If you install a new hard drive, or decide to load a second operating system then you will need to partition a hard drive.
This article will include partition tables, file systems and help on partitioning.
The hard drive is the main storage area on a computer holding its operating system (windows, Linux, Mac OSX etc). The amount of data
that can be stored depends on the hard drives capacity, usually measured in Gigabytes1
(1GB = 10^9 bytes).
The speed which the data can be accessed depends upon the type of hard drive.
IDE and SATA
IDE and SATA drives are mechanical in operation and consist of a rotating platter on which the data is magneticly stored. These
drives look similar on the outside, just the connectors are different. The image left shows a SATA drive with case on, the image
right shows an IDE drive with case removed. SATA drives are faster than IDE drives. SATA 2 and SATA 3 drives are now available, SATA 3
providing the fastest read and write times.
Solid State Drives
The latest advances in hard drive technology has led to Solid State Drives. 2
Solid state drives have no moving
parts, are silent in operation, and have least startup time and fastest data read and write times. They are not susceptible to mechanical shock
but are currently the most expensive hard drive.
Before a new hard drive can be used the platters are un-magnetized. To store data the hard drive must be partitioned and then a filesystem
created. The filesystem leaves the platters magnetized and contains a file index so particular files can be found. A partition is just a container
for a proportion of the disk.
Hard Disk Geometry
If you install a new hard drive, the first thing you need to do is create a partition on
it. Partitioning is not a black art.
A partition in easy terms is just a container.
Partition does not end on Cylinder Boundary
If a partition does not start or end on a cylinder boundary or
if the partition length is not divisible by the cylinder size,
an asterisk (*) is printed after the non-aligned sector number/count. This usually indicates that a partition was created
by an operating system that either does not align partitions to
cylinder boundaries or that used different disk geometry information. If you know the disk geometry of the other operating
system, you could enter the geometry information with the change
geometry command (g).
For the first partition on the disk and for all logical partitions, if the offset from the beginning of the partition is not
equal to the number of sectors per track (i.e., the data does not start on the first head), a number sign (#) is printed after
the offset. For the remaining partitions, if the offset is not zero, a number sign will be printed after the offset.
This corresponds to the NC flag in the partitions section of the main display.
2 Solid State Drives