Partition Your Hard Drive



Have you ever thought about partitioning your hard drive? Partitioning divides a single hard drive into logical partitions. To the operating system, these partitions look like multiple hard drives. But why would you want to fool your operating system?

Actually, there are a few reasons. Partitioning simplifies file organization. If you want to run multiple operating systems, you'll want to create partitions for each OS.

The main argument for partitioning is that it can improve the performance of large hard drives. When you have a four-gig drive, even Windows 95's 32-bit file-allocation table (FAT32) can use storage space inefficiently. If you chop up your hard drive into multiple partitions, Windows can use smaller clusters to store data, which results in greater efficiency and less fragmentation.

Partitioning options

You have a number of program options for partitioning. Windows comes with a DOS program called FDISK that lets you partition your drive, but only if you don't mind formatting the disk.

A number of commercial programs allow you to partition without losing data: PartitionMagic from PowerQuest and Drive Works from V Communications, for starters.

Swap files

Make a small disk at the beginning of the drive for the Windows swap file. Putting a permanent swap file on a disk of its own prevents fragmentation and speeds up performance.

To set up a permanent swap file:

Right-click on the My Computer icon on your desktop.
Go to Properties.
Click on the Virtual Memory button in the Performance tab.
Click on the radio button that says "Let me specify my own virtual memory settings."
For Drive, choose the right partition and set both the minimum and maximum size to 150 percent of your RAM (if you have 64 megs, set file size to 128).
Norton Utilities lets you move the swap file to the front of the disk for quicker access.

As long as you're partitioning, you might as well organize your files and programs for optimal use. If you set up a drive for your documents, backing up your most important data is easier. Keep Windows and programs on their own drive so that the computer can access them more efficiently. And heck, make a partition for your kids' files; kids tend to rewrite files frequently, increasing fragmentation.

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