Article 11: Hard Drives, Partitions, and Maximizing Your Space

 Welcome back everyone to the Modern Nerd. In this week’s article I’m going to talk a little bit about partitions. The partitions on your hard drive are neat ways to organize all of your things, but they can also limit your space if you have partitions that you don’t need or don’t want. We’ll discuss making new ones, and getting rid of old ones, so you can make the most of your computer’s drive space.

..I Just Need Some Space­­, That’s All

What is a partition? Well if you open up My Computer, you’ll notice that the C: Drive is a Local Disk, for most operating systems. That is your physical hard drive. If you have a partition already installed, then there are more Local Disks, but they are all part of the same physical disk. If you bought a laptop or desktop as a package, sometimes there will be Recovery or other utility partitions that make sure that the tools you’d need should something bad happen are not accidentally deleted. They are just separations within the file directory; they don’t increase or decrease your overall storage space. You’d need to change your hardware to do that.

Adding a Partition – Should I Build the Wall?

If you like to keep your computer’s files well organized, adding a partition to keep your documents, music, videos, and other things separated from your programs and operating system might just be your style. Open your Control Panel and choose the Administrative Tools tab. From there, click through Computer Management to Disk Management. You can also search for Disk Management from the Windows Button search. I tend to search for most everything on my Windows 7 PC through the Button, it’s pretty reliable as long as you know the name of the file or program you’re looking for.

Once there, you’ll notice all of the physical disks on your computer, with a lot of cool stats and information. Free space, file system type, and drive labels are all easily accessible. If you want to add a partition, choose the drive that should be split. Right Click it and choose Shrink Volume. The Drive will scan for a few minutes, be patient, and then it will ask you by how much you want to shrink the drive. It defaults to the maximum available space, so choose your partition size wisely. You must choose the size in MB but the drive is labeled in My Computer in GB, so run a quick Google search for a converter. That way you can make neat, even partitions and make sure you use only the space you need.

Once the Volume has been shrunk down, you’ll notice the unallocated space on your drive. You need to create a new volume with this space. You can assign it any name and Drive Letter you want, except A:, B:, C:, or any letter that is already in use. Then once you open up My Computer again, you have a brand new storage space separated from everything else on your drive.

Tearing it Back Down

Of course, if you have a partition that you don’t want, we can run the process in reverse to extend the size of your drive. I personally don’t want the extra Recovery partitions on my computer’s drive because I back everything up to separate external. So all they do for me is take up space.

From Disk Management, select the Partition you don’t want and choose Delete Volume. BE CAREFUL HERE! You do not want to mess up your operating system or lose files, and this is a POWERFUL tool. It can kill a lot of things if you click the wrong thing. Once your partition is gone, you’ll see the unallocated space on the drive just like before, and you can choose to give it a new label as a new partition, or extend the size of your other drives by choosing Extend Volume.

Because of the way Windows is built on the drive, sometimes this tool straight up will not work. You won’t be able to delete or change architecture that is currently being used by the operating system. So we have a backup plan in case the first one fails.

Partition Wizard is free software to help solve this problem, it runs everything without Windows running at the same time and requires a system restart, but I highly recommend it if you want to change up the way your drives are organized and can’t get it done from within Windows. Their site is partitionwizard.com, and you can use the free version as long as it’s for personal use only.

Drives have a finite amount of space, but hopefully you can use partitions to make them as organized or as useful as you need. Remember that the Drives under My Computer can be changed just like anything else and you have the tools at your disposal to customize your rig. And as always, the pros are there to help you out if you have any questions. Thanks for reading.

 

Aaron Krick
Blog Contributor at The Computer Fixer
www.thecomputerfixer.com
aaron.krick@gmail.com

 

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