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Unformatted text preview: All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 12 C HAPTER Implementing Hard Drives
In this chapter, you will learn how to
• Explain the partitions available in Windows
• Discuss hard drive formatting options
• Partition and format hard drives
• Maintain and troubleshoot hard drives From the standpoint of your PC, a new hard drive successfully installed is nothing more
than a huge pile of sectors. CMOS sees the drive; it shows up in your autodetect screen
and BIOS knows how to talk to the drive, but as far as an operating system is concerned,
that drive is unreadable. Your operating system must organize that big pile of sectors so
you can create two things: folders and files. This chapter covers that process. Historical/Conceptual
After you’ve successfully installed a hard drive, you must perform two more steps to
translate a drive’s geometry and circuits into something the system can use: partitioning and formatting. Partitioning is the process of electronically subdividing the physical
hard drive into groups of cylinders called partitions (or volumes). A hard drive must have
at least one partition, and you can create multiple partitions on a single hard drive if
you wish. In Windows, each of these partitions typically is assigned a drive letter such
as C: or D:. After partitioning, you must format the drive. This step installs a file system
onto the drive that organizes each partition in such a way that the operating system can
store files and folders on the drive. Several types of file systems are used in the Windows
world. This chapter will go through them after covering partitioning.
Partitioning and formatting a drive is one of the few areas remaining on the software
side of PC assembly that requires you to perform a series of fairly complex manual
steps. The CompTIA A+ certification exams test your knowledge of what these processes
do to make the drive work, as well as the steps needed to partition and format hard
drives in Windows 2000, XP, and Vista. 447 ch12.indd 447 12/9/09 5:18:32 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 448 This chapter continues the exploration of hard drive installation by explaining partitioning and formatting and then going through the process of partitioning and formatting hard drives. The chapter wraps with a discussion on hard drive maintenance and
troubleshooting issues. Hard Drive Partitions
Partitions provide tremendous flexibility in hard drive organization. With partitions,
you can organize a drive to suit your personal taste. For example, I partitioned my 1.5
TB hard drive into a 250-GB partition where I store Windows Vista and all my programs, a second 250-GB partition for Windows 7, and a 1-TB partition where I store all
my personal data. This is a matter of personal choice; in my case, backups are simpler
because the data is stored in one partition, and I can back up that partition without
including the applications.
You can partition a hard drive to store more than one operating system (OS). Store
one OS in one partition and create a second partition for another OS. Granted, most
people use only one OS, but if you want the option to boot to Windows or Linux, partitions are the key. Essentials
Windows 2000/XP and Windows Vista/7 support two different partitioning methods:
the older but more universal master boot record (MBR) partitioning scheme and the
newer (but proprietary to Microsoft) dynamic storage partitioning scheme. Microsoft
calls a hard drive that uses the MBR partitioning scheme a basic disk and a drive using
the dynamic storage partitioning scheme a dynamic disk. A single Windows system with
two hard drives may have one of the drives partitioned as a basic disk and the other as a
dynamic disk, and the system will run perfectly well. The bottom line? You get to learn
about two totally different types of partitioning. Yay! Given that basic disks are much
older, we’ll start there. Basic Disks
Basic disk partitioning creates two very small data structures on a drive, the master boot
record (MBR) and a partition table, and stores them on the first sector of the hard drive—
called the boot sector. The MBR is nothing more than a tiny bit of code that takes control
of the boot process from the system BIOS. When the computer boots to a hard drive, the
BIOS automatically looks for MBR code on the boot sector. The MBR has only one job: to
look in the partition table for a partition with a valid operating system (Figure 12-1).
NOTE ch12.indd 448 Only one MBR and one partition table exist per basic disk. 12/9/09 5:18:33 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 449 Figure 12-1 Functions of the MBR and partition table All basic disk partition tables support up to four partitions. The partition table supports
two types of partitions: primary partitions and extended partitions. Primary partitions are
designed to support bootable operating systems. Extended partitions are not bootable. A
single basic disk may have up to three primary partitions and one extended partition. If
you do not have an extended partition, you may have up to four primary partitions.
Each partition must have some unique identifier so users can recognize it as an individual partition. Microsoft operating systems (DOS and Windows) traditionally assign
primary partitions a drive letter from C: to Z:. Extended partitions do not get drive letters.
