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how to expand system volume C: on server 2003 within ESXi configuration

Posted on 2011-09-11
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
hi all

we have a windows server 2003 standard edition with a C: volume that needs to be extended and i was wondering what would be the best solution to extend the space on this volume?

we cannot do a snapshot then edit the HDD info as that option is grayed out once a snapshot is created..

would a clone be a better solution?

ive also heard that theres complication in doing this because it is a system drive
also if theres a page file on it that will cause problems as well

we are running ESXi v 4.1.0 build 258902
current volume size is 60gig
Basic - NTFS

if anymore details are required please let me know.....

does anybody have any experience in this??

Question by:BakerSyd
LVL 42

Accepted Solution

Paul Solovyovsky earned 2000 total points
ID: 36520868
After doing this more than a hundred times the easiest way is use VMWare converter and perform a V2V.  In the process you can resize the system volution to any size you want.  

This is Windows 2003 OS limitation and not VMWare
LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Danny McDaniel
ID: 36520891
make sure you have a backup, then...

shutdown the VM, edit its settings and add the extra drive space (if you have already extended the drive)
with the VM shut down, use another "helper" 2003 server VM and edit the helper VM's configuration
- add a new hard drive to this helper VM (you can do this while it is running), choose an existing disk, browse to the folder of the VM that needs the drive extended and select that .vmdk and click ok
- log into the helper VM and open a command prompt and then run diskpart in that command window
- type 'list disk' hit enter and you should see the added disk and it will have free space.  type 'select disk 1' or whatever this added disk's number is
- type 'list volume' hit enter and the last one should be the C: drive on the added disk, type 'select volume 3' or whatever the added volume number is
- type 'extend' and hit enter, it should confirm that the volume was extended using all of the free space available and then you can just type 'exit' and hit enter.  do another exit to close the command window

edit settings again on the helper VM and remove the added disk making sure that you DON"T select to delete the file from disk.  Ok out of it and then power up the first VM and login to make sure that everything's running ok.

I do this once or twice a month without any issues, but make sure you have a good backup or make a clone of the VM first; just in case.
LVL 14

Expert Comment

ID: 36520905
Wow danm66 that is a great idea. Never though of that I too have used VMware converter this makes so much since.
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 36520917

You can expand disk size using VMtoosl first, but make sure you do not have snapshot of that guest first,

After that you can use diskpart to expand Widnows OS disk size (on Data volume only) or use "Extend Volume" command if you are using Windows 2008 and 7.

If you are expanding system volume (volume that you install Windows) then try to use this list of tools,

This site will teach you to use variety of tools to extend the volume after resizing it.,

Expert Comment

by:Amitabh Singh
ID: 36521232

The best and easiest way for extend disk C: is use dell ExtPart.exe utility , power off Windows 2003 VM > go to Virtual metcien properties and expand the hard disk > wait for disk resizing to be done and then start VM again ,
Download ExtPart.exe from Dell website and place it in VM go to command prompt and expand the disk ,
Example : i am expanding my C: drive with 2 GB more space
ExtPart.exe C: 2048
and you done check your disk space via disk management !

Download ExtPart.exe Link

Step by step guide
let me know in case of any problem
LVL 126
ID: 36521852
How to Resize a Partition after Disk Expansion

To re-size a disk, select the Virtual Machine, Select Edit Settings, Highlight the Virtual Hard Disk, and select Edit
there is an option to increase size. This only changes the physical size of the virtual disk, it does not grow the partition on the disk. See below.

Before making any changes to the partition structure of the disk, ensure you have a full backup, not a snapshot.

1. Resize partition with Gparted Live CDROM

i. Download Gparted Live CDROM (

ii. Upload the cdrom iso to the vSphere ESX/ESXi datastore.

iii. Mount the cdrom or iso on the virtual machine.

iv. Shutdown and restart the virtual machine booting from the cdrom.

v. Select Resize partition.

Here is a Tutorial Walkthorugh of how to resize a partition with a GParted Live CDROM

2. Using DISKPART.exe

(the system disk cannot be re-sized within the virtual machine, but other disks can be resized, eg. D: E: etc

i. Shutdown the virtual machine.
ii. Remove disks from virtual machine (but do not delete them).
iii. Add the disks to another virtual machine.
iv. Start up virtual machine.
v. Use Diskpart in the OS to extend disks.

see here for details on Diskpart usage

3.Use VMware Converter Standalone to complete a V2V (virtual to virtual conversion).
there is an option to increase or decrease the size of target disks on the desintation at conversion.

Download VMware vCenter Converter here

VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 4.x Documentation

VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 4.3 User Guide

For the conversion steps, read fellow Expert Bestway's article.

Best Practice Video Guide here

Also the VMware KB here
LVL 57

Expert Comment

ID: 36521908
Questioner should have asked "how to post without reading other comments already in the thread".

Expert Comment

ID: 36521926
if you have space in the datastore, then you can increase the size of the disk in the vm's settings and then use dell extpart to expand the drive in your vm (windows 2003). If the exe if not getting extracted use winzip to extract the file. Once extracted there is a readme file with the appropriate instructions. please reply back for any kind of queries.


Expert Comment

ID: 36521929
one more thing. Reboot the system after the vm settings have been changed. this will allow the windows to detect the unused space.


Author Closing Comment

ID: 36522271
hey all

thanks for all your input, this is very handy for any future issues that i may come across...ill be remembering this thread for sure!

on a quick note, we managed to solve the issue without having to expand the drive..

basically what happened was that backupexec had created a 33gig temp file in a folder called "backup exec AOFO store"
after rebooting the server this huge file was removed automatically...

i missed this file and folder as it was hidden, but my colleague found it.

thanks for your quick replys!


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