Disk Management

Everything you need to know about this Windows tool

Disk Management is an extension of the Microsoft Management Console that allows full management of the disk-based hardware recognized by Windows. 

It's used to manage the drives installed in a computer—like hard disk drives (internal and external), optical disk drives, and flash drives. It can be used to partition and format drives, assign drive letters, and much more.

Disk Management in Windows 10

Disk Management is sometimes spelling incorrectly as Disc Management. Also, even though they might sound similar, it's not the same as Device Manager.

Disk Management Availability

Disk Management is available in most versions of Microsoft Windows including Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Windows 2000.

Even though it's available in all of these operating systems, some small differences in the utility do exist from one Windows version to the next.

How to Open Disk Management

The most common way to access Disk Management is via the Computer Management utility, which you can get to from Administrative Tools in the Control Panel.

Administrative Tools in Windows 10
Administrative Tools (Windows 10).

It can also be started by executing diskmgmt.msc via the Command Prompt or another command-line interface in Windows.

How to Use Disk Management

Disk Management has two main sections—a top and a bottom:

  • The top section contains a list of all the partitions, formatted or not, that Windows recognizes.
  • The bottom section contains a graphical representation of the physical drives installed in the computer.

The panes and menus you see are customizable, so if you've ever changed the settings, the above might not be exactly how the program looks to you. For example, you can change the top pane to be the graphical representation and disable the bottom pane entirely. Use the View menu to change where the panes are displayed.

Performing certain actions on the drives or partitions make them available or unavailable to Windows and configure them to be used by Windows in certain ways.

Here are some common things that you can do in Disk Management:

More Information

The Disk Management tool has a graphical interface like a regular program and is similar in function to the command line utility diskpart, which was a replacement of an earlier utility called fdisk.

You can also use Disk Management to check free hard drive space. Look under the Capacity and Free Space columns (in the Disk List or Volume List view) to see the total storage capacity of all the disks as well as how much free space is remaining, which is expressed in units (i.e., MB and GB) as well as a percentage.

Disk Management is where you can create and attach virtual hard disk files in Windows 11, 10, and 8. These are single files that act as hard drives, which means you can store them on your main hard drive or in other places like external hard drives. To build a virtual disk file with the VHD or VHDX file extension, use the Action > Create VHD menu. Opening one is done through the Attach VHD option.

The View menu is how you can change which panes you see at the top and bottom and how you change the colors and patterns Disk Management uses to display unallocated space, free space, logical drives, spanned volumes, RAID-5 volumes, and other disk regions.

Alternatives to Disk Management

Some free disk partitioning tools let you perform most of the same tasks supported in Disk Management but without even needing to open Microsoft's tool at all. Plus, some of them are even easier to use. 

MiniTool Partition Wizard Free, for instance, lets you make a bunch of changes to your disks to see how they'll affect the sizes, etc., and then you can apply all the changes at once after you're satisfied.

Something else you can do with that program is wipe a partition or whole disk clean with the DoD 5220.22-M data sanitization method, which isn't supported with Disk Management.

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