After you create an extended partition, you must create logical drives within that extended partition. A logical drive traditionally gets a drive letter from D: to Z:. (The drive
letter C: is always reserved for the first primary partition in a Windows PC.)
Windows 2000/XP and Windows Vista/7 partitions are not limited to drive letters.
With the exception of the partition that stores the boot files for Windows (which will
always be C:), any other primary partitions or logical drives may get either a drive letter
or a folder on a primary partition. You’ll see how all of this works later in this chapter.
If a primary partition is a bootable partition, why does a basic drive’s partition table
support up to four primary partitions? Remember when I said that partitioning allows
multiple operating systems? This is how it works. You can install up to four different
operating systems, each OS installed on its own primary partition, and boot to your
choice each time you fire up the computer.
Every primary partition on a single drive has a special setting called active stored in
the partition table. This setting is either on or off on each primary partition, determining which is the active partition. At boot, the MBR uses the active setting in the partition
table to determine which primary partition to choose to try to load an OS. Only one
partition at a time can be the active partition, because you can run only one OS at a
time (see Figure 12-2). This restriction refers to a single drive, by the way. You can have
active partitions on more than one physical drive; the settings in CMOS will dictate
which drive is the current bootable or system drive. ch12.indd 449 12/9/09 5:18:34 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 450 Figure 12-2 The MBR checks the partition table to find the active partition. The boot sector at the beginning of the hard drive isn’t the only special sector on a
hard drive. The first sector of the first cylinder of each partition also has a special sector
called the volume boot sector. Although the “main” boot sector defines the partitions,
the volume boot sector stores information important to its partition, such as the location of the OS boot files. Figure 12-3 shows a hard drive with two partitions. The first
partition’s volume boot sector contains information about the size of the partition and
the code pointing to the boot files on this partition. The second volume boot sector
contains information about the size of the partition.
sector ch12.indd 450 12/9/09 5:18:35 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 451 NOTE Every partition on a hard drive has a volume boot sector. Primary Partitions
If you want to boot an operating system from a hard drive, that hard drive must have a
primary partition. The MBR checks the partition table for the active primary partition (see
Figure 12-4). In Windows, the primary partition is C:, and that cannot be changed. Figure 12-4
The MBR checks
the partition table
to find a primary
partition. NOTE Don’t confuse primary partition with primary controller. The latter,
as you’ll recall from Chapter 11, “Hard Drive Technologies,” refers to the first
PATA drive controller on a motherboard.
Even though hard drives support up to four primary partitions, you almost never see
four partitions in the Windows world. Windows support up to four primary partitions
on one drive, but how many people (other than nerdy CompTIA A+ people like you
and me) really want to boot up more than one OS? We use a number of terms for this
function, but dual-boot and multiboot are the most common. The system in my house,
for example, uses four primary partitions, each holding one OS: Ubuntu Linux, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. In other words, I chopped my drive up
into four chunks and installed a different OS in each.
To do multiboot, most people use a free, Linux-based boot manager called GRUB
(Grand Unified Boot Manager), although some people prefer a third-party tool such as
System Commander 9 by VCOM to set up the partitions. Windows 2000 and up come
with similar tools that can do this, but they can be messy to use, and GRUB helps simplify the process. When the computer boots, GRUB yanks control from the MBR and
asks which OS you wish to boot (see Figure 12-5). You select an OS and it appears. ch12.indd 451 12/9/09 5:18:36 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 452 Figure 12-5 GRUB’s OS selection menu Again, few systems use more than one primary partition. You may work on PCs for
years and never see a system with more than one primary partition. The CompTIA A+
certification exams certainly don’t expect you to demonstrate how to create a system
with multiple primary partitions, but they assume that you know you can add more
than one primary partition to a hard drive if you so desire. The rest of this book assumes that you want only one primary partition.
