How to Partition a Hard Drive
Space and time are two dimensions which must be efficiently utilized to make the most
optimum use of resources. This includes the utilization of hard drive space which tends to
be a scarce commodity, almost always in limited supply. One way of organizing your
computer hard drive is partitioning it into neat volumes. This Buzzle article is a short
guide on how to partition a hard drive into smaller volumes in Windows Vista or
Windows 7 operating systems. By the time you are through with this article, your
cerebral cortex will be enriched with the knowledge of partitioning hard drives.
What is Hard Drive Partitioning?
For those of you who are new to the concept, let me briefly explain what exactly is hard
drive partitioning. It is the division of your existing hard drive space into multiple logical
parts, for easier data organization and access. Through partitioning, hard drive sectors are
separated into distinct groups to create separate volumes. The volumes behave like
different hard drives, although physically they are parts of a single drive. Still, some of
you may wonder, why splitting a hard drive into parts is necessary. Keep reading ahead
to know the objectives and benefits of hard drive partitioning.
Why Partition a Hard Drive?
There are more than one reasons why partitioning a hard drive makes sense. Firstly, it
makes it easy for you to separate your work data and personal data from the operating
system file. One drive (by default labeled as 'C') becomes your system drive, with all the
operating system files and installed program files, while the other drives can be used to
store movies, music, videos and your work data. In case you plan to encrypt any data,
devoting an entire volume for the purpose makes sense.
Another benefit of having a partitioned hard drive lies in the fact that it enables the
installation of multiple operating systems on the same drive. You may have Windows 7
installed on one volume, while another volume may have Linux installed on it. Through a
boot loader, you can switch between both systems, as per your convenience. In the
following section, you will find guidance on partitioning existing hard drive volumes on a
Windows based system.
How to Partition Hard Drive in Windows Vista / Windows 7?
To partition the entire hard drive, you need to go for a complete reformatting and
reinstallation of the operating system, which can only be achieved through the usage of a
Windows installation disc. In this article, I assume that you are looking for a way to
create multiple partitions from an existing large volume. That is, you may have two hard
drive volumes, with one hosting the program files and the other meant for storing
This second drive may have a large storage space, which can be divided into multiple
volumes. Let us see how that can be done on a Windows 7 or Windows Vista based
system (In case you have a Mac OS X based system, refer to this article explaining how
to partition an external hard drive for instructions).
Step 1: Access Computer Management
Right click on the 'Computer' icon on your desktop and further select the 'Manage' option.
The 'Computer Management' window will open.
Step 2: Open Disk Management Console
On the left side of the window, click on 'Disk Management', listed under 'Storage'.
Immediately, the disk management interface will open on the right hand side. There you
will find all the formatted 'healthy' partitions listed.
Step 3: Shrink Volume
Right click on the volume, which you intend to split into two partitions. In the drop down
window which opens, click on 'Shrink Volume'. Immediately a window will open
showing you the amount of space in MB, that can be shrunk to create another volume.
Enter the amount of space you want to shrink in MB, which should be equal to the size of
the new volume you intend to create. Enter that size in MB and click on the 'Shrink'
button. Immediately, as you hit the button, a new 'unallocated volume' will be created.
Step 4: Create New Volume
Now right click on this unallocated volume and choose the 'New Simple Volume' option,
which will open the 'New Simple Volume' wizard. Decide the allocation space, provide
the drive volume name, choose the formatting file system type (NTFS is recommended)
and then let the wizard format the drive. With that a new partition has been created,
which is now ready to use. Thus you can go on partitioning existing volumes into
multiple smaller volumes.
With that, this short tutorial on how to partition a hard drive draws to a close. All you
have to do is open the 'Disk Management' console and follow the instructions provided
above to get your hard drive partitioned. If you want get the whole hard drive formatted
and repartitioned, you will need the Windows installation disc. Make sure that you have a
back up of the data on the disk before you go for complete formatting. Partition your
drive and make optimum use of the hard drive space for organizing and storing data