Partitioning a hard drive is an important process that helps you optimize storage and organize data on your computer. In this article, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of partitioning a hard drive: from understanding why partitioning is useful to choosing the right tools, creating partitions, and formatting them.

What Is Partitioning?

When you partition a drive, you divide it into two or more parts called partitions. A partition in Windows is also called a volume. The operating system treats each partition as a distinct drive. It assigns different volume letters to distinguish one volume from another.

Many new PCs are already partitioned out of the box. There is the C drive, which everyone is already familiar with, and a small D partition as well. The latter volume stores recovery files Windows can use when a problem occurs.

Benefits of Hard Drive Partitioning

There are several key benefits to partitioning a hard drive:

  • It helps you keep your files and data organized by creating separate sections or partitions for different types of data.
  • By separating your data into different partitions, you can protect important files and prevent them from being affected if issues occur in other partitions.
  • Partitioning enables you to set up a dual boot system, where you can have multiple operating systems installed on separate partitions, giving you the flexibility to choose which one to use.
  • With separate partitions, you can perform targeted backups, focusing on specific partitions instead of backing up the entire hard drive, saving time and storage space.
  • Partitioning makes it easier to manage and access specific files or data without having to sift through the entire hard drive.

By taking advantage of hard drive partitioning, you can enhance performance, protect your data, and improve overall organization and management of your files and system.

Preparing for Hard Drive Partition

When getting ready to partition your hard drive, consider the following steps:

Back Up Your Data: Before partitioning, create a backup of all your important files and data. This ensures that even if something goes wrong during the partitioning process, your data remains safe.

Plan Partition Sizes: Determine the sizes you want to allocate to each partition based on your storage needs and the intended use of each partition. Consider factors like the operating system, programs, and data you plan to store on each partition.

Also Read: How to Find Your PC’s Windows System Information?

Choose a Partitioning Tool: Select a reliable partitioning tool or software that suits your needs. Popular options include Disk Management on Windows and Disk Utility on macOS. These tools provide user-friendly interfaces to help you create and manage partitions.

Understand Partitioning Options: Familiarize yourself with the partitioning options available to you, such as creating primary partitions, extended partitions, or logical partitions. Understand the limitations and compatibility requirements associated with each type.

Follow Guidelines and Tutorials: Refer to official documentation, guidelines, or tutorials provided by your chosen partitioning tool to ensure you follow the correct steps. These resources can guide you through the process and help you avoid potential pitfalls.

By adequately preparing for hard drive partitioning, you can minimize the risk of data loss, make informed decisions about partition sizes, and ensure a smooth and successful partitioning process.

When to Partition a Hard Drive

Apart from the many benefits of hard driver partitioning, splitting the main storage into multiple portions isn’t something you should do without a good reason.

  • If you’re trying to clean-install Windows, you don’t need to spend time partitioning your drive manually. Windows will do that automatically during the installation process.
  • If you want to keep sensitive files in a space different from your main storage, 

you can consider bespoke third-party solutions like VeraCrypt, moving the files to the cloud, an external hard drive, or using BitLocker to encrypt them.

It makes sense to partition your drive if you are looking to install another operating system like Linux on your PC. 

You can also split your storage if you want to keep Windows files and personal files in separate volumes. This way, you won’t lose your files if you re-install Windows since it will only use its allocated volume for the installation. 

If you’re hell-bent on partitioning your drive then you can read on for the easy guide. Unlike what you might think, the process is relatively simple and takes only a few minutes.

How to Partition a Hard Drive

You don’t need any extra tools to split your drive. Everything required is already on your computer.

But—first things first—do you have enough free space on your drive?

Also Read: Disk Cleanup Tips: How to Compress a Drive to Save Disk Space in Windows 10

This is an important factor for you to consider. There is no point trying to partition your drive if it is almost or completely full already. You certainly can’t partition non-empty space on Windows.

It is better to check your available storage space before you proceed. Simply open File Explorer and click This PC on the sidebar. Check your C drive. You’ll know whether you can proceed or if you either need to free up space or install a drive with more space.

How to Partition a Hard Drive

If you’d like to free up space, you can do that yourself. Open File Manager and explore the contents of your PC. You can delete files and programs you no longer need.

For a faster process, consider installing Auslogics BoostSpeed. This all-purpose system optimizer has a cleaning feature that lets you remove junk files and unneeded files instantly.

Also Read: How to Uninstall Programs and Delete Unnecessary Files in Windows 10

Either way, think about what you need the extra partition for and how much space is required. Once you’re satisfied that splitting the drive won’t unduly affect future use, you can move to the next stage.

The next stage is, of course, backing up important files. Partitioning a drive shouldn’t pose risks to the data already in it but you can never be too careful.

Also read: Windows 10 Backup Guide: Backing Up to an External Hard Drive

Open Disk Management

We need to open Disk Management to begin the process. This is the utility on Windows that handles disk-related tasks.

You can open Disk Management in the following ways:

  • From Control Panel: Network and Security > Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Disk Management.
  • Via diskmgmt.msc: Open Command Prompt (Windows Key + R), PowerShell or the Run box and execute the diskmgmt.msc command.
  • Via the Power User Menu: Press Windows Key + X and select Disk Management.

Shrink Your Drive

When Disk Management opens, you’ll be shown a list of drives and their partitions like in the image below.

If you installed a new drive, you may get an Initialize Disk popup window asking you to choose a partition style for the drive. The rule is to select GPT for drives of 2TB or greater and MBR for drives lesser than 2TB.