NOTE If you get the error “No Fixed Disks Present,” you can bet you forgot
to tell the CMOS to look for the drive. Reboot, access CMOS, and try setting
up the drive again. Active Partition
When you create a primary partition and decide to place an OS on that partition, you
must set that partition as active. You must do this even if you use only a single primary
partition. Luckily, this step is automated in the Windows installation process. Consider
this: When would you want to go though the steps to define a partition as active? That
would be when you install an OS on that partition. So when you install Windows on
a new system, the installation program automatically sets up your first primary partition as the active partition. It never actually says this in the installation, it just does it
for you. ch12.indd 452 12/9/09 5:18:37 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 453 So if you raise your right hand and promise to use only Microsoft Windows and
make only single primary partitions on your hard drives, odds are good you’ll never
have to mess with manually adjusting your active partitions. Of course, because you’re
crazy enough to want to get into PCs, that means within a year of reading this text
you’re going to want to install other operating systems such as Linux on your PC (and
that’s okay—all techs want to try this at some point). The moment you do, you’ll enter
the world of boot manager programs of which the just-described System Commander
is only one of many, many choices. You also might use tools to change the active partition manuallyexactly when and how this is done varies tremendously for each situation and is way outside the scope of the CompTIA A+ exams, but make sure you know
why you might need to set a partition as active.
When my System Commander boot screen comes up, it essentially asks me, “What
primary partition do you want me to make active?” Extended Partition
Understanding the purpose of extended partitions requires a brief look at the historical PC. The first versions of the old DOS operating system to support hard drives only
supported primary partitions up to 32 MB. As hard drives went past 32 MB, Microsoft
needed a way to support them. Instead of rewriting DOS to handle larger drives, Microsoft developers created the idea of the extended partition. That way, if you had a hard
drive larger than 32 MB, you could make a 32-MB primary partition and the rest of the
drive an extended partition. Over the years, DOS and then Windows were rewritten to
support large hard drives, but the extended partition is still fully supported.
The beauty of an extended partition is in the way it handles drive letters. When you
create a primary partition, it gets a drive letter and that’s it. But when you create an extended partition, it does not automatically get a drive letter. Instead, you go through a
second step where you divide the extended partition into one or more logical drives. An
extended partition may have as many logical drives as you wish. By default, Windows
gives each logical drive in an extended partition a drive letter, and most Windows users
use drive letters. However, if you’d like, you may even mount the drive letter as a folder
on any lettered drive. You can set the size of each logical drive to any size you want.
You’ll learn how to mount drives later in this chapterfor now, just get the idea that a
partition may be mounted with a drive letter or as a folder.
EXAM TIP Primary partitions and logical drives on basic disks are also called
Extended partitions are completely optional; you do not have to create an extended
partition on a hard drive. So, if you can’t boot to an extended partition and your hard
drive doesn’t need an extended partition, why would you want to create one? First of
all, the majority of systems do not use extended partitions. Most systems use only one
hard drive, and that single drive is partitioned as one big primary partition—nothing
wrong with that! Some users like having an extended partition with one or more logical drives, and they use the extended partitions as a way to separate data. For example,
I might store all of my movie files on my G: logical drive. ch12.indd 453 12/9/09 5:18:37 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 454 Instead of assigning drive letters, you can mount logical drives as folders on an existing drive. It’s easy to make a logical drive and call it C:\STORAGE. If the C:\STORAGE folder fills up, you could add an extra hard drive, make the entire extra drive an
extended partition with one logical drive, unmount the old C:\STORAGE drive, and
then mount the new huge logical drive as C:\STORAGE. It’s as though you made your
C: drive bigger without replacing it. Dynamic Disks
With the introduction of Windows 2000, Microsoft defined an entirely new type of
partitioning called dynamic storage partitioning, better known as dynamic disks. Dynamic
disks drop the word partition and instead use the term volume. There is no dynamic disk
equivalent to primary versus extended partitions. A volume is still technically a partition, but it can do things a regular partition cannot do, such as spanning. A spanned
volume goes across more than one drive. Windows allows you to span up to 32 drives
under a single volume. Dynamic disks also support RAID 0 in Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP Professional, and Windows Vista Business and Ultimate. Windows
2000, 2003, and 2008 Server editions support RAID 0, 1, and 5.
NOTE Windows XP Home and Windows Media Center do not support
dynamic disks, nor do any Vista editions besides Business and Ultimate. Dynamic disks use an MBR and a partition table, but these older structures are there
only for backward compatibility. All of the information about a dynamic disk is stored
in a hidden partition that takes up the last 1 MB of the hard drive. Every partition
in a partition table holds a 2-byte value that describes the partition. For example, an
extended partition gets the number 05. Windows adds a new number, 42, to the first
partition on a dynamic disk. When Windows 2000 or XP reads the partition table for a
dynamic disk, it sees the number 42 and immediately jumps to the 1-MB hidden partition, ignoring the old-style partition table. By supporting an MBR and partition table,
Windows also prevents other disk partitioning programs from messing with a dynamic
disk. If you use a third-party partitioning program, it simply sees the entire hard drive
as either an unformatted primary partition or a non-readable partition.
