The Partition Party

Another tech fest!
You (should) already know how to pick the correct computer components and how to assemble them.

It’s now time to take it to the next step. Configuring your computer.

When you build and configure a new computer I assume that you put in a hard drive which is appropriate to this time. Meaning, with enough storage capacity :).

It might also be wise to split your hard drive into different partitions.

Let me explain you first what a partition is.
A partition is a logical computer drive. You can split your actual hard drive (which is for example 1 TB) into several smaller pieces.
For example you can split your 1TB drive into 5 pieces of 200 GB. In stead of just 1 hard drive, your computer will identify 5 of them.
THere are 2 types of partitions, primary partitions and logical or extended partitions.

A primary partition is meant to install your operating system on (particulary important for older versions of windows (95, 98, ME, 2000 and even XP). They will even use it now, but I don’t now if the impact of it will be very big.

An extended partition is NOT meant for the OS. Here you can store your data. And yes you can, ofcourse, also store data on the primary partition. It’s just a partition like any other one (just a little different ;-)).

Splitting your hard drive into multiple partitions (which I really highly recommend you do) has a few advantages.
If you did it right and installed your OS on partition 1 (primary) and stored your data on partition 2 (logical). And it just so happens that your, and let’s take windows as an example, OS crashes (what do you mean I pick on windows?).
Panic, chaos, distortion, everything is lost! Well, not exactly, because the great thing about partitions is that they are not only recognised as separate hard drives, they also act as separate hard drives.

Suppose you have to reinstall windows, then you can, during the install, choose to format your hard drive. But what now? Is it magic!? You can choose to format ONLY your primary partition which was made just to run the OS on.
How great is that!? :)

Basically you just remove the OS from the primary partition and reinstall it there. While the secondary, logical, partition is left untouched. All of your precious data will still be available there.

A second advantage, for the uber-geek, is that you can install a dual boot system. Yes my friends, you can actually install 2 operating systems on 1 computer. Ofcourse you can only run 1 at the time ;-).
A commonly used setup for dual boot systems is Windows as OS 1 on primary partition 1 and Linux as OS 2 on primary partition 2 and a 3th logical partition which can be shared by both OS.

I also read somewhere that partitioning, specially with a large hard drive, can improve the performance of your system. But I honestly don’t get exactly why (I know I’m a loser) so let’s forget that for a second.

Perhaps it might also be very interesting if I told you HOW you can create partitions.
Truth being said, it easier than it sounds. There are a lot of options to create your partitions.
The install disk of your operating system, doesn’t matter which one you use, will ask you during the install on which hard drive the OS should be installed. And with that, it comes with a “tool” which allows you do define partitions on your hard drive.
For windows it’s rather straight forward (specially in the vista and 7 release). For Linux it’s a little more complex, since you also have to define a drive which is used for swap space etc. (but when did that ever stop you ;-)).

There are also a bunch of tools that allow you to change the layout of your hard drive before (or even after) the OS is installed.
Here are a few good ones.
– Partition Magic
– Paragon Partition Manager
– Partition Logic (this one is free)

Just a note, if you create partitions for windows (2000 and up). Format them as NTFS. I’ll explain later what the different types of hard drive layouts are.

There you go, your well on your way to install your OS.


One thought on “The Partition Party

  1. Pingback: The Backup Plan « Tech-o-rama

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