My System (C:) and Data (D:) partitions are full and I need to expand them or move them to larger drives.


  • Dell PowerEdge 2900 server
  • Adaptec 39320A SCSI adapters
  • Dell Perc 5/i RAID controller
  • 3 Maxtor 10K RPM 73GB serial attached SCSI (SAS) drives in RAID 5

This configuration presents a single ~145GB disk to Windows Server 2003 R2

It has 2 partitions: C: & D:

  • C is 12GB and holds the system - it is full
  • D is ~133GB and would be full if the data were not compressed


Here are some options I was considering:

  1. Buy a large SATA drive and move the D partition to it. Then, expand the C partition to fill the 145GB RAID 5 SAS.
    • I think this is my preferred solution, but I'd like some advice on what tools are best:
    • I'm concerned about resizing a System partition.
    • Windows diskpart.exe (part of Server 2003) specifically supports data partition resizing only, not system partitions.
    • Many partition tools are for desktop use only, not server use
    • Do you know of any Dell utilities that can do this - I've booted into the Perc 5/i controller settings and perhaps there's a way to do it here. Can anyone confirm?
  2. Buy one or more large SAS drives and insert them into the 5 remaining empty slots on the server. Create a new array and move the C & D to this new array.
    • Again, I'm not sure what the best tools are to accomplish this.
    • I'm also checking with Dell, but would appreciate advice from others that have done this before.
  3. Boot to a live CD (Linux based Parted Magic?) and load it with drivers for the Adaptec and Perc 5/i controllers - if this is possible (might have to use Windows based Live CD?). Use standard tools to move the now offline C and D partitions to larger drives.
  4. Use NTBackup to backup the system and system state. Re-install the Windows Server 2003 R2 from scratch onto new larger drives and restore.
    • I'm really looking for suggestions for a way to expand these partitions without having to re-install the Server.
    • I'm trying to avoid rebuilding from scratch.

Any other caveats I should know about?

  • as a quick fix to give you a bit more room on the boot partition, you can move the swap file to the d: drive. While not really a fix, I've ran into this too and that bought me a bit more time for the client while they worked their budget out to get new hardware.. – MikeAWood Dec 5 '13 at 22:27

You should acquire new hardware and install a modern operating system like Windows Server 2012 R2 and then migrate your applications and data to it. Windows Server 2003 is quickly approaching end of support and you should be focusing your effort on getting off of it, not on rigging it to keep on running.

  • 1
    Oh man, 2003 and 12gb system partition is *****. I remember my system partitions being.... iirc 32gb (definitly not less) for reservere reasons (moved to 64gb now). And the specs just scream for a RAID 1 of 2x480gb SSD ;) New hardware seriously adviced. 2003 r2 is so near end of life reparing this server is reckless. – TomTom Dec 5 '13 at 18:07
  • Thanks for the advice. SMB can't afford new hardware right now. They are now budgeting to replace next year, but need this immediate fix. Whether it's 2003 or 2012 R2, there must be proven methods to expand RAID system partitions, no? – HighTechGeek Dec 5 '13 at 18:13
  • @HighTechGeek you can expand the system partition as long as there is contiguous space in 2008 and later with diskpart or diskmgmt.msc. Unfortunately, you can't with 2003. You're going to have to either use a third party tool like GParted, ImageMagick, etc or take a backup, install larger disks, and do a restore to them with modified partition sizes. You've basically already laid out all of the band-aid fixes in your question and there's no right answer. – MDMarra Dec 5 '13 at 18:16
  • I've looked into GParted. Did you mean PartedMagic? I've spoken to the developer and he's not sure if the Live CD will recognize partitions attached to SCSI and RAID controllers. But I guess I can try. I'm concerned applying these techniques to a live system. I only get one shot. Any suggestions on imaging a system partition like this? At least then I can go back if there's a failure. – HighTechGeek Dec 5 '13 at 18:24
  • Take a backup using Windows backup. Test the backup, make sure it's good. Worst case scenario, you end up doing a restore to larger disks and end up where you need to be anyway. Really though you're talking about an unsupported operation with third party tools. I still strongly advise you to migrate to a newer OS on different hardware. It's time to let that old dog die. – MDMarra Dec 5 '13 at 18:28

Depending on what is running on your server, this may or may not be feasible.

You can try to do an in place upgrade of your Server OS. You should be able to upgrade to Server 2008, and then you can proceed to extend the system partition. One gotcha to be aware of is that you can only upgrade Server 2003 32bit to Server 2008 32bit.

  • How is he going to do an in-place upgrade if the system partition is full? – MDMarra Dec 5 '13 at 21:38

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