Reclaim Space After Windows 10 Upgrade

Reclaim Space After Windows 10 Upgrade 4

If you upgraded your Surface (or any Windows computer) from 8.1 to 10, you may be able to easily reclaim an additional 5 to 8 GB of precious space on your hard drive.”

How? – you might ask.

By deleting the (now useless) Windows 8.1 recovery partition left behind when you upgraded.

Even if you followed the steps in my article on Deleting the Windows.old Folder After Upgrading to Windows 10, the Windows 8.1 recovery partition may still be present on your Surface. This is because the disk cleanup tool only cleaned the C:\ drive and the recovery partition is in a whole different (mostly hidden) volume.

Reclaim Space After Windows 10 Upgrade: Is It Present On My Surface?

The only way you won’t have the old recovery partition present is if you Surface before the upgrade. If you want to check to see if that’s the case, just follow the steps below:

  • Make sure you’re logged in with administrator rights.
  • Search for Disk Management and select Create and Format Hard Disk Partitions from the results.
  • Once the Disk Management tool starts, check to see if there’s a volume without a drive letter assigned named Recovery Partition. It should be between 5 and 8GB in size (though it may be slightly bigger/smaller). Here’s an example from my Surface 3 below.

Reclaim Space After Windows 10 Upgrade Disk Manager

If the volume is on your Surface, the procedure below will let you reclaim the space. If it’s not there, then you must have already removed the recovery partition prior to the upgrade.

Reclaim Space After Windows 10 Upgrade: How To Remove It.

To reclaim the space used by the Windows 8.1 recovery partition on a Surface, just follow these steps:

  • Log in with an Administrator account.
  • Use the steps in this article to create a Windows 10 Recovery Drive: Create a Windows 10 Recovery Drive
  • When you get to the last step of the Recovery Drive creation process, Don’t Select Finish. Instead, select the option to Remove the Recovery Partition.

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  • At the next screen, tap or click Delete.

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  • You should get a window like the one below. Tap or click Finish to close the window and end the process.

Reclaim Space After Windows 10 Upgrade 3

If you want to double-check that the space has been recovered, you can start Drive Manager again. The old Recovery Partition volume should be gone and the System volume should be a bit bigger as in the example below:

Reclaim Space After Windows 10 Upgrade 4

Reclaim Space After Windows 10 Upgrade: Merge the New Volume

Sometimes (usually on a Surface Pro 1/2/3) the merge process doesn’t happen and instead of the extra space being added to your System volume automatically, an additional volume is created. This volume will be labelled “New Volume” and will be assigned the next available drive letter.

If this happens to you, don’t worry, it’s pretty simple to add it to the system volume. Unfortunately, the built-in tools can’t make the required change so, we’ll be using  the free version of Partition Assistant from AOMEI to make the change.

WARNING: By trying this procedure there is a risk that you could make your Surface unusable if the partitions get messed up so, try this at your own risk!!! Also, for the sake of your sanity, make sure you have a backup before you try this.

Here’s how to do it:

Reclaim Space After Windows 1

  • Once the Volume is deleted, you should have some Unallocated space as shown below.

Reclaim Space After Windows Merge 2

  • Start the Partition Assistant tool then tap and hold (right-click) on the System drive and select Merge Partitions from the menu

Reclaim Space After Windows Merge 3

  • Select both the System drive and Unallocated space and ensure the target location is C:\Windows then select OK.

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  • You’ll get a Pending Operations window, select Proceed.

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  • Next, there will be a warning,  select Yes.

Reclaim Space After Windows Merge 5

Your Surface will restart and will run in a “pre-boot” mode. During this time, you’ll see white lettering on a black background. Once it’s finished, your Surface will restart normally and the extra space will be added to your System volume.

One Last Note: If you can’t see or select the unallocated space during the merge partitions process, just use the tool to create a new volume and then merge it with the System drive using the same instructions.


is a professional geek with over 23 years of experience working in Information Technology and dealing with everything from large-scale storage to remote systems management and automation for organizations such as Texas Instruments, Mobil Oil, and the University of Michigan (where he was an Academic IT Director). He co-founded JTRTech along with Joanna to realize his long-time dream of working for himself.


    • Basically some profile changes and, probably, some miscellaneous files. However, since Windows 10 doesnt have a recovery partition you don’t need to worry about one getting left behind.

  1. Hi Tim,

    I just did this procedure, got 5.08gb back (thanks!), but it created a new drive for that 5gb of space. Now, I have an additional volume of 5gbs, it didn’t add it to my system volume. Any way to make it add to the c: drive?

    When I right click on the unallocated space, it only gives me the option to create a simple volume (everything else is greyed out). And when I right click on my c: drive, the ‘expand volume’ is also greyed out, only shrink volume is available. (BTW, I’m using a SP3 256gb). Thanks.

  2. Thanks for this. The one thing i can’t get used to in win10, is the new home screen operation. Unlike 8.1, each time you touch a shortcut you get another instance of theaapplication rather than just open the existing app. Is it just me?

    • Hi Peter,
      I’m not seeing that behavior. Do you mean that if you each time you tap on the Edge tile, eat time it opens a new Edge window? It does not do that for me, it re-opens the already open window.

  3. I have the same problem as Mike And Fourat. As I understand it, the problem is that there is a 450MB recovery partition (no idea what for) is between the C and the newly created E drive. And the standard disk manager appears to be unable to extend the C partition of the unallocated space is not adjecent

    • Hi Tim & All
      I have not yet deleted the Windows 8.1 recovery partition and see the 450mb partition there as well!
      By the way, Thank you, Tim, for this excellent Idea.
      I’ve already created a USB Backup drive and will do it one more time prior to deleting the partition. However, my configuration appears different from yours.
      First a bit system info:
      – I have the small 360mb recovery partition up front; and also have the
      – 200mb EFI partition. I also have the 231.80 Boot drive (256gb /I7).
      – However after the boot drive I have TWO, not one Recovery partitions
      – One is a 450mb Recovery Partition
      – One is a 5.57GB Recovery Partition)

      Your picture does not show that smaller partition in between the boot drive and the old Windows 8 partition! I am wondering if I can or should delete that small 450mb partition as well as the 5.57gb? Will that ruin anything?

