How to partition a disk without losing data?

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How to partition a disk without losing data?
How to partition a disk without losing data?

Quite often, users have questions about how to divide a disk into several parts, if, for example, when buying a computer, the hard drive has only one system partition. What is it for and what means can be used to carry out such operations, read on. Let's try to consider a few basic situations that every user of Windows systems may encounter. Let's dwell separately on the issues of data safety when creating additional virtual partitions.

Why partition a disk?

Let's start with why all these actions are needed at all. Let's take the simplest situation as an example. Suppose that the user has only one system partition, and for some reason he needs to reinstall the operating system. But you need to save important information present on the disk. Where to copy it? On a flash drive? Let's say. And if the total volume of files is about a hundred gigabytes?Where to find such a medium? Even if there is one, the copying process will take a lot of time.

So isn't it easier to copy data to a virtual partition, which is only called virtual, but is actually a reserved space on the hard drive? This is where you need to partition the disk. In Windows systems, this can be done in several ways, not only at the stage of installing the operating system, but also in an already installed running OS (their own tools appeared in Windows only in the seventh version and are included in the standard set in all later modifications).

General concept of disk partitioning

Let's leave for now the consideration of the question of how to divide the disk into parts, and dwell on the basic principle that is used when performing such operations. Many users completely misunderstand the separation process itself. There is an opinion among the ignorant that this is akin to how some whole piece is cut off from a round cake. This is an absolute fallacy.

The actual location of the files on the hard drive
The actual location of the files on the hard drive

Users completely forget that the files on the hard drive are not stored in one place, but are scattered throughout the space. Thus, the allocation of space for a new partition is carried out, if I may say so, by selective “biting off” free sectors with their subsequent merging into one file structure, but not whole (like a piece of cake), but scattered around the hard disk in the same way. And what everyone sees in the usual "Explorer" is cardinallydifferent from what it really is.

Main options for action

It was all digressions. Now the practice begins. First, let's look at how to partition a disk in terms of the actions that can be taken in each case. The most commonly used in practice are the following:

  • partitioning during Windows setup;
  • partitioning a disk in an installed system while saving data with a standard tool;
  • using the DISKPART command line tool;
  • using third party software.

Creating a partition during installation

First, a few words about how to partition a disk in Windows 10 when installing it. We take the tenth modification only as an example, since in all versions of the OS (even in the outdated XP modification) these processes look almost the same.

How to partition the disk in this example? At one of the installation stages, the installer will prompt the user to select the partition where the system is supposed to be installed.

Partitioning the disk during system installation
Partitioning the disk during system installation

If it is a single unallocated space, the create partition button is used first, followed by the required size. This procedure is performed as many times as you need to create partitions (but usually no more than four). Each partition created must then be formatted without fail. It is better to use NTFS as a file system (for partitions withup to 2 TB) rather than FAT32, since the latter cannot handle files larger than 4 GB. After creating, formatting partitions and installing the system, all of them will be available in Explorer. But, as it is already clear, due to the fact that all created partitions are subject to formatting (otherwise they simply will not be recognized by the system), there can be no talk of saving the information originally present on the hard disk.

Disabling protection in a running system

To perform the following actions, in some cases it may be necessary to disable system protection (this will delete all restore points).

Disabling system protection
Disabling system protection

To do this, call the properties of the computer, follow the hyperlink on the left to go to the appropriate section and after clicking the protection settings button, disable it. This will be followed by a warning in which you need to click the "Yes" button.

How to split a disk into 2 parts using Windows tools?

Starting from the seventh modification, Windows systems finally got their own tools for partitioning a disk into logical partitions (previously this could only be done using third-party utilities). The main tool is the disk management section, which can be accessed through the administration or called directly from the start menu by entering the command diskmgmt.msc.

Volume compression
Volume compression

Split a disk without losing data as follows. First, through the RMB menu on the marked partition, you must select itcompression (for convenience, we assume that there is only one so far).

Compressible space size
Compressible space size

After that, you should pay attention to the size of the compressed space. Usually, the system sets the size on its own, and will not allow you to “pinch off” more than it should. Now the system has a system partition and unrecognized space.

Create a simple volume
Create a simple volume

Through the RMB, the item for creating a simple volume is selected on it, and then you need to follow the instructions of the special "Wizard". In most cases, the automatically set parameters can be left unchanged, except for those moments when the size of the new partition is set manually, if you intend to create several of them. The same goes for assigning the desired letter (be careful not to use letters that correspond to optical drives or removable USB drives, as they may stop working).

Using the command line

Now let's see how to partition a disk using the command line. To do this, use the universal tool DISKPART, which works only from the command console and is not called in any other way. Looking ahead, it can be noted that it is used not only to partition the main disk into partitions, but even to create bootable media (flash drives) when there are no third-party programs at hand.

Partition disk black command line
Partition disk black command line

The partitioning process is quite simple. The user does not need to delve into each command especially. Enough to performthe sequences above.

Basic tool DISKPART
Basic tool DISKPART

Here you need to pay attention only to the correct choice of disk, the specified size and the file system that will be used for the new partition when formatting it.

How to split a disk into 2 parts using third-party programs?

In principle, many users do not like the standard tools built into Windows systems, no matter how trite it may look, just because you need to perform many additional actions. Is it a matter of third-party programs specially created to work with disks? As one of the simplest utilities, I can recommend AOMEI Partition Assistant.

How to divide a disk into logical partitions using it? Easy peasy! Two solutions can be used. In the first case, disk resizing is applied, followed by the creation of a new partition, which is very similar to the actions used in Windows.

AOMEI Partition Assistant
AOMEI Partition Assistant

In the second option, you can do much easier by immediately selecting the disk partition item through the RMB menu. But in both cases, a window appears in which, to simplify setting the size, there is a special slider. All other actions, such as selecting a section letter, are standard.

Note: after performing the above steps, the partition itself will be performed in PreOS mode during the next reboot before the operating system starts. Depending on the total volume of the partition being partitionedit may take quite a lot of time.


That's all in a nutshell about the procedures for partitioning a disk into logical partitions. It goes without saying that many people have a question about which toolkit to give preference to. The easiest is to use third-party programs. But on the other hand, the use of actions with the command line eliminates the possible occurrence of various kinds of errors and failures, from which third-party applications are absolutely not immune.

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