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2.1 Partitioning Software

First a little history on partition software. My use of partitioning software goes back to 1990 first in Unix using a cryptic command line shell (and it was around long before that). Most of the technology that was around then is still here (just packaged differently).  In 1995 products came out using the Windows interface and became an immediate success. By 1997 a product call “Partition Magic” came out with a easy to use version that worked in the Windows interface which opened up the market to less experienced users. “Partition Magic” was absorbed by Symantec (however, it appears to be stagnant in updates) . My personal preference are the products from Acronis which we will use in class. Most third party software companies offer a complete functional trial version which can be downloaded and used for free .

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The software available to partition your drive can be from what is included with your operating system to full featured  products that you will need to pay for. (my recommendations are stay away from free products when using windows unless you know what you are doing)

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First we will cover what is included with your operating system then we will cover purchased products.

Above is a image of what you will see if you are logged in using the VM image I have made  for you in my class. If you are on your own I assume you made a VM like was talked about in the first section and can pickup on what we are doing. Do not preform any of these operations on your real system. Use a VM only (that was the point of the first lesson)

First let us discuss XP Pro’s disk management. If you go to the computer management panel in XP Pro (under Control Panel – Administrative Tools)  and select Disk Management you should see the above screen or something close. Most systems will have only one working partition on them.  I am clueless as to why this is done except it may be easier to support. The above image is a typical layout I have used for years with great success (if I only have one physical drive).  The “boot (C:)” partition is were the operating system and programs are . Junk files like pagefiles, temp, logs and dump files are on the “pagefile (E:) partition and data is on the “data (F:)” . This is all fine IF you started out with a new install since you can control size and add them one at a time. However, this not the normal case, when you get a new system with the operating system installed or ready to auto install everything ends up in one partition. The problem is only way you can correct this craziness  (in XP Pro or earlier)  is start over or leave it alone and suffer the inevitable consequences slowly degrading performance and the possibility of data loss.

When Vista and then Windows 7 came out  Microsoft made some corrections to the partitioning problems.  Above  you will see the new Disk Management panel which now has a “Extend and Shrink” partition option that solve part of the problem.  If I wanted to reorganize my primary drive to recover extra space from several partitions there is no easy way to consolidate the space. You will end up with free space in different areas which is in useless in most cases.  This is were thrid party partitioning software comes in. You can reorganize space over and over again as you add and remove partitions and place them anywhere on the drive.

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THIRD PARTY SOFTWARE

The above three images give you an idea of what can be done with a product like “Acronis Disk Director” (which does not work with Windows 7 yet).  The reason these partition sizes seem small is the test is being run on a VM which has a 16GB virtual drive for simplicity.  In this sample we would like to free up enough space to make two partitions about 5.5GB one about 3GB and leave the pagefile size  alone. This would be a nightmare without the proper partition software.  In this case in a matter of minutes the “boot C:” and the “data F:” were adjusted in size to recover 5.3GB . Then the new unallocated 5.3GB partition was moved to the end of the 16GB drive.  Total time less then 30 minutes while you did something else.
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