Partition Your Hard Drive

Maybe you’ve been thinking about dividing up your hard drive for awhile, but you’re just not sure how to go about doing it. It is somewhat of a lengthy process and it could get complicated, so if you’re going to attempt to do this, make sure you understand what you’re doing and be confident in your work. If you are, things should go fine. Also, make sure you set aside a good amount of time to complete this process, because depending on certain factors, it could take awhile to get everything exact.

So, no matter how big your hard drive is, several of you probably have it set up as one huge data pile, with no partitions, etc. Don’t worry if you do, you’re not the only one. Once you have your hard drive partitioned, you can use each section for a different use. For example, one could be for important documents and worksheets, one could be for your office use and one for your home use, one for all of your images (if you’re an avid photographer), etc. I think you get the idea! Read here for some more basic information on partitioning your hard drive.

Dividing your hard drive can also save you time on backups and even help your computer to run at a smoother pace and increase its performance. There are different ways of going about doing this job. If you have a brand new and blank hard drive, partitioning is pretty easy to do. Even the installation process of some Windows operating systems (mainly NT, 2000 and XP) give you some leadway in controlling the partitions. Other Windows versions come with a utility called FDISK that you can copy to a CD or floppy disk. But, more times than not, you’ll need to purchase a software program that is designed just for hard drive partitioning. Some names you may want to try are Partition Manager, PartitionMagic or Partition Commander.

Okay, now let’s get down to the real business. Follow these steps to divide your hard drive.

1.) The first thing you need to do is check, optimize and back up your drives. This is just common procedure in case anything happens to any of your data along the way. To do this in XP, double click on your My Computer icon and then right click on the drive you want to begin with. Choose Properties and then click on the Tools tab. Click on the Check Now button to scan the drive for errors. This will also fix any errors that are found. Do this for each drive you want to back up and eventually partition.

For other Windows versions, go to Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, ScanDisk. Once there, click Thorough and make sure the box that says “Automatically fix errors” is checked. Then click the Start button.

For Windows ME, go to Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Backup and just follow the directions. In Windows XP Professional, go to Start, Control Panel, Performance and Maintenance and click on “Back up your data.”

2.) Now you must run a defragmentation for each drive. You can do this by right clicking on the drive you want and choosing Properties, Tools tab, Defragment Now. Or you can go to Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Defragmenter. Once there, just click on the Defragment button and let the process go.

3.) The next thing you need to do is plan for the partition. You need to write some ideas down or just run through them in your head on how you want your drives to be divided. Some things you’ll want to consider are the size of the drives, whether or not you want to separate the data from the operating system or if you want a more complex structure and whether or not you’re going to run more than one operating system. If you have a partitioning program, you can read through their manual for further help on this. Once you have your ideas down, move on to the next step.

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4.) If you haven’t done so already, get out your partitioning software. Either the FDISK utility that came with your computer or one you have purchased. Then just install and run the software from your computer and follow the directions. Along the way, check and double check to make sure you are using all of the drive’s space. Your software won’t let you make incorrect choices, but it’s always best to double check your work. Once you’ve got the software going, it will also format the new partitions for you.

This process could take up to 30 minutes, depending on how big and full your hard drive is.

5.) When the software is done running, restart your computer. Once it’s booted back up, you can start to organize your different drive divisions. Simply move your data around from section to section until everything is placed where you want it. This process could take awhile, depending on how accurate you want to be in getting everything in its correct spot. You may also need to tell your computer to save new data to a new spot from now on. You can do this by using the Preferences menu or File Locations area in each application you use.

That’s pretty much everything. Once you have your drives saved and the defrag process is complete, everything else pretty much lies in the hands of the software. If you have any problems after you’re done, utilize the emergency disks that came along with your software to make sure the partitions were created and formatted correctly. If you still have trouble after that, contact the software’s technical support. Their phone number should be in the manual that was included with the program.

Good luck and I hope your partitions are everything you were hoping they would be!

~ Erin