Monday, August 24, 2009

Getting Around The 4 Partition Limit With Just The Windows 7 Bootdisk

In this post i talked about how i ran out of partitions when trying to create my Data partition after using the recommended Windows 7 install configuration on my MBP. Well tonight I finally decided to blow away my 64-bit RC build of Windows 7 and replace it with a 64-bit RTM build after i found out i can run it for 120 days without entering a valid key. I figure this is long enough for me to get a valid license after its released that i shouldnt have to install again. Then again, if the 64-bit RTM version doesnt fix all the driver issues im having (and i see no reason why it should) then i might roll back to the 32-bit RTM version just to see if its any better - stay tuned.

Still when it came time for me to do this i realised that i didnt have a bootable partition utility handy (TODO: i need to find out which Linux boot disk utility to use for next time). However i worked out you can force Windows 7 to install on just a single partition using only the basic and very limited parition tool that comes with the Windows 7 installer. I found the method i used amusing - it reminded me of those classic maths puzzles where you have to end up with Y litres of water using only a 3L and 5L jug.
  1. Boot into OSX - Use Boot Camp Assistant to remove the existing RC Windows 7 partition and its associated 200Mb boot partition, so that there is only the OSX parititon and its 200Mb boot parition remaining.
  2. Restart Boot Camp Assistant to resize the OSX partition right down (i used the minimum of 25Gb) and assign the rest to Windows
  3. Restart using the 64-bit RTM boot disk and go to the partition utility (Advanced)
  4. Delete the Boot Camp partition to leave the OSX boot, OSX main and unallocated space
  5. Create a new paritition in the unallocated space. Windows 7 will automatically create the 100Mb boot partition.
  6. Delete the Windows 7 boot partition so there is 100Mb unallocated space
  7. Create a new partition in the 100Mb unallocated space
  8. Delete the larger, older Windows 7 main partition
  9. Extend the 100Mb NTFS partition to whatever size you want your Windows OS & programs partition to be (i used 100Gb)
  10. Create a new partition in the remaining unallocated space (mine was 172Gb)

This left me with the desired 4 partitions:

  1. OSX boot - 200Mb
  2. OSX main - 25.9Gb
  3. Windows main - 100.1Gb
  4. Data - 171.9Gb
The windows recovery files are then placed in \Recovery on the Windows main drive

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