Hard Disk Partition Made Easy

Where does all your data does get written on when you save something (anything) onto your system? The Hard drive. The Hard Drive (or disk) is a data storage device that stores all the digital information that is fed into the system. After having installed a hard drive into a computer, it has to be partitioned before being formatted. Then it is ready to be used.


What is Partitioning?

Partitioning a hard drive means that you divide the entire storage device into different logical portions. Each of these portions is called a partition. Each partition should be formatted before use. The entire storage capacity of the hard drive is divided among each of the partitions irrespective of the number of partitions. The space divided need not be equal. One of these partitions is allocated for the operating system.


Why Multiple Partitioning?

As of now, it is possible to create only four partitions, according to the partition table. These four partitions are called the primary partitions. Due to the limitation of only four in number, the concept of extended partition was introduced. One of the primary partitions is replaced by the extended partition that can be divided into 24 additional logical partitions.


Active Partition

Another partition is allocated and named as the active partition. The active partition is kept aside for the MBR (Master Boot Record) to establish the operating system. However, multiple operating systems can be installed onto different partitions. The active partition contains the boot loader that determines which operating system is used and switches it from one to the other as well.


Reasons for Partitioning

  • Multiple File systems – while formatting a partition, the operating system is instructed what file system is placed in it. Once done, the file system cannot be changed without having the partition reformatted and erasing the existing data on it. So each partition is assigned what file system is to be written on it. So partitioning helps in placing file systems.


  • Partition Size – the size of a partition was usually limited in older versions of the operating system. Therefore, the size of a single partition was smaller than it was used. This is why it is necessary to create more partitions so that the unused storage space can be allotted how it can be used.


  • Multiple Operating Systems – Having multiple operating systems means having multiple file systems. Not all file systems are compatible with other operating systems. So if the user wants to install two or more operating systems on the same system, it is necessary to have multiple partitions so each operating system can run its own file system without having any clashes with the others.


  • Wasted Disk Space – the larger is the size of a partition, the more is the wastage of space in that partition. Multiple partitions of smaller sizes can store more data in an organized manner as opposed to the larger partition.


  • Separate system files from user files – apart from all the other data, the operating system itself needs enough space to store its components, called the system files. Keeping apart, a portion of space or a partition, for the sake of the operating system, will prevent the user files from interrupting the function of system files.


Partitioning is as easy to understand as that of the drives we have in the Computer on the system. They are created for the user’s benefit. Technically, the hard drive is physically one large device. Partitioning only helps the user to differentiate and be organized.

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