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How to create and manage partitions

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  • Started 6 years ago by SarahJames
  • Latest reply from SarahJames
  • Topic Viewed 6677 times

Posts: 6581

When you set up your system or prepare it for easy backups as described here you might want to partition your harddrive(s).

Most systems come with a C drive where your system is installed and a D drive with a restore partition.
That D is a small partition and you should leave it alone.
The best thing is to make an image of it (with Macrium Reflect for instance) and store that on another drive, like an external USB drive.
There is no need to make regular images of this partition, since it doesn't change :)

If you're confused about what the difference is between a drive, a harddrive (HDD) and a partition I'll try to explain that first:
Inside your computer there is a harddrive (the physical thing LOL), also called HDD.
On a HDD there are partitions, which you see in your computer as drives, like this:

You can keep a HDD as a single partition or split it into two or three partitions.
In my case there is no recovery partition and I have three HDD's. Two of them are single partitions and one is split in two partitions.
You see these in the above image as drives C, D, E and G.
You might note you can't see which one consists of a HDD and which one is only a part of a HDD.

To be able to see that or to manage them, you can use the inbuild Windows partition manager. You can read how to do that here under 'Option one'.

I prefer to use the free Minitool Partition Wizard Home Edition, because you can make changes and delay applying them and when done do them all in one go.

After installing the program and opening it, you'll see a list of the HDD's and partitions you have and the driveletters assigned to them.
Note that the drive that contains your OS always should be called C.
A used to be for floppy drives and B for a second floppy drive or zipdrive. We don't use those anymore, so you can assign these letters to any other partition if you like (I have assigned A to my off location backup USB drive, since it's such a noticable name :D).

Here is how to use Partition Wizard:

You get a list with the drives installed and the partitions that are on them.
Note your C drive should always be set to primary. That means it can contain the OS.
Johnathan King explains: "The first 4 partitions can be primary. After that, you need to create a logical drive, which would be your 3rd partition. In the logical dive, you can create unlimited extended partitions. The advantage of a Primary partition is that you can boot from it."

Now if you want to make some changes, just rightclick on the drive or partition you want to change.
You can do so by first creating images with Macrium Reflect. Don't worry if you're partitioning exactly because you want to be able to regulate your backups, you can create new images when you're done. But make sure to make an image to a HDD you won't be partitioning, preferably an external HDD that's not connected when changing the partitions.
When restoring an image the partition you restore it to should be the same size or bigger as the one you made the image of.
So note how big the partition is you've backed up before changing it!!!

Ok, so you rightclick a partition or drive and you see this list of options:

If you choose 'delete' a partition it will become unallocated:

From an unallocated drive you can make partitions, just rightclick and choose 'create':

You can also resize that partition. If you make it smaller than the unallocated space available, you can create another partition of the unallocated space that is left.
Brink explains: "By default on a MBR disk, you can create a maximum of 3 Primary partitions and 1 Extended partition with up to 128 logical volumes in the extended partition on a single hard disk."
We're not dealing with extended partitions in this tutorial, this one is just to get you started. If you're feeling up to that you probably don't need this tutorial to start with ;)

When you create a partition it automatically get's a drive letter. In this case H. If you'd like another letter, rightclick the drive and select 'Change Letter'. A dialogbox comes up that offers you the letters to choose from. I chose X :

And here is the result:

When all is set to your liking click the big blue V 'Apply' on the top left and wait patiently! Depending on the size of your drives it may take a long time and when a drive is in use you may have to restart your computer.

In this case I've only shown internal HDD's, but the same applies to external USB drives. You can assign letters to them and partition them just as easily :)

Posted 6 years ago
Posts: 6581

For how to use partitions as a good backup measure, take a look here: how to set up a good backup system.

I prefer this setup:
First HDD:
- C for the OS
- D recovery partition (often hidden)
- E for personal files (so you have to move your special folders 'Documents, Pictures, Downloads etc. there and preferably your mail etc. Anything that can change on a daily basis).

Second HDD:
- F for backups of your personal files (using Karen's Replicator for instance)
- G for images of C ( base image + new onces added after making system changes), of D (once) and of E (very, very often, like weekly or even better daily) (using Macrium Reflect for instance)
You can also leave this a single partition with seperate folders for Macrium and your data.

External HDD:
where you regularly make a copy of all that is on your second HDD. Preferably once a month or more often.
You can use Karen's Replicator to do that fast and easy.

Posted 6 years ago
Posts: 2045

@Sarah Whay hey!!! what a brilliant girl you are,enough info there, so No One should be in any doubt.

Very many thanks, the visuals in a Tutorial always so much more help to a beginner,
am sure links to this and your image backup will be appearing regularly on the Forums.(As long as they READ them LOL!!!!)

Posted 6 years ago
Posts: 6581

I've been linking to them already :)
And thanks <blushing here ;)>

Posted 6 years ago
Posts: 369

Very well done Sarah. I tried Minitool and had I had your tutorial would have kept it. Sadly most free software lacks good information, Partitionwizard should pay you.
We could do with a permanent link to the superb tutorials you, whs, et al produce, whether here on off site.

Harry S

Posted 6 years ago
Posts: 17584

Just one word of warning. Partition Wizard is an excellent tool - especially the bootable CD version. I use it quite a bit. But there are pitfalls.

It is not difficult to make a mistake and you can loose a partition easily. I once lost all the partitions on the drive - because I made a little mistake. Fortunately I had an image of all those partitions (4 in total) so I could easily rebuild them.

Therfore I recommend to image all partitions on a drive before you make any serious manipulations with Partition Wizard.

Posted 6 years ago
Posts: 6581

@ Seasider - thanks, Harry ;)

@ whs - I also prefer to be safe instead of sorry, so I had already put in a warning. See under the second picture. Your story only proves how terribly important it is to keep your data on several devices (internal / external drive / cloud), so 'little' mistakes don't turn into big disasters.

Posted 6 years ago
Posts: 17584

Sarah, yeah I saw that. I just thought that a "live" bad experience might emphasize the point.

Posted 6 years ago
Posts: 6581

It does.
You're an experienced computer user and mistakes like that even happen to you (to me too btw.). Can't emphasize enough how important backups are.

Posted 6 years ago

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