> Strange partitions on laptops

Want to Quickly Know Strange Partitions on Laptops? Read This Post

Overview of Strange Partitions on Laptops

Have you heard of Recovery Partition, OEM Partition, EFI Partition, and System Reserved Partition? Laptops running newer Windows OS, like Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10, are always coming with such strange partitions no matter which brand they are, Lenovo, HP, Samsung, or Dell. In addition, installing Windows on never used hard disk may also generate these partitions. But disappointingly, most people do not know what these partitions are used for, like the following man:

I'm planning to partition the HDD on my new Lenovo Windows 8 laptop, so that I can store all data files in a separate partition. However, in Disk Management I found the disk is already littered with partitions! Can anyone please tell me what they're all for?

  • 1000 MB Healthy (Recovery partition) 100% free.
  • 260 MB Healthy (EFI System partition) 100% free
  • 1000 MB Healthy (OEM partition) 100% free
  • Windows 8 OS (C:) 884.18 GB Healthy (Boot, Page file, Crash dump, Primary partition) 96% free
  • Lenovo (D:) 25 GB NTFS Healthy (Primary partition) 89% free
  • 20 GB Healthy (Recovery partition)

Obviously I know what C: is, and D: contains a folder of drivers. Howvever, there are other 4 strange partitions on my new laptop, most of which are even reported 100% free.
Any thoughts on this, please?
----- from PC Advisor

Is your laptop configured with such weird partitions? Now open Windows Disk Management to check it.

How to start Disk Management utility: press on Win and R combination key to call out Run and type diskmgmt.msc.

strange partitions on new laptop

Tip: we are unable to see these partitions in Windows Explorer since they are not assigned with drive letter. In addition, they are visible only in Disk Management or third party partitioning programs.

If your laptop also has such a kind of partitions but you have no idea of them, now this post is what you are looking for, because it will introduce: what are these weird partitions used for; can we delete them to release free space; how to prevent these partitions from being created during installation.

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What Are Strange Partitions on Laptops Actually Used for

Weird partitions on laptops mainly include Recovery Partition, OEM Partition, EFI System Partition (ESP), System Reserved Partition, and Microsoft Reserved Partition (MSR).

Then, let's unveil these partitions.

Who Creates Such Weird Partitions

Some of them are created by manufacturer, like OEM Partition and Recovery Partition, and some of them are created by Windows setup, such as EFI Partition and System Reserved Partition. As to Microsoft Reserved Partition, it must be created when disk-partitioning information is first written to the drive. If the manufacturer partitions the disk, the manufacturer creates it. If Windows partitions the disk during setup, Windows creates it.

Well, what contents do these partitions store? If you are interested in this topic, keep reading.

What Contents Do These Partitions Save

Here we take Lenovo laptop for example, but partitions for other brands of laptops should be similar, so do contents saved in those partitions.

Since Disk Management of Windows does not offer an option to open these strange partitions except for EFI partition and system reserved partition, we are going to introduce them using MiniTool Partition Wizard, which is a free partitioning tool for Windows non-sever users.

Download and install the program to the computer, and then launch it to get its main interface:

minitool partition wizard disk partition layout

Here, all partitions on my laptop are shown. Unlike Disk Management which shows every strange partition is 100% free, Partition Wizard tells us there are contents saved in those partitions. To view contents of each partition, just select the partition and tap on the function "Explore Partition" from the left action panel. After that, all files saved in the selected partition will be shown by path.

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1. Recovery Partition
There are 2 recovery partitions on my Lenovo laptop, including a 1000MB WINRE-DRV Recovery Partition and a 17.91GB LENOVO-PART Recovery Partition.

  • WINRE-DRV Recovery Partition
  • This partition is always 1000MB. Select this partition and choose "Explore Partition" function from the left side. Then, we can see the following interface:

    winre recovery partition

    This partition contains files used to boot into Windows recovery environment (Win RE). That is to say it is related to System Recovery.

  • LENOVO-PART Recovery Partition

lenovo part recovery partition 4

The "LENOVO_PART" partition contains One Key Recovery information as well as its backup where an OS image might be found. This partition is also related to system recovery.

Of course, your laptop may have one recovery partition only, or there are 3 or more recovery partitions, depending on practical situations. But no matter how many recovery partitions your laptop has, in a word, this kind of partitions store files needed to quickly restore Windows from crash or reset/refresh your computer.

2. 1000MB OEM Partition

lenovo oem partition

On my computer, it is the 1000MB LRS_ESP partition. It installs Lenovo Recovery System, which is EFI bootable, and Lenovo One Key Recovery button boots into this partition, which allows to do factory restore. For other brands of laptops, this partition may also contain diagnostics tools.

3. EFI System Partition or System Reserved Partition
If you are running Windows under UEFI boot mode, you'll see the EFI system partition (aka ESP) which is formatted as FAT32, and its full name is Extensible Firmware Interface System Partition. On my computer, it is the SYSTEM_DRV Partition.

efi system partition

EFI System Partition contains the boot loaders or kernel images for all installed operating systems, device driver files for hardware devices present in a computer and used by the firmware at boot time, system utility programs that are intended to be run before an operating system is booted, and data files such as error logs.

But if you are running Windows under Legacy BIOS boot mode, what you'll see is System Reserved Partition, which is always formatted as NTFS.

system reserved partition in partition wizard

This partition saves necessary files for booting your computer, including boot manager, boot configuration data, startup files used for BitLocker Drive Encryption, and so on.

