How to Delete System & Recovery Partitions After Cloning

Cloning is a practical way to quickly transfer your OS and all data from one drive to another. What’s slightly less practical is that you end up with two identical drives, with extra ad now useless partitions.

Cleaning out everything from the source drive is usually advisable. That way you get to use all available space, and may also avoid issues related to the old drive being bootable.

The problem is that Microsoft hasn’t put the option to delete system partitions front and center. Even if you know your way around Disk Manager, you will find that system and recovery partitions are exempt from being altered in any way.

Disk Manager Grayed out alternatives

It’s still quite possible to remove these partitions without resorting to 3rd-party tools. All you have to do is unearth a relic from the Windows 2000 era, called diskpart.

Step 1: Open Command Prompt

Step 1 Open command prompt

Click the start menu button and type cmd, then choose Run as administrator in the right-hand column to bring up the command prompt.

Step 2: Start diskpart

Step 2 Start Diskpart

At the command prompt, type diskpart followed by the enter key to start the program with the same name. You will now see a diskpart prompt instead of the file system path.

Step 3: List Disks

Step 3 List disks

Now type list disk to view a list of currently connected storage devices. Of course, you must be absolutely certain that you are not deleting partitions on the wrong drive.

Step 4: Select Disk

Step 4 Select disk

In this example, we will be removing all partitions on disk 3. To modify this disk, the next step is to type select disk 3 (replace with the number of the disk you want to modify). Optionally, you can verify that the right disk is selected by typing list disk again. Note that the selected disk is marked with an asterisk symbol.

Step 5: List Partitions

Step 5 list partitions

With the right disk selected, type list partition to view all partitions on the active drive.

Step 6: Select Partition

Step 6 Select partition

Like in Step 4, you then have to type select partition followed by the number of the partition you want to delete. In this example, it is select partition 1. Again you can optionally follow up with a list partition commanded to confirm that the right partition is selected.

Step 7: Delete Partition

Step 7 Delete and confirm

Verify deleted partitionTo delete the active partition, type delete partition override. A list partition command should confirm that the partition is deleted.

The now-free space will also show up as unallocated in Disk Manager.

If you want to remove all partitions, repeat steps 6 and 7 for the ones that remain.

With no partitions left on the SSD, you have to create at least one new partition to be able to use it again. This can be done in Disk Manager or via the Windows Settings app. You will find these steps described in detail in our guide to initializing a new SSD (starting with Step 5).

Jesper Berg
Jesper Berg

I got started with PC building in the 3dfx Voodoo era somewhere back in the 1990s, and have been writing for tech publications for a bit more than a decade. In other words old enough to have lost count of the times PC gaming has been pronounced dead.

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