Partitioning and Formatting Disk in Windows 10

Organize your disk optimally and make it work? Partitioning allows you to organize the space on your PC the way you want. Which programs can you use for this, and how do you choose the right file system? We explain how you can partition a disk in Windows 10. Formatting is also covered.

Partitioning a drive divides it into different sections. This is referred to as partitions. For example, a partition can contain an operating system or be reserved for data storage. Partitions are often created when you first set up the computer, but it is also possible to create new partitions and modify existing partitions at a later date. You can do this while preserving data already on the drive.

Different partitions can provide more overview and flexibility, for example if you decide to clean the computer and perform a clean installation of Windows. If you create a partition for the operating system and a separate partition for your files, you only need to deal with the operating system partition. The data partition remains unchanged.

Before partitioning or formatting a drive, it is recommended that you back up the files on it. For help with this, we refer you to this Backup and Restore Course. Possibly with 180-page practical book!

Using Disk Management

The Disk Management component allows you to perform many of the formatting tasks in Windows. Open the Start menu and type diskmgmt.msc, followed by pressing Enter. Disk Management opens and shows you which physical drives and associated partitions are active on the system. In the top part of the window you can see the drives with drive letter, capacity and available space. Once the partition is usable thanks to a file system, it is referred to as a volume in Windows.

About file systems

Each hard drive uses a specific file system. The file system determines how your data is stored. On Windows computers, you often have to deal with fat and ntfs file systems. The fat format was mainly used in older versions of Windows (up to and including Windows Millennium Edition). Memory cards also often use the fat file system.

Fat is an abbreviation for File Allocation Table and exists in several variants. For example, the fat16 system is suitable for storage space of up to 2 GB. Fat32 lends itself to a capacity of 4 to 32 GB. The exfat variant is intended for 64 GB and larger storage. NTFS has its origins in Windows NT (the NT File System) and is used in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, among others. The file system is a more advanced file system than fat (including in terms of security) and lends itself well to larger disks.

For more information about the drive or partition, right click on it and choose Characteristics. The properties window is made up of several tabs. on the tab General you can see which file system is used and how the capacity of the volume is distributed. the tab Additional provides access to volume health utilities. Here you can check the volume for errors and optimize and defragment the disk.

the tab Hardware provides information about the make and model of the volume. Via the other tabs you can adjust settings in the areas of shared access, security, backups and setting a storage limit.

Modify existing partition

Are you using a disk that you want to divide into multiple partitions and don't want to delete the existing data? If the disk has space left over, you can shrink the existing partition and use the freed up space to create an additional partition.

Right-click on the drive you want to divide into multiple partitions. Choose Reduce volume. Disk Management checks how much space is available and displays it in a new window at Amount of available space for shrinking (in MB). In the box below, indicate how many MB you want to shrink the partition by. In the box Total size after shrinking (in MB) read what's left. Satisfied? click on shrink.

In the main Disk Management window you will now see the loose space, labeled as Unallocated space. Now it is time to create the partition in this space. Right click on Nnot allocated space and choose New Simple Volume. Disk Management will now open a wizard to help you create the new volume.

Specify how much space to allocate to the partition. If you want to create one partition, you give up the entire space. If you want to create multiple partitions from the free space, you specify how much space may be allocated to this partition. Also specify a drive letter.

The wizard asks if you want to format the new volume. Choose Format this volume based on the following settings. The desired file system is ntfs. Bee Volume name enter the desired name. Place a checkmark Quick Format and click Next one. In the last window click on Complete. The new partition is created and ready to use.

Customize drive letter

If you are not satisfied with the drive letter, you can easily adjust it afterwards via Disk Management. Finally, let's take a look at that. Right click on the volume and choose Change drive letter and paths. Click on the existing letter and choose Modify. Then you can choose a new drive letter at Assign this drive letter. click on OK. The drive letter is now modified.

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