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What is the difference between a primary and extended hard drive partition in Windows

June 16th, 2010

Disk Management A hard drive can be divided into primary and extended partitions. Partitions function as physically separate storage units. This allows you to separate different types of information, such as user data on one partition and applications on another. A hard drive can contain up to four primary partitions, or up to three primary partitions and one extended partition, for a maximum of four partitions.

There can be only one extended partition on a hard disk, so you should include all remaining free space in the extended partition. Unlike primary partitions, you don’t format extended partitions or assign drive letters to them. You divide extended partitions into segments. Each segment is a logical drive. You assign a drive letter to each logical drive and format it with a file system.

For more information about Disk Management in Windows 2000 and how to use it to setup your hard drive, please see Microsoft Article 323967

For more information about Disk Management in Windows XP and Windows Vista and how to use it to setup your hard drive, please see Microsoft Article 309000

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