What Is Hard Drive Partitioning?
Hard drive partitioning involves formatting a hard disk drive
to divide it into one or more logical segments. The magnetic recording
medium of a physical disk drive is deposited on a group of flat plates
known as platters. Hard drive partitioning does not
correspond to these physical divisions of the drive, but is instead
a method by which the drive is rendered usable to operating systems
by imprinting a specific magnetic structure which an operating system can
understand and utilize. Hard drive partitioning can be used to create
one or more virtual drives on a single hard drive. Operating
systems and hard drive partitioning software are capable of performing
hard drive partitioning.
How Are Hard Drive
Microsoft® Windows® operating systems make use of two types of
partition: Primary and Extended. A Primary Partition is a hard
drive partition capable of supporting a Windows operating system. An
Extended Partition is a hard drive partition capable of being subdivided
into Logical Drives, designated as the familiar
“C:”, “D:”, “E:”, etc.,
in the Windows operating environment.
Other operating systems, such as UNIX®, Linux and Solaris, use
partition formats (file systems) that differ from Windows. Even
Windows employs multiple file systems, depending upon the size of the
drive, size of a partition on the drive, user preferences, and the version
of the operating system.
An interesting feature of hard drive partitioning is the ability to create
partitions with differing file systems on the same hard drive. Doing
so enables you to conserve hard drive resources or install and run
multiple and disparate operating systems on the same hard drive.
Are the Advantages of Hard Drive Partitioning?
The feature I like most about hard drive partitioning is the ability to
segregate data on a portion of the hard drive separate from that upon
which the operating system resides. If for some reason I need to reload
the operating system, I can do so without disturbing my data. You can
even create a partition for backing up data, but keep in mind that if you
suffer a catastrophic hard drive failure, both partitions may be lost!
Keep in mind that any operation that moves massive quantities of data is
inherently risky, so hard drive partitioning and repartitioning should not
be performed frequently and you should always back up your data prior to
Recommended Hard Drive Partitioning Software
I have always used PartitionMagic™ for hard drive partitioning
and always run partitioned drives. PartitionMagic allows you to build
partitions using all popular file formats and to resize partitions on the
fly. I have found the product to be robust and, for the most part, quite
easy to use. I have never lost data using PartitionMagic except during a
partial hard drive failure (in which case I was able to recover all data
except that residing on the failed partition), although I have had
occurrences in which Windows failed to boot after I moved it to another
partition and back again (my attempt to keep Windows “clean”).
Because of what I consider exceptional performance, I designate
PartitionMagic as a Ten Spider Enterprises Recommended Product.
Authored by Kenneth L. Anderson.
Original article published 30 March 2006.
Follow links to the right to learn more about software tutorials and software learning and training products.
At the left margin, Related Links address topics of interest
pertaining to computer and internet software, computer and network hardware,
and learning products for business and home computing environments. We
feature reviews, news, educational articles, products and services
relating to business computing, personal computing and the internet. View the
Computer & Internet SiteMap
for a complete list of computer and internet-related topics.