How to shrink a Linux partition without losing data?

Do you need to shrink a partition with your Linux without reinstalling the system? You can resize your partition without losing your data with GParted and this post will show you how to do that.

I used this method when I decided that I needed to re-partition my hard drive and create several new partitions to test different Linux distributions. However, I did not want to reinstall my current Arch Linux system. Instead, I shrank my Arch Linux partition and added new partitions using the free space I created. Below I share how I did that.

You can watch the video tutorial or continue reading below.

 Make a GParted Live USB

The first step to shrink a partition in Linux is going to Gparted.org and download the GParted Live ISO.

1.- Download Gparted
1.- Download GParted

Next, create a bootable USB using this ISO. You can do it from the terminal using the dd command:

sudo dd bs=4M if=gparted-live.iso of=/dev/sdX status=progress && sync
Making a bootable USB
Making a bootable USB

The if option is the path to GParted ISO, and the option of is the USB device where you will record the ISO. You can find out the name of your USB devise with sudo fdisk -l and the size of your USB.

Boot from GParted Live

Then, boot from this live USB drive. You can keep everything default.

Booting from Gparted ISO
Booting from Gparted ISO

Just press enter for every question.

Gparted default option
Gparted default option

In the end, you should get to the Live session of Gparted. This is the same Gparted program you may have on your system.

Gparted
Gparted

Shrink an existing partition

One advantage of Live USB Gparted is that your main system is not working and you can manipulate its partitions, while Gparted in a working system cannot resize a partition.

If you have several hard drives, make sure you selected the hard drive with the partition you want to resize in the top right part of the program window. In my case, I have one hard drive and one partition.

List of all hard drives on the computer
List of available hard drives on the computer

Below, you can see the yellow area is the part with the data. It is around 3 Gb in my case. The rest is free space. Let’s use this space to create another partition.

Partition information
Partition information

Select this partition and click on Resize option.

Resize the partition
Resize the partition

You can resize it using the numbers or by mowing the arrows. I will free up 10 Gb. Enter the number, press enter, and click on Resize.

Resizing the partition
Resizing the partition

After this, the main partition is shrunk.

Create an additional partition

Now, you can create another partition. Click on the unallocated space, then click New to create a new partition.

New partition option
New partition option

You can select its size, whether you want it to be primary or extended. An extended partition allows you to create more than 4 partitions. You can choose the file system you need. And you can also give a name to this partition. So, when you have set everything as you want, click Add.

Creating a new partition
Creating a new partition

In the below image, you can see the two partitions I have created.

Now there are two partitions
Now there are two partitions

Apply the GParted changes

Everything above created only the plan of the changes to do. You can find the detail of the changes you are about to apply at the bottom of Gparted.

Changes ready to apply
Changes ready to apply

So, if you notice that something is wrong, it is safe to cancel at this stage.

Also, let me warn you. Although Gparted is a reliable program, there is no guaranty that your data won’t be corrupted. So, before you resize your partition, back up all the important files.

If you have backed up all important data and you are sure about these settings, press apply.

Applying the changes
Applying the changes

Confirm and wait a few minutes until everything is complete.

Confirm the changes
Confirm the changes

Check that there were no errors.

Checking the process
Checking the process

Now, there are two partitions on this hard drive and your system files should be intact. Close the program, double-click on exit and reboot into your main system. It should work as before.

Reboot the system
Reboot the system

So, the process is complete.

Other options in GParted

As you can see, shrinking a partition in Linux is simple and reliable.

Moreover, you can use this Live GParted ISO not only to shrink a partition in Linux, but to do any other manipulations including deleting partitions, increasing partition’s size, and create a brand new partition table.

You can create a Partition table too
You can create a Partition table too

Have you used Gparted? Have you ever tried this method to create new partitions? Let me know in the comments.

Average Linux User
Average Linux User I am the founder of the Average Linux User project, which is a hobby I work on at night. During the day I am a scientist who uses computers to analyze genetic data.