I think of a partition as I would think of the drawers on a Mosler safe. Each drawer can be accessed and will contain individual items/files, but a problem with one drawer doesn't necessarily impair one's ability to access the others.
Partitions can become damaged, just as a drive or any component can become damaged. When such happens, we are talking about damage to the file structures, not the physical hard drive. Normally, this is not catastrophic and can be repaired. But...it's not normal, in any sense of the expression, to have damaged partitions.
Files become corrupt/damaged. The file system (NTFS/FAT) underlying use of a computer/hard drive...can become corrupt or damaged. These things can be compensated for/overcome. Most of what I see advertised as software capable of repairing a partition...is really data recovery software.
But the advantage to partitioning that I see...is that...instead of having one big storage cabinet with all valuables inside it...a user can create multiple storage cabinets and somewhat diminish the prospect of catastrophic loss in the event of hard drive access problems.
Same approach for multiple hard drives. I like spreading the risk around, rather than placing it all on one drive/partition.
I know that many persons think one vault is good enough...but I think that 2 or more vaults is better.
User buys system, system has 1 hard drive...user thinks there can only be one hard drive in system. So user stores everything on the one drive which came with the system, not realizing or caring how perilous that may turn out to be.
Virus damage is routinely restricted to the system partition...and removeable media (floppies, flashdrives). The latter can be carriers/vectors for malware, but the system partition is generally where all the executeables are. If one wants to alter the system, that's the place to head for.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malware
Interesting reading: http://www.darkreading.com/security/client...cleID=219501248