Having partitions allows for the creation of several virtual hard drives from the same hard disk. These partitions can then be used to store user files and separate OS installations among other things. There are several ways to create new partitions and repartition existing partitions, but we will look at using Windows Disk Management console in this article.
Reasons for Partitioning a Hard Drive
It’s usually a good idea to keep user data and systems files, i.e. the OS, on separate hard disks or partitions. The advantage of doing so can be realized in instances when a reformat and reinstallation of the OS needs to be done. If user files and the OS are kept in separate locations then reformatting or repartitioning a disk would not put the user data at risk, unless it’s over written by accident.
How to Repartition a Hard Disk
The Windows Disk Management utility can be used to create a new partition from unallocated hard drive space, or resize (shrink) a current partition. Before proceeding with the partition/repartitioning process ensure that the following are done.
Backup data. It is a good idea to create a backup of any data on a disk before it is repartitioned. This step should be taken just in case a mistake is made,
or an error causes permanent data loss.
Create a copy of any driver that the computer uses.
To repartition an installed hard drive using the Windows Disk Management tool take the following steps:
- Launch Computer Manager (Start>Control Panel>System maintenance>Administrative Tools) and click the Disk Management option. It can be found under “Storage” in the navigation pane.
- Select the volume (drive or existing partition) to be repartitioned and click “Shrink.”
Follow the wizard to complete the process.
Other Ways to Repartition a Hard Disk
There are a number of ways to partition a hard drive. They include using:
- Fdisk – This utility is a command prompt tool that comes with Windows operating systems. Its limitations include the inability to handle the formatting process and large hard drives.
- Third Party Software - Hard disk partitioning software solutions, such as Partition Magic, are quite popular among IT professionals and some tech savvy users, but justifying the cost of buying a third party solution can be hard to do, especially if its used only once in a while.
Disk Management – This disk partition utility is included with some operating systems, so there is no need to spend extra for another solution.
Create new partitions to separate the operating system from user files so that risk of data loss will be reduced should there be a need to reinstall the operating system. Whether resizing an existing partition, or creating new partitions from unallocated hard disk space, the Windows Disk Management tool is up to the task. In case the computer doesn’t have the Disk Management tool, using Fdisk or a third party solution such as Partition Magic are options that can be used.
Image: “Repartition a hard drive.” Jeff Kubina