NOTE A key thing to understand about dynamic drives is that the technology
is proprietary. Microsoft has no intention of telling anyone exactly how dynamic
disks work. Only fairly recent Microsoft operating systems (Windows 2000
and up) can read a drive configured as a dynamic disk.
You can use five volume types with dynamic disks: simple, spanned, striped, mirrored, and RAID 5. Most folks stick with simple volumes.
Simple volumes work much like primary partitions. If you have a hard drive and you
want to make half of it C: and the other half D:, you create two volumes on a dynamic disk. ch12.indd 454 12/9/09 5:18:38 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 455 That’s it: no choosing between primary and extended partitions. Remember that you
were limited to four primary partitions when using basic disks. To make more than
four volumes with a basic disk, you first had to create an extended partition and then
make logical drives within the extended partition. Dynamic disks simplify the process
by treating all partitions as volumes, so you can make as many as you need.
Spanned volumes use unallocated space on multiple drives to create a single volume. Spanned volumes are a bit risky: if any of the spanned drives fails, the entire
volume is permanently lost.
Striped volumes are RAID 0 volumes. You may take any two unallocated spaces on
two separate hard drives and stripe them. But again, if either drive fails, you lose all of
Mirrored volumes are RAID 1 volumes. You may take any two unallocated spaces on
two separate hard drives and mirror them. If one of the two mirrored drives fails, the
other keeps running.
RAID 5 volumes, as the name implies, are for RAID 5 arrays. A RAID 5 volume requires three or more dynamic disks with equal-sized unallocated spaces. Other Partitions
The partition types supported by Windows are not the only partition types you may
encounter; other types exist. One of the most common is called the hidden partition. A
hidden partition is really just a primary partition that is hidden from your operating
system. Only special BIOS tools may access a hidden partition. Hidden partitions are
used by some PC makers to hide a backup copy of an installed OS that you can use to
restore your system if you accidentally trash it—by, for example, learning about partitions and using a partitioning program incorrectly.
A swap partition is another special type of partition, but swap partitions are only
found on Linux and BSD systems. A swap partition’s only job is to act like RAM when
your system needs more RAM than you have installed. Windows has a similar function
called a page file that uses a special file instead of a partition. Most OS experts believe a
swap partition is a little bit faster than a page file. You’ll learn all about page files and
swap partitions in Chapter 17, “Maintaining and Troubleshooting Windows.”
NOTE Early versions of Windows (3.x and 9x/Me) called the page file a swap
file. Most techs use the terms interchangeably today. When to Partition
Partitioning is not a common task. The two most common situations likely to require
partitioning are when you’re installing an OS on a new system, and when you are adding a second drive to an existing system. When you install a new OS, the installation
CD at some point asks you how you would like to partition the drive. When you’re
adding a new hard drive to an existing system, every OS has a built-in tool to help you
partition it. ch12.indd 455 12/9/09 5:18:38 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 456 Each version of Windows offers a different tool for partitioning hard drives. For
more than 20 years, through the days of DOS and early Windows (up to Windows Me),
you used a command-line program called FDISK to partition drives. Figure 12-6 shows
the FDISK program. Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Vista use a graphical
partitioning program called Disk Management (Figure 12-7). Figure 12-6
FDISK Figure 12-7 Windows XP Disk Management tool in Computer Management ch12.indd 456 12/9/09 5:18:38 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 457 Linux uses a number of different tools for partitioning. The oldest is called FDISK
yup, the exact same name as the DOS/Windows version. However, that’s where the similarities end, as Linux FDISK has a totally different command set. Even though every copy
of Linux comes with the Linux FDISK, it’s rarely used because so many better partitioning
tools are available. One of the newer Linux partitioning tools is called GParted. GParted
is graphical like Disk Management and is fairly easy to use (Figure 12-8). GParted is also
a powerful partition management toolso powerful that it also works with Windows
partitions. Figure 12-8 GParted in action Traditionally, once you make a partition, you cannot change its size or type other
than by erasing it. You might, however, want to take a hard drive partitioned as a single
primary partition and change it to half primary and half extended. Before Windows
2000, there was no way to do this nondestructively. As a result, a few third-party tools,
led by Symantec’s now famous Norton PartitionMagic, gave techs the tools to resize
partitions without losing the data they held. Windows 2000 and XP can nondestructively resize a partition to be larger but not smaller.
