Disk partitioning

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Disk partitioning is the act of dividing a hard disk drive into multiple logical storage units referred to as partitions, to treat one physical disk drive as if it were multiple disks. Partitions are also termed "slices" for operating systems based on BSD and Solaris. A partition editor software program can be used to create, resize, delete, and manipulate these partitions on the hard disk.

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Benefits of multiple partitions

Creating more than one partition has the following advantages:

  • Separation of the operating system (OS) and program files from user files. This allows image backups (or clones) to be made of only the operating system and installed software.
  • Having an area for operating system virtual memory swapping/paging.
  • Keeping frequently used programs and data near each other.
  • Having cache and log files separate from other files. These can change size dynamically and rapidly, potentially making a file system full.
  • Use of multi-boot setups, which allow users to have more than one operating system on a single computer. For example, one could install Linux, Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows or others on different partitions of the same hard disk and have a choice of booting into any compatible operating system at power-up.
  • Protecting or isolating files, to make it easier to recover a corrupted file system or operating system installation. If one partition is corrupted, none of the other file systems are affected, and the drive's data may still be salvageable. Having a separate partition for read-only data also reduces the chances of the file system on this partition becoming corrupted.
  • Raising overall computer performance on systems where smaller file systems are more efficient. For instance, large hard drives with only one NTFS file system typically have a very large sequentially accessed Master File Table (MFT) and it generally takes more time to read this MFT than the smaller MFTs of smaller partitions.
  • "Short Stroking", which aims to minimize performance-eating head repositioning delays by reducing the number of tracks used per hard drive.[1] The basic idea is that you make one partition approx. 20-25% of the total size of the drive. This partition is expected to: occupy the outer tracks of the hard drive, and offer more than double the throughput — less than half the access time. If you limit capacity with short stroking, the minimum throughput stays much closer to the maximum.

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