How to Delete a Windows Recovery Partition

Delete Recovery Parititon
Delete Recovery Parititon.

Before you decide you want to delete a Recovery Partition, you should understand why they exist, what they are used for, and how they are created.

Once in a while (that is, it’s rare, but it does happen) the section of your hard drive that stores Windows and lets your computer start up, becomes corrupted and won’t work. That doesn’t mean the hardware is bad, it just means the software needs some fixing and that’s what the Recovery Partition is for.

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Why Would You Want to Delete Windows Recovery Partitions?

Disk Management
Disk Management.

Obviously (or maybe it’s not obvious), if the physical drive gets ruined (flood, fire) then the ball game is over. Your recovery partition, however, can live on a different drive on the same computer or an external drive stored elsewhere which can be used to get your computer up and running again and more importantly save your precious data.

In the image you will notice that my computer has 2 drives attached to it called disk 0 and disk 1. 

  • Disk 0 is a solid state drive (SSD). That means it’s fast, but doesn’t have a lot of room on it. The space on an SSD should be used for storing commonly used files and the Windows operating system as this will improve performance. 
  • Disk 1 is a standard hard drive with lots of free space. As the recovery partition is something that will very rarely be used it is a good idea to move it from disk 0 to disk 1.

In this guide I will be showing you a free software tool called Macrium Reflect which can be used to create a recovery partition on another drive. (There is an optional premium version which you can pay for should you wish to do so).

I will also show you how to remove the recovery partitions created by Windows.

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Create Recovery Media

Create Full Windows Disk Image
Create Full Windows Disk Image.

Windows provides a basic set of tools for creating a system recovery drive but for more control it is often better to use dedicated software. 

Macrium Reflect is a commercial tool which has a free version and a paid for version. The free version works on all versions of Windows from XP up to Windows 10 and can be used to create a bootable USB drive or DVD, a backup set which can be stored to a partition on your hard drive, external hard drive, USB drive or a set of DVDs.

Restoring using Macrium is very straight forward. Simply insert the bootable recovery drive and then select the device where the backup is stored.

There are a number of good reasons to use this approach.

  1. You can create recovery media that isn't reliant on Windows.
  2. You can store the backups on external media so if your hard drive fails you will still be able to restore your system when you get a new hard drive.
  3. You can remove the Windows recovery partitions.

Creating a recovery drive and system image is good for creating media that you can recover from in a state of complete emergency. 

It is a good idea, however, to create a backup of your main documents and other files using standard backup software. If you need help, this guide for Backup Maker shows how to backup files and folders for free using Windows.

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How to Remove the Windows Recovery Partition

Delete Windows Recovery Partition
Delete Windows Recovery Partition.

Normally the steps to delete a partition are as follows:

  1. Right-click the Start button.
  2. Click Disk Management.
  3. Right-click the partition you wish to delete,
  4. Choose Delete Volume.
  5. Select Yes when warned that all data will be deleted.

Unfortunately this doesn't work for Windows Recovery partitions. The Windows Recovery partitions are protected and so right clicking on them has no effect at all.

To delete the recovery partition follow these steps:

  1. Right click on the Start button.
  2. Click Command Prompt (Admin).
  3. Type diskpart.
  4. Type list disk.
  5. A list of disks will be displayed. Note the number of the disk which has the partition you wish to remove. (If in doubt open disk management and look there, see steps above).
  6. Type select disk n (Replace n with the disk number with the partition you wish to remove).
  7. Type list partition.
  8. A list of partitions will be displayed and hopefully you should see one called Recovery and it is the same size as the one you wish to remove.
  9. Type select partition n (Replace n with the partition you wish to delete).
  10. Type delete partition override
  11. The recovery partition will now be deleted.

Be very careful when following these instructions. Deleting partitions removes all data from that partition. It is incredibly important to select the correct partition number on the correct disk.

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Expanding a Partition to Use the Unallocated Space

Extend Windows Partition
Extend Windows Partition.

Deleting a partition will create a section of unallocated space on your drive.

In order to use the unallocated space you have two choices: 

  • Format the partition.
  • Extend another partition, such as the Windows partition.

You will need to use the Disk Management tool to do either of these things. 

To open the disk management tool follow these steps:

  1. Right click on the Start button.
  2. Choose Disk Management.

To format the partition and use it as somewhere to store data follow these steps:

  1. Right click on the unallocated space and choose New Simple Volume.
  2. A wizard appears. Click Next to continue.
  3. A window appears. Choose how much space the new volume should use out of the unallocated space. 
  4. To use all of the space leave the default and click Next or to use some of the space enter a new number and click Next.
  5. You will be asked to assign a letter to the partition. Choose the letter from the drop down.
  6. Finally you will be asked to format the drive. The default file system is NTFS but you can change it to FAT32 or another file system if you so wish.
  7. Enter a volume label and click Next.
  8. Finally click Finish.

If you want to extend the Windows partition to use the space then you need to know that the unallocated space must appear to immediately to the right of the Windows partition within the Disk Management tool. If it doesn't then you will not be able to extend into it.

To extend the Windows partition:

  1. Right-click the Windows Partition.
  2. Click Extend Volume.
  3. A wizard appears. Click Next to continue.
  4. The partition to extend into will be automatically selected.
  5. If you only want to use some of the unallocated space you can reduce the size using the box provided or simply click Next to use all of the unallocated space.
  6. Finally click Finish.

The Windows partition will now be resized to include the extra space.