Logical Way To Partition A Hard Drive

Do you need to partition a hard drive? If you’re thinking about reinstalling Windows or buying a new hard drive, stop a moment and think about how you plan on organizing your Operating System and data. Will you have it all together in one large blob? Or will you partition the drive into multiple logical drives and separate your data from your Operating System?

Ideally, you’ll have more than one hard drive in your computer and you can use one for the Operating System and backup, and one just for the data. If your main hard drive suffers a cataclysmic failure, your data would still be safe on the other drive. But most people will only have one drive, so partitioning the disk into logical drives will allow you to easily reinstall the Operating System without erasing your files, pictures, movies and other important data.

partition a hard drive

How To Partition A Hard Drive

When installing Windows 7, you can choose Custom install and repartition the hard disk using the tools provided in the installer.

windows 7 partitioning

To do this, click the Drive Options (Advanced) link. You can remove any existing partitions and then click the New link to begin creating your partitions. We suggest at least three partitions. One for the Operating System, one for data and one for a place to store your backups.

So how much space should you allocate for Windows? The size of your hard drive will determine how large your partitions should be. If you have a 500 GB drive, there’s no harm in allowing the Windows partition to be 50Gbs.

So when you setup the partition during install, you will type 50000 in the partition size box.

You can then use the remaining space for the other two partitions. Click on “Disk 0 Unallocated Space” to create the next partition, specify a size, and then use the remaining unallocated space for the third partition.

format partitions

You can then proceed to format each of these partitions by highlighting the partition and selecting Format.

Once Windows is installed, go ahead and visit Microsoft Updates to get current on the patches, and then install any programs you want, along with an antivirus.

Change Default Location Of My Documents Folder

Since you now have a partition strictly for your data, you will want to change the default target location of your My Documents folder. To do this, click the Start button and in the right-hand pane, click your username at the top of the screen. A Window will open up displaying your My Documents, My Music, and My Videos folders. Right-click the My Documents folder and select Properties.

Change location of My Documents

Under the location tab, click Find Target to browse to the new location on the data partition of your drive or type in the physical location (You can create those folders in the data partition in advance). Once done, click OK. Now your My Documents folder will be located on the data drive, so if you need to reinstall your Operating System you can without fear of losing your files.

Repeat that process for your Music and Video folders.

You can also setup a scheduled backup in Windows to point to the new backup partition you created. To do this, click the Start button, and then click Control Panel. Under System and Security, click the “Back up your computer” link and follow the onscreen directions. Specify your backup partition as the target location of the backup.  If you ever need to reinstall Windows, you can use that backup to easily restore your programs and updates.

Partitioning A Drive Summary

So as you can see there are benefits to taking a moment during the Windows 7 install process to partition your hard drive. If you only have one drive installed, we recommend you also use some type of External Hard Drive to backup your data. Having all of your data on one drive means if that drive fails, your data is gone. Let us know if you partition your hard drives and what techniques you use.