Every computer storage drive is associated with the term partitions. These partitions are an integral part of the storage drive that are necessary for its functioning. Learn more about what is partition and their uses by sticking till the end of article.
What is a Partition
Partitioning is the initial step to prepare the storage drive for proper functioning. It is the process of splitting the drive to smaller segments, which makes it easy for the better management of the storage space.
The operating system then considers each and every partition as a different unit. The details of the partitions such as the size of the partition and its location is stored by a partition table.
Therefore, the disk can be segmented into several logical units. Each and every partition can then be installed with a different file system. These files systems then manage each and every file on the respective partition.
The partition also separates critical system information from the user, this avoids any damage done to the operating system.
What are the different types of Partitions
The number of partitions used on the drive depends on the partition tables such MBR (Master Boot Record) or GUID Partition Table. The MBR partition provides up to four primary partitions on the drive and MBR only works with disk volume up to 2 TB. Whereas the GPT can provide more than four partitions on the drive and can work with disk volume of more than 2 TB
The GPT is related with UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) which is quickly replacing the old BIOS firmware. Windows cannot boot GPT without the UEFI. To boot the operating system the UEFI doesn’t depend on the boot sector like the BIOS.
The UEFI loads the operating system faster compared to BIOS. Apart from faster loading time, it stores a copy of the partition table on the secondary location. In case the primary partition table is damaged, the computer does not fail completely as there is a backup of the partition table available.
Be it MBR or GUID partition table, there are two basic way in which the drive is partitioned. Primary partition and Extended Partition.
The primary partition is the one that contains the operating system. You can install different operating system on the computer but however, only one operating system will be active at a time. The partition from which the computer loads the operating system is called the active partition.
Any data that the user needs to access on the primary partition cannot be done without the operating system. The computer can have four primary partitions or three primary partition and one extended partition, but each drive can have only one extended partition.
An extended partition can be divided into any number of subpartition called as the logical partitions. These are created to provide a better disk management to the user.
Using the logical partition, the user can save various other data such as documents, application software, music, movies and many other files. Thus, separating the user’s information from the system information.
Apart from helping in proper management of the disk space. The disk partitioning also makes it easy to recover data from the partition. When there is a question of how to recover partition?, the drive partitioning strategy serves as an advantage to recover lost partition with ease.
Here are some of the widely used partition types according to file systems and their applications on different operating systems
- NTFS (New Technology File System): It is used widely on various Windows operating system. Developed by Microsoft to over come the limitations of FAT file system. Apart from read and write the NTFS also performs complex task such as recovery of the file system on large scale.
- FAT (File Allocation Table): The compatibility of the FAT file system makes it supported by all the modern operating systems. It is broadly used in partitioning various storage devices such as hard drives, pen drives, SD cards and many other portable drives.
- Boot Partition: The boot partition holds the critical files that are needed to start the systems.
- HFS (Hierarchical File System): Developed by Apple Inc, it served as the primary partition on Mac OS 8.1. It was later replaced by HFS+ which was used across Mac OS X.
- APFS (Apple File system): The APFS was the primarily developed for Mac OS High Sierra and over came to limitations of HFS+. With the main focus on encryption, the APFS was designed to be compatible with flash and solid-state drives (SSD).
- Linux ext2fs: Primarily used on various Linux Operating systems. it over came problems posed by ext partitioning.
Other benefits of partitioning.
- Each logical drive partition is not dependent on the other, this results in better security for the data contained on the drive
- It gives the user to install different file systems on various partitions
- One of the logical drives can be used as a backup drive to save the data. Therefore, data can be retrieved from the backup drive in an event of data loss.
- If you are a user who wants to have different operating system on the same drive, partitioning reduces the risk of clashes between different operating systems.
- Reinstallation of the operating systems becomes easier by partitioning the drive. The data stored in the logical drive remains unchanged after operating system reinstallation. This is because, any changes made will be done only on the primary partition.
Depending on the needs you can partition the drive into any number of subpartitions. Despite the benefits of partitioning, there are a few things that the users should be aware of. Having too many partitions can be very a bad idea. With many partitions, tracking and managing the data will be much more difficult. Although the drive is divided into partitions, they still exist on the same drive. So, if the storage drive is corrupted due to unforeseen circumstances, all the drive partitions will be affected. Therefore, it is necessary to have a backup of data on different storage drive. To avoid any such complications, always have limited partitions created on the drive depending on the needs.