To partition a hard drive in Windows Vista means to divide the hard drive into parts and make those parts available to the operating system. It's also possible for an entire hard drive to have a single partition, which is actually the most common way to partition a hard drive in Windows Vista.
This may seem complicated but don't worry. Partitioning is a required step before you can use a new drive so Microsoft has made it very easy to partition a hard drive in Windows Vista.
Follow these steps to partition a hard drive in Windows Vista:
Note: Not using Windows Vista? See the tip at the bottom of the page for help.
Note: You can also open Disk Management from the Command Prompt in Windows Vista but starting it via Computer Management is more common.
As Disk Management opens, you should be prompted with an Initialize Disk window advising that "you must initialize a disk before Logical Disk Manager can access it."
Choose GPT if your new hard drive is larger than 2 terabytes or MBR if it's smaller than 2 terabytes. Then click OK.
Note: Don't worry just yet if you don't see this window. We should know in the next step if something might be wrong with the physical hard drive installation.
With Disk Management open, find the hard drive you want to partition on the bottom half of the screen in the drive map.
If the hard drive is new it will likely be on a dedicated row labeled Disk 1 (or another number other than zero) and say Unallocated.
If the space you want to partition is part of hard drive that is already partially partitioned, the Unallocated space will be next to that space.
Note: You might have to maximize the Computer Management window to see all the hard drives on the bottom. Unpartitioned drives do not show up in the drive list at the top of the screen.
Important: Don't see the hard drive you want to partition? Look again to be sure, but if the hard drive you've installed is not there, there may have been an issue when you installed it. You should turn off your computer and make sure the hard drive is installed correctly.
Once you locate the drive, right-click anywhere in the Unallocated space and choose New Simple Volume....
The New Simple Volume Wizard will appear.
Click Next >.
In the Specify Volume Size step, click Next > to confirm the size of the partition.
The number listed in the Simple volume size in MB: field should equal the number listed as the Maximum disk space in MB:. This means that you're creating a partition of the same size as the entire hard drive or unpartitioned space.
Note: If you want to create multiple partitions in this Unallocated space, change the Simple volume size in MB to the size of the partition you'd like to create. Repeat this and the following steps to create another, or several more, partitions.
The next step in the wizard, called Assign Drive Letter or Path, does exactly that, since your new partition will need a drive letter.
Windows Vista automatically chooses the next available drive letter (A and B are skipped) so if that drive letter suites you, just click Next >.
Important: It's best to stick with whatever drive letter you choose. Changing a drive's letter in the future is really easy but can cause problems if programs are installed on the drive.
Next, Windows Vista asks if you'd like to format the drive after partitioning it. Since this tutorial is focused at partitioning a hard drive, let's wait to format the drive until we're done creating the partition.
Choose Do not format this volume and then click Next >.
The Completing the New Simple Volume Wizard page displays a quick summary of the partition options you chose in the previous steps.
Check that the settings in the summary are similar to these:
- Volume Type: Simple Volume
- Disk selected: Disk 1
- Volume size: 2045 MB
- Drive letter or path: E:
- File system: None
- Allocation unit size: Default
Note: The values for Disk selected, Volume size, and Drive letter or path will be different for you because your setup will be different than mine was. File system: None just means that you've decided not to format the drive right now.
Click Finish to begin Windows Vista's partition of the hard drive.
Your cursor will turn busy for a few seconds. The partition of the hard drive is complete once your new drive letter (E: in my example) appears in the drive listing at the top of the Disk Management screen.
Now that you've partitioned a hard drive, you must format it so Windows Vista can use the drive:
Continue to How To Format a Hard Drive in Windows Vista for instructions on how to do this.
Not a Windows Vista user? See How Do I Partition a Hard Drive in Windows? for specific instructions for your version of Windows.