In Vista, you can nondestructively resize partitions by shrinking or expanding existing partitions with available free space. Although undoubtedly handy, this is sometimes hampered by the presence of unmovable system files, such as the MBR. You can ch12.indd 457 12/9/09 5:18:39 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 458 sometimes circumvent this problem by disabling such things as Hibernation mode and
System Restore, but that doesn’t always work, and third-party tools remain necessary
in many cases.
NOTE This chapter explains how to partition a hard drive before it explains
formatting because that is the order in which you as a PC tech will actually
perform those tasks.You’ll learn all of the specifics of the various file
systems—such as FAT32 and NTFS—when I explain formatting in the next
section, but until then, just accept that there are several systems for organizing the files on a
hard drive, and that part of setting up a hard drive involves choosing among them. Hard Drive Formatting
Once you’ve partitioned a hard drive, you must perform one more step before your OS
can use that drive: formatting. Formatting does two things: it creates a file system—like
a library’s card catalog—and makes the root directory in that file system. You must
format every partition and volume you create so it can hold data that you can easily retrieve. The various versions of Windows you’re likely to encounter today can use several
different file systems, so we’ll look at those in detail next. The root directory provides the
foundation upon which the OS builds files and folders. File Systems in Windows
Every version of Windows comes with a built-in formatting utility with which to create
one or more file systems on a partition or volume. The versions of Windows in current
use support three separate Microsoft file systems: FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS.
The simplest hard drive file system, called FAT or FAT16, provides a good introduction to how file systems work. More complex file systems fix many of the problems
inherent in FAT and add extra features as well. FAT
The base storage area for hard drives is a sector; each sector stores up to 512 bytes of
data. If an OS stores a file smaller than 512 bytes in a sector, the rest of the sector goes
to waste. We accept this waste because most files are far larger than 512 bytes. So what
happens when an OS stores a file larger than 512 bytes? The OS needs a method to fill
one sector, find another that’s unused, and fill it, continuing to fill sectors until the file
is completely stored. Once the OS stores a file, it must remember which sectors hold
the file, so it can be retrieved later.
MS-DOS version 2.1 first supported hard drives using a special data structure to keep
track of stored data on the hard drive, and Microsoft called this structure the file allocation table (FAT). Think of the FAT as nothing more than a card catalog that keeps track
of which sectors store the various parts of a file. The official jargon term for a FAT is data
structure, but it is more like a two-column spreadsheet. ch12.indd 458 12/9/09 5:18:39 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 459 The left column (see Figure 12-9) gives each sector a number from 0000 to FFFF (in hex, of course).
This means there are 65,536 (64 K) sectors.
Notice that each value in the left column contains 16 bits. (Four hex characters make 16 bits, remember?) We call this type of FAT a 16-bit FAT or
FAT16. Not just hard drives have FATs. Some USB
thumb drives also use FAT16. Floppy disks use FATs,
but their FATs are only 12 bits because they store
much less data.
The right column of the FAT contains information on the status of sectors. All hard drives, even
brand-new drives fresh from the factory, contain
faulty sectors that cannot store data because of imperfections in the construction of the drives. The OS
must locate these bad sectors, mark them as unusable, and then prevent any files from being written
to them. This mapping of bad sectors is one of the functions of high-level formatting. After the format program creates the FAT, it proceeds through the entire partition, writing
and attempting to read from each sector sequentially. If it finds a bad sector, it places
a special status code (FFF7) in the sector’s FAT location, indicating that the sector is
unavailable for use. Formatting also marks the good sectors as 0000.
16-bit FAT NOTE There is such a thing as “low-level formatting,” but that’s generally
done at the factory and doesn’t concern techs. This is especially true if you’re
working with modern hard drives (post-2001).
Using the FAT to track sectors, however, creates a problem. The 16-bit FAT addresses
a maximum of 64 K (216) locations. Therefore, the size of a hard drive partition should
be limited to 64 K × 512 bytes per sector, or 32 MB. When Microsoft first unveiled
FAT16, this 32-MB limit presented no problem because most hard drives were only 5
to 10 MB. As hard drives grew in size, you could use FDISK to break them up into multiple partitions. You could divide a 40-MB hard drive into two partitions, for example,
making each partition smaller than 32 MB. But as hard drives started to become much
larger, Microsoft realized that the 32-MB limit for drives was unacceptable. We needed
an improvement to the 16-bit FAT, a new and improved FAT16 that would support
larger drives while still maintaining backward compatibility with the old style 16-bit
FAT. This need led to the development of a dramatic improvement in FAT16, called
clustering, that enabled you to format partitions larger than 32 MB (see Figure 12-10).
