Partition a HDD. A single hard drive can contain up to four primary partitions or three primary partitions and one partition with an extension. On the other hand, if it is a partition with extension, you can define as many partitions as you want. Partitions located on the extended partition are called logical partitions.

To install a operating system, you need a primary partition; for save data, a logical partition is sufficient. So, if you couldn't create a logical partition, it may be because you reached the limit (4 main partitions), or because of a lack of free space on the partition with the extension, or next to it.

Partition the data : the system and the software, on the one hand, and the personal data, on the other, the advantage is that we only need to format part of the software.

Reduces defragmentation time (integral) depending on the size of the partition.

Partition a hard drive and file systems

File System

There are several types of file systems:

Fat, used by MS-DOS, Windows 3.x and Windows 95 but perfectly recognized by all current systems (Windows XP and Linux). This system does not support hard drives with more than 2 Go. The size of the clusters is quite large, which results in a loss of disk space.

FAT32: It is an evolution of Fat, recognized by all systems except MS-DOS, Windows 3.x, Windows 95 First Edition, Windows NT 3.5 and 4. The disks can have up to 2 TB (1 terabyte is worth 1024 GB). The clusters are smaller.

NTFS, used by Windows NT, 2000 and XP. Linux recognizes this system experimentally, however, it is better to just read, without write, to avoid data loss. This system is not possible for disks less than 400 MB because it requires a lot of space for the system structure. The size of the clusters does not depend on the size of the disk (or partition) and you can choose it at will. In short, this system automatically repairs bad sectors. On the other hand, administrative rights are supported.

Linux Ext2 (Ext2FS), used by the Linux system, is not recognized by MS-DOS and all Windows systems. Disks can be up to 2 GB and file names can be up to 255 characters. Administrative rights are compatible.

Linux, used by the Linux system, is not recognized by MS-DOS and all Windows systems. Disks can be up to 4TB. This is an enhancement to Ext2FS that was added to the file registry, to correct any corruption, quickly.

Reiser (ReiserFS), used by Linux, this system is registered to correct corruptions and MS-Dos and Windows do not recognize it.

Linux interchange, used by the Linux system and is not recognized by MS-DOS and all Windows systems. This system is used to manage the Linux swap file.

Raw: It is a blank partition, without any file system.

What software to use

Free solutions

Windows FDISK

FDISK on Windows only recognizes FAT and FAT32 file systems. This solution is not at all ergonomic. It is included in the Windows 98 boot floppy. See: Windows boot floppies (containing FDISK):


Fdisk on Linux recognizes all FAT, FAT32, Ext2, Ext3, Swap Linux file systems. It is included with all Linux distributions.


QtParted is a PartitionMagic clone included with most of the current Linux distributions. Its interface is ergonomic. This solution recognizes all Linux and Windows file systems, including NTFS, which can be resized. Included in Knoppix.


GParted is also a clone of PartitionMagic. Based on GTK, its graphical interface tries to be very simple. It recognizes and supports various file systems, including those from Microsoft.

3.1.5 - GParted LiveCD

GParted LiveCD is the version of GParted derived from LiveCD. We started in the CD and, in less than a minute, we found the interface in Portuguese, being able to make changes such as creating / deleting partitions, resizing Linux or Windows partitions (FAT32, NTFS) on the hard drive of the hosting system.


FIPS is a partitioner (in fact, the first harmless, according to the official website), almost ancestral to DOS. It must work from a DOS boot floppy. It only supports FAT 16/32 (DOS) partitions and is licensed under the GNU GPL.

Partition Logic

So far, Partition Logic only recognizes the FAT and FAT32 file systems. You still don't know how to resize an existing partition (Partition Magic does it very well). Currently, this software, in English, runs from floppy disks or from a bootable CD. However, this software is very recent and its author wants it to be a free competitor to Norton Partition Magic and Ghost. This represents a lot of work but it is a great idea to follow!

EASEUS Partition Manager

Free solution capable of performing the main partition tasks. This software is not executable on Windows Vista.

Payment solutions

PartitionMagic (Powerquest - Symantec)

PartitionMagic has a very ergonomic interface and a great reputation. You can use it in Windows thanks to 2 very effective and ergonomic support diskettes. PartitionMagic protects existing data (except mishandling!) And recognizes all file systems (Windows and Linux).

Please note that the trial version of PartitionMagic (all versions) ONLY simulates so that you are familiar with the application and the idea of ​​partitions. With this version, you can never REALLY partition.

