It has been a while since I wrote something useful, so here we are. Even if the title does not imply that this post will contain anything useful…
There are several ways to format a hard drive, you can give it a type of filesystem or different types of filesystems, you can create one big hard drive or multiple smaller ones on 1 physical disk.
Creating a logical segment on your hard drive is called a partition. You take a part of your hard drive and define it as a separate one.
This probably sounds as if it isn’t used very much, but the truth is that most of the laptops and computer you can buy, from a brand that is, will have a partition hard drive. Mostly these machines have a small partition and a large one. The small one is for system recovery. It happens quite a lot that the producer puts a recovery system on this drive, so in case your computer “breaks down” (read you operating systems stop working properly), you can always go back to the factory settings.
But even if you haven’t got this, it is always a good idea to partition your hard drive. You can have a drive where you install your operating system and another where you save your data. If the drive with the operating system fails because of, let’s say a virus, you can easily format this drive, reinstall the OS and start over without losing your data! Since this is stored on a different partition.
Or another use, suppose you want to install windows and linux on the same machine… A dual boot as it is called. This is in fact possible but you will most likely need multiple partition and in case of a windows/linux boot, multiple partition of multiple types of file systems.
This all seems very nice and geeky but how can you do this? The truth is that all operating systems come with a few tools that allow you to partition your drive. But you also have great third-party tools. Like for example Partition Magic (I told you the title wasn’t a joke).
Partition magic was initially made by PowerQuest but is now owned by Symantec (the same company that owns Norton Antivirus).
There is however one truth I have to admit, Symantec no longer offers Partition Magic. It isn’t even compatible anymore with windows vista or 7. But don’t close your browser windows just yet. We have prove once before that we can do just fine without windows, right? Partition magic also exists in the form of a boot disk. Which is normal since you sometimes just don’t have an Operating System yet. So you can use this tool to prepare your harddrive.
A few details of this product. Partition Magic is able to resize partitions without data loss (woohoo!) can also copy and move partitions (trust me this can make the difference between losing all your data and being on the virge of suicide because you lost all the pictures of your dog).
There are also numerous of other great features that can save you a lot of time and work. Although this is an older application (agreed, which is no longer support on windows) it remains great and can really help you out.
I don’t think it is/was free (not sure) but I’m sure if you google around for a bit you can find a free version ;-).