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Understanding Windows 10 partition structures

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#1 saluqi


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Posted 18 July 2017 - 11:01 PM

I am trying to understand the partition structures I encounter in Windows 10, in the context of developing backup strategies with Macrium Reflect, and also of separating data files from OS and program files.


Consider 3 computers - two of them mine, of known history, and one an office computer of (as yet) unknown history:


1. Dell XPS 8700, first put in service 8/20/2014, original OS Windows 7 Professional, upgraded directly to Windows 10 Professional near the end of the free upgrade period.

2. Dell Inspiron 5537, first put in service 8/23/2013, original OS Windows 8 Home, upgraded first to 8.1 and then immediately to Windows 10 Home, also near the end of the free upgrade period..

3. HP 20 All-in-one, history unknown, currently running Windows 10 Home.


The partition structures discussed below are those revealed by Macrium Reflect 6, free edition.


#1 has a 1 TB disk with 3 partitions:

    1    Dell Utility    FAT (16 bit)    116 KB used out of 39.2 MB

    2    Recovery    NTFS    11.26 GB used out of 24.22 GB

    3    OS (C:)    NTFS    308.02 GB used out of 907.25 GB


#2 has a 1 TB disk with 7 partitions:

    1    ESP    FAT32    54.4 MB used out of 500.0 MB

    2    DIAGS    FAT32    2 KB used out of 40.0 MB

    3    unformatted    (Microsoft Reserved Partition, MSR)    128 MB

    4    WINRETOOLS    NTFS    290.7 MB used out of 490.0 MB

    5    Windows (C:)    NTFS    153.16 GB used out of 918.14 GB

    6    no name    NTFS    423.3 MB used out of 502.0 MB

    7    PBR Image    NTFS    11.05 GB used out of 11.75 GB


#3 has a 500 GB disk with 8 partitions:

    1    Windows RE Tools    NTFS    348.8 MB used out of 1023 MB

    2    System    FAT32    39.2 MB used out of 360.0 MB

    3    unformatted    (MSR partition)     128 MB

    4    OS (C:)    NTFS    76.05 GB used out of 443.40 GB

    5    no name    NTFS    332.0 MB used out of 450.0 MB

    6    no name    NTFS    273,8 MB used out of 350.0 MB

    7    no name    NTFS    287.3 MB used out of 350.0 MB

    8    Recovery Image (D:)    NTFS    17.29 GB used out of 19.77 GB


Am I to understand from this that #1 has an MBR disk system, while the other two have GPT disks - and if so why, since #1 is about a year newer than #2?


Also, I have not yet been clever enough to figure out what those small nameless partitions are doing between the OS partition and the recovery-image partition?  Obviously something, since they are all well filled with data.


i notice that Speccy displays about the same partition information, except that it does not detect the unformatted MSR partitions and mostly doesn't name the partitions.


I have read the Microsoft literature on UEFI/GPT based hard disk partitions, but think I still have much to learn on this subject!  It looks to me as if incautious changes in the size or sequence of those partitions could quite easily create a disaster.

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