This new FAT16 appeared way back in the DOS-4 days.
Clustering simply refers to combining a set of contiguous sectors and treating them as
a single unit in the FAT. These units are called file allocation units or clusters. Each row of
the FAT addressed a cluster instead of a sector. Unlike sectors, the size of a cluster is not
fixed. Clusters improved FAT16, but it still only supported a maximum of 64 K storage
units, so the formatting program set the number of sectors in each cluster according ch12.indd 459 12/9/09 5:18:40 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 460 Figure 12-10
sector to the size of the partition. The larger the partition, the more sectors per cluster. This
method kept clustering completely compatible with the 64-K locations in the old 16bit FAT. The new FAT16 could support partitions up to 2 GB. (The old 16-bit FAT is so
old it doesn’t really even have a name—if someone says “FAT16,” they mean the newer
FAT16 that supports clustering.) Table 12-1 shows the number of sectors per cluster for
FAT16. Table 12-1
Sizes If FDISK makes a
partition this big: You’ll get this many
sectors/cluster 16 to 127.9 MB 4 128 to 255.9 MB 8 256 to 511.9 MB 16 512 to 1023.9 MB 32 1024 to 2048 MB 64 FAT16 in Action
Assume you have a copy of Windows using FAT16. When an application such as Microsoft Word tells the OS to save a file, Windows starts at the beginning of the FAT, looking
for the first space marked “open for use” (0000), and begins to write to that cluster. If
the entire file fits within that one cluster, Windows places the code FFFF (last cluster)
into the cluster’s status area in the FAT. That’s called the end-of-file marker. Windows
then goes to the folder storing the file and adds the filename and the cluster’s number ch12.indd 460 12/9/09 5:18:42 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 461 to the folder list. If the file requires more than one cluster, Windows searches for the
next open cluster and places the number of the next cluster in the status area, filling and
adding clusters until the entire file is saved. The last cluster then receives the end-of-file
Let’s run through an example of this process, and start by selecting an arbitrary part
of the FAT: from 3ABB to 3AC7. Assume you want to save a file called MOM.TXT. Before
saving the file, the FAT looks like Figure 12-11. Figure 12-11 The initial FAT Windows finds the first open cluster, 3ABB, and fills it. But not all of the MOM.TXT
file fits into that cluster. Needing more space, the OS goes through the FAT to find the
next open cluster. It finds cluster 3ABC. Before filling 3ABC, the value 3ABC is placed
in 3ABB’s status (see Figure 12-12).
Even after filling two clusters, more of the MOM.TXT file remains, so Windows must
find one more cluster. The 3ABD has been marked FFF7 (bad cluster or bad-sector marker),
so Windows skips over 3ABD, finding 3ABE (see Figure 12-13).
Before filling 3ABE, Windows enters the value 3ABE in 3ABC’s status. Windows does
not completely fill 3ABE, signifying that the entire MOM.TXT file has been stored. Windows enters the value FFFF in 3ABE’s status, indicating the end of file (see Figure 12-14).
After saving all of the clusters, Windows locates the file’s folder (yes, folders also are
stored on clusters, but they get a different set of clusters, somewhere else on the disk)
and records the filename, size, date/time, and starting cluster, like this:
MOM.TXT 19234 05-19-07 2:04p 3ABB ch12.indd 461 12/9/09 5:18:43 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 462 Figure 12-12 The first cluster used Figure 12-13 The second cluster used If a program requests that file, the process is reversed. Windows locates the folder
containing the file to determine the starting cluster and then pulls a piece of the file
from each cluster until it sees the end-of-file cluster. Windows then hands the reassembled file to the requesting application. ch12.indd 462 12/9/09 5:18:44 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 463 Figure 12-14 End of file reached Clearly, without the FAT, Windows cannot locate files. FAT16 automatically makes
two copies of the FAT. One FAT backs up the other to provide special utilities a way to
recover a FAT that gets corrupted—a painfully common occurrence.