3Hard Disk Manager (Paragon software)

With Hard disk Manager You can partition and clone partitions in a more austere graphical interface on Windows. This software recognizes all Windows and Linux file systems, but also protects existing data.

Partition Expert

Partition Expert partitions, protects existing data and has an ergonomic interface in Windows. All Windows and Linux file systems are recognized. USB hard drives are even recognized in emergency mode! In return, you cannot convert a FAT partition to NTFS and vice versa.

Partition Commander (ABSoft)

Partition Commander partitions on a somewhat stark Windows interface. All Windows and Linux file systems are recognized. However, it is too slow and does not support USB hard drives.

Windows XP, Vista and Seven

Windows XP can partition and format. Go through Obviously, Windows only manages Microsoft's file systems (FAT and NTFS).

Very important basic tips.

  • Pleasure backup frequent.


  • Make a Scandisk: It is not necessary to do it every week. Enough every 2-3 months, that's enough. Especially if you don't overload your disk. The scandisk inspects the state of the hard disk, tries to repair the damaged parts (groupings) and defines them as unworkable or lost (eventually). Therefore, this operation prevents data loss. Attention, if there is a high proportion of lost clusters, replace your hard drive.


  • To do analysis in Windows: Do a checkdisk in Windows XP and do a checkdisk in Windows Vista.


  • Clean: empty the trash container, delete temporary files and temporary files from Internet. This will help you in the next step.


  • Defragment: all files are recorded one after another on the hard disk. To avoid wasting a lot of space, the file is cut into small pieces and stored in small chunks of the disk - what we call groups. When changing a file (update, move or delete), you have two possibilities: the size has decreased or it has increased. It has shrunk, and since there is another file right after, a place is freed between the two. However, this space is not necessarily occupied by another file, in case the latter is too large for the available space. In conclusion, the files will be distributed in several parts, in all corners of the hard drive. Therefore, the access time to the files will increase. It is as if the books from various collections are spread out in a library - it would take you a long time to find the copy you are looking for. You need to organize, organize. And the longer you wait, the longer it will take. And this is exactly what the defragmenter does: put all the pieces of the files together. The operation will take longer if you use these files, during recovery! Therefore, avoid working during this process. Also, the more free space on the hard drive, the faster the defragmentation will be. See Defragmenting your hard drive.


  • Self remains skillful and patient: by (re) partitioning, any software used, pay close attention to what you are doing. It will never be the software that is wrong, but you. On the other hand, if you want to perform multiple operations at the same time (resize the C, create the E, move the D, etc.), the software may indicate an error. Partition Magic is a good example. In this case, just lower your requirements. Define your requirements well in several independent operations. If necessary, restart the Windows system completely or run the LiveCD / DVD again.


In an emergency situation

Linux Live CD

Use a Linux Live CD. It's free and you only need your BIOS authorize booting directly from the CD. Then you can use the QTParted (PartitionMagic clone), i.e. GParted.

Example with GParted: Resize an NTFS partition

It is impossible to partition a disk during use. Either because the system is directly "located" above it or because a file is being read or assimilated as such. This is why PartitionMagic often reboots on the partition (just like other software). Using the Linux "Live" CD, the entire system resides on the CD and the RAM. Soon, the partitions launch. There is no need to reboot.

=== GParted LiveCD ====

GParted LiveCD is the LiveCD version. We boot from the CD and, in less than a minute, we are in front of its interface in Portuguese, with the possibility of making changes (create / move partitions, resize Linux partitions such as Windows (FAT32, NTFS)) on the system hard drive host.


SystemRescueCD is another free bootable CD that contains various utilities. Among others: PartImage, to create system images and QTParted, to partition.

A more complete list can be found at

Other Linux Live CD Solutions

Many LinuxLive distribution CDs partition and even create and restore system images. Let's mention those distributions that are installed only in live memory (RAM) without being installed on the hard disk (thus protecting hard disks):


Kaella Knoppix Linux Azure (KLA): Kaella Knoppix Linux Azur




Two tutorials: create hard drive image and how to copy a single partition?


Sometimes we need to delete partitions before creating them. For this, you can count on the help of the tools mentioned above such as "Fdisk" or the solutions mentioned above (Live-CD). But it can happen, for different reasons, that we find ourselves with "recalcitrant" partitions for all deletions and, in particular, the most stubborn ones. Urgency and time savings are also valid reasons. In these cases, there are small solutions (software) that can make life easier.

So far the tutorial and tips on Partitioning a hard drive.