How to Get a Larger Drive C - dummies

By Dan Gookin

You made the mistake when you bought your computer. You were excited, you didn’t know better, or you were looking at the price and not your needs. The bottom line is that the PC’s primary storage device is too tiny. You need 2TB of storage, and your computer has a relatively puny 500GB hard drive.

Without knowing anything about computers, you may think that you could just swap out the old hard drive for a newer one with more capacity. The problem with this technique is that Drive C is more than just a hard drive. It’s where Windows dwells, along with all the configuration files, drives, and whatnot for your computer. You must be careful with the drive and its contents.

One technique is to replace the drive and then rebuild it using common troubleshooting tools: Treat the event as a disk disaster. Follow these general steps:

  1. Ensure that you have a fresh backup available, a Windows recovery disk, and a system image.
  2. Install the new hard drive in the console, replacing the old drive C.
  3. Start the PC with the recovery disk.
  4. Use the Windows Recovery Environment to prepare the disk for use, applying a file system and formatting the media.
  5. Recover the system image to the new drive.
  6. Restore your files from a recent backup.

This technique recovers all the original information from the old drive C to the new drive. The only drawback is that it’s very timeā€consuming.

Another technique is to install a second, larger drive in the console and then clone the contents of the original drive to the second drive. Follow these general steps:

  1. Add the second drive to the PC’s case.

    It must be an internal drive, so the case needs room for the second drive. Keep the original drive C in place.
  2. Use a disk cloning utility to duplicate the contents of drive C to the newer drive.

    The cloning utility moves over all files to drive C, duplicating it on the second drive. You might also confirm that any Recovery or UEFI volumes are cloned as well.
  3. Open the PC’s case again and swap the drives.
    Set the new drive as the PC’s boot drive, which may involve swapping cables and resetting a switch on the drive.
  4. Restart the PC.
    The system now uses the cloned drive, which has a higher capacity.

This technique involves both hardware and software acumen, but it’s faster and safer than replacing a drive and rebuilding.

  • Windows lacks disk cloning software. This software is available commercially, such as Norton Ghost, which also serves as a backup utility. Freeware cloning programs, such as CloneZilla, are available.
  • You don’t have to physically swap drives inside a computer. Keep both drives internal, but just switch the cables. You might also modify the boot order by changing the UEFI program.