Removing Windows 7 Recovery Partition
The installer for Windows 7 creates a 100MB System Reserved partition during most (but not all) installation scenarios (it was 200MB for some of the pre-RTM betas). This partition contains the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE). It also enables BitLocker functionality. And last but not least, it is the default location of your bootloader. And you can’t easily delete it:
Now, I want to be clear here. I do not recommend removing it – this partition contains enough tools to save your buns when the system has gotten badly screwed up. But I was told it could not be removed, and that bothered me, so I looked into it. Google turned up many links to these recipes at My Digital Life, but all of these presuppose you know you want to get rid of it before you install Win7. What if you want to do it afterwards?
This is how you’d do that, with some commandline wizardry and two reboots:
And here are the steps as a text list. Warning: don’t attempt this without a bootable Win7 DVD around. You may need it!
Actually, don’t do it at all. 100 or 200MB just isn’t that much space on today’s gigabyte-plus hard drives. And if you remove this partition, you’re depriving yourself of BitLocker, as well as boot repair tools that will be crucially handy if the system has disk troubles down the road.
- To see any step, move the video slider to that timestamp.
- You can pause there or watch video.
- Go fullscreen for greater detail; remove captions if they obscure something.
- Still confused? Go here for a better explanation.
- 0:03 - Step zero: log in with administrator privileges, or the named 'Administrator' account.
- 0:12 - Open disk managment (diskmgmt.msc), so show current partitions (this is only for display purposes).
- 0:35 - Open CMD
- 0:42 - Type DISKPART (enter).
- 0:45 - Type LIST DISK (enter).
- 0:48 - Choose the disk that contains your WinRE partition. If it is disk zero, you type SELECT DISK 0.
- 0:54 - Type LIST PARTITION.
- 0:59 - Select the 100MB (or 200MB, depending) partition. If it were partition 1, you would type SELECT PARTITION 1.
- 1:06 - Type DETAIL PARTITION. Examine details to make sure this is the 100/200MB WinRE partition.
- 1:21 - Type INACTIVE to make this no longer the active, bootable partition.
- 1:29 - Now select your Windows partition – the one you want to boot from. If it is partition 2, you’ll type SELECT PARTITION 2.
- 1:36 - Again examine details with DETAIL PARTITION.
- 1:50 - Once you’re sure, mark it active with the command ACTIVE.
- 1:59 - Type EXIT to get out of Diskpart. You’re back at the commandline.
- 2:08 - You need to be sure there are system files on the new bootloader drive. If that drive is C:, you will put them there with this command: BCDBOOT c:\windows /s C:
- 2:24 - Taking a moment to show that the changes have shown up in Disk Management. The WinRE partition still shows as 'system' but not as 'active'.
- 2:35 - Now reboot the machine, and login again with admin privs. (In this video, I have cut out part of the reboot process.)
- 3:18 - When it comes back, open Disk Manager. Note that the WinRE partition is no longer marked 'system' or 'active'.
- 3:40 - Delete the WinRE partition. You’re done, though I recommend a reboot to test.
- 3:55 - Here I am showing the full reboot and logon sequence, to show there are no problems. However the tutorial is done; no further steps are necessary.
(Note, on April 12, 2010 I updated this article a little bit based on stuff I learned in this video. Primarily the 100 vs 200MB difference.)
(On April 21, 2010 I updated again, with a re-recorded video. YouTube is better because it allows moving backward and forward in the video; the old format did not. I also changed the recipe steps to our more standard timestamped format.)