      Also, I have not tried it, but can’t we just use commercial disk management software to delete the windows 8.1 recovery partition and to grow the C drive into that space? I think I have an old disk management program on CD somewhere in my desk. . . . ???

      Thank you!

      My Surface Pro 3 (I7/256gb) Disk looks as follows:
      360mb Healthy (Recovery Partition)
      200mb Healthy (EFI System Partition)
      231.80GB Healthy (Boot, Page File,Crash Dump Primary Partition)
      450mb Healthy (Recovery Partition) <- don't know if I SHOULD delete this???
      5.57GB (Healthy (Recovery Partition) <- will delete this!

      Thank you again!

      • Mark, I’m still working out a tested procedure for merging the partitions using built-in tools.

        I wouldn’t use older tools to merge the partitions as Windows 10 may have made changes to NTFS that might screw them up. Also, I wouldn’t touch any of the other partitions as they might mess up your install.

        The screenshot was from my Surface 3 but, I was able to replicate the problem on my Surface Pro 2 where I also have the 450 MB partition.

        Hoping to have the article updated today.

    • That’s what I think too. I have yet to see if I have any partition management software which might solve the problem, but even if I do have anything I’ll be nervous about using it, especially as it will pre-date Windows 10!

    • I have used the free version of EasUs Partition Master to delete both the 450MB partition and the new 5 GB volume partition(Drive E: on your machine). I then decided to use the Windows 10 Disk Management tool to extend the main C: windows drive (right click extend volume) . This worked and added the reclaimed space back to C: .

      Please don’t do this if you are not confident in the use of the type of tools.

        • I followed the instructions in the article to reclaim space, and ended up with “New Volume (E:) 5.27 GB NTFS (BitLocker Encrypted) Healthy (Primary Partition)”. After reading article and comments, what do you recommend I do to merge those 5.27GB to C: ?

        • I went ahead as to instructions on top, downloading AOMEI. I right click on the C: drive (Bitlocker Encrypted) and the only options not greyed out are Copy, Advanced, Properties. I right click the Unallocated and it gives these, plus Merge. I click merge, and everything except for Unallocated is greyed out. It says: “Please select two partitions that you want to merge.”, but I can’t. I could go no further. Any suggestions?

      • Hi Mike & Tim:

        I did try my not-so-old Paragon Partition Manager to delete the old partitions. The program deleted the two recovery partitions but would not extend the C:\ boot partition.

        I next tried to use the Windows Disk Manager the “extend partition” option like Mike did –however that option was greyed out for me. I could shrink, but not extend. Tried seeing if administrator permissions were a factor, but I don’t think so. . .maybe I missed a step!

        Finally I broke down and bought the $39.99 pro version of EasUs and extended the drive into the open space without issue. EasUS seems to me to be a much better program than Paragon Partition Manager ;-(

        In total, I added just under 6 GB ( 5.72GB = 5.27gb and 0.45GB). I still have the front three partitions, and everything is working well.

        Actually going through this drill helped me delete some old files as well. My free space has actually jumped from 10.2 to 20.1GB. So It was worth it for me!

        Have a great week!


  4. Hi Tim, sorry…., what I meant was …. the ‘home’ screen, or what was the 8.1 metro tiles had shortcuts, when you touched them, the app would open. In win10, the same sort of homescreen exists, except when you touch on it, it opens a new instance of the app, instead of switching to the existing running app…… it might just be me ….lol….

  5. Thank you Tim, Hiram, & Mike. You folks showed me the tools and way to do this. I have resized drives and all that in the past –but never played with those functions on any of the Surfaces I owned –now is the time 😉

    I’ve got it and feel confident in reclaiming both the small and large recovery drives -great! I can sure use 5+GB!

    P.S. What a great Website this is! Thank you for that! 🙂

  6. Genuine question: Why all the third party reccomendations for partition management?

    Doesn’t diskmgmt have an “expand volume” option and wouldn’t that be appropriate to use in this case? Just delete the recovery partition and expand the system volume to take over the empty space. This can all be done using diskmgmt, no?

    I faill to see why third party tools are needed at all for this.

    I mostly use Pro and Enterprise so if Home edition does not have this option I would like to know this as well. This would be the first I had heard of it, if so.

    • There is an expand option but, it wont work with the system volume. Same goes for the diskpart command from a recovery drive (so as to avoid the system partition being the active partition)

  7. i plan on trying this tonight but i’m pretty sure instead of using a 3rd party tool you can just delete the new 5gb drive it creates and it should leave it as unallocated space. then you should be able to right click the OS partition and hit extend and it should add that space to your C Drive.

  8. I went ahead and proceeded to install Partition Assistant by AOMEI. I right click on the C: drive (Bitlocker Encrypted) and the only options not greyed out are Copy, Advanced, Properties. I right click the Unallocated and it gives these, plus Merge. I click Merge, and everything except for Unallocated is greyed out. It says: “Please select two partitions that you want to merge.”, but I can’t. I could go no further.

    Don’t know much about partitions, but I think my results sound similar to those in comments above. So I look forward to future suggestions and / or solutions from Tim and the others.

    On the other hand, can a drive letter be assigned to the unallocated space again, and then be used just as space in any other drive is?

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