Hard drive partitioning is a way to set aside physical space on your computer’s hard drive. It’s very similar to how you sort out different sections in your home library and living room, but on a much smaller scale, of course.
This article will cover all you need to know about hard drive partitioning on Windows PCs. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it.
What You Should Know About Your Hard Drive
Your hard drive is a crucial component of your computer—it stores all your data whether it’s turned on or off. Although it’s also the computer component that is most prone to failure, it provides optimum performance for the price.
Traditionally, hard drives consist of several spinning metal platters (or plates). On each plate is a head that rapidly moves back and forth across it while using magnets both to read and write data as required. The drives are sealed in the hard drive casing to protect the platters from exposure to microscopic dust.
Each metal platter can only hold minimal data. So, to increase storage capacity, manufacturers stack many platters in a hard drive. Therefore, a hard drive’s capacity is directly proportional to the number of metal platters in it.
However, it is important to note that people sometimes refer to solid-state drives (SSDs) as hard drives. Though they are different, the above explanation shows what components make up hard disk drives and how they work. In recent years, modern PCs have slowly replaced hard disk drives (HDD) with SSDs.
Does Partitioning Hard Drive Affect Performance?
The answer is not as simple as yes or no, as it depends on your purpose. Partitioning lets you split up your hard drive so that you can use it more efficiently. This also helps you maintain privacy and security.
There are different partitioning methods, but the most commonly known ones are DOS and Extended. DOS partitioning divides your hard drive into two sections—one for data and another for the operating system. On the other hand, Extended partitioning splits a single section into multiple ones to allow more data storage.
So, what does this mean? By default, Windows only uses the first 60% of your hard drive for installing new programs and storing old ones. But by partitioning, you can allocate more of your hard drive to these tasks without sacrificing any space from other partitions. This also allows you to format it as FAT32, making it faster than NTFS or exFAT formats, especially on older computers.
How to Partition Your Hard Drive for Optimum Performance
There are ways to make the best use of this critical component of your computer. One way is by creating partitions on it. Partitioning divides different parts of your hard drive into separate areas. They allow you to divide the space on your hard drive into sections that behave like individual disks.
This is great because if one partition gets full, you can create another one and move some files over to it so that the first partition doesn’t get too cluttered with data. You can also transfer data between these partitions whenever desired without affecting the other section’s data or performance.
The main reason for this is that each partition operates independently, so they don’t interfere with each other’s operations. They’re basically like separate hard drives inside your primary hard drive.
Now, let’s delve into how you can do this to optimize the performance of your PC.
Backup all your data in your drive
Check for the availability of space in your drive for possible partitioning. If it’s not enough for what you want to do, make sure to create more space before proceeding with the partitioning. After that, back up the data in your disk drive.
By backing up your data, you ensure that all your data is safe should the process gets messy—the partitioning process carries a little risk.
- Locate This PC on your computer and right-click on it.
- Upon right-clicking This PC, select Manage.
- Then open Disk Management from the left pane.
- Select Disk (C:) or any disk from which you want to create a partition.
- Shrink Volume of C: Drive: In the top-left corner, click Action, and select All Tasks. Locate Shrink Volume and click on it to shrink the C: Drive.
It’s now time to enter the size of the space you want to shrink the hard disk by. This would be in megabytes. Note that 100,000 MB is the equivalent of 100 GB. After entering this figure, approve by clicking Shrink.
- Format the partition. Once you’ve done this, a new block of unallocated space will appear right after the C: drive. Right-click on it and select New Simple Volume to create the new partition.
You may want to format this partition as NTFS if you’re using it from Windows. However, if you would be sharing data between other operating systems such as macOS and Linux, you should select exFAT. This format is readable and writable from other platforms.
Although these partitions appear as separate disk spaces on Windows, they remain on the same hard drive. If the drive fails, each partitioned disk space is affected by it. This is why you need to continually back up your data.
Benefits of Partitioning a Hard Drive
Why partition your hard drive, you ask? There are many reasons why you may need to do this. The main reason is data protection. You can lose your data in various ways, including accidental deletion or hardware failure. By partitioning your hard drive, you create an extra layer of protection for your data.
Another benefit of partitioning is that it gives you more options when working with the hard drive. For example, if one partition becomes corrupted, you can reformat it without being forced to delete all the files on the entire hard drive.
Finally, it also helps with speed and efficiency because multiple disks have different access speeds. You can set up some partitions to behave like separate drives, which can take advantage of the higher speeds within specific tasks or processes.
Disadvantages of Partitioning a Hard Drive
The primary disadvantage of partitioning a hard drive is that you have less space than when it’s not partitioned. For example, multiple partitioning can leave you cramped for space on partitioned disk space, whereas there’s more than enough space on another.
The second disadvantage is that we create a false sense of security when we create partitions. Though Windows shows there are multiple separate disk spaces, the drive is still one. If the drive fails, everything else on it does.
Additionally, the complexity of setting up Windows and installing software on other partitioned spaces leaves you with more unnecessary tasks than previously thought. You’d only need to do this once for all tasks with single disk space.
Lastly, this process might be unnecessary for an average user. Though the process is pretty easy, working on partitioned disk spaces could pose problems for such users.
Should You Partition Your Hard Drive?
If you’re looking for a way to improve your computer’s performance, then partitioning your hard drive might be the answer. Partitioning your hard drive can help to improve your computer’s performance by separating your operating system and programs from the data on your hard drive.
You’ll notice the benefits of partitioning a hard drive almost immediately. Still, you’ll need to keep in mind that partitioning will also affect the hard drive’s performance, and you may need to re-partition it in the future.
Is your hard drive going bad? Here are some simple ways to check whether your hard drive is failing (and how to save or recover your data when it is).
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