Chapter 2: Prepare the Disk for Windows Disk Protection

The Windows Disk Protection tool protects the Microsoft® Windows® XP operating system and program files from being permanently changed on the Windows partition— typically the C: drive. When Windows Disk Protection is on, users can work as usual and Windows behaves as expected. However, all disk changes made aren’t actually being made to the Windows partition—they are stored temporarily in another location.

If the terms in this chapter are difficult to understand, you might want to review the "Disks and Partitions" section in Appendix A, “Technical Primer.”

When the computer restarts, Windows Disk Protection returns the Windows partition to its original condition, clearing the changes made since the previous restart. This is a powerful security feature for shared computers.

Windows Disk Protection requires special preparation of the hard disk on the computer, which is explained through the following topics:

  • Windows Disk Protection requirements

  • Resize an existing partition


  • Size the disk during Windows XP Setup

On This Page

Windows Disk Protection Requirements
Resize an Existing Partition
Size the Disk During Windows XP Setup

Windows Disk Protection Requirements

Windows Disk Protection requires a minimum of 1 GB of unallocated disk space. This unallocated disk space will become the protection partition—for storing disk changes temporarily when Windows Disk Protection is turned on. Some computer uses—such as burning CDs and DVDs—require large amounts of disk space (double the size of the project being written to disk). Keep this in mind and ensure that sufficient unallocated disk space exists when you configure computers that will be used for this purpose.

An alternative to increasing the size of the protection partition for burning CDs and DVDs is to configure your disk-burning software to place its temporary files off the Windows partition.

To turn on Windows Disk Protection, you must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Ensure that at least 1 GB or approximately 10 percent of the Windows partition (whichever is greater) is available as unallocated disk space.

  • The unallocated disk space must follow a primary partition; it cannot be at the beginning of the disk.

  • The disk that contains unallocated disk space may have no more than three primary partitions.

  • The Windows partition must be a basic disk. Dynamic disks are not supported by Windows Disk Protection.

    The protection partition can also be created in free space in an extended partition, or you can use unallocated disk space on a second physical disk. For more information about each of these techniques, see the “Manage the Protection Partition” at the end of this chapter.

You can use the Disk Management utility to view the current partitions on the hard disk.

To use the Disk Management utility in Windows XP to view current partitions

  1. Log on as the Toolkit administrator.

  2. If Getting Started does not open automatically, click Start, point to All Programs, point to Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit, and then click Getting Started.

  3. In Step 1 of the Getting Started tool, click the Open Disk Management link at the bottom of the topic. A shortcut to Disk Management is also included in the Quick access section near the top of the Getting Started window.

Alternatively, you can right-click My Computer, click Manage, and then click Disk Management.

The following figure shows the Disk Management utility on a computer with a single 40-GB hard disk. The hard disk has a 36-GB Windows partition (the C: drive) and 4 GB of unallocated disk space for Windows Disk Protection.

Figure 2.1 Unallocated disk space should be 1 GB or approximately 10 percent of the size of the Windows partition, whichever is greater

If you leave unallocated space equivalent to the size of the Windows partition, Windows Disk Protection will not be restricted by disk space and will be able to track all changes made to the Windows partition.

Most shared computers do not offer users a way to store persistent data locally, but some environments may want to offer this capability. Alternatives for storing persistent user data when Windows Disk Protection is on are described in Chapter 9, “Advanced Scenarios.”

To calculate required size of unallocated disk space

If you need to determine the required size of the unallocated space, you can use one of the following procedures:

  • Windows partition uses the entire disk. Divide the disk size in GB by 10. If the result is more than 1 GB, that is the required size of the unallocated space.

  • Windows partition uses part of disk. Divide the size of the Windows partition by 10. If the result is more than 1 GB, that is the required size of the unallocated space.

If the tool you use to resize partitions reports space in MB, multiply the calculated figures by 1024 to convert gigabytes to megabytes.

The following table provides several hard disk configuration examples:

Hard Disk

Partition for C: Drive

Unallocated disk space (1 GB = 1024 MB)

30 GB

27 GB

3 GB (3,072 MB)

80 GB

72 GB

8 GB (8,192 MB)

120 GB

108 GB

12 GB (12,288 MB)

250 GB

225 GB

25 GB (25,600 MB)

Some tasks, such as creating or copying CDs, use significant amounts of disk space on a temporary basis. If your computer will be used for these tasks, ensure enough unallocated disk space exists before the protection partition is created to contain the full contents of two CDs or DVDs.

