Is there anyway to resize a virtual machine's disk? Say increasing the disk size from 32GB to 64GB. I am running KVM/Qemu on Ubuntu server 11.10 64bit. Thanks.

5 Answers 5


On Debian based distro you should use virt-resize instead. This handle pretty much everything under the hood now. Let's assume your image is called Win7 (why not?). First thing make sure your VM is shut down:

Install the tool:

# apt-get install libguestfs-tools

Get the location of your VM disk:

# virsh dumpxml Win7 | xpath -e /domain/devices/disk/source
Found 2 nodes in stdin:
-- NODE --
<source file="/var/lib/libvirt/images/Win7.img" />
-- NODE --
<source file="/var/lib/libvirt/images/Win7.iso" />

You may need to adapt /var/lib/libvirt/images/Win7.img in the following:

# virt-filesystems --long --parts --blkdevs -h -a /var/lib/libvirt/images/Win7.img
Name       Type       MBR  Size  Parent
/dev/sda1  partition  07   100M  /dev/sda
/dev/sda2  partition  07   32G   /dev/sda
/dev/sda   device     -    32G   -

Create your 64G disk:

# truncate -s 64G /var/lib/libvirt/images/outdisk

You'll need to expand /dev/sda2 (not the boot partition):

# virt-resize --expand /dev/sda2 /var/lib/libvirt/images/Win7.img /var/lib/libvirt/images/outdisk
Examining /var/lib/libvirt/images/Win7.img ...
 100% [progress bar] --:--

Summary of changes:

/dev/sda1: This partition will be left alone.

/dev/sda2: This partition will be resized from 32G to 64G.  The 
    filesystem ntfs on /dev/sda2 will be expanded using the 
    'ntfsresize' method.

Setting up initial partition table on outdisk ...
Copying /dev/sda1 ...
Copying /dev/sda2 ...
 100% [progress bar] 00:00
 100% [progress bar] 00:00
Expanding /dev/sda2 using the 'ntfsresize' method ...

Resize operation completed with no errors.  Before deleting the old 
disk, carefully check that the resized disk boots and works correctly.

Make a backup just in case (or use mv if you do not want the backup):

# cp /var/lib/libvirt/images/Win7.img /var/lib/libvirt/images/Win7.img.old
# mv /var/lib/libvirt/images/outdisk /var/lib/libvirt/images/Win7.img

Now boot !

For more info: man virt-resize

  • 3
    Instead of making a backup in the last step (if the image is large and you don't want to/don't have the additional disk space) you could just do virsh edit virt_name and change the path to the disk's source to the new one. Then if it doesn't work, just change it back and try again. There's not really much point in having 3 images when you could do it with 2.
    – Mike
    Apr 20, 2015 at 23:26
  • 1
    Or you could simply use mv instead of cp for the first command. Besides saving disk space, it will also be dramatically faster this way. May 18, 2015 at 7:09
  • 6
    one important thing to notice is that even if the origin image has a type, the destination instance will be raw type. if you want to maintain for instance qcow2 type, you should apply a conversion like: qemu-img convert -O qcow2 /var/lib/libvirt/images/outdisk /var/lib/libvirt/images/outdisk.qcow2
    – logoff
    May 21, 2015 at 12:38
  • 1
    And virt-resize even has a cute ncurses progress spinner. Apr 4, 2016 at 0:36
  • Note that to a Ubuntu bug, you need sudo for libguestfs-tools commands: askubuntu.com/questions/1046828/… Apr 22, 2020 at 20:12

I recommend before doing any of this you take a complete copy of the disk image as it is, then when it all breaks you can copy it back to start over.

There's 3 things you need to do:

1) Make the disk image bigger. In your host:

qemu-img resize foo.qcow2 +32G

Now your guest can see a bigger disk, but still has old partitions and filesystems.

2) Make the partition inside the disk image bigger. You need to boot off a LiveCD in your guest for this, since you won't be able to mess with a mounted partition. This is quite involved and probably the most dangerous part. It's quite a lot to copy here, so I'll just link instead for now. You want to do something like this:


OR 2b) creating a new partition would be simpler (and safer) if you just want more storage space. Use fdisk or cfdisk, or whatever you feel comfortable with - you should see a whole bunch of unallocated space on your guest disk now.

