Merging non-adjacent partitions in Windows 8.1

Hi, I've just cloned my 500MB disk and upgraded to a 1GB size one for my laptop, which has left me with a 465MB empty partition.  Trouble is, it's not adjacent to the main C: partition, which is 451MB; I've got a 350MB and a 13GB recovery partitions in between when I look in Disk Management.

Can anyone suggest any reliable, easy and (ideally) free software to combine the 451MB and 465MB partitions without deleting anything on the C: drive?  Ideally I'd like to do this with the drive in situ, but if I need to remove it and run it in a caddy attached to another computer (also running Win 8.1) I can.

Any tips about how to go about it gratefully received
colin_thamesAsked:
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Brad GrouxSenior Manager (Wintel Engineering)Commented:
The easiest way would be to just set the two partitions up as a single Drive Pool. Basically, Windows 8 lets you select multiple disks and present them as a single drive. You can do so in Control Panel > Storage Spaces.

This article explains the concept fully - http://www.pcworld.com/article/2012847/how-to-master-storage-spaces-in-windows-8.html
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McKnifeCommented:
Or, without using storage spaces, delete the recovery part., expand your disk leaving some space at the end for another, self-created system image - if you need it to be at the same disk.
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colin_thamesAuthor Commented:
Thanks Brad,
The storage spaces sounded a great idea, but I tried it and it just says "No drives that work with storage Spaces are available.  Make sure that you want to use are connected."

McKnife, how can I delete the recovery section and/or merge it with the other sections?

Alternatively, is there really no way to merge non-contiguous partitions?
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McKnifeCommented:
open diskmgmt.msc and try to delete it there.
->winkey+r, then enter diskmgmt.msc
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colin_thamesAuthor Commented:
OK, I can see how to Delete a Partition in Disk Management, thanks. Right click on My Computer and select Manage.  But there doesn't seem to be any option to merge?

This still isn't my preferred option as I'll have to take out the darn disk again and try to clone the recovery partitions again, if EaseUS will let me, without erasing the whole disk.
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colin_thamesAuthor Commented:
Brad
I've just rad that article and it seems to be more for attached storage, not internal hard disks.  It also, rather alarmingly says: "Windows 8 will display a list of drives attached to your PC that are compatible with Storage Spaces. Select the drives that you want to use in your new pool, but be aware that Windows 8 will format them, meaning that you’ll permanently lose any data already stored on them."

Not quite what I want to happen to my C: drive with the OS on it!
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McKnifeCommented:
You cannot merge occupied space, only extend your drive to free space, so if there's data on it, save it, delete that partition and extend c:, then restore that data.
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colin_thamesAuthor Commented:
OK, thanks McKnife.  So if I understand correctly I would delete the smaller recovery partitions and the larger one, in between the larger ones, extend the C partition into them and the bigger E partition.  Then I would somehow (?) resize the resulting partition to allow enough space to recreate the recovery partitions?

Would I be better off using some other software like Partition Manager for this?
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McKnifeCommented:
No, you wouldn't be better off.
Again: delete rec, delete e: (after saving its contents, if needed), resize c: leaving some space for eventual backups at the end, restore data from your eventual e:-backup.
So your sketch added an unneeded step.
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colin_thamesAuthor Commented:
Thanks, and how to resize C?  Will this definitely not damage any data on it?
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McKnifeCommented:
Rightclick c:, select "resize".
No, there is no "definitely" in any computer OS ;)
Although it never failed me (used it dozens of times), I would not dare without a backup.
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colin_thamesAuthor Commented:
Have been doing a bit more searching and found AOMEI Partition Assistant that claims to be able to move or copy a partition into another.  This sounds like it would enable me to move the Recovery partitions away and then delete them.

Anyone have any experience of using AOMEI Partition Assistant or anything else that would do this?
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McKnifeCommented:
Please read:
You can merge partitions with built-in Disk Management. However, you need to delete the other partition before merging since Disk Management cannot directly resize the partition
Source: http://www.disk-partition.com/help/merge-partition.html (AOMEI)
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colin_thamesAuthor Commented:
Thanks McKnife, I've got a full back-up by sector, but it took about three hours which I could do without repeating.

Right clicking on C drive offers Shrink Volume, Extend Volume and Delete Volume.  However, Extend and Delete are greyed out.  There's no 'resize' but maybe its Extend on Win 8.1.  Perhaps it needs an empty partition adjacent for Extend to work?  Looks like the only way to do this with Disk Management is to delete a Recovery Partition.  

Hope you don't mind if I explore the possibility of copying and moving partitions before I go down the road of deleting and restoring, so I can avoid removing the drive.  In my laptop it's a bit of a palaver to get it out, involving removing keyboard, and entire top of laptop.  Oh for the days of two screws to get out a drive! :-)
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McKnifeCommented:
Believe me (and I mean it...) your trials will take much longer than simply deleting and extending.
And right, it is named extend and it will only work with adjacent space, so would AOMEI as you could read in my quote.
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colin_thamesAuthor Commented:
I was referring to AOMEI's 'Move Partition' feature: http://www.disk-partition.com/help/move-partition.html
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McKnifeCommented:
Sorry, but what is it that you want, move or merge?
By the way, moving is extremely time consuming. Yes, I have tried.
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colin_thamesAuthor Commented:
I need to move two partitions out of the way (totalling 14GB) in order to merge the largest two, totalling about 950GB.

I'll give AOMEI a go.  Not much to lose...
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McKnifeCommented:
not much but time. Believe me, that will take much longer than the procedure I recommended and be the same in the end.
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colin_thamesAuthor Commented:
I can let it work overnight and it'll be and done for the morning...  hopefully.  Have just set up the copying, deleting, and merging in AOMEI (it creates a series of operations then does them automatically.  It estimates it'll take 10 hours.

Many thanks for your help.  Will award points because without your mentioning that you can't merge partitions that aren't next to each other I wouldn't have looked for copy function.

Thanks for sticking with me.  Hope you didn't find me too obstinate.
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McKnifeCommented:
> Hope you didn't find me too obstinate
Come on, Colin... :) No.
You should use virtual machines and stage such operations if you like to learn about them, then you will see that the built-in partitioning is the wisest thing to use. But nevertheless, good luck with AOMEI!
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colin_thamesAuthor Commented:
Recommendation almost achieved what I wanted, with the addition of using AOMEI Partition Assistant to copy partitions to a new location before deleting them.
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colin_thamesAuthor Commented:
Just as a postscript:  AOMEI managed to merge the partitions by this morning and everything looked OK when I checked the partitions' location in Windows Disk Manager.  However, when I came to check if the restore partition was working, windows couldn't find it.  Darn.  Probably me deleting something that was needed, but I wish it was easier to resize the C drive when cloning the disk in the first place.

If anyone knows of better cloning software that will do this I'd be most grateful.
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