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Determine Disk Partition Options

Learning Bridge to Overview of Create Partition Wizard

If you need a refresher, the following describes how to use the Disk Management utility's Create Partition Wizard to create a disk partition.
So how does Windows use disk partitions? Windows uses partitions in much the same way that Windows NT 4.0 does, with one exception: you no longer have to commit your changes to save them or to restart your computer to make those changes effective.
There is another difference between Windows and Windows NT 4.0 in relation to handling of disks. Windows supports two types of disks: basic (the traditional disk type used by Windows NT, Windows 95/98, and other operating systems), and dynamic disks, which use volumes instead of partitions.
By default, Windows initializes disks as basic disks. If all or part of a basic disk has unallocated space on it, it must be partitioned and formatted before it can store data. You create a partition and select options by using the Create Partition Wizard.

To create a partition

To create a partition, you need to launch the Create Partition Wizard. To do this:
  1. Open Disk Management.
  2. Right-click the unallocated space on the disk where you want to create a partition.
  3. Click Create Partition, and the Create Partition Wizard starts. The Wizard will guide you through several screens where you select various options.
The table below describes each of the Create Partition Wizard options:

Option Description
Select the type of partition you want to create Selects a primary partition, an extended partition, or a logical drive. If an option appears dimmed, it is unavailable. For example, if an extended partition already exists on the disk, this option is unavailable.
Amount of disk space to use Determines the size of the partition. The default size is the available unallocated space.
Assign a drive letter or path Assigns a drive letter or a path. There are only a limited number of drive letters. If you do not assign a drive letter or a path, users will not be able to access the partition.
Format this partition with the following settings Selects which file system (NT file system [NTFS], file allocation table [FAT], or FAT32) to use and the allocation unit size. You can format the partition at another time; however, you cannot use the partition to store data until you format it.
Perform a Quick Format Prevents Windows from scanning for bad sectors during the formatting process. This may save time, but it is not recommended.
Enable file and folder compression Enables compression of files and folders that are stored on the partition. File compression can allow you to store more data on the disk, but it may cause slower performance. You can also enable file compression later.

Precautions to take regarding Backup

Remember that deleting or creating partitions or volumes destroys any existing data.
Back up your entire disk before you delete or create a partition, even if you plan to make changes to only some of your partitions.
This material is excerpted from Installing Windows and Implementing DHCP, WINS, and DNS, which is the first course in the Windows NT 4.0 to Windows Update Certification Series.