hard drive is one of the necessary steps to prepare a hard drive for use. It
is the process of defining certain areas of the hard drive for the operating
system to use as a volume. A volume is a section of the drive with a letter,
like C: or D:. All hard drives must be partitioned, even if they will have
only one partition called C:.
Why Partition a Hard Drive?
program writes a master partition boot sector to cylinder 0, head 0, sector
1 on the hard drive platters. The data in this sector defines the start and
end locations of each of the other partitions. It also indicates which of
these partitions is active, or bootable, thus telling the computer where to
look for the operating system.
systems today can handle 24 partitions, either spread out on the same drive
or many hard drives. This means that one can have up to 24 different hard
drives, according to DOS. DOS can't recognize more than 24 partitions,
although some other operating systems can. The limiting factor is simply the
availability of letters. All partitions must have a letter. There are 26
letters, A: and B: are reserved for floppy drives, leaving 24 letters
Third Party Hard Drive Partitioning Programs
there are third party hard drive partitioning programs that boast added
capabilities, DOS FDISK is the widely
accepted program for partitioning. FDISK sets up the partition in a way
optimum for DOS, and allow more than one OS to operate on one system.
FDISK only shows two DOS partitions, the primary
partition and the extended partition. The extended partition is divided into
logical DOS volumes, each being a separate partition. The minimum partition
size is one megabyte, due to the fact that FDISK in DOS 4.0 or later create
partitions based on numbers of MB. Partition size on hard drives is usually
limited to 2Gigabytes. DOS versions earlier than 4.0 allow max partitions of
32MB. Using the Fat32 system under DOS 7 and Windows 95 OSR2, max partition
size is kicked up to 2T, or 2,000G.
Partitioning a Hard Drive
The first partition on your hard drive
is the primary DOS partition. This is your C: drive and can't be divided.
This is also called the active partition. You can only have one active
The second partition is optional. It is called an
extended partition. This is the space left over after the primary partition.
Each extended partition must be labeled with a letter D: through Z:. In
FDISK, there is one extended partition, with it being divided up into
Logical DOS Drives which each have a drive letter.
How to Partition a Master Hard Drive
IMPORTANT: If you use the
following steps on a hard disk that is not empty, all of the data on that
hard disk is permanently deleted.
To partition a hard drive, you
need to run the fdisk command:
Insert a floppy disk with the FDISK program on it into the floppy disk
At a A:> command prompt, type fdisk,
and then press ENTER.
If your hard disk is larger than 512 MB, you receive the
Your computer has a disk larger than 512 MB. This
version of Windows includes improved support for large disks, resulting in
more efficient use of disk space on large drives, and allowing disks over 2
GB to be formatted as a single drive.
Do you wish to enable large disk support?
If you want to use the FAT32 file system, press Y and then press ENTER. If
you want to use the FAT16 file system, press N, and then press ENTER.
After you press ENTER, the following FDISK Options menu is displayed:
1. Create DOS partition or Logical DOS Drive
2. Set active partition
3. Delete partition or Logical DOS Drive
4. Display partition information
5. Change current fixed disk drive
Note that option 5 is available only if
you have two physical hard disks in the computer.
Press 1 to select the Create DOS partition or Logical DOS
Drive menu option, and then press ENTER.
Press 1 to select the Create Primary DOS Partition menu option, and then
After you press ENTER, you receive the following message:
Do you wish to use the maximum available
size for primary DOS partition?
After you receive this message, use one of the following
methods, depending on the file system that you selected.
For a FAT32 File System
If you press Y for the FAT32 file system (in step 2) and you want all of the
space on the hard disk to be assigned to drive C, press Y, and then press
Press ESC, and then press ESC to quit the FDISK tool and return to a command
For a FAT16 File System
If you press N for the FAT16 file system (in step 2), you can accept the
default 2 GB size for the partition size, or you can customize the size of
To accept the default partition size:
If you want the first 2 GB on the hard disk to be assigned to drive C, press
Y, and then press ENTER.
Press ESC to return to the Options menu, and then view step d in the
following "To customize the partition size" section.