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Running low on hard drive space? Partitioning can help

Are you running low on hard drive space? Did you know that if you change the size of your partitions on your hard drive you can actually gain space. This is not the case when you use FAT or NTFS, partitioning your hard drive to a certain size to gain room only applies to FAT32 (HPFS, which stands for High Performance File System). FAT is always 32,768 bits per Cluster and NTFS you pick the Cluster size.

Windows stores each file to a Cluster or to several Clusters if a file is larger than the Cluster size. You can control how large the clusters are.

A Cluster is made up of one or more Sectors. A Sector contains exactly 512 bytes, and the number of Sectors to a Cluster is controlled by the hard drive partition size.

A partition can be your entire hard drive or you can section the hard drive to contain several partitions. If you have a ten gig hard drive you can leave your entire C drive size at 10 gigs or you may wish to partition the hard drive to have a C and a D drive. You can make the C drive any size you want and the D drive the balance of the 10 gigs. You could also create three drives or more, each of these drives is a partition.

If you had an older hard drive that was only 1 Meg (not Gig), your files would be stored in one Sector, 512 bytes. When we started using larger hard drives, Windows started to store files in Clusters comprised of 64 Sectors, this was called FAT, also known as FAT16.

If you do use FAT, not FAT32, then your 200 byte file will be stored in a 32,768 byte Cluster. If you use NTFS your files are always stored in a 4,096 byte Cluster.

With FAT32 a 200 byte file will need 4,096 bytes to store it on your hard drive if the partition size is 8 gigs or less. This same file will use 8,192 bytes to store it if the partition is greater than 8 gigs and less than 16 gigs. The same file will use 16,384 bytes on a partition that is greater than 16 gigs and less than 32 gigs. If the partition size is greater than 32 gigs the 200 byte file will require 32,768 bytes to store.

Therefore, if a file is 4,000 bytes it will require the same amount of space as does the 200 byte file.

If a file is 5,000 bytes on a 8 gig partition it will require 8,192 bytes to store; 4,096 for the first 4,096 bytes of the file and the balance of the file will need another 4,096 bytes to store.

If you have Windows 95B, 95C, 98, 98SE, and ME you can partition a FAT drive to FAT32. If you have Windows 95(no letter)or Windows 95A you will have no choice but to partition to FAT.

This is just a little trivia that you may find handy the next time you format, or replace your hard drive. You can set the partition size using Fdisk; however Fdisk will require you to format the drive. There are other programs out there that claim to be able to change partition size without losing any data on the hard drive, such as
Partition Magic. I have never used Partition Magic so I'm unable to comment.

Fdisk, on the other hand, I do use. To repartition your hard drive you will need a second hard drive or a second computer to backup your data on. Then reboot using a Startup diskette that contains Fdisk.exe and Format.com. At the A:> prompt, type Fdisk C:, press enter, answer Y to the question "Do you wish to enable large disk support?" if asked (if you have the original Windows 95 you will not be asked this question). When you get to the options window you will need to delete all Logical drives and partitions. Then create a DOS partition, and then you can create the extended partitions (logical drives). Reboot to the A:> prompt and now type Format C: and press enter. When Format is complete you are ready to reinstall Windows or restore your backed up data.



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