Have you ever poked around in your computer and found? partitions or disk volumes you didn’t know it existed? Or have you noticed that a Windows installation creates two partitions; a large and a smaller one? The small one is either 100MB or 600MB in size. What is that? Do you need it? Well, it’s the EFI partition, and the short answer is yes, you do need it.
What is the EFI partition in Windows 10?
EFI stands for Expandable firmware interface† As the name implies, EFI connects the operating system to the firmware of the hardware components in a computer. Think of firmware as the brain in every piece of hardware. The extensible part of the name tells us that EFI can be changed for different situations.
Most Windows devices today use a UEFI BIOS (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface Basic Input/Output System). It’s easy to find the BIOS version for your computer. Only Windows devices that use the UEFI BIOS have the EFI partition. A non-UEFI BIOS Windows system contains the boot information in the primary partition.
When we start up a computer, Windows does not start right away. First, the BIOS is started. What is the BIOS? It is a minimal operating system that lives on a chip. It wakes up the hardware and firmware. Then the BIOS will search for the EFI partition to get instructions on how to start and work with Windows.
The EFI partition contains essential files and utilities, such as:
- bootloaders: Starts the boot process, system utilities, device drivers and makes them work together.
- Device Drivers: tells Windows how to talk to the various hardware components.
- Data files: Contains information about the boot process and related logs.
- System Utilities: Small programs that help start and run Windows.
- BitLocker Data: If you use BitLocker to encrypt a drive, the secret is stored here and it works together with the TPM (trusted platform module) to encrypt and decrypt the drive. You may have heard that TPM 2.0 is required for Windows 11.
When the EFI partition is successfully found and the boot process works, Windows will start.
Do I need to delete the EFI partition?
If you see the EFI partition and think, “There is an extra 100 MB that my computer could use. Let’s delete it.”, don’t do that. Windows would do well to make it difficult to delete the EFI partition. But you can do it. Without the EFI, the BIOS thinks that Windows does not exist and the computer will not boot properly. And is it important to get 100 MB of extra free disk space? Between cloud storage and cheap 1TB+ drives, we don’t need those 100MB. Leave it alone.
Where is the EFI partition in Windows 10?
If you’re looking for the EFI partition in File Explorer, you probably won’t find it. The EFI partition is valuable, so it is hidden. But it’s not that hard to find.
Use Disk Management to find the EFI partition
Disk Management is a Windows utility for partitioning, resizing, renaming and formatting disks.
- Select the Get started button and start typing disk† Select the option: Creating and formatting hard drive partitions†
- When Disk Management is opened, the EFI partition should be visible.
How can I see what’s in the EFI partition?
You can use the command prompt to view the contents of the EFI partition. However, it is a bit complicated and not easy to navigate. If you’re really curious about what’s in the EFI partition, download Mini Tool Partition Wizard† It is free.
- Once you have downloaded, installed and opened the Minitool Partition Wizard, locate the EFI partition.
- Right click on the EFI partition and select To discover†
Now you can see everything that is in the EFI partition.
How can I delete the EFI partition in Windows 10?
You’re stuck with this, aren’t you? Before you try, make sure you have a system backup or have Windows 10 installation media to restore if it fails. This can go seriously wrong.
Delete the EFI partition with DiskPart
DiskPart is a command-line tool that can manage disk partitions. You can put it to work on the EFI partition.
- Open the Command Prompt as Administrator†
- Enter disk part to start the utility.
- Use the list disk command to list all drives. Find the one with the EFI partition.
- Enter select disk #where # is the disk number.
- Show the partitions with the list partition order.
- Identify the EFI partition. it will be Type: system†
- Enter select partition #where # is the partition number.
- Enter the command overwrite partition†
- Get ready to recover or reinstall windows† The EFI partition can be rebuilt manually, but it is a complicated process and may not work.
Delete the EFI partition with Minitool
If you cannot delete the EFI partition with DiskPart, it can probably be deleted with Minitool.
- Open mini tool and identify the EFI partition.
- Right click on the partition and select remove†
- Minitool warns that if you delete this partition, Windows 10 may become unbootable. Select Yesif you must.
- In the lower left corner of Minitool, select Apply†
- Minitool will once again confirm that this is what you want to do. We can go back by selecting No, but select Yes†
- A progress window opens briefly, not long enough for the Cancel button if you are not sure.
- It will report that it is updating partition information.
- Finally, Minitool will tell you that the EFI partition has been deleted. Select Okay to return to the main window.
- You can check if the EFI partition is gone. The 100MB partition is: Unassigned and has no file system.
How do I recover the EFI partition?
You’re sorry, aren’t you? You can reinstall Windows from installation media such as a USB stick or DVD. Or you can manually rebuild the EFI partition using Command Prompt. That’s a complicated process beyond the scope of this article, so stay tuned for an article on how to recover EFI partition in Windows 10.