How partitions work
A partition is a logical division of hard disk space. This means that we are not physically dividing the space, but assigning divisions, the size we want, which are stored in the partition table itself.
Depending on the type of disk we have, we can create more or less partitions. If our album is of the type MBR (generally, disks with less than 4 TB of space) we can create only 4 primary partitions (although we can have other extended ones). If the disc is of the type GPT (those with more than 4 TB of space) we can create an unlimited number of partitions (Windows, for example, limits it to 128).
Each partition it works as an independent unit within the operating system, as if we had a second hard disk connected to the PC. We can access them like any other disk, and save the data we want. Even if a virus infects one of the partitions and we have to format, normally the data loss should not affect the others. Of course, if the hard drive is damaged, we will lose all the data saved in all its partitions.
Create partitions using Windows 10 disk manager
The Windows 10 disk manager is one of the applications installed by default in the operating system. As its name indicates, this tool is the one necessary to be able to manage all the disks and all the units that we have connected to the PC.
We can open this tool by right-clicking on the Windows Start button, choosing the option «disk management«.
Here we can see all the drives that we have connected to the computer, as well as all their volumes. We must locate the unit that we want to partition, and look for the unallocated space of that unit. We right-click and choose to create a new simple volume.
We must assign a letter to the new unit, choose the size, in megabytes, that we want it to have, and the file system that we want to use. The most common is that we can only format in NTFS or exFAT. If we need another file system we will have to resort to other third-party programs.
We follow the wizard until the end, and Windows will create the new partition, apply the selected file system and mount it to start using it. It is not the most intuitive tool that we can find for this purpose, as we can see, but it is very fast and easy to use, and it avoids having to search, download and install programs.
Configure partitions from CMD
In addition to the Windows 10 disk manager itself, another way to create and erase partitions in Windows is to do it through CMD. The operating system has inherited from MS-DOS a tool called Diskpart that will allow us to manage our hard drive.
To use this tool, the first thing we must do is open a CMD, PowerShell or Windows Terminal window with administrator permissions. And in it execute the command:
We will enter the shell of this tool. Using the «help» command we can see the different options that this tool offers us. What interests us is the creation of partitions. To do this, we will execute the following command to see the complete list of disks connected to the PC:
Once the disk we want to work on is located, we will execute the following command to select it (changing “n” for the disk number):
select disk n
Once selected, the next step will be to create a new partition. And we will do this with the following command (changing MB for the number of MB we want the new partition to have):
create partition primary size=MB
This partition will be placed at the beginning of the available space without formatting. We can create new adjoining partitions by executing the same command again, changing MB for the size we want them to be. If we want one of the partitions to occupy the rest of the space, we will simply omit the “size” parameter.
By default, these partitions will not be formatted, and will not be mounted on Windows. To do this, the first thing we will do is see a list with all of them with the command:
We select the partition that we want to format with (changing “n” for the partition number):
select partition n
And we format it with the following command:
format fs=NTFS quick
Finally, we assign a letter to it (changing “letter” for the one we want to use) and that’s it:
Now we will only have to repeat the process for each of the partitions that we have created to format them all and voila, they will be ready to start saving our data.
Partition the hard drive when installing the operating system
As we have said, one of the uses of creating partitions is to install other operating systems on the computer. Therefore, all operating systems allow us, in their assistant, create new partitions based on usage that we are going to give from the album. These assistants are usually very limited in functions, and basically they usually allow us to erase existing partitions and create new ones of the size we want, but the possibilities to resize and, above all, keep the data are very limited.
Windows 10 itself will create 4 partitions in total when we are going to install the operating system from scratch: a boot, a system, a recovery and the main partition where the data will be copied. Ideally, use this simple wizard to, starting from a new disk, create the system partition, the size we want, leaving the rest of the space unformatted to create the others after installation.
Use another operating system loaded in RAM
One of the problems that we can find when trying to partition a computer is that the system is using the disk. Either because what we are trying to do is modify the C drive of the system, or because there is a program using one of the drives on the computer, it is common to find that partition managers cannot take control over the drives, and, for therefore, we see an error.
Therefore, another way to manage disks is to do it from an operating system loaded in RAM. Generally a Linux distro, like Ubuntu. These Live systems usually include very complete and simple partition managers (such as Gparted) from which we will be able to create, delete or format the partitions. In addition, since the operating system is not working on the hard disk, certain actions (such as moving or resizing partitions) are much safer, and we run less risk of an error leaving us without data.
Of course, we always recommend working with a backup of the data in hand, since there is always a probability, no matter how small, that it will make us lose the data.
Use a partition manager
If the previous solutions seem complicated and not very intuitive, there is another option that we can use to create new partitions on the PC: a third party programs. We can find a wide variety of programs designed for this purpose, many of them free, or freemium, which will easily help us to manage the space on our hard drive.
These managers, in general, tend to be much easier to use than Microsoft’s options. The programs usually have a much more intuitive interface, and data validation functions that allow us to modify the partitions without losing the data.
Minitool Partition Wizard
Minitool Partition Wizard, for example, it is one of the simplest and most complete that we can find. This program recognizes all the drives that we have connected to the computer and each of the partitions that have these. If any of them has free space, without partitioning, we can create new partitions simply by right-clicking on said space and choosing the “Create” option.
The program will allow us to choose the name we want to give it, the type, the file system we are going to use and the drive letter. We can also choose the size we want it to have, being able to choose 100% of the space or only a part of it.
After making the changes, we can see a preview of how our album will be. We apply the changes to execute the tasks and that’s it. When finished, we can start using this unit.
Paragon Partition Manager
This is another of the most complete partition managers that we can find. With it we will be able to create, delete, resize, move or expand partitions, in addition to always having functions at hand to recover volumes and data in case we lose them by accident.
This program works, roughly, like any other. Once we have selected the disk on which we want to work, we will be able to see a series of options and tasks that we can carry out. The one that will interest us will be to create a new partition.
We will choose this option and fill in the information you request. We can choose the file system, the name of the new unit and, of course, the size. We apply the changes and voila, we will have the partitioned disk, and we can use the new space to save the data we want.