'Disk Management' allows you to manage your drives (Hard Drives, Solid State Drives etc). You can use this tool to partition, format, or assign drive letters to your Drives and partitions.
You can get to 'Disk Management' by clicking 'Start', and typing 'diskmgmt.msc'
. into the search box, and pressing 'Enter' on the keyboard.
When you open 'Disk Management' you will see a list of all your Drives along with the drive letter, capacity, and available free space. Below this you will see each Disk and the partitions that it contains. Right-clicking on a partition brings up the following options:
If you have a Disk with unallocated space then you can select 'New Volume' which will activate a wizard where you can enter the size of the Volume (partition), the Drive letter, and format the Volume.
Open or Explore
This option will show your Disk along with all the folders and files that it contains.
Mark Partition as Active
This should only be used on a partition that contains the loader for an Operating System.
Change Drive Letter and Paths
This allows you to assign a different drive letter for your Disk (ie the primary Drive partition containing the Operating System is usually assigned the letter 'C').
Before using 'Format' you need to 'Partition' a disk. When you format the partition you will need to enter the following:
- This will be any name that you want to call it.
- Select the file system to be used - FAT 16, FAT32, or NTFS - usually NTFS - more on this later.
Allocation Unit Size:
- This is usually kept at 'Default' for normal disk use.
You also have the option to perform a quick format.
Clicking 'OK' will bring up a message telling you that all data will be lost after formatting. Click 'OK' to begin formatting.
If you have some unallocated space on the Disk then you can extend an existing Volume (Partition) making the partition larger in capacity.
You can also shrink a Volume (Partition) making the partition smaller in capacity.
You can delete a Volume (Partition) completely to free up space on the Disk. If your Disk only has one partition then you can't delete it.
'Properties' gives you details of the disk including total capacity, used space, free space, the file system, and lets you do a 'Disk Cleanup'
How to create partitions and format a new Disk Drive
Open up 'Disk Management' and find your new Disk Drive which will consist of 'unallocated space'. Right-click on the 'unallocated space' and select 'New Volume'.
This will activate a wizard which will ask you the size of the Volume (Partition) that you want to create. If you only want one large partition on your Disk then just select the maximum default size, otherwise you might want to create more partitions on the Disk so you would select a smaller size for the partition.
You will then be asked to assign a Drive Letter from a drop-down-list.
Lastly you format the partition after giving it a Volume Label (name), and selecting the File System (usually NTFS).
You can repeat this to create further partitions on any remaining 'unallocated space'.
The File System is the underlying structure used by your computer to organise data on a Disk. Older computers used FAT16 (rarely used now) or FAT32 (File Allocation Table), and newer computers use NTFS (New Technology File System).
FAT32 is typically used on USB Flash Drives and older computers. It is restricted to partitions that are no larger than 32GB, and file sizes of no larger than 4GB. It could be useful if you share a Disk Drive between an older Windows Operating System and a new Operating System allowing you to share files on the same Disk.
NTFS is used on most new computers running a modern Windows Operating System. It allows for larger partitions and file sizes, has improved support for larger Disks, and has better security because you can use permissions and encryption to restrict access to specific files for certain users.
Third Party Software
There are also many Disk Management programs available today which usually come with a friendly interface, and powerful Disk tools. They may also include advanced data backup tools, partition cloners, and data recovery.