Personal computers right out of the box nowadays can have about 320 GB of hard disk drive storage capacity running Windows 7, which is perhaps the most efficient operating system after Windows XP skipping Windows Vista. The physical drive embedded in every system is only a single unit and the corresponding logical drive assigned to it is C. While having a single logical drive for all the system and user files offers some convenience for the novice user, storing all file types in the same logical drive could potentially encounter disk-related problems in the future. Knowing how to partition a hard drive will certainly eliminate this problem that could arise as more files are being stored in the computer.
Why partition the hard drive
Storing both system and user files on the same hard drive can create problems if logical disk errors occur. Having a single partition, that is, drive C, impairs the maintenance services offered by the operating system since it cannot fully operate on the compromised single partition without affecting other unrelated files. By partitioning the hard drive, users are able to segregate various file types in specified logical storage units virtually creating multiple disks from one physical hard disk.
Benefits of partitioning
More than the benefit of fixing future disk-related errors, dividing the physical hard drive into several logical partitions improves the overall performance of the personal computer. When smaller partitions are created, the number of tracks used per hard drive is reduced, thereby, minimizing the delays associated with head repositioning.
Creating a separate logical division of the hard drive also allows the user to install another operating system on the separate logical drive. Programs which are frequently used are also placed nearer to the related data promoting faster speed when processing files and executing commands.
Partitioning in Windows 7
The Windows 7 operating system by Microsoft has a very convenient tool for creating partitions. Prior to this version of Windows, creating a partition right on the operating system requires separate software to implement the process. Known as the Microsoft Management Console, this tool has a very user-friendly approach to establishing several partitions without the need for additional software or having to tweak at the MS-DOS command line setup.
Management Console 3.0 is a suite of administrative tools for Windows 7 and contains the Disk Management software provided to Microsoft by VERITAS Software Corporation. This function can be accessed through the control panel or by simply typing in the related keywords on the search box right on the Start menu. Upon launching, the window displays the list of default partitions, that is, drive C and the recovery and system reserved partitions. Drive C occupies the largest share of the hard drive since this is where user programs and files are stored. On the other hand, recovery and system reserved partitions occupy about 10 GB and 100 MB, respectively.
The partitioning process
To initiate the partitioning process, the user simply right-clicks on drive C and choose shrink volume so as to estimate and prepare the free space to be used for the intended partition. Ideally, the partition to be created should be about 20% of the total storage capacity. This size must be specified in the appropriate box labeled “Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB.”
After this process, a new simple volume without an assigned drive letter is created. To begin using this newly created logical drive, the format partition wizard must be launched. This function is accessed by simply right-clicking the new simple volume and left-clicking on the appropriate function. Once formatted, the new partition can be used for user files just like ordinary storage drives.