Protect Your Files | Partition Your Hard Drive - Page 1 of 5


Protect important files you store on your computer by partitioning your computers hard drive. Not sure what that means? I explain what a "partition" is and why creating a partition to hold your files is important. I also show you how to partition the hard drive on a computer running Windows 7. The process I describe will also work in Windows Vista and Windows 8. Have a great day! Tom

Like all the information on my blog this tutorial is intended to help home, small office, home office (SOHO) businesses and digital content creators. My definition of a digital content creator is anyone who uses and relies on a computer to create. If you work in IT (Information Technology) or are a higher level computer enthusiast it is likely you already know everything I'll cover in this tutorial.

What Is A Computer Hard Drive?

Have you ever taken your computer apart to see what's inside? For those of you who may not know what a computers hard drive is lets begin with some basics. A hard drive is a physical device a computer uses as a long term storage device. It is mounted inside the computers "case" or box. A computer hard drive stores the "operating system", applications and files you use and create. The operating system manages the computers physical components (hardware) and your interaction with the computer. An example of a computer operating system would be Microsoft's Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 or 8. An example of an application would be the Internet Explorer application you may use to access the Internet.

I've included two pictures of one type of computer hard drive (see below). The picture on the left is the hard drive shown from the top and side. The second image shows the bottom of the same computer hard drive. The computer hard drive pictured has approximate dimensions of 3.5 inches wide by 6 inches long by 1 inch thick. The newer SSD (solid state drive) hard drives are much smaller.

What do I mean when I say I'm going to show you how to "partition" a computer hard drive? When you partition a hard drive you divide it's storage capacity into separate sections. You and I can not see these distinct storage sections, but the computers operating system can. Each partition or section is separate and distinct from the other. Partitions provide a means to isolate what you choose to store in each partition.

Why You Should Partition Your Computers Hard Drive

Why do you want to partition your computers hard drive? In this tutorial we will partition the computers hard drive to create two separate storage spaces. One partition will hold the computers operating system and another will hold the files a person would normally store on their computer. Files stored in a separate partition are less likely to become lost/deleted or inaccessible if the operating system software develops a problem or is infected by computer malware. You will be less likely to loose Important documents, pictures, MP3 music files, business related spreadsheets or databases. If the hard drive itself has a mechanical failure you will likely loose access to your files even if the hard drive has been partitioned. A potential hard drive failure is one reason to always backup you files. Backing up a single partition can take less time than backing up the entire hard drive the partition is located on.

Before We Begin

If possible, backup any files you do not want to lose before beginning this tutorial. Portable external hard drives make convenient, affordable backup devices. Though it rarely happens it is possible for the partition process to fail. For example, the "partition table" could become corrupted. If the partition table becomes corrupted you may not be able to access files stored on your hard drive. After you backup your files I suggest you temporarily delete them from the drive. The partitioning process will be more flexible with the additional unoccupied space on the hard drive.

During this tutorial we will divide the total storage space of the computers hard drive into 2 sections or partitions. We will accomplish this by reducing or "shrinking" the space that currently holds the computers operating system and all the files stored on the hard drive. The remaining space after the reduction or "shrinking" process has completed will become the second storage area or partition. Any files stored on the drive prior to creating the new partition will need to be moved to the new second partition.

If you keep your files stored on the hard drive during the partitioning process you must be certain you have enough free space on the hard drive to allow for the creation of 2 partitions. Both of these partitions must be individually large enough to hold all of your files. Verify how much space your files require. Navigate to "Computer" then (C:) then "Users" and identify the folder with your username. Right click the folder, choose "properties". The number to the right of "Size on disk:" is the amount of room required to store your files. Your new second partition must be AT LEAST large enough to hold files that occupy this amount of space. If not you will need to store some of your files on some other media. You could burn them to a DVD or back them up to a portable external hard drive. Let's begin to partition the hard drive...

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