How to partition a hard-disk drive?

Partitioning a Hard disk drive means we are breaking it up into smaller chunks of storage. You can partition a new disk or the one you are currently using in your computer. After partitioning a hard disk drive, you can install different operating systems on different partitions. But remember, partitioning a hard disk drive will result in permanent loss of all the data in the disk. So, before you proceed, you must backup all the important data from the hard disk.

Other things you can consider before partitioning a hard disk drive are:

What kind of file system do you want to use? You can choose between FAT and NTFS. NTFS is the preferred file system. But if you are planning to run older versions of Windows, then go for the FAT file system.

Make sure you have the all the device drivers for your computer.

If you have third-party applications in your computer which may have to be reinstalled, make sure you have a working copy of these applications. If you have any data associated with these applications, make sure you are familiar with the backup and restore procedures for the same. (A good example of such an application would be accounting softwares. Different companies use different accounting programs and very often, after partitioning the hard disk, they realize that they don’t have the installation disks or have outdated data backups or the backups they thought they had did not work!)

Configure your computer to use the CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive as the first boot device. You can do this by changing the settings in the BIOS.


  • Insert the Windows XP CD into the CD/DVD drive and start up your computer
  • When you see the message “Press any key to boot from CD….” on your screen, press any key on the keyboard
  • If your hard disk controller required a third party driver, press F6 to specify the driver, else ignore it
  • When you see the Welcome to setup screen, press <enter>.
  • Now, press F8 to accept the Windows XP licensing agreement.
  • If an existing Windows installation is detected, you will be prompted to repair it. You can ignore it and hit the ESC key on the keyboard to continue.
  • In the next screen, you will be able to see all the partitioned and non-partitioned spaces on your computer.
  • Use the arrow keys to select an existing partition to install Windows XP in it. Alternatively, you can create a new partition in a non-partitioned space by hitting the letter C on your keyboard (You can delete a partition by typing D on your keyboard and then typing L or <Enter> to confirm that you want to delete that partition.)
  • Remember, if one or more partitions already exist, you will have to delete them before creating any new partitions. (for deleting and creating partitions, refer to the previous point.)
  • After you have created a new partition, you can choose to use the entire available space for your installation or create new partitions according to the space available.
  • In case you wish to create new partitions, you can specify the amount of disk space you want to allocate for your new partition in Megabytes (MB).
  • Having done that, you have to format your partitions to install Windows XP and start using the hard disk.

Note: if you wish to abort the Windows XP installation, press the F3 key two times.


After successfully having partitioned the hard disk drive, choose the partition on which you wish to install Windows XP and press Enter

The following formatting options will be available to you:

1. Format the partition by using the NTFS file system (Quick)
2. Format the partition by using the FAT file system (Quick)
3. Format the partition by using the NTFS file system
4. Format the partition by using the FAT file system
5. Leave the current file system intact (no changes)

Use the arrow keys and select the formatting option you want and then hit <Enter> on your keyboard.

After Windows setup formats the partition all you have to do is to follow the on screen instructions to complete the Windows XP installation.

There are some other considerations you will have to bear in mind.

They are as follows:

  • If the selected partition is a new one, you will not have the option which says “leave the current file system intact.”
  • If the selected partition is larger than 32GB, the FAT file system option is not available.
  • If the partition you have selected is larger than 2GB, Windows uses the FAT32 file system. You must confirm this by hitting the <Enter> key on your keyboard.
  • If the selected partition is smaller than 2GB, Windows uses FAT16 file system.