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Partitioning Your Hard Drive 
by Scott Nesbitt July 21, 2005

Why Partition?

There are a number of reasons to partition a hard drive. You might want to install multiple operating systems on your PC. For example, you want to have a version of Windows XP for home use, and Windows 2000 for work. Something that's becoming increasingly popular is installing Linux (a version of the UNIX operating system for desktop PCs) in addition to Windows. Because individual operating systems either use different file systems or many of the same files, installing more than one on a singe partition can make the operating systems inoperable.

Disk Management

Another reason is disk management. If you're still using Windows 98, you'll find that its file system is based on clusters. Unfortunately, the size of the clusters is based on the size of your hard drive. The larger the drive, the larger the clusters. This creates a lot of wasted space. Why? Files can have a large clusters reserved for their storage, even if the files aren't anywhere near the size of the clusters. Anywhere up to half the cluster is wasted. While this maybe only a few kilobytes per file, it adds up to megabytes when you take into account all the files on your computer. By partitioning, you can shrink the size of these clusters, and the amount of wasted space, dramatically.

Regardless of how big or small your hard drive is, files can accumulate quickly. Typically, files scatter to various folders and become disorganized. This is true even if you use the My Documents folder, the central repository for documents in Windows. Unfortunately, many people use My Documents as a dumping place for all of their files. But with all the personal files and software that most people load on to their machines, hunting for documents becomes a chore. With a partition devoted to storing your files, you can make the job of keeping track of your files easier.



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