A partition also called a volume, is a portion


Users of certain file systems may have to partition large hard drives to accommodate limitations such as FAT32's 32GB cap during Windows XP's installation routine.

Partitioning helps with a new issue, too. Many users want the snappy performance of an SSD, but they don't want to pay big bucks for a drove with 6-GB or more capacity. Therefore, they install their OSes on relatively affordable 30GB SSDs. Along with these boot drives, partitioned as C:, they install hard drives with another couple of partitions (say E: and F:, assuming D: is an optical drive) for their programs and personal files, respectively.

Finally, there are some technical issues we'll skirt because they're not as major as they used to be. Some partitions are the primary type, the only kind on which some OSes will install. Other partitions are called extended. An extended volume can have one or more virtual drives onboard. Virtual drives look and act like partitions, for the most part, and have their own drive letters. Therefore, to keep things simple, we'll generically refer to each hard drive or SSD storage section with its own drive letter as a partition. Thankfully, current partitioning software and OS installations routines generally guide you to the best type of partitions and optimal settings for your situation.

Windows 7 Disk Management

Windows 7 and Vista have good partitioning tools in comparison with WinXP and earlier versions. With these versions of Windows, you won't need third party software to split your drive into tow or more sections. That said, there are several excellent free and for-pay utilities that make portioning in WinXP easy and relatively safe. Let's walk through the process in Win7 as an example.

First, you'll want to run Disk Cleanup. If you have a hard drive, defragment it. If you're a WinXP/Vista user with an SSD, run the manufacturer's 'garbage collection' utility, if one is available. Temporarily turn off your anti-virus software's automatic protection feature also.

Next, click Start, Control Panel, System And Security, and Create And Format Hard Disk Partitions. In the bottom panel, Disk 0 refers to your hard drive. It should have a single C: partitions covering its entire capacity, or at least most of it. (Many prebuilt computers have a second partition, such as D: or E:, for recovery purposes.)

Right click the C: entry and select Properties. Note the Used Space figure, such as 19.6GB; that's the amount of storage space your OS, applications, and data are using. This figure is important because you'll be shrinking the C: partition to make room for new ones, and you can't make a partition smaller than the data it contains. In fact, the minimum size you should make C: should be the used space amount plus a cushion of 10GB or so for future updates and the swap file (also called virtual memory). Click OK.

Next, right click(C:) and choose Shrink Volume. When the Shrink C: window appears, change the number in the field marked Enter The Amount Of Space To Shrink In MB until the Total Size After Shrink In MB until the Total Size After Shrink In MB field displays the approximate size you want C: to be.

In our example, a 10GB cushion added to the 19.6GB of data on our C: partition gives us a target of 29,600MB (29.6GB) for the Total Size After Shrink In MB field. We subtracted that number from the amount in the Total Size Before Shrink In MB field, and then we typed the result in Enter The Amount Of Space To Shrink In MB. Finally, click Shrink.

Now you'll see a new Unallocated area on the latter part of your hard drive. This is where you'll make a couple of new partitions. (Win7 will automatically create primary partitions or an extended partition with one or more virtual drives as applicable).

Right click the Unallocated section and then click New Simple Volume and Next. Simple Volume and Next. The Simple Volume Size In MB field will display the entire available capacity left on the drive. Reduce this figure to a suitable amount for your applications, such as 10000MB (!0GB), and click Next.

Choose a drive letter - you won't be able to pick a letter already in use - and click Next again. Change the Volume Label to something to help you remember what the partition is for, such as Apps, and then click Next and Finish.

Finally, repeat the above steps to create another new simple volume on the remaining Unallocated region. Use all of the capacity available in the Simple Volume Size In MB field and rename the Volume Lable 'Personal Data' of something similar.

In Conclusion

Once you have partitioned your hard drive or solid state drive, your are well on your way to more organized and safer data storage.

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