Partition a Drive

A physical hard drive (i.e., the new one you just installed if following along with the previous section) cannot store data unless it is first partitioned and then formatted. Partitioning divides up the real estate of the hard drive, as shown in Figure 4-2. Formatting then takes those chunks of "real estate" and divides them into separate "lots," We'll cover formatting later on.

Figure 4-2. A partition is a section of hard disk space.

Do You Even Want to Partition?

So you have a shiny new hard drive. Should you even create partitions on it at all? Well, you'll have to create at least one. As mentioned, the disk won't store anything until a partition has been defined. You also might consider multiple partitions if you want to use different file systems on a single drive. One partition can use the FAT file system, for example, and the other can use NTFS (these file systems are defined later in the chapter). In addition, smaller partitions generally make more efficient use of disk space and therefore perform a bit better.

To partition a newly added hard drive, right-click on an area of unused hard drive space in the Disk Management Utility and choose Create Partition from the context menu. In the wizard that launches, you will select the partition type and partition size, and then you will assign a drive letter, as shown in Figure 4-3.

Figure 4-3. Creating a new partition.

Note that you can't choose "B" as a drive letter. It's reserved for the second floppy drive. I knowcrazy, isn't it? This goes back to the days when computers needed two 51/2-inch floppy disksone for the operating system and one for whatever data you wanted to work with.

For another partitioning analogy, imagine slicing up a pie: this is what partitioning does for a hard drive. It takes a "slice" of the drive and assigns it a drive letter. For example, your system might only have one physical disk, but when you look at Windows Explorer, you see multiple logical drivesa C:\ drive, D:\ drive, and so on. Oftentimes, though, the "slice" is the entire drive. A sliced configuration of a single drive is shown in Figure 4-4.

Figure 4-4. One physical disk, two partitions.

Note that Windows Explorer only shows you the logical drives. You have no way of knowingat least in Windows Explorerthat both of these partitions are on one physical drive. To verify that you're dealing with a single drive, you have to use the Disk Management tool, as shown in the previous section.

Several rules govern partition behavior:

  • A single disk can have either four primary partitions or up to three primary partitions and one extended partition.

  • A primary partition can only be assigned a single drive letter. Extended partitions can be subdivided into multiple logical drives.

  • Once set, partitions cannot be resized with the built-in Windows tools.

Also, you should know that XP uses two flavors of disk storage: basic and dynamic. Partitions are the logical divisions on a basic disk, which is the default type of storage.

I knowI've introduced a lot of terms and concepts here, and it can get a little confusing. But if it were simple, I wouldn't be penning this chapter on disk storage, would I? Let's now talk about what happens after you create a partition.

Spring Into Windows XP Service Pack 2
Spring Into Windows XP Service Pack 2
ISBN: 013167983X
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 275
Authors: Brian Culp © 2008-2017.
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