This post may contain affiliate links and we’ll be compensated if you make a purchase. This doesn’t affect rankings. Our review process.
Before we jump into our tutorial on how to partition your harddrive, we’d like to introduce some software that will make this job easier for you. For those that want to spend the time and get their hands dirty, you can manually partition using the steps below. For those that want to save time and have a program do all the work securely without the risk of losing data, we recommend Acronis Disk Director. And for a limited time, We Rock Your Web Community users get 30% off of this proven and reliable disk partitioning software. You’ll also be able to use the discount for True Image, a backup utility that mirrors the content on your harddrive.
Acronis Disk Director includes all of the following applications:
- Partition Manager allows you to resize, move, copy, split, and merge partitions without losing your data.
- Boot Manager is a multi-boot software utility that allows you to install multiple operating systems on your PC.
- Partition Recovery allows you to recover accidentally lost or deleted partitions.
- Disk Editor is a disk drive repair tool that allows you to perform advanced operations on your hard disk drive, such as restoration of boot records and hexadecimal editing.
How do I partition my new hard drive?
Scenario – you just got a new external hard drive, with 160GB capacity. However, when you plug it into your Windows OS it doesn’t show the entire capacity. Any hard drive, internal or external, needs to be formatted and partitioned. Formatting is a process that wipes a drive clean and sets it up for use with your operating system. Partitioning divides a drive into sections and increases your system performance.
Tip: Partitioning the 160GB drive into thirds was only a suggestion. Why do we partition? Partitioning a drive into smaller segments increases system performance by reducing the work your computer has to do to index and find files. Imagine searching for a needle in a haystack – the smaller the haystack, the quicker you’ll find it (although maybe this isn’t the best example 😉
How to partition my harddrive?
In our example, we are going to format and partition a 160GB external hard drive in Windows XP. This can be accomplished simply by following these steps. We’ll start off by creating a primary partition.
Note: The primary partition is only necessary if you wish to make the drive bootable – ie. if you install an operating system on it. If you are using the drive purely for additional data storage, you can simply install an extended partition with logical drives. You will be able to read the drive by transferring it to another computer with an operating system installed that supports the drive’s format. However, if you wish to boot the hard drive from scratch, you’ll need to not only install a primary partition, but install an operating system on that partition as well.
Creating a primary partition
- Right-click on “My Computer” and select “manage”
- Left-click on “Disk Management” (under “Storage”)
- You’ll see a listing of your installed hard drives and their partitions, along with designations:
- Unallocated – unallocated space – this is how your hard drive arrives from the factory
- Primary partition – a primary partition can be used to boot an Operating System. Your Windows OS is installed on a primary partition.
- Extended partition – an extended partition is used to hold logical drives.
- Logical drives – logical drives hold files unrelated to the Operating System – pretty much everything else on your computer – data, audio, video, etc.
- Scroll down the list and find the hard drive you just plugged in – it will most likely be one with a long black bar (indicating all unallocated space)
- Right-click on the drive and select “create new partition”
- In our example we’re going to divide our drive into three partitions – one primary, and one extended holding two logical drives
- Select “primary,” divide the available space by 3, and leave everything else as default (NTFS format, etc.)
- Choose a drive letter (Windows will automatically choose the first available drive letter – it only chooses availables ones, so take your pick)
- Select “format” (quick format does the job faster but doesn’t check the drive for errors)
- After some time the drive will be formatted and ready to use. You’ll see your new drive as a drive letter (K: for example) when you double-click “My Computer.”
Now, you’ll see that we only have 1/3 of the drive’s available space at our disposal. You’ll want to repeat the above steps to create an extended partition with two logical drives to allocate the remaining space.
Creating an extended partition with logical drives
- Repeat the above steps until you get to the part asking you what type of partition to create. This time you’ll want to select “extended.”
- The extended partition will be created without any formatting. Note that this extended partition is only a container for the logical drives – it cannot hold any data without first installing a logical drive.
- Right-click on the extended partition and choose “create new partition.” This time you’ll choose “logical drive” (only option available)
- Take the available space it gives you and divide by 2, and leave the other settings as default.
- Choose your drive letter, and let Windows format and setup the drive.
- Voila – you’ll see that you now have two drives at your disposal.
- Repeat this step to create the second logical drive. Once you’re done your external hard drive will be fully formatted, with all space allocated and ready to use.
Hard Drives of Today – Do We Need Partitioning At All?
It used to be that partitioning a hard drive was primarily to offer a performance boost. By having less space to search/ seek, a harddrive could perform search and index functions more efficiently. But because of the increased processing power coupled with smarter software that gives the harddrive cylinder more efficient instructions on where to seek, as well as organizing data in a fashion that is more readily accessible, the need to partition a harddrive has lessened.
The two partitions we still consider important are the O/S and data partitions. In most cases, regardless of how large or small our drives are, we only partition them if there’s an O/S (Operating System) on the drive. In which case we’ll give the O/S its own partition, so if it crashes and corrupts the partition, we can still access the data in a separate partition. Apart from that, you don’t need to spend too much time in partitioning your drive. Rather, consider getting it defragmented (having the data organized) on a regular basis to speed up processing times.
Discount extended – 30% off for We Rock Your Web Community users
If the steps above for partitioning your hard drive sound too complicated, and the phrases primary partition, extended partition, and logical partition make your head spin, you might want to take advantage of a significant discount we’re allowed to extend to our valued community members for Acronis Disk Director. This software package will save you the time and headache of having to partition your own hard drive – the job will be done securely and without the risk of losing data. If you like, you can also extend the discount to their True Image software – a backup utility that mirrors the content on your harddrive.