Both of them are called system partition, and it could be 100MB, 260MB, 350MB, etc., depending on versions of Windows as well as hard disk formats. Without this partition, Windows will not boot, and you may receive error messages like "BOOTMGR is missing" or "Operating System not found".

4. Microsoft Reserved Partition
The Microsoft Reserved Partition (MSR) reserves space on each disk drive for subsequent use by operating system software. Wikipedia gives exact explanation:

GPT formatted disks and the UEFI partition specification do not allow hidden sectors. Microsoft reserves a chunk of disk space using this MSR partition type, to provide an alternative data storage space for such software components which previously may have used hidden sectors on MBR formatted disks. Such software components, for example LDM as mentioned above, can create a small software-component specific partition from a portion of the space reserved in the MSR partition.
------- From Wikepedia

In general situations, this partition is 128 MB in size, but there are exceptions. For example, beginning in Windows 10, the minimum size of the MSR is 16 MB which the installer allocates by default. And it is formatted with Other file system.

Now, you would have a basic understanding of strange partitions on laptops.

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Then, let's see whether it is safe to delete these partitions. Since part is introduced since I find a great number of Windows users are talking about this issue on the internet.

Can We Delete Strange Partitions on Laptops? Depending on Practical Situations

Among all those partitions, some of them must exist while some of them can be deleted.

Firstly, we can't delete System Reserved Partition or EFI System Partition, because it holds files required to boot Windows. Without this partition, Windows will be unbootable unless we do some fix.

However, if you delete this partition by mistake, see the post Delete System Partition Windows Can't Boot – Fixed to get solutions.

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2 Solutions: Windows 10 Upgrade Couldn't Update System Reserved Partition
Here are 2 effective solutions when Windows 10 upgrade couldn't update the system reserved partition, including repairing file system and enlarging system reserved partition.

However, Recovery Partition, OEM Partition, and Microsoft Reserved Partition could be deleted if you have created a backup for system or you are not planning to factory reset or one key recover your computer (choose to reinstall Windows or restore from backup when Windows runs in error). And space released by these partitions can be used to create new partition or extended to other existing partitions, partition C for example.

As to Microsoft Reserved Partition, you can delete it without worrying about errors since it is not required for Windows to work and no meaningful data is stored within it. Of course, you can choose to ignore this partition since it is so small.

Well, how to delete unnecessary partitions to release available space?

In Windows Disk Management utility, you will be unable to delete such partitions since Help is the only option on shortcut menu of these partitions.

delete recovery partition in disk management

But luckily, you can do this in free third party programs, and it requires so simple operations. Here, we also take MiniTool Partition Wizard Free edition for example.

To delete recovery partition or OEM partition in Partition Wizard, please take the following steps.

Step 1. Launch the freeware to get its main interface:

delete strange partition in partition wizard

Step 2. Select the partition you want to delete and tap "Delete Partition" feature.

delete strange partition in partition wizard preview change

Step 3. Click "Apply" button to perform the change.

In addition, if you want to add the released space to existing partitions, please do the following operations before applying changes

Select the partition you want to extend and choose "Extend Partition" feature from the left side.

extend partition in partition wizard

Then, select the released unallocated space from the drop-down menu of "Take Free Space from" and click "OK".

At last, click "Apply" button to execute all changes.

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After knowing how to delete weird partitions as well as extend existing partition on laptop, you might be interested in whether it is possible to avoid these partitions during Windows installation. See the following part to get specific tutorial.

How to Prevent Strange Partitions from Being Created During Windows Installation

As long as the disk has been partitioned before we install Windows, these partitions will not be created.

You can create partitions using MiniTool Partition Wizard Bootable Edition, which is a partitioning program capable of partitioning disk without loading Windows, like create partition, delete partition, recover lost partition, and rebuild MBR. Of course, you can also do this using Windows installation media, which could be CD, DVD, or USB flash drive.

Partition Disk Using Partition Wizard Bootable Edition

If you are not a server user, you can get this edition from the Professional Edition.

After registering the Professional Edition, you should use its embedded Bootable Media Builder to build Boot CD/DVD Discs and Boot Flash Drive. See the tutorial here: How to Build Boot CD/DVD Discs and Boot Flash Drive with Bootable Media Builder.

Then, you should enter the BIOS setting and set the computer to boot from this Bootable Edition. You will enter this interface as follows.

create partition using partition wizard select unallocated space

For example, Disk 3 is used to install new Windows. To create partitions on Disk 3, please select the unallocated space, and choose "Create Partition" feature from the left side.

create partition using partition wizard specify partition

Then, specify partition size/location, file system, drive letter, and other basic information for the new partition. After that, click "OK" to go back to the main interface:

However, if we want to create more than one partition, just repeat previous operations, and finally click "Apply" button to make all changes performed.

Alternatively, you can use Windows installation disc to create partitions.

Partition Disk Using Windows Installation Media

Start computer via the installation disk, and in the following interface you can create partitions manually:

create partition using windows installation media

Here, you are able to create partition(s) via the New feature. As long as partitions are created, you can choose to install Windows to a specified partition so that there is no additional partition created.

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Now, most of you would be clear of strange partitions on laptops, right? Should you have any other problems on this issue or suggestions on our post, please feel free to leave your feedback in Comments part below.