Difference between active, primary, extended and logical partitions?

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Thread: Difference between active, primary, extended and logical partitions?

  1. #1
    Goldfish
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    Difference between active, primary, extended and logical partitions?

    I am having trouble understanding the difference between partition labels. What is the difference between active, primary, extended and logical partitions and when should each be used. When do you mark a partition as active and what exactly does it mean? Should there only be one active partition. Are there any advantages/disadvantages to a partition being primary, extended or logical? I read that each physical drive can only have 4 primary partitions or 3 primary partitions with an extended partition and logical partions off that extended partition. I have 2 physical drives in my computer (60gig and 80gig) Can someone please tell me if this setup is okay.......... basically I mean.......... if not......... any input would be greatly appreciated. (I do understand that everyone’s needs are different)

    This is the way that I would like to set the 2 drives up:

    Drive- 0 (60 gig)

    C- System- 5 gig Primary and Active
    D- Data- 15 gig Primary
    E- Programs- 10 gig Primary
    F- Pictures- 5 gig Extended
    G- Movies- 25 gig Logical

    Drive- 1 (80 gig)

    H- Music 55 gig Primary(maybe add extended & logical)
    I-Ghost images(bckup) 15 gig Primary
    J- Fat 32 (games) 10 gig Primary

    Thanx for your time and input~~~~
    Charlie
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  2. #2
    Mako Shark Skywize's Avatar
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    I hope that i'm not totally wrong on this.
    The computer will read the boot sector of the active partition (that's where on systems with multiple OS the boot manager will be located) - ie no active partition = no boot

    Primary partitions: as far as i have been told (and who knows how accurate my memory is ) you can only boot an OS of a primary partition (so if you plan on dual booting linux of D: it better be primary). Also be aware that a primary partition always uses up the lowest available drive letter (ie if you have HD 1 with a primary and extended partition and HD 2 the same way, primary on HD1 will be C: and primary on HD 2 will be D

    Disclaimer: The above information might be utter ******** (not really hot on partitions myself )

    BTW thats LOTS of partitions you got planned there :P
    I hope you are not a big gamer, games take up so much space these days (those 10 gigs oughta be good for 3 games).
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  3. #3
    Goldfish
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    From Partition Magic 7.0:Types of Partitions

    There are three types of partitions:

    Primary Partitions
    Extended Partitions
    Logical Partitions

    Primary and extended partitions are the main disk divisions; one hard disk may contain up to four primary partitions, or three primary partitions and one extended partition. The extended partition can then be further divided into any number of logical partitions.
    The illustration below shows a hard disk that contains four main partitions: three primary partitions and one extended partition. The extended partition has been further divided into two logical partitions. Each primary partition has been formatted to use a different file system (FAT and NTFS). The two logical partitions have both been formatted to use the FAT file system.


    Primary Partitions

    A primary partition may contain an operating system along with any number of data files (for example, program files, user files, and so forth). Before an OS is installed, the primary partition must be logically formatted with a file system compatible to the OS.
    If you have multiple primary partitions on your hard disk, only one primary partition may be visible and active at a time. The active partition is the partition from which an OS is booted at computer startup. Primary partitions other than the active partition are hidden, preventing their data from being accessed. Thus, the data in a primary partition can be accessed (for all practical purposes) only by the OS installed on that partition.

    If you plan to install more than one operating system on your hard disk, you probably need to create multiple primary partitions; most operating systems can be booted only from a primary partition.


    Extended Partitions

    The extended partition was invented as a way of getting around the arbitrary four-partition limit. An extended partition is essentially a container in which you can further physically divide your disk space by creating an unlimited number of logical partitions.
    An extended partition does not directly hold data. You must create logical partitions within the extended partition in order to store data. Once created, logical partitions must be logically formatted, but each can use a different file system.

    Logical Partitions

    Logical partitions may exist only within an extended partition and are meant to contain only data files and OSs that can be booted from a logical partition (for example, Linux, Windows NT, and so forth).

    Oops, I forgot:
    May I suggest using one partition for the OS(active primary) and the rest will reside in an extended(primary) as logical partitions. The extended partition will be hidden(this doesn't matter, as it's only the container for the logicals), but all of the logical partitions will be visible.
    I hope this makes sense.
    Last edited by SCUMBAG; 09-09-2002 at 05:58 AM.
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  4. #4
    Sleeps with the Fishes Anarchy UK's Avatar
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    Re: Difference between active, primary, extended and logical partitions?

    Originally posted by coscar


    H - Music 55 gig Primary
    My, you have been a busy boy...

    the RIAA is keen to clobber people like you!!


    (I sure wish I could get broadband in my area):rolleyes:

  5. #5
    Goldfish
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    Thanx Scumbag
    Partition magic's explanation made it a lot easier for me to understand.
    If it has tits, tires or a Windows OS---you can plan on having trouble with it~~~~~~~~~

  6. #6
    Sushi
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    Quote Originally Posted by SCUMBAG
    There are three types of partitions:

    Primary Partitions Extended Partitions Logical Partitions
    Thanks for that, Scum - clearest I've seen so far. I think I'm making mistakes - I'll find out in about five minutes if they're fatal . . . My desktop PC wouldn't display a partition on an external (firewire) disk after I'd merged it with unallocated space. So I fired up Paragon Partition Manager and looked at the options. 'Oh yes - Make Partition Logical - that seems logical!'

    Fifteen hours later and I'm on tenterhooks waiting to see if I have any data left, and whether my rusty old Dell will manage to recognise the drive.

    Maybe I'll just keep all my drives to one partition from now on.

    Cheers, Mark

  7. #7
    Catfish OilMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarchy UK
    My, you have been a busy boy...

    the RIAA is keen to clobber people like you!!


    (I sure wish I could get broadband in my area):rolleyes:
    Not necessarily, I've got roughly 80GB - 120GB of mp3s.... and all the physical cds too. When I get a new cd I immediately rip it to mp3s and make a copy of it for my truck, the original disk gets filed away and I play the copies. Plus, I don't share them through any of the P2Ps either.
    Last edited by OilMan; 09-29-2008 at 10:19 AM.
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  8. #8
    Mako Shark wh666-666's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NostradamusZen
    Thanks for that, Scum - clearest I've seen so far. I think I'm making mistakes - I'll find out in about five minutes if they're fatal . . . My desktop PC wouldn't display a partition on an external (firewire) disk after I'd merged it with unallocated space. So I fired up Paragon Partition Manager and looked at the options. 'Oh yes - Make Partition Logical - that seems logical!'

    Fifteen hours later and I'm on tenterhooks waiting to see if I have any data left, and whether my rusty old Dell will manage to recognise the drive.

    Maybe I'll just keep all my drives to one partition from now on.

    Cheers, Mark

    Whow, bit of an old thread revival!

    Anyway, you're best if you can having as few partitions as possible. Multiple partitions actually slow seek and access times. Many OS's utilise large partitions and its free space for the systems needs.
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