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Hard Disk And File Systems

A.2

Hard Disk Partition

After low-level formatting creates disk sectors, partitions must be created on the disk.

A partition is an area on a hard disk that can be used to install an operating system and/or used as data storage. Creating separate sections on a disk is called partitioning. (Think of slicing a pie into different pieces.) Disk partitions are analogous to separate, physical disk drives and do not depend on each other. In fact, each partition can contain its own operating system.

Different operating systems use different data storage means — file systems. The process of creating a partition file system is called formatting. Each partition can have its own file system.

Preparing a disk for use includes two stages: partitioning and formatting.

Partitioning is useful and often necessary because:

  • Different partitions can have different operating systems — for example, Windows 2000, XP and Linux.

  • Partitioning provides more effective disk space usage.

  • Partitioning enables you to separate system files from user data, making personal information storage safer.

  • Partitioning provides more effective hard disk maintenance. In particular, more effective data integrity control, file defragmentation and data backup.

A.3

Partition Types

There are three main partition types:

  • Primary

  • Extended

  • Logical

Primary and logical partitions are the main partition types. Physical hard disks can contain up to four primary partitions or up to three primary and infinite logical partitions.

Partition information is stored in a special disk area – the 1st sector of 0 cylinder, 0 head, called the partition table. This sector is called the master boot record, or MBR.

The number of primary partitions on a disk is limited, because the partition table contains four records itself.

Extended partitioning supports additional division into logical partitions. The amount of logical partitions is unlimited.

Special programs perform partitioning; usually they can:

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