yesterday night I converted a physical server into a virtual one. I used the vCenter Converter from VMware for this task. After converting and deploying the server as a virtual machine I enlarged the virtual hard disk. This was one of the main reasons for the virtualization. After resizing the virtual hard disk, I wanted to assign the newly gained disk space to the existent partitions. So I started the VM with GParted Live and wanted to assign the free space to the other partitions. But, for some reasons, GParted wasn’t able to enlarge the partitions. Shrinking would have worked, but enlarging didn’t.

After this I tried a commercial tool. This one seemed to be able to resolve this task. But what can I try before buying the commercial tool? What am I doing wrong? It’s not the first time I enlarged partitions using GParted, it always worked fine. Except this time.

I’m on VMware Server 2.0.1 (I know, 2.0.2 is out, will update as soon as possible) running on Debian 5.0 on a DELL PowerEdge. The guest OS is Windows Server 2003 Standard 32-Bit.

Any suggestions appreciated.


If you're attempting to make an NTFS partition bigger after increasing the disk size, this can be done inside Windows itself live. No need to power off or use third party tools. The steps are detailed in KB325590, but here they are:

  1. Open a command-line, or the Run dialog
  2. Launch "diskpart"
  3. Type 'list volume' to get a list of the volumes on your system (there may only be one). Note the volume you wish to extend.
  4. Type 'select volume 2', where 2 is the number of the volume you identified in the previous step.
  5. Type 'extend' to make the NTFS partition fill the rest of the space on the volume.
    1. Alternately, 'extend size=2048' would extend the NTFS partition 2GB.

This should work on Server 2003 (for non-system partitions) and Server 2008 onwards (for all partitions, system or not).

  • Will try this, thanks. I tried this using the GUI tools in Windows Server 2003 but there was no option to achieve this. Is there any way to do this with system partitions? Can’t imagine how to increase the size of the system partition when Windows is running. – Ulf Klose Sep 4 '11 at 13:42
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    @Ulf Since you now have this all in a virtual-disk, a quick way is to mount that volume to another windows instance, and extend it from within that other VM. Since it isn't a Boot volume on that Windows, extending should be easy. Then put the virtual-disk back on its original VM. – sysadmin1138 Sep 4 '11 at 13:48
  • Thanks for the suggestion, will try this as soon as possible. – Ulf Klose Sep 4 '11 at 14:33
  • I managed to extend the second partition on that server with the diskpart command. Unfortunately, although the virtual hard disk is mounted on another Windows, I still can’t resize the first partition. When trying diskpart is telling me this error: Diskpart failed to extend the volume. Please make sure the volume is valid for extending – Ulf Klose Sep 25 '11 at 10:28
  • I used a program from a CD called Hiren’s Boot CD. I extended the second partition and after this I downsized the partition again to get a gap between the first and the second edition. Then I extended the system partition. Works perfectly :). Thanks for helping out to everybody here. – Ulf Klose Sep 25 '11 at 12:58

What exactly was the error? Gparted should have given you a post-operation report. I've had an issue that fit this description before when resizing partitions; I told gparted to expand the partition to the last cylinder of the drive, rebooted, and the drive was the "same size" even though everything reported it was the full size of the drive. I re-opened gparted and lowered the partition from the last cylinder to just a few cylinders shy of the full drive, having a few meg of wasted space; applied the changes and at reboot the partition had been expanded to nearly the size of the drive.

The person new to gparted I'd suggest double-checking he or she applied the change after setting it, but you said you've used it before without issue...

Is there any way to see a screen shot of the gparted status and/or the results of the attempt to expand the partition?

  • No error. It was simply impossible to increase the size. The up-arrows were greyed out although there were 40 GB of unpartitioned space. At this given moment I unfortunately can’t provide a screenshot, but will try to do so. – Ulf Klose Sep 4 '11 at 14:32
  • I saw that happen on a version a long time ago where I had to first select the partition I wanted to expand...long shot, could that be it? – Bart Silverstrim Sep 4 '11 at 19:39

For Windows Server 2003, you need to do an offline resize of the system partition, no way around it. The OS itself doesnt support it on older OSes than Windows Server 2008.

You should be able to simply use a WinPE ISO to boot your VM and use the diskpart steps mentioned above to resize your disk. Why gparted is not working is hard to say. I would retry with a WinPE-based iso.

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