“A partition is a logical division on a hard disk drive (HDD)” – definition of a partition
Partitions (or “slices,” depending which operating system you use) are a wonderful tool. They allow one to rationalize their disk space, protect the most important data on your very own computer and even separate the disk (as it were) to be used by different people.
However, as the case may be, a partition may outlive its usefulness; it has to be removed from the disk, or rather, joined with another partition. This may seem like a daunting task for some, but if you follow our tutorial closely, you’ll learn that anyone can do it – simply follow the instructions presented below. When you delete a partition, you get back the disk space that it used; it might be a good idea to do if you need an extra chunk of space that individual partitions simply cannot provide.
But before we dive into deleting them, it may be useful to know exactly what a disk partition is (if you really just need the basic info on deletion, simply scroll below). We will also check out what are the different pros and cons of partitioning, so you could reach an educated decision on whether to delete the partitions you already have.
All the Things You Wanted to Know About Partitions but Were Afraid to Ask
Partitions are a special kind of secondary storage on the hard drive; as the name implies, one splits (‘partitions’) hard disk into multiple parts, allowing each of them to store data independently of the others. It’s not too independent, mind you; the partitions are just as vulnerable to physical damage to the disk as the entire hard disk itself, and certain operating system processes multiply their files on partitions (see pros and cons below).
Partitions are generally made by the way of special partitioning software (there’s, of course, a plethora of software to choose from, and good deal of modern operating systems come equipped with automated partitioning functions). This software can be used to make, modify and delete different partitions. However, when do you need to make partitions, and what are the disadvantages of using the partition system? Read below.
The Pros of Using Disk Partitions
The most important advantage of disk partitioning is, of course, separation of the operating system and program files from user files. This allows backups to be made of only the operating system and installed software. Simply put, you install all the programs on one partition and keep your private files on the other partition.
Partition also allows for keeping of frequently used programs and data near each other. This shortens the number of clicks required to reach desired programs and files, this improving your overall efficiency and productivity.
Partitions also allow people who make use of them to have multiple operating systems on a single device. For example, one could install Linux and Microsoft Windows or other operating systems on different partitions of the same HDD. Once the device is turned on, the appropriate operating system can be selected.
Protection or isolation of files is also a major advantage of partitioning, as it makes it easier to recover a file system or operating system installation that have been damaged. If one partition is corrupted, the odds are that other file systems will not be affected. In a way, the partition becomes a sort of a quarantine for risky programs. However, this system isn’t foolproof (as we discussed above – physical damage and especially malicious software).
One neat advantage of partitioning for significantly less than the full size available when disk space is not needed is that it may reduce the time for diagnostic tools to scan the parts. Partitions are scanned considerably faster than the full hard drive.
The Cons of Using Disk Partitions
Creating more than one partition has the following disadvantages, as compared to having a single partition spanning the same disk area.
It reduces the total space available for storage on your hard drive. What’s worse, it also forces the operating system to duplicate certain important file system areas on the disk for each partition in order to make it functional.
Sadly, partitioning reduces overall disk performance when data is accessed regularly and in parallel on multiple partitions. You are essentially forcing the disk to multifunction, which reduces effectiveness and increases memory usage.
Not only that, but partitioning further prevents disk optimizers from moving all frequently accessed files closer to each other on the disk, which could reduce the number and distance of required head movements.
Increases disk fragmentation because it lowers the average size of contiguous free blocks on each partition – as compared to a single partition of the same overall size – after the same amount of data has been written to them.
Moving files across volumes will require actual copying (of bytes), whereas moving files within a volume generally requires only the “meta-data” to be updated.
Deleting the partition, of course, mostly depends on whether you’re using Mac or Windows. Bear in mind, especially for Windows users, that specific details may vary slightly depending on which version of the Windows operating system you’re using. However, they’re all pretty similar, so you won’t have much of an issue whichever version you may be using in the end.
For Mac Users
Step 1: Click Disk Utility
Step 2: Select the partition that you no longer need under the logical volume
Step 3: Select the Erase tab; here, pay very close attention that Mac OS X Extended (Journaled) is selected
Step 4: Select the Erase button
Step 5: Select the logical volume
Step 6: Select the Partition tab
Select 7: Highlight the partition that you erased in step 4
Step 8: Select the ‘-‘ (minus) sign
Step 9: Select Remove
Step 10: By the way of drag handle, reallocate the space back relinquished by the deleted partition
Step 11: Select Apply → Partition
For Windows Users
Step 1: Make sure that you’re the administrator of the system where you want to delete a disk partition.
Step 2: Click Start button
Step 3: Click Control Panel
Step 4: Click System and Security
Step 5: Click Administrative Tools
Step 6: Double click Computer Management
Step 7: You may be asked to type in your administrator password
Step 8: Click Storage
Step 9: Click Disk Management
Step 10: Right click the partition you wish to delete
Step 11: Click Delete Volume
Step 12: Click ‘Yes’
Of course, whenever you need to delete a partition, make sure you save / back up all the files on the said partition. When a partition is deleted, its entry is removed from a table and the data can no longer be accessed. However, the data does remain on the disk until being overwritten. Using specialized recovery utilities (they can easily be located on the internet, some of them free of charge), lost file systems can be located. The software may be able to recreate a partition table, which would include entries for these recovered file systems. Certain disk utilities may overwrite some beginning sectors of a partition they delete. This will make restoring those sectors / partitions nearly impossible.
With everything that has been outlined so far in mind, we hope that we have made partition management easier for you and that you now understand how to carry out this process. If you happen to have any questions, please drop a comment!