What to Know about PC Hard Disk Partitioning

Hard disk partitioning involves division of the hard disk drive into many logical storage units named partitions. Partitioning helps to treat one physical disk drive like multiple disks making it possible to use a different file system for each of the partitions.

In order to do a partition one needs a partition editor application, which helps to form, resize, manipulate, and delete each of the hard disk drive partitions. A partition is made up many cylinders of hard disk drive, meaning each of the partitions included a start and end cylinder with each cylinder size varying considerably. In most cases one does not need much technical skill to do the partitioning.

Why you should create more than one partition
By creating more than one partition for your hard disk, you will get so many benefits; some of them are highlighted next:
• You separate user files from program files and the operating system. This enable clones or image backups to be made by installed software and the operating system
• Keeping the files and programs that are often used close to each other
• Having a separate space for OS virtual memory swapping or paging
• Having log files and cache separate from other files. These at times change size automatically and quickly, which makes the file system to fill up faster
• Makes it possible to use multi-boot system, allowing a user install more than one OS on one computer. For instance, a user can install Mac OS, Linux, MS Windows or any other operating system on the partitions created in one hard disk, this makes it possible to boot into any of the compatible OS at power up
• Isolating or protecting a file, which makes it easier to install an operating system or recover a corrupted system. If one or the partition gets corrupted there is small probability that the other will be affected
• Raising the performance of the entire computer on systems that smaller file systems perform much better. For example large hard disks comprising of just one NFTS file system generally have a large sequentially accessed master file table (MFT) and in most instances more time will be required to read this MTF as compared to time taken to read the smaller MTFs of much smaller partitions
• Partitioning for less than the full hard disk size available when disk space is not essential may greatly reduce the time for diagnostic tools including full image backups and checkdisk to run
• “Short stroking” that helps to minimize the performance-reducing head positioning deals through reduction of number of tracks that are used per hard disk drive. The basic idea here is that you make each of the partition a fifth to a quarter of the entire HDD size. This partition is expected to occupy the HDD tracks, thereby offering more than 200 percent the throughput and this reduces the access time by more than half. If you greatly limit the capacity with short stroking, you will successfully have the minimum throughput stay close to the peak. This technique does not relate to creation of many partitions, but creates a partition whose capacity is well below the disk size.

Demerits with hard disk partitions
Just like any other stuff, hard disk partitioning has its own demerits, when compared with one partitions with the same disk size.
• It slightly reduces the entire hard drive disk space available for data storage, because it forces the OS to duplicate some file admin areas on each of the disk partitioning
• It reduces the entire hard disk performance on systems that data is accessed on regular basis as well as in multiple partitions, since it forces the disk’s data transfer head to move in both directions on the disk when accessing data in each partition and keep and update the file admin areas in each of the partitions. It is also known to prevent disk optimizers from moving the frequently used files close together on the disk, which may lead to reduction of the distance and number necessary for head. As much as the files can still be moved close together on each of the partitions, however, the areas will be slightly apart on the disk
• Increases hard disk fragmentation by lowering the average mean size of the contiguous free blocks available on each partition after having written the same amount of data on each of them
• It is known to slightly reduce the disk capacity as it may at times break the free capacities apart
• It may impose some constraints on ways that entities can be linked together in the file system. For instance the NFTS file system and Unix file systems enable creation of hard links as long as both link and referenced file are located inside the same partition or volume. If using a Windows use is referencing a file located on another partition, this can easily be done only through specifying the driver letter assigned to the partition, which is likely to change with time or depending on installed drivers. This invalidates references and makes them dependent on installed drive letter assignment, which may be no big issue as long as one is referencing directories/files only on one partition, because in this case the user can use root or directory relative references without including the partition/drive letter.

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