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How to keep your boot drive organized

Windows is constantly gaining new functionality, but some of its most useful features have been around for years.

We often think of computers in terms of performance and seldom consider the impact that efficiency and organization have on completing our tasks. One of the many features overlooked is Window’s built in disk partition tool.

The ability to organize your data across different drive partitions offers great convenience when trying to find your personal files. Separating your data from your Windows installation is also a quick way to protect your important files in the case that your Windows installation fails. You also gain the ability to do a clean install without first having to back up your data. This, however, does not mean you should stop doing regular backups; should your hard drive fail, separate partitions will do nothing to protect you.

Asides from moving your personal files, it can be greatly beneficial to create separate partitions for programs, projects, or anything else you access regularly. If you find that page file is taking up too much space on your Windows drive, you can even create a separate partition on a secondary drive just for that. This is a great way to free up the space without disabling it entirely.

Creating a New Partition 

Before you can start moving your data, you will need to shrink the volume that you wish to create your partitions on and then create some new ones—Disk Management to the rescue.

Either hit start and search for “Disk Management” or Win key + R and type “diskmgmt.msc”.

Right click on the drive you wish to create the partition on and select “Shrink Volume”. In this case, I will be creating my partitions on my secondary drive. If you only have one drive then you will be using the drive labeled “C”.

By default, Windows will shrink the volume by the maximum space available. It is best not to do this unless you are sure you won’t be writing additional data to the existing partition. If you are using your installation drive, you should definitely set the amount manually and leave plenty of extra space for your OS. When you are ready, hit “Shrink” and prepare to wait. Depending on how much data is on the existing partition, it may take several minutes for Windows move stuff around. Don’t rage quit.

Now that the partition has been shrunk, you will be presented with some newly unallocated space. Right click and create a “New Simple Volume”.

In the spirit of consistency, Windows will try and utilize the maximum space available for your new partition. If you plan on creating additional partitions on the same drive, you are better off limiting the size of this one than having to shrink it again later on to create more unallocated space to work with.

Select a drive letter for your new partition (optional) before moving to the next step.

It’s now time to name your drive; I’ve gone with “Data” but you can of course go with whatever you like. Leave the allocation size and file system alone. Once you’re satisfied, you can click through to the finish line.

Not All Data Moves Equally

If you want to get the most out of your organizational efforts, you will want to move your personal libraries—Documents, Downloads, Pictures and Desktop. Moving these requires a bit more work than regular old data; Copy pasta won’t cut it.

You will need to follow the below steps for each folder and before you start, you will need to create new folders for each library on the destination partition.

Right click and select “Properties”.

Select the location tab and you will be presented with three options. In this case you will select “Move”, but take note of the first option especially. If you decide you no longer wish to have your user data separate from the windows drive, there is a convenient option to dump the folder back to the default location.

Navigate to the new location and select the corresponding folder you created. Click “Yes” on the following dialogue box to move all existing files to the new location and that’s it!

Change Page File Location 

Changing the drive that Windows uses for virtual memory can be done in a few clicks.

Click on “This PC” in file explorer and choose “Properties.”

Click “Advanced system settings” then click the advanced tab and “Settings” under performance. Click the advanced tab on the next window.

Now all you need to do is select the new drive you wish to hold your page file, select “System Managed Size” and click set. Then choose your “C” drive and select “No Paging File” and click set. A restart will be required for the changes to take effect.

You've now mastered the awesome power of Disk Management and now that you know how to organize, you are officially one step closer to taking over the world.