About Hard Disk Partitions
A defined storage space on the hard disk drive is termed as the hard disk partition. In most operating systems, hard disk partitions are provided for dividing the physical hard disk into certain number of small logical hard disks.
Let us take a brief look at the various reasons for using hard disk partitions.
Normally, the hard disk is split into multiple partitions mainly to organize the data effectively and efficiently. Take the case of the Microsoft Windows operating system; applications and the user data are stored on separate hard disk partitions. In this scenario, if a problem arises, the OS partition can be formatted without actually affecting the data part.
Another reason for partitioning the hard disk is that there will be a large number of cluster sizes with smaller partitions. The smallest chunk of data is termed as a cluster. In a typical scenario, a larger partition might require 16KB to store a file with just one character, whereas a smaller partition will need only 4KB for the same. As can be seen, a smaller partition offers the feature of efficient storage of large number of files.
Hard disk partitions can be created either by using a “fdisk” command or certain graphical tools that are provided by some of the operating system to perform this partitioning. Actually, data is not stored in these hard disk partitions. Instead, the file systems are actually stored in the place on the disk where you can store data. A reserved area present at the beginning of the hard disk, is termed as a partition table, in which the partition information is stored.
Information about only four partitions can be stored in a standard partition table. Hence, to overcome this limitation, several extended partitions are created. By means of this extended partition, you will be able to create more than four partitions and this can be used to store details of other partitions too. The four standard partitions are referred to as primary partitions, whereas the extended partitions are called as logical partitions.
When a hard disk is being partitioned, to know the type of partition, a special byte of data is written. For example, when a partition number is 00, then the partition type would be empty, whereas for 51 and 52 the partition types would be Novell and Micro port. Similarly, there are many number of partition types available.