Beginners Guides: Formatting and Partitioning a Hard Drive
Installing a hard drive for the first time? Need to
partition a current drive into smaller disks? You can do it, and we can show you
how. - Version 2.3.0
Hard drive space will always be in constant demand, what with the average game install exceeding
a gigabyte of space, and fast Internet and file sharing conspiring to
fill our computers with things we can't possibly do without. Fortunately, hard
disk space continues to expand affordably. As the average computer can
use up to three hard disks in addition to a CD drive, it's easy enough to
go out and buy a new drive to add extra storage space to your system. Easy enough
until you get around to actually putting the drive in, that is. Few other computer
upgrades carry more potential complications and complexities than installing and
preparing a newly purchased hard drive for use.
Here at PCSTATS, we'd like to take some time to cover this important procedure
in detail, so you won't have to pay your local
computer shop $80 to do it for you!
In this Beginners Guide, we'll cover all the necessary steps
for installing and preparing a second hard disk drive on both Win9x/ME
and Win2K/XP systems, as well as setting up the hard drive for installation on
a brand new computer with no operating system. As both IDE and Serial ATA hard
drives are used in modern PCs, we'll also investigate the
differences between these two types of hard disk.
There are a few words we need to define before going any
further. Don't worry, there won't
be a test.
Partition, partitioning: Free space on a hard disk must be
partitioned before it can be used by an operating system. Creating a partition
reserves a physical portion of the hard drive space for use as a logical
drive, or volume, that the operating system can address.
Volume: A volume is how the operating system 'sees' your
free disk space. Volumes (also called logical drives) are represented in
Windows by drive letters such as C:, E:, etc. Volumes are formed by
partitioning the free space of a hard drive. Volumes must be formatted with a
file system before data can be stored on them.
Formatting: Formatting is the act of creating a file
system on a volume, so that the operating system can store and retrieve data
on that volume.
- File system: A file system provides a means of organizing
and retrieving information written to a hard disk or any other storage medium.
A file system is created on a volume when it is formatted. Common Windows file
systems include FAT32 (File Allocation Table 32) and NTFS (NT File
!!! WARNING !!!: Since this guide deals with the
installation, partitioning, and formatting of hard drives, there is a
possibility that you may make a mistake and format or delete a
partition inadvertently from an existing hard drive whose data is
important to you - causing irreversible data loss. PCstats cannot be held
liable for any damages in this regard. Even experts can make mistakes, which is why PCstats also has
an excellent guide to Hard Drive Data Recovery... hopefully you will never
Let's begin by looking at the differences between Serial ATA and IDE hard