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Save Space and Increase Performance with an Organized Hard Drive

written by: Thomas P. Walton•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 5/2/2009

Make divisions in your hard drive to include other operating systems, isolate programs, and keep files tidy. Partition your hard drive for free, or purchase software that will give you options for merging and resizing operations on your hard drive.

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    Why Partition Your Hard Drive?

    There are myriad incentives for partitioning your computer’s hard drive. For one, you can cloister your programs and files together to save space and increase performance. And in the case of sharing your computer with other people, it might help to isolate operating systems or programs from other users. Become an adept at partitioning your hard drive, and don’t spend another penny on a new computer—unless you absolutely need one.

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    What Software Shall I Use to Partition My Hard Drive?

    What’s out there on the market to help you with partitioning your hard drive? Well, there’s the freeware and the real software. Sure, you can use Cute Partition Manager. But if you’re serious about merging or resizing operations, then you’ll put your dollars towards more powerful software; like Partition Magic.

    The way you partition your hard drive depends on how much control you need over your hard drive and system functionality. So without further ado, it’s time to write out your plans for how you want to use your hard drive most effectively.

    Now, think about your intentions for a moment (and don’t feel silly if you have to write out your thoughts on a piece of paper the old fashioned way). Ask yourself why you want to partition your hard drive. Are you trying to make your computer work faster? Save more disk space? Do you need to run multiple operating systems on the same computer?

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    Looking at System Properties

    Assuming you know exactly what you want from your computer, it’s time to look under the hood and see what your computer has for guts and glory. So let’s get started.

    Click on the Start menu. Click on Control Panel. Click on Performance and Maintenance. Click on System. The System Properties window will open. Under the General tab you can see your computer’s processor type and speed. Write the number and name of your processor down on your plan notes. Click on the Hardware tab. Click on the Device Manager button. From here you can see all the hardware that is installed on your computer. Take notes. Close the System Properties window.

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    Prepare Your System

    You will prepare your hard drive for partitioning by defragging your files, and then creating a system backup.

    Click on the Start button. Point to Programs>Accessories>System Tools. Click on the Defragmenter program. Start the defragmenter when you’re ready. When you’re finished, you’ll create a backup of your system using the system tools in Windows XP.

    Click on the Start button. Point to Programs>Accessories>System Tools>Backup. Click through the steps to backup your computer. Reboot your operating system when Windows prompts you to.

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    Partition the Hard Drive

    Run Cute Partition Manager or Partition Magic. Follow the prompts for getting started. You will burn a boot disk. This is an automated process. You run the program once to create a folder on your computer. If you’re using the free partitioning program, Cute Partition Manager, the folder will be created in the C directory (C:\CPM). For those using Partition Magic, you must follow the directions that come with the purchased software.

    Click the Start menu and select Turn Off Computer. Click on Restart. Hit the function key to reboot from disk. Use the function keys (F1 through F8) to navigate through Cute Partition Manager.

    Create a new partition on the hard drive by pressing the F7 function key. If you make a mistake, remove the partition by pressing the F8 function key.

    After you’ve made your partition, restart your computer and you’re all set. For information on running multiple systems on one hard drive, please see my article: Toggle Between Windows and Linux on One Personal Computer.