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05. Partitioning The Hard Drive

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Disk drives are becoming increasingly larger as the need to store more data increases. While the larger the drive, the better is probably a good maxim, it does have its own setbacks. One such setback is that, the larger the drive, the easier it is for the data to get fragmented: that is, of course, assuming you are only storing small amounts of data on a single drive; larger amounts will, of course, take up more room thus reducing the available free space.

Large drives also take much longer to defragment, check for viruses, spyware, malware and general maintenance. By physically partitioning a hard drive you are not only creating separate rooms for your data, you are also making it easier and quicker to maintain. After all, you wouldn't live in a house with just one massive room, would you? So why have one huge partition on your hard drive when you can have a number of smaller, easier to manage partitions.

The Windows operating system comes with its own partitioning software; however, to be candid, it isn't always ideal as it will not perform the same type of tasks that most third party application would, but it does what it is supposed to do and that is partition your hard drive. If you are planning on moving, merging, or undeleting, a partition then it would be far better to get a third party partitioning application because the one supplied with the Windows operating system either doesn't perform the task as well or simply doesn't perform the task at all.

Partition Types

Creating a partition is quite easy; however there are a few rules that you need to stick to. To begin with there are five partition categories:

  • Unallocated - Colour Code: Black
  • Primary - Colour Code: Dark Blue
  • Extended - Colour Code: Dark Green
  • Free Space - Colour Code: Light Green
  • Logical - Colour Code: Light Blue

Unallocated

Unallocated refers to space that has not, currently, been turned into a partition. It is simply blank. Therefore, if your drive contains no partitions, the Windows Disk Management graphical interface will show that the space is unallocated.

Primary

The hard drive can contain a maximum of four Primary partitions. If you already have, say, three (3) partitions and you don't want to allocate all of the remaining unallocated space to a partition, the new, fourth (4th) partition becomes and Extended partition. The Extended partition then allows you to create any amount, up to the maximum number of available drive letters, of Logical partitions.

Extended

An Extended partition is a partition which can be sub-divided into a number of Logical partitions. The Extended partition itself is not formatted and isn't assigned a drive letter.

Free Space

If you have, say, a 500GB partition and you reduce this to, say, 250GB the remainder of the hard drive (250GB) will be classified as Free Space. Free space is the amount of space left on the drive after a partition has been created.

Logical

Logical drives are created within an Extended partition. There are no restrictions, other than the amount of available drive letters, as to how many Logical drives the Extended partition can hold.

To partition your hard drive proceed as follows:

  1. Click the Windows Start button.
  2. On the Right of the Start Menu, Click Control Panel.
  3. In Control Panel, Click Administrative Tools.
  4. Fig: 5-1 In Control Panel, click the Administrative Tools option

    Fig: 5-1 In Control Panel, click the Administrative Tools option

  5. In the Administrative Tools window, Click on the Computer Management option.
  6. Fig: 5-2 To access the Computer management window, click the computer management option

    Fig: 5-2 To access the Computer management window, click the computer management option

  7. In the Computer Management window, Click on the Disk Management option in the left hand pane.
  8. Fig: 5-3 You access Disk management by clicking its option in the left hand pane of the Computer management window

    Fig: 5-3 You access Disk management by clicking its option in the left hand pane of the Computer management window

  9. A new window will now appear (see Fig: 5-4)
  10. Fig: 5-4 The Disk management window displays a list and a graphical display of your hard drive partitions

    Fig: 5-4 The Disk management window displays a list and a graphical display of your hard drive partitions

  11. Right click on the unallocated space or Free Space section of the partition display and, from the drop down menu, select New Simple Volume. (See Fig: 5-5)
  12. Fig: 5-5 Select the New Simple Volume to create a partition

    Fig: 5-5 Select the New Simple Volume to create a partition

  13. The new Simple Volume Wizard will now appear.
  14. Fig: 5-6  Click the Next button to start the wizard

    Fig: 5-6  Click the Next button to start the wizard

  15. Press the Next button to start the wizard.
  16. In the next window type in the size of the partition you desire. In our example we are going to create a 100GB partition so we type: 100000 into the Simple Volume size in MB box. (Fig: 5-7)
  17. Fig: 5-7 Type in the desired size (in Megabytes) for your partition

    Fig: 5-7 Type in the desired size (in Megabytes) for your partition

  18. When you have type in the desired size of your partition, Press the Next button.
  19. Fig: 5-8 Windows automatically assigns a drive letter

    Fig: 5-8 Windows automatically assigns a drive letter

  20. Windows will automatically assign a drive letter to this new partition. You can, if you wish, change the drive letter by pressing the down arrow next to the Assign the following drive letter option.
  21. Once the drive letter has been assign, press the Next button.
  22. Fig: 5-9 Give your new partition a name

    Fig: 5-9 Give your new partition a name

  23. The next screen shows the format option. The default is NTFS. You should stick with this unless there is an obvious need to change it. You are also able to give your new partition a name by typing the desired name into the Volume Label dialogue box.
  24. After you have typed in the volume name, Click the Next button.
  25. Fig: 5-10 Check the summary of settings before continuing

    Fig: 5-10  Check the summary of settings before continuing

  26. You are now presented with a summary of settings you have chosen for your new partition.
  27. Check that these are correct and then press the Next button. If they are not correct, click the back button until you come to the screen that needs changing.
  28. Fig: 5-11 Your Partition has now been complete and is ready for use

    Fig: 5-11 Your Partition has now been complete and is ready for use

  29. The wizard will then begin to format your hard drive. Once completed the partition should display the Volume name along with Healthy Primary or Healthy Logical.
  30. Your partition is now complete and ready for use.