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Beginners Guides: Formatting and Partitioning a Hard Drive

Beginners Guides: Formatting and Partitioning a Hard Drive - PCSTATS
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Abstract: 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.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Jan 22 2008   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

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 System).

!!! 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 need it!

Let's begin by looking at the differences between Serial ATA and IDE hard drives.

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Please respect the time and effort that went into creating each PCSTATS Beginners Guide, do not illegally copy. Thank you.
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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  — Beginners Guides: Formatting and Partitioning a Hard Drive
 Pg 2.  SATA and IDE Hard Drives
 Pg 3.  Physically Installing an IDE Hard Drive
 Pg 4.  Preparing an IDE Hard Drive For Installation
 Pg 5.  Physical Installation of a IDE Hard Drive
 Pg 6.  Physically Installing a Serial ATA Hard Drive
 Pg 7.  Physical Installation of the SATA Hard Drive
 Pg 8.  Confirming the Installation of a Hard Drive
 Pg 9.  Partitioning and Formatting a Second drive in Windows 2000/XP
 Pg 10.  Partitioning and formatting for the Installation of Windows 2000/XP
 Pg 11.  Partitioning and formatting a Second Drive in Windows 9x/ME
 Pg 12.  FDISK Commands continued
 Pg 13.  Partitioning and Formatting a hard drive for Win9x/ME Installation
 Pg 14.  Troubleshooting hard drive installation

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