Tech Corner: Reclaiming 3 GB on a ThinkPad
This weekend's tech project was about reclaiming unused disk space on my ThinkPad T41p.
Most ThinkPads are shipped with a hidden partition called the "Predesktop Area". This partition is over 3 GB in size and includes tools I never use and a disk image allowing a user to restore the ThinkPad to its factory state.
As I frequently backup my 60 GB disk and restoring it to its factory state is not a very appealing option, reclaiming 3 GB of disk space seemed a good idea.
The trick is to make the hidden partition visible and then merge it into the main (NTFS, Windows XP) partition without losing any data.
Unlike many of my weekend projects, this one didn't turn into a nightmare and I encountered no unforeseen complications.
If you want to do the same, here are detailed instructions:
- Read the DISCLAIMER below
- Download SystemRescueCD (an ISO image of about 100 MB)
- Burn the downloaded image onto a blank CD (use IBM's RecordNow! or any other CD burner)
- Backup your disk (don't even think of going to the next step beforehand!)
- Turn your ThinkPad on
- Before Windows XP starts, you will see "To interrupt normal startup, press the blue Access IBM button" displayed at the lower-left of the screen, press the Access IBM button
- Select "Start setup utility" (double click the icon)
- Go to the "Security" menu and change the status of the Predesktop area to "Disabled"
- Save & Exit (F10)
- Boot your ThinkPad from the CD you burned above
- Hit "Enter" when you see the message "Boot:"
- Enter run_qtparted when you get a command prompt
- Select the (only) disk on the graphical screen
- Select the (only) NTFS partition
- Right click with the mouse and choose Resize
- Set the new partition size (reduce the empty size to zero)
- Commit your changes (File -> Commit menu)
- Exit the program
- Type: "shutdown now"
- Turn the ThinkPad off
- Remove the CD
- Turn the ThinkPad on and allow it to boot WinXP
- It will perform a CHKDSK -- don't worry, it's OK
- When booting the first time, it will recognize disk changes and will ask to reboot -- don't worry, it's OK
- You're done: your disk has now approximately 3.4 GB of additional free space
- Get a beer if you think you deserve it
- Send me a thank-you email or some clever hate mail