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Partitioning your hard drive has never been easier. Free options, including the Windows install disk, make this once monumental task a fairly simple two-click experience that many of us don’t spend nearly enough time thinking about when we first install our OS’s. It can sometimes be difficult to anticipate your storage needs up front, and many users just assume they are stuck with decisions they made long ago.
A typical user could have many reasons for breaking up a hard drive into multiple volumes, but partitioning your drive after installing an OS is typically a destructive proposition -- one that usually involves backing up your data, formatting, and starting clean. Commercial solutions such as Norton Partition Magic has existed for years and allows you to preserve your data while resizing volumes, but what if you’re working on a limited budget (or completely without one)? That’s where GParted comes into play. This free and open source disk partitioning tool was designed for Linux, but luckily for us Windows users, it comes bundled in a live CD or USB version called Parted Magic which takes care of the Linux requirement.
In this guide we will look at how to use the interface to resize, delete, or create new partitions, all without losing your data or starting over. This will come in handy if you made your Windows partition too large or too small, or if you’re happy with Windows XP, but want to give Vista a spin. Backups are still heavily advised, but with our help, and a bit of luck, you won’t need them. Read on!
What you'll Need:
* A PC With At Least 1 Disk Drive and 300 Megs Of RAM
* A Backup of Your Data (Just a Precaution!)
* 30 Minutes For Each 100 GB of Hard Drive Space Resized (Estimate)
Parted Magic CD ISO
ISO Burning Software
Parted Magic USB
Select option #1 – Default settings (Runs from RAM / Ejects CD). After selecting this option, you will see the OS copy itself into your system memory and boot into the front end interface. Once it has fully finished booting, the CD tray will eject the disk and is now fully operating from RAM.
Click the Icon of the wrench and hammer and select Image Partition
The default Partition Imager interface is a bit clunky if you're accustomed to a sleek GUI. If you own an alternative solution such as one of the free suites offered by most hard drive manufacturers, feel free to use that instead. To navigate through the interface, use the arrow keys to select different options and the TAB key to move between fields. This will allow you to create a sector by sector clone of your volumes just in case something goes wrong with the partition. Keep in mind that you’ll want to save the images to a hard drive that you aren’t resizing. A USB hard drive does the trick quite nicely if you have one that's big enough. We prefer this method because we can backup my data and physically unplug the device, thereby removing it from harm’s way.