Free Partition Software – Hard Drive Partition Management

Hard drives are getting bigger and bigger. 1 TB of drive capacity and even more is reality and such drives are not expensive. This means that anyone working with a computer can afford huge disk space. To actually use a hard drive we have to make a partition and format it with one of the popular file systems (NTFS in Windows, ext3 in Linux, HFS in MAC OS). Only then we can use disk space. Partition is a part of a hard drive. It is used to divide one physical drive into many logical parts or partitions.

Regardless of the drive capacity it makes sense to split every hard drive into few partitions. This approach simplifies disk management, backup and restore operations and provides also flexible platform for operating system upgrades. A common approach is to create a system partition, a data partition and if necessary additional partitions for dedicated storage. Each partition can be formatted with a different file system and is independent from other partitions.

In any case you will need a system partition. This is the space where operating system will be installed. In order to have space for additional partitions you should allocate only drive space that will be big enough for the operating system files including all software you will later install. Of course, you need to provide also some space for temporary files but this is significantly less than the capacity of any modern hard drive. For example, dedicating 30 – 50 GB of disk space for Windows system should be more than enough for typical applications.

The rest of the drive can be used for additional data partitions. You can make one big data partition or few smaller ones. You can even create one additional system partition where you can install different operating system. A boot manager will be used to select the operating system during booting. To determine how big partitions you should create you need to think about the data that will be stored here. Think about how much space you will need, how you intend to backup this data, do you need few disks with different permissions, etc.

Partitions can be created during the installation of the operating system, but can also be changed later. Any partitioning software will allow you to create, delete or format partitions. Some more advanced partition managers allow you also to move, check, resize, merge, or split partitions. You have also the ability to define cluster size. If you are unsure what this is it is better to leave the default value.

Modifying a partition or formatting it (in most cases) does not delete the data on the disk. Usually, partitions are only tables and pointers for the file system. This means that such operations can in many cases be reversed and the data recovered. This applies, of course, to the moments immediately after we have reformatted a partition. As soon as we start writing data we will overwrite deleted files. Some data recovery tools also offer partition recovery–they can restore accidentally formatted partitions.

There are many excellent commercial, shareware and freeware partition managers. Here we list some free partition utilities.


Free Partition Software


Cute Partition Manager

This is an advanced partition manager that works supports DOS, Windows and Linux partitions. It requires no operating system since Cute Partition Manager can be booted from CD or DVD. It allows you to create, delete and modify partitions and you can preview changes before saving them to the hard drive.


eXtended FDisk

This is a free DOS utility that replaces the original FDISK program to manage partitions. XFDisk offers many advanced options and provides also a boot manager which can be installed to choose operating system during computer boot.


TestDisk

TestDisk is a universal tool to fix any partition problem. It can recover deleted partitions, fix boot sectors, undelete files, and repair other common disk and partition problems. It is available for DOS, Windows, MAC OS X, Linux, FreeBSD operating systems. Availability for all typical operating systems means also that TestDisk supports all popular file systems from FAT, NTFS and ext2 to ReiserFS and HFS. This is a all-in-one tool for basic hard drive data recovery.


Ranish Partition Manager

This is a small DOS partition manager that you can use to create, copy and resize partitions. It supports DOS, Windows, Linux and FreeBSD. On the same page you can also download graphical boot manager XOSL.


Ultimate Boot CD

This is a big collection of memory and system utilities, boot management tools, partition management software, data recovery software, hard disk information, management, cloning, low-level editing, wiping, installation and diagnosis tools. You can run the tools from a bootable CD or USB flash disk.


SystemRescueCd

This is a collection of Linux rescue tools. You can run them from a bootable CD or USB flash disk. SystemRescueCd allows you to make necessary administrative tasks for disks and partitions. In addition to standard Linux partitions it supports also Samba and NFS.


Partition Logic

This is a free disk partitioning tool. It can create, delete, format, defragment, resize, and move partitions. Partition Logic is based on the Visopsys operating system and boots from a CD or floppy disk. This make is universal and OS independent. Partition Logic can also copy from one disk to another.


GParted Live

GParted Live is a small bootable GNU/Linux distribution for x86 processors and supports all popular Linux partitions. GParted Live is distributed as ISO image which can be burned to a CD or DVD.



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