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4. Disk Partitioning

The computer that you are using right now or have at home will have various drives available for you to access. For example your programs are probably stored on C drive. You may also have additional drives called D, E, F etc.

For example, many laptops have a 'recovery drive' which is intended to re-program the laptop back to its factory settings should a serious problem occur in the main logical drive C: For example many programs are now set to 'auto-update'. If such an update stops the operating system then the 'recovery drive' can re-install the original settings.

These drives are created by splitting your hard disk into logically separate parts, called partitions. This process of splitting is called 'disk partitioning'.

'Logically separate' means that even though the hard disk is one piece of hardware, the operating system will treat each partition on the hard disk as separate entities and each partition will contain its own files and folders.

Partitioning of the hard disk is usually done by the computer manufacturer. However you can partition a hard disk yourself by purchasing specialist partitioning software.

A practical example

You wish to create a personal computer that makes the best use of a new 500Gb hard disk that you have just installed. And you want the following features

  • You want to make sure your data is always safe
  • You want plenty of room for temporary files and documents.
  • Plenty of storage room to install software packages

So you could split a 500Gb disk into various sizes. For example you might want to partition 50Gb as drive C: to hold the operating system and system settings. So when you want to back up your system, you only have to store a 50Gb image of drive C.

Then you partition drive D: to 150Gb. This is where you might store all the installed applications.

Then you could partition drive E: as 100Gb where you will store all your data and work. Again, it is a convenient size to back up to an external drive.

Then you could choose drive F: to be your temporary file area. Say a 200Gb partition. So temporary files created by applications such as Photoshop can be stored.


Challenge see if you can find out one extra fact on this topic that we haven't already told you

Click on this link: Disk Partitioning

Did you know

That partitions can also hold entirely separate operating systems. For example, it is possible to 'dual boot' a personal computer - one partition holds perhaps the 'Windows' operating system' and the other holds the 'Linux' operating system. You choose at boot up which one you want to use at this particular time.




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