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Using Partitions to Avoid Hard Drive Data Loss

A hard drive partition is much like a shelf in a book case. It not only can isolate information, but if a single shelf breaks, only a small portion of books ends up on the floor.


Partitioning a hard drive can allow for faster operation, and for many computer users, this is a good enough reason to set up appropriate partitions when installing a new operating system. Many users do not realize that partitions can also protect against several common data loss scenarios.

If you are not familiar with the terminology, a partition is a logical division of a hard drive. Desktop operating systems display separate partitions as separate drives; for instance, an HDD with two partitions might show up in Windows Explorer as C: and D: drives.

Partitions are formatted separately and may use different file systems. The most common use of partitioning for desktop and laptop computers is to set up separate logical areas for operating software and data. By keeping data separate from a Windows, Mac OS or Linux installation, computer users prevent OS errors from causing data loss. Many operating systems even support specialized recovery partitions, which allow you to restore your OS to like-new condition without an optical disc and without data loss.

To put this simply, if you need to format your hard drive to re-install an OS due to widespread corruption or other logical issues, you will not lose data if you keep your most important files on another partition. Therefore, you can effectively prevent some sources of data loss by splitting your HDD into two or more partitions when you set up your computer for the first time.

Partitioning and Physical Hard Drive Failures

Hard drive owners should note that physical HDD failures are one of the most common causes of data loss, and even with efficient partitioning, all hard drives will eventually experience failing read/write heads, spindle errors and other fatal issues. Some research shows that partitioning may reduce the overall stress on your hard drive's physical components and allow for better longevity, but the process does not provide perfect protection.

To avoid file loss, you should create an appropriate back up strategy. Use automatic software and regularly check your backups for the best possible results. If you notice any symptoms of physical hard drive failure, you should immediately shut your HDD down and contact Secure Data Recovery Services to schedule a media evaluation.

Tips for Effective Partitioning

Never attempt to partition a hard drive that holds important data. Back up your most important files before using any partitioning software and format each partition before using it. The best time to partition your hard drive is before installing a new operating system.

Finally, make sure to choose appropriate partition sizes. Give your operating system room to breathe. On a modern hard drive, you can easily devote 50 to 100 gigabytes to the operating system. Store all of your data on the data partition and keep the operating system partition free of unnecessary files. This means keeping your desktop relatively clean if you are a Windows user by saving large files directly to your data partition. You should also monitor your data usage regularly.

With appropriate partitioning, you will experience better long-term system performance and you can quickly recover from an OS failure without the threat of costly data loss. However, you should always back up your data before re-installing or restoring your system if possible, and you should never re-install your operating system if you believe that your hard drive's physical components are failing.

If you cannot access important data on a desktop or laptop computer system, contact Secure Data Recovery Services to set up a free media evaluation or for assistance.

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