Table of Contents
When a hard drive is installed in a computer, it must be partitioned before you can format and use it. Partitioning a drive is when you divide the total storage of a drive into different pieces. These pieces are called partitions. Once a partition is created, it can then be formatted so that it can be used on a computer. When partitions are made, you specify the total amount of storage that you would like to allocate to that partition from the total size of the drive. For example, if you have an 80 GB drive, then it would be possible to make one partition consisting of the entire 80 GB of available storage. Alternatively,you could make two partitions consisting of a 20 GB partition that will be used for the operating system and programs and a 60 GB partition set aside for data, music, and images.
In the current IBM PC architecture, there is a partition table in the drive's Master Boot Record (section of the hard drive that contains the commands necessary to start the operating system), or MBR, that lists information about the partitions on the hard drive. This partition table is then further split into 4 partition table entries, with each entries corresponding to a partition. Due to this it is only possible to have four partitions. These 4 partitions are typically known as primary partitions. To overcome this restriction, system developers decided to add a new type of partition called the extended partition. By replacing one of the four primary partitions with an extended partition, you can then make an additional 24 logical partitions within the extended one. The table below illustrates this.
|Primary Partition #1|
|Primary Partition #2|
|Primary Partition #3|
|Primary Partition #4 (Extended Partition)|
|Logical Partition #1|
|Logical Partition #1|
As you can see, this partition table is broken up into 4 primary partitions. The fourth partition, though, has been flagged as an extended partition. This allows us to make more logical partitions under that extended partition and therefore bypassing the 4 partition limit.
Each hard drive also has one of its possible 4 partitions flagged as an active partition. The active partition is a special flag assigned to only one partition on a hard drive that the Master Boot Record (MBR) uses to boot your computer into an operating system. As only one partition may be set as the active partition, you may be wondering how people can have multiple operating systems installed on different partitions, and yet still be able to use them all. This is accomplished by installing a boot loader in the active partition. When the computer starts, it will read the MBR and determine the partition that is flagged as active. This partition is the one that contains the boot loader. When the operating system boots off of this partition the boot loader will start and allow you to choose which operating systems you would like to boot from.
Now that you know what a partition is, you may be wondering why you would even need to make multiple partitions instead of just making one. Though there are quite a few reasons, we will touch on some of the more important ones below:
Bleeping Computer: Hardware Tutorial
BleepingComputer.com: Computer Help & Tutorials for the beginning computer user.
In order to use a hard drive, or a portion of a hard drive, in Windows you need to first partition it and then format it. This process will then assign a drive letter to the partition allowing you to access it in order to use it to store and retrieve data.
A filesystem is a way that an operating system organizes files on a disk. These filesystems come in many different flavors depending on your specific needs. For Windows, you have the NTFS, FAT, FAT16, or FAT32 filesystems. For Macintosh, you have the HFS filesystem and for Linux you have more filesystems than we can list in this tutorial. One of the great things about Linux is that you have the ...
Almost everyone uses a computer daily, but many don't know how a computer works or all the different individual pieces that make it up. In fact, many people erroneously look at a computer and call it a CPU or a hard drive, when in fact these are just two parts of a computer. When these individual components are connected together they create a complete and working device with an all ...
Almost all desktop computers have a hard drive inside them, but do you really know what they are? Many people when they hear the word hard drive, think that it refers to the computer as a whole. In reality, though, the hard drive is just one of many different pieces that comprise a computer. The hard drive is one of the most important parts of your computer because it is used as a long-term ...
In the past when you needed to resize a partition in Windows you had to use a 3rd party utility such as Partition Magic, Disk Director, or open source utilities such as Gparted and Ranish Partition Manager. These 3rd party programs, though, are no longer needed when using Windows as it has partition, or volume, resizing functionality built directly into the Windows Disk Management utility.