Locate the drive you wish to partition in the lower half of the Disk Management window and select it. If it is a new drive, it will probably be labelled Unallocated. This means it hasn’t been formatted (and cannot be used).

Things are a bit more complicated if you want to repartition an existing drive. If a part of the space is already partitioned, you will see Unallocated next to that partition. However, if the partition uses all the available space on that drive, you will need to shrink the partition first. Here’s how to repartition a hard drive:

  • Right-click the drive and select Shrink Volume.

how to shrink drive volume

  • On the Shrink dialog box, note the total space available to shrink. Then enter the amount of space you want to create in MB (Note: 100000 MB =100 GB) and click the Shrink button.

shrink hard drive volume on Windows

Windows will create an unallocated partition. It might take a while depending on how much space you freed up. Once it is done, you will now see Unallocated beside the partition on the existing drive.

Partition Your Drive

Now that you have the space you need, we can begin creating the partition properly.

Step 1. Right-click the unallocated space and select New Simple Volume.

how to partition a drive

Step 2. When the Simple Volume Wizard window shows up, click Next.

Step 3. If you want to use all the free space for the new partition, click Next on the Specify Volume Size window. If not, type the amount of space you need then click Next.

Step 4. Click Next on the Assign Drive Letter or Path window. Windows will automatically give your partition a letter label. You may manually change the assigned letter if you like. You cannot however use a letter that’s already in use (like C).

Step 5. Leave all the settings on the Format Partition screen as they are and click Next.

partition a hard drive on Windows 10

Step 6. Review everything on the Completing the Simple Volume Wizard window and click Finish.

how to partition a hard drive on PC

After a few moments, your new partition will open automatically in File Manager. Once you click This PC on the side panel, you will see your new partition listed on the main screen under Devices and Drivers. In our case, it is the E partition.

partitioning a hard drive

We told you it’s easy.

Managing And Modifying Partitions

Once you have created partitions on your hard drive, you can manage and modify them using the following steps:

  • Access Disk Management: On Windows, open Disk Management by right-clicking the Start button and selecting “Disk Management.” On macOS, open Disk Utility from the Applications > Utilities folder.
  • View Existing Partitions: In Disk Management or Disk Utility, you will see a list of all the partitions on your hard drive. Take note of their sizes, file systems, and labels.
  • Resize Partitions: If you need to adjust the size of a partition, right-click on it and select “Resize” or a similar option. Follow the prompts to increase or decrease the partition’s size as desired.
  • Create New Partitions: If you have unallocated space on your hard drive, you can create new partitions. Right-click on the unallocated space and choose “New Simple Volume” (Windows) or “Add Volume” (macOS). Specify the size, file system, and label for the new partition.
  • Delete or Merge Partitions: To remove a partition, right-click on it and select “Delete Volume” (Windows) or “Erase” (macOS). Be cautious as this will erase all data on the partition. To merge partitions, you may need to use third-party partitioning software as built-in tools may not have this feature.
  • Format Partitions: If you create a new partition or delete an existing one, you will likely need to format it to a specific file system (such as NTFS, exFAT, or FAT32) for it to be usable. Right-click on the partition and select “Format” or “Erase” to initiate the formatting process.
  • Apply Changes: After making any modifications, ensure that you apply the changes as instructed by the partitioning tool. This step may require a reboot of your system to finalize the modifications.

By effectively managing and modifying partitions, you can adapt your storage configuration to better suit your needs, optimize space allocation, and make the most efficient use of your hard drive’s capacity.

If you encounter lost or corrupted partitions on your hard drive, you can attempt to recover them using the following steps:

  • Choose Data Recovery Software: Utilize reputable data recovery software such as TestDisk, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, or MiniTool Partition Wizard. These tools can help scan and recover lost or corrupted partitions.
  • Launch the Recovery Software: Install and open the chosen data recovery software on your computer.
  • Select the Hard Drive: Choose the affected hard drive from the list of available drives within the recovery software.
  • Scan for Lost or Corrupted Partitions: Initiate a partition scan using the recovery software. It will search for any lost or corrupted partitions on the selected hard drive.
  • Preview and Recover: Once the scan is complete, the recovery software will present a list of recoverable partitions. Preview the found partitions and select the ones you wish to recover.
  • Recover Partitions: Follow the instructions provided by the recovery software to recover the selected partitions. Specify a new location to store the recovered partitions to avoid overwriting any existing data.
  • Verify and Restore Data: After the recovery process is complete, verify the recovered partitions and restore any necessary data from the recovered partitions to your preferred location.

Note: Data recovery success depends on various factors, including the extent of damage or loss. If the recovery process proves challenging, consider seeking professional assistance from data recovery specialists or services.


Why Partition a Hard Drive?

Partitioning a hard drive offers benefits such as improved data organization, performance optimization, dual booting, simplified backup, and easy data management. It allows you to allocate sections of the hard drive for specific purposes, enhancing efficiency and flexibility.

How to Repartition a Hard Drive?

To repartition a hard drive, you can use built-in tools like Disk Management on Windows or Disk Utility on macOS. These tools allow you to resize existing partitions, create new ones, or merge partitions. It’s important to back up your data before making any changes to ensure its safety.

What Is Partitioning in Computer?

Partitioning in computer refers to dividing a physical hard drive into separate sections or partitions. Each partition is treated as an independent storage unit, appearing as a separate drive letter or volume. Partitioning allows for better organization, management, and utilization of storage space on a computer’s hard drive.