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How to partition a hard drive in Windows Vista with maximum shrink

Okay, I should've called this article How to shrink partitions in Vista... mea culpa! Shrinking existing partitions on your hard drive in Windows Vista can be a real pain, or at least that's my experience using a machine which came with a preinstalled version of the OS. My faithful copy of Partition Magic turned out to be too old for my computer, so I was left with Vista's built-in disk management console, which isn't actually the most user-consoling piece of software out there. Nevertheless, I managed to shrink my 200GB+ C: to my liking. Here's how. 
  1. If you have no idea where to start, here's a Lifehacker step-by-step guide. Generally hard drives with preinstalled OSes have two primary partitions (C: and one which contains the restore image). C: is the one you'll be working on; don't do anything to the partition which contains the factory image.
  2. Don't start partitioning just yet. Check the available shrink space first. If Vista won't shrink a certain partition beyond a certain level, it has its reasons (read more). If you still need to shrink the partition, first delete temporary files (I recommend the excellent and free CCleaner) and shadow restore points (here's a how-to) and try again. This should increase the maximum size by at least a few gigs.
  3. Still thirsting over (presumably wasted) space? Check out a smarter way to manage System Restore space and apply accordingly. In addition, you could also tweak your paging file and/or move it to a different hard drive.
  4. By now C: should be optimized to offer maximum available shrink space. Hit 'Shrink'.
Enjoy!

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