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How To Partition Your Hard Drive in Windows

written by: Lucinda Watrous•edited by: Christian Cawley•updated: 9/17/2008

If you want to divide your hard drive into segments, or use a drive larger than 127GB in Windows XP, then you must partition the hard drive. This article will show you how to partition your hard drive with ease.

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    What is a hard drive partition and why would you want it, anyway?  A hard drive partition is a section of your hard drive that has been made separate from the rest of the structure.  When you have a partition, you basically have another hard drive, because if one partition malfunctions, the information on the others is safe.  That explains why you would want a partition, too.  If you want to keep your data safe, place it on another partition.  You also need another partition if you want to run two operating systems on one computer.  For more information on that please see: Running Two Operating Systems on One Hard Drive.

    After you have installed your hard drive, Windows by default only allows you to use 127GB of the space.  Once Windows has figured out that your computer will support more space than that, you must partition that space in order to be able to use it.

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    Things You'll Need

    • Hard Drive: Larger than 127GB (already installed)
    • Windows
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    Step One

    Go to: Start > All Programs > Administrative Tools > Computer Management.  Then choose Storage.  From there, choose Disc Management (Local).

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    Step Two

    You should see the C: disc, which you are running from now, and an Unallocated Disc Space.  Right click the unallocated space, and select New Partition.

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    Step Three

    Follow the on screen instructions to set up the new partition.  Make sure the partition is marked Primary, and choose the size of this partition based on the amount of space you want this drive to have.  You'll need to enter the amount of hard drive space you want to use for the partition in MB, not GB.  Use the conversion below to determine the number you need to enter.

    Note: 1 GB = 1024 MB

    You'll want to format this new partition right away, using NTFS.

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    Step Four

    Repeat this process until you have reached the desired number of partitions, or you have allocated all of your disc space.  Example uses for partitions are:

    • Additional operating systems
    • An (internal) external hard drive.
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    Tips, Warnings, and Other Information

    • To run an operating system, you need to have enough space for the OS, and storing files.  Thinking of it as a separate computer, you want to aim for at least 10-20 GB, but I suggest 40 GB or more, depending on the amount of space you have.
    • Use a separate partition to store your music, pictures, and other files you do not want to lose should you have to reinstall your operating system.
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    Other great 'How To' guides from this writer:

    >>> How To Install RAM on your Desktop PC

    >>> How To Defragmenting Your Hard Drive in Windows

    >>> How To Defragment System Memory (RAM)

    >>> How To Clean Internet Junk from your Computer

    >>> How To Run Two Operating Systems on One Hard Drive