3) Finally, if you resized your existing partition, make the filesystem inside the new bigger partition bigger (this is actually in the guide linked above anyway). Inside your guest:

resize2fs /dev/sda1
  • Thanks for the quick answer. It looks like a viable solution. I'll be out of town for a few days, but once I am back to office next week, I'll give it a try and report back if it works.
    – Tong Wang
    Feb 24, 2012 at 13:58
  • 1
    One more question: if I want to shrink the disk, do I perform the steps in a reversed order? Like: 1. shrink the file system; 2. shrink the partition; 3. shrink the disk image. Right?
    – Tong Wang
    Feb 24, 2012 at 14:40
  • Yes, resize2fs can shrink as well as grow, but it'll obviously need enough free space in the filesystem. When shrinking the partition I'd err on leaving a bit more than necessary so you don't accidentally chop the end off the filesystem :)
    – Caesium
    Feb 24, 2012 at 15:03
  • You absolutely CAN mess with a mounted partition
    – etherous
    May 20, 2017 at 0:24

I think Caesium's answer is fine, I'd just like to write down some other commands to achieve the same thing.

Assume you have a file disk.img with a disk image, i.e. it has a partition table and one or more partitions, and say you want to make the last partition larger. What you have to do is to

1) make the whole file bigger, say 4GiB. A quick way to do it is to use dd

dd if=/dev/zero of=disk.img bs=1c seek=4G count=0

2) make the partition bigger using fdisk (I wish I could do this in parted or some nicer tool... Anyone?)

fdisk disk.img

Type p to print out the partiton table and look for the start sector of your partition, for instance partition 2 starts at sector 106496.

What you will do is to delete that partition from the partition table and create a new partition that starts at the exact same sector but ends at a later one. Then the partition will contain a valid file system.

Type d and give the partition number to delete. (Gulp!)

Type n and give the desired partition number, and then the start sector. You MUST use the same start sector as was used before. Finally give the end sector or just let fdisk pick the highest sector you can use.

Type w to write the changes back to the disk image file, and exit fdisk.

3) Now you need to resize the filesystem. For this you need the offset to (= the position of the) file system inside the disk image. You can compute this from the sector number if you know the sector size (which is usually 512), or you can use parted

parted disk.img u b p

(parted can take commands as command line arguments, so this means 'unit bytes' and 'print', so it prints the partition table and uses bytes as size uint.)

This prints out the partition starts and ends. Say that your partition starts at 54525952, then you make a loopback block devices with losetup.

losetup -f --show -o 54525952 disk.img 

losetup tells you which dev it picked, for instance /dev/loop0. Now you can use resize2fs:

resize2fs /dev/loop0

and finally remove the loop device

losetup -d /dev/loop0

Best solution found is here:


I think what @Caesium said is given from the above official link

I hope this will help.

3 Steps:

1.qemu-img resize windows.qcow2 +5GB

2.GParted live cd to resize

3.reboot and use os tools to resize
  • Thank you for the simple answer. Worked for me on Ubuntu 16.04
    – phil
    Jun 14, 2016 at 17:47
#include <stdio.h>

static unsigned long auxfilesize(FILE* fp) {

    unsigned long len=0;
    int c=0;

    while ( (c = fgetc(fp)) != -1 ) {

    return len;

static unsigned long aux_copyNBytesFromTo(FILE* from, FILE* to,
                                    unsigned long fromSize, 
                                    unsigned long bytes) {

    unsigned long iter = 0;
    while ( iter++ < fromSize ) {
        int c = fgetc(from);
        fputc(c, to);

    if ( fromSize < bytes ) {
        while ( iter++ < bytes ) {
            fputc(0, to);
    return iter;

int main(int argc, char **argv) {
    FILE *from = fopen(argv[1], "rb");
    FILE *to = fopen(argv[2], "wb" );
    unsigned long l = auxfilesize(from);


    aux_copyNBytesFromTo(from, to, l, (l + l/2)) ;



This simple program adds N bytes to the end of the virtual image. I used Paragon partition image for Windows XP to merge the newly created images. Works OK here.

  • Unused static function 'auxfilesize', 'aux_copyNBytesFromTo'. Why should that help?
    – A.B.
    Jul 8, 2015 at 16:15
  • Unused? I don`t understand the question. They are both used. Jul 9, 2015 at 9:26
  • The result is an unallocated bytes and a new hard drive to the OS. You have to format it. If you are asking why the foo-s are static. It just saved me the prototypes and why not. It`s a simple program written in 2 mins in my spare time :) Nothing special or optimal. Jul 9, 2015 at 9:37
  • 4
    You could have used existing tools like dd or truncate ...
    – rudimeier
    Aug 31, 2016 at 13:07

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