When referring to a computer hard drive, a disk partition or partition is a section of the hard drive that is separated from other segments. Partitions help enable users to divide a computer hard drive into different drives or different portions for a number of reasons. For example, allowing multiple operating systems to run on the same device.
With older file allocation tables, such as FAT 16, creating smaller partitions allows a computer hard drive to run more efficiently and save more disk space. However, with new file allocation tables, such as FAT32, this is no longer the case.
- Information about creating partitions and setting up a drive in Windows 2000, XP, and above.
- Information about creating, deleting (unpartition), or otherwise using fdisk to manipulate partitions can be found on our fdisk overview.
- If you want to extend a partition, shrink a partition, combine partitions, or other manipulations, a standard partition program works well. We would recommend you look into Partition Magic.
- Each drive can only have one extended partition, but can be divided into multiple logical partitions.
Types of partitions
There are also dozens of different partition types. Below is a listing of some of these partitions with a brief description. While all of these partitions are available, they may not be available in your partition utility.
|AIX Partition (Boot)||Partition used with the AIX operating system.|
|Boot Partition||As defined by Microsoft a boot partition is a partition that contains the files required for a system startup. Also see: System Partition|
|BSD/OS Partition (OpenBSD)||Partition used with the BSD operating system.|
|DOS (12-bit, 16-bit) Partition||Partition used with older versions of MS-DOS.|
|DOS Extended Partition||Partition that is extended from one or more of the original MS-DOS partitions.|
|DRDOS (Hidden, Secured)||Partition used with the DR. DOS operating system.|
|Extended Partition||Partition that is extended from one or more of the primary partitions.|
|Hibernation Partition||Partition used with older hibernation programs.|
|HPFS Partition (OS/2 IFS)||Partition used with IBM OS/2 and Microsoft NT 3.x|
|Linux (Linux native, Linux swap, Linux extended, ext2fs)||Partition used with various variants of the Linux operating systems.|
|MINIX||Partition used with the MINIX operating system.|
|NON-DOS Partition||When using Microsoft fdisk a NON-DOS partition indicates a partition that is not native to the Microsoft operating system. For example, this could be a Linux partition.|
|NEC DOS||Partition used with the old NEC DOS variant.|
|NEXTSTEP||Partition used with the Nextstep operating system.|
|Novell Netware||Partition used with the Novell Netware operating system.|
|NTFS||Partition used with Microsoft Windows NT 4.x, Windows 2000 and Windows XP.|
|Partition Magic (PowerQuest)||Partition created using the Partition Magic utility by PowerQuest.|
|PC-ARMOUR||Partition created by the PC ARMOUR security utility. When created this partition is commonly protected by a password.|
|Primary||In a Microsoft operating system the Primary Partition commonly refers to the main or first partition used for the Microsoft operating system.|
|Solaris X86||Partition used with the Sun Solaris X86 platform operating system.|
|System Partition||As defined by Microsoft a system partition is a partition that contains the system32 directory. Also see: Boot Partition|
|Tandy DOS||Partition used with the old Tandy DOS variant.|
|Unix System V (SCO, IRIX, ISC, Unix, UnixWare, etc...)||Partition used with various Unix operating systems.|
|VMWare (VMWare Swap)||Partition used by VMWare.|
|XENIX (XENIX /usr)||Partition used with the Xenix operating system.|