because the Extend Volume in Windows 10 is only available when there is adjoining unallocated space behind the partition.

Create a virtual hard drive (VHD)

You can create and attach a VHD file by using Disk Management. Choose Create VHD from the Action menu. You can specify settings in dialogue box such as the location of the VHD, its size, and format (dynamically expanding or fixed). Click OK to create the VHD. After this, the VHD is attached and is shown as an uninitialised disk.

Convert from MBR to GPT

A hard drive can be converted from an MBR disk to a GPT disk using Disk Management. To do this. Right-click on the disk in Disk Management and select Convert to GPT disk. (Make sure any volumes on the disk are removed first). The disk will be changed and should show as Online.

Connor Jones
News and Analysis Editor

Connor Jones has been at the forefront of global cyber security news coverage for the past few years, breaking developments on major stories such as LockBit’s ransomware attack on Royal Mail International, and many others. He has also made sporadic appearances on the ITPro Podcast discussing topics from home desk setups all the way to hacking systems using prosthetic limbs. He has a master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield, and has previously written for the likes of Red Bull Esports and UNILAD tech during his career that started in 2015.