Disk Management

Everything you need to know about Disk Management in Windows

Screenshot of the Disk Management utility in Windows 10
Disk Management (Windows 10).

Disk Management is an extension of the Microsoft Management Console that allows full management of the disk-based hardware recognized by Windows. 

Disk Management is used to manage the drives installed in a computer - like hard disk drives (internal and external), optical disk drives, and flash drives. It can be used to partition drives, format drives, assign drive letters, and much more.

Note: Disk Management is sometimes spelling incorrectly as Disc Management.

Also, even though they might sound similar, Disk Management is not the same as Device Manager.

How to Open Disk Management

The most common way to access Disk Management is via the Computer Management utility. See How To Access Disk Management in Windows if you're not sure how to get there.

Disk Management can also be started by executing diskmgmt.msc via the Command Prompt or another command line interface in Windows. See How To Open Disk Management From the Command Prompt if you need help doing that.

How to Use Disk Management

Disk Management has two main sections - a top and a bottom:

  • The top section of Disk Management contains a list of all the partitions, formatted or not, that Windows recognizes.
  • The bottom section of Disk Management contains a graphical representation of the physical drives installed in the computer.

Performing certain actions on the drives or partitions make them available or unavailable to Windows and configures them to be used by Windows in certain ways.

Here are some common things that you can do in Disk Management:

Disk Management Availability

Disk Management is available in most versions of Microsoft Windows including Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Windows 2000.

Note: Even though Disk Management is available in multiple Windows operating systems, some small differences in the utility do exist from one Windows version to the next.

More Information on Disk Management

The Disk Management tool has a graphical interface like a regular program and is similar in function to the command line utility diskpart, which was a replacement of an earlier utility called fdisk.

You can also use Disk Management to check free hard drive space. You can see the total storage capacity of all the disks as well as how much free space is remaining, which is expressed in units (i.e. MB and GB) as well as a percentage.

Disk Management is where you can create and attach virtual hard disk files in Windows 10 and Windows 8. These are single files that act as hard drives, which means you can store them on your main hard drive or in other places like external hard drives.

To build a virtual disk file with the VHD or VHDX file extension, use the Action > Create VHD menu. Opening one is done through the Attach VHD option.

Alternatives to Disk Management

Some free disk partitioning tools let you perform most of the same tasks supported in Disk Management but without even needing to open Microsoft's tool at all.

Plus, some of them are even easier to use than Disk Management. 

MiniTool Partition Wizard Free, for instance, lets you make a bunch of changes to your disks to see how they'll affect the sizes, etc., and then you can apply all the changes at once after you're satisfied.

One thing you can do with that program is wipe a partition or whole disk clean with DoD 5220.22-M, which is a data sanitization method not supported with Disk Management.