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Hard drives and partitions.....

Getting a new hard drive? At one time not so long ago, all you had to do was to Fdisk the drive then format it and you were all set to go. Now with drives in the 2,3 and more gigabyte size, some thought should be given to just how to get that new drive ready. To divide that large drive in to smaller ones called partitions can make a lot of sense. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind. When you format a drive it is divided into small areas called sectors and clusters. A sector is a 512 byte spot on the drive where data is stored on the disk. A cluster is made up of one or more sectors and the number of sectors it take to make up a cluster gets larger as the drive gets bigger in capacity. A cluster is also the smallest area on a drive a file can be written to. Note how many 512 byte sectors it take for the following drives.

Hard drive size # of sectors per cluster

128M to 256M 8 sectors or 4096 bytes

256M to 512M 16 sectors or 8192 bytes

512M to 1024M 32 sectors or 16384 bytes

1024M to 2048M 64 sectors or 32768 bytes

As you can see the bigger the drive the bigger the size of the cluster. Now here is the problem, only one file or directory can make use of any cluster. So let say you have a small file called test.bat that is 63 byte in size and is being written to a 1.2 gig hard drive. That 63 byte file will take up 32768 bytes of disk space or one entire cluster. The rest of that cluster can not be used by any other file or directory, so it is a wasted space called slack. Since all directories and most all files have slack there is a lot of wasted space on a hard drive. Partitioning a big drive into smaller drives can help prevent some of that wasted space because the size of the clusters are smaller and the unused space in the cluster is smaller. Please note that the amount of space you can save is different from system to system. Here is one example. I upgraded a 850 meg drive to 1.6 gig drive. I then partitioned it into 2- 500 meg and a 600 meg drive and transfered all the data from the old drive to the new one. The space I saved on the new drive was just a little over 100 meg. This means that 700 meg on one drive with large size clusters moved to the new drive with smaller clusters only used up 600 meg on the new drive or saved me 100 meg. This is because there was less wasted space or slack in the smaller clusters. Please note that I use Win95 and have a lot of small files on my system and this is probably why I recovered so much drive space. Also note that partitioning a hard drive will destroy all the data on the disk and should only be done to a new drive or a drive you want to start all over with.



Other Hard drive Tips...

Here is another thing to keep in mind especially for Win95 users. The root drive of any hard drive can only have a maximum of 512 entries (directories or files).

The use of long file names in the root directory is something that should be kept to a minimum as they can use up to 20 each of the 512 entries. On a large drive of 1 or 2 GIG or more not partitioned and using Win95 can use up 512 entries very easy so the thing to do is to make good use of sub directories as they do not have the 512 entry problem.

If you are using a computer with the new version of Windows 95 OSR2 and the Hard drive has been formatted with a 32 bit FAT instead of the old 16 bit FAT all clusters on that system are 4096 byte and the need to partition is not as important and is done more as a convenience.

DANGER PLEASE BEWARE the use of a boot disk on one of these systems (OSR2) MUST be a boot disk made on that system. If you use an old boot disk from another computer of the 16 bit fat type and start a 32 bit fat type computer and then write anything to the hard drive

YOU WILL CRASH that hard drive.

Larry Ruston



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