Boot Camp Cannot Partition Disk, Files Could Not Be Moved Error

You’ve cleared out enough space on your hard drive. You’ve got the Windows install disc ready to go. When you try to use Boot Camp to create a Windows partition, you come across the following error: “The disk cannot be partitioned because some files could not be moved.” The suggested solution of reformatting the disk and restoring the data will work, but is quite a hassle. Surely there is an easier solution? Well, there is.

Boot Camp Error

The Problem

Before getting into the solution, we must first understand the cause of this problem. Boot Camp tries to create the Windows partition by allocating it a contiguous area at the end of the disk. To do this, it tries to move all of the files currently residing there onto another part of the drive. However, it has a problem moving large files (larger than several hundred megabytes in size) and will time out before succeeding, returning the above error. The most common files causing this problem are large video files.

The Solution

The solution then, is to move these large files residing at the end of the disk using another method. There are a few different ways to do this.

  • Manually: If you have another hard drive (external or networked computer, for example), you could move the large files off temporarily. Of course, this would require some knowledge of which files are the culprit. You can use a utility such as Disk Inventory X to determine the largest files on the drive and move those off. This is how I solved the problem.
  • Defrag: You could also use a defrag utility to move the files towards the front of the drive. I do not know of any free programs that would do this, though a paid one that would work is iDefrag ($34.95). You would have to do the full defrag, which requires rebooting. Even if you don’t pay for it, the demo is useful for showing you a mapping of where files reside on your drive, giving you an indication of how much you have to move. The demo version will not do the full defrag necessary to move the files to the front, however.

Once the large files are moved away, Boot Camp should have no problem moving the smaller files itself. Now you can continue with the Windows install to make your Mac much more versatile.

10 thoughts on “Boot Camp Cannot Partition Disk, Files Could Not Be Moved Error

  • October 24, 2008 at 8:05 am
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    Woah. A new revamp of the site. Nice.

    Advice is nice too. Thanks!

    Reply
  • May 10, 2009 at 7:05 am
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    Disk Inventory advice worked great for me, many thanks !

    Reply
  • November 28, 2009 at 5:19 pm
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    wow ! finally. disk inventory did the job. i then used drive genius to defrag and was able to partition. thanks for the solution

    Reply
  • June 28, 2010 at 3:29 pm
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    SOLUTION!

    here’s what i did after a few hours of tinkering around and not wanting to wait for defrag… Turn off your mac, hold shift and reboot. Mac boots into safe mode and bootcamp assistant works fine!

    Reply
  • August 15, 2010 at 6:55 am
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    my problem is that i only have one hard disk
    [IMG]http://i480.photobucket.com/albums/rr166/music47ell/Screenshot2010-08-14at75140PM.png[/IMG]
    so how can i do the defragment to my mac hard disk?

    Reply
  • September 5, 2010 at 8:26 am
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    How large does the video files need to be? I’ve got a 128GB iTunes folder – does that make a difference?

    Reply
  • November 18, 2010 at 3:09 pm
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    Wow, THANK YOU AARON for posting the SOLUTION. Boot it up in Safe Mode (hold down shift during reboot) and you are golden.

    I tried iDefrag, no luck am out 30 bucks. only Aaron’s solution worked, i am now running Windoze 7

    THANKS!!!!

    Reply
  • December 7, 2010 at 7:40 pm
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    what if the application takes up the largest space(photoshop etc)? after transfer these applications from harddisk back to macbook, will they still work?

    Reply
  • January 22, 2011 at 7:19 am
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    @aaron hefling,

    What is safe mode actually ? if i go in safe mode, can i get out of there ? When i install windows 7 with boot camp in safe mode, then go back to normal mode, will boot camp still work ?

    Reply
  • March 1, 2012 at 6:24 am
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    I’d like to thank Aaron Hefling. The only piece of advice that worked for me!
    I rebooted my mac in safe mode (Holding down the shift key), however and got past the evil partition error notice, however the windows installer was unable to be recognized. I pressume because it is in safe mode. However when i rebooted the computer normally i was able to kick off bootcamp from were it was left off, allowing me to read the windows installer.

    Thank you Aaron

    Reply

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