Resize an Existing Partition

Most computers do not come with unallocated disk space—the entire disk is typically fully partitioned, often as a single C: drive. This section provides two options for creating the unallocated disk space necessary for Windows Disk Protection.

Microsoft does not provide support for third-party disk partitioning products. Please contact the product vendor regarding any support issues with these products.

If your computer already has Windows XP installed and you do not want to reinstall and reconfigure Windows and other programs, you need a third-party disk utility to resize the Windows partition and leave unallocated disk space for Windows Disk Protection.

This section describes how to use Symantec Norton PartitionMagic 8.0 to create the unallocated disk space required for Windows Disk Protection.

Alternatively, you can use TeraByte Unlimited BootIt Next Generation. Full instructions and downloadable trial software are available on the TeraByte Unlimited Web site.

You can locate other disk partitioning utilities by searching Windows Marketplace.

Start PartitionMagic 8.0 by starting the computer from the program CD—not by starting the program from within Windows. You should also make a full backup before you begin this procedure.

To resize a partition using PartitionMagic 8.0

  1. Insert the PartitionMagic CD into the CD-ROM drive on the computer.

  2. If the program starts automatically, click Exit.

  3. Click Start, click Turn Off Computer, and then click Restart. Ensure the computer starts from the PartitionMagic CD.

  4. After PartitionMagic starts, at the command prompt, type 1 for Norton PartitionMagic, and then select the language you want to use.

  5. In the main window for the program (shown in the following figure) choose a hard disk by clicking the drop-down menu on the main toolbar. The example in the following figure shows a 40-GB hard disk with a single primary partition.

    Figure 2.2 The PartitionMagic 8.0 main window

    Make sure you leave enough room for Windows XP and all necessary programs, typically at least 10 GB for the Windows partition. In this example, the 40 GB partition is resized to 36 GB.

  6. Click the partition that you want to resize, click Operations, and then click Resize/Move.

  7. In the Resize/Move Partition dialog box (shown in the following figure), in the Free Space After box, type the amount of unallocated space to reserve. Use this formula: Number of GB * 1024. The following example shows 4096 (4*1024). The exact number is not important, as long as it is greater than 1024 (1 GB).

    Figure 2.3 Resizing a partition in PartitionMagic 8.0

    In its user interface, PartitionMagic 8.0 refers to the required unallocated disk space as Free Space After.

  8. Click OK and then click Apply to resize the partition. It will take a few minutes to complete.

  9. After it finishes, click Exit, remove the CD, restart the computer, and log on to Windows as the Toolkit administrator.

  10. Within a minute after you log on to Windows, a System Settings Change dialog will appear that asks if you want to restart your computer. Click No.

The computer is now ready for Windows Disk Protection to be turned on.

After you complete these steps, proceed to Chapter 3, “Profile Management.”

Size the Disk During Windows XP Setup

If you plan to perform a clean installation of Windows XP, the best way to prepare the hard disk for Windows Disk Protection is to create a primary partition of the appropriate size during Windows XP setup. This option is only appropriate if you are willing to overwrite all programs, settings, and files on the computer’s hard disk.

Deleting partitions will destroy any data on that partition. Use this method only if you do not need to preserve any information on the computer and are willing to reinstall Windows, all necessary programs, and all necessary drivers.

After you start Windows XP Setup (which you can do by starting the computer with the Windows XP installation CD in the CD-ROM drive), and after you accept the Microsoft Windows XP Licensing Agreement, Setup displays the page shown in the following figure.

Figure 2.4 Configuring partitions during Windows XP Setup

To size a partition during Windows XP Setup

  1. The example in the previous figure shows a single hard disk that has 40 GB (40,955 MB) of unallocated space. To create a partition, press C to display the page shown in the following figure. This page shows the minimum and maximum size you can designate for a new partition.

  2. Type the appropriate size in MB for the partition you want to create and then press ENTER. For example, to create a 36-GB partition, you would type 36864 (36 * 1024). Leave the remaining space unallocated for use by Windows Disk Protection.

  3. Use the arrow keys to select the partition into which to install Windows (if it is not already selected) and then press ENTER.

  4. Use your arrow keys to select Format the partition using the NTFS file system (Quick) and then press ENTER.

  5. Windows XP Setup copies the necessary installation files, and then restarts your computer. Continue with the installation of Windows.

Figure 2.5 Creating a new partition during Windows XP setup

Create the C: partition only during Windows installation. You can create an optional persistent partition using the Disk Management tool after the Windows installation completes. This procedure is covered in Chapter 9, "Advanced Scenarios."