Disk Partitions

Disk Partitions

Disk partitioning is a way of dividing hard disks into sections that function as separate units. Partitions can be set up to organize data or to install additional operating systems for multiple boot configurations. Partitioning involves dividing a disk into one or more areas, each formatted for use by a particular file system.

Configuring Partitions

Depending on your existing hard disk configuration, you have the following options during setup:

  • If the hard disk is unpartitioned, you can create and size the Windows Vista partition.
  • If an existing partition is large enough, you can install Windows XP Professional on that partition.
  • If the existing partition is too small but you have adequate unpartitioned space, you can create a new Windows Vista partition in that space.
  • If the hard disk has an existing partition, you can delete it to create more unpartitioned disk space for the Windows Vista partition. Keep in mind that deleting an existing partition also erases any data on that partition.


Before you change file systems on a partition or delete a partition, back up the information about that partition, because reformatting or deleting a partition deletes all existing data on that partition.

If you install Windows Vista as part of a multiple-boot configuration, it is important to install Windows Vista on its own partition. Installing Windows Vista on the same partition as another operating system might overwrite files installed by the other operating system and overwrites the system directory unless you specify a different directory in which to install Windows Vista.


If you install Windows XP Professional as part of a multiple-boot configuration, make sure that you install it after you install all other operating systems. If you install another operating system after Windows XP Professional, you might not be able to start Windows XP Professional.

Sizing Partitions

It is recommended that you install Windows Vista on a 5-gigabyte (GB) (that is, 5.120 megabytes) or larger partition. Installation requirements for free disk space for Windows Vista have not been officially determined at this time, however, using a larger installation partition provides flexibility for adding future updates, operating system tools, and other files.

During setup, you only need to create and size the partition on which you plan to install Windows Vista. After Windows Vista is installed, you can use the Disk Management snap-in to make changes or create new partitions on your hard disk.

  • Windows 2000, Windows XP Professional, Windows XP 64-Bit Edition, and Windows Vista are the only operating systems that can access a dynamic disk.
  • If you convert the disk that contains the system volume to dynamic, you cannot start the other operating systems.