Even when FAT works perfectly, over time the files begin to separate in a process
called fragmentation. Fragmentation
Continuing with the example, let’s use Microsoft Word to save two more files: a letter to the IRS (IRSROB.DOC) and a letter to IBM (IBMHELP.DOC). IRSROB.DOC
takes the next three clusters—3ABF, 3AC0, and 3AC1—and IBMHELP.DOC takes two
clusters—3AC2 and 3AC3 (see Figure 12-15).
Now suppose you erase MOM.TXT. Windows does not delete the cluster entries for
MOM.TXT when it erases a file. Windows only alters the information in the folder,
simply changing the first letter of MOM.TXT to the Greek letter Σ (sigma). This causes
the file to “disappear” as far as the OS knows. It won’t show up, for example, in Windows Explorer, even though the data still resides on the hard drive for the moment (see
Note that under normal circumstances, Windows does not actually delete files when
you press the DELETE key. Instead, Windows moves the files to a special hidden directory
that you can access via the Recycle Bin. The files themselves are not actually deleted
until you empty the Recycle Bin. (You can skip the Recycle Bin entirely if you wish, by
highlighting a file and then holding down the SHIFT key when you press DELETE).
Because all of the data for MOM.TXT is intact, you could use some program to
change the Σ back into another letter and thus get the document back. A number of ch12.indd 463 12/9/09 5:18:45 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 464 Figure 12-15 Three files saved Figure 12-16 MOM.TXT erased third-party undelete tools are available. Figure 12-17 shows one such program at work.
Just remember that if you want to use an undelete tool, you must use it quickly. The
space allocated to your deleted file may soon be overwritten by a new file.
Let’s say you just emptied your Recycle Bin. You now save one more file, TAXREC
.XLS, a big spreadsheet that will take six clusters, into the same folder that once held
MOM.TXT. As Windows writes the file to the drive, it overwrites the space that MOM
.TXT used, but it needs three more clusters. The next three available clusters are 3AC4,
3AC5, and 3AC6 (see Figure 12-18). ch12.indd 464 12/9/09 5:18:47 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 465 Figure 12-17 WinUndelete in action Figure 12-18 TAXREC.XLS fragmented ch12.indd 465 12/9/09 5:18:49 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 466 Notice that TAXREC.XLS is in two pieces, thus fragmented. Fragmentation takes place
all of the time on FAT16 systems. Although the system easily negotiates a tiny fragmented file split into only two parts, excess fragmentation slows down the system during hard drive reads and writes. This example is fragmented into two pieces; in the real
world, a file might fragment into hundreds of pieces, forcing the read/write heads to
travel all over the hard drive to retrieve a single file. You can dramatically improve the
speed at which the hard drive reads and writes files by eliminating this fragmentation.
Every version of Windows (with the exception of NT) comes with a program called
Disk Defragmenter, which can rearrange the files into neat contiguous chunks (see
Figure 12-19). Defragmentation is crucial for ensuring the top performance of a hard
drive. The “Maintaining and Troubleshooting Hard Drives” section of this chapter gives
the details on working with the various Disk Defragmenters in Windows. Figure 12-19 Windows Disk Defragmenter FAT32
When Microsoft introduced Windows 95 OSR2 (OEM Service Release 2), it also unveiled
a totally new file format called FAT32 that brought a couple of dramatic improvements. ch12.indd 466 12/9/09 5:18:49 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 467 First, FAT32 supports partitions up to 2 terabytes (more than 2 trillion bytes). Second,
as its name implies, FAT32 uses 32 bits to describe each cluster, which means clusters
can drop to more reasonable sizes. FAT32’s use of so many FAT entries gives it the power
to use small clusters, making the old “keep your partitions small” rule obsolete. A 2-GB
volume using FAT16 would use 32-KB clusters, while the same 2-GB volume using FAT32
would use 4-KB clusters. You get far more efficient use of disk space with FAT32, without
the need to make multiple small partitions. FAT32 partitions still need defragmentation,
however, just as often as FAT16 partitions.
Table 12-2 shows cluster sizes for FAT32 partitions.
Cluster Sizes Drive Size Cluster Size 512 MB or 1023 MB 4 KB 1024 MB to 2 GB 4 KB 2 GB to 8 GB 4 KB 8 GB to 16 GB 8 KB 16 GB to 32 GB 16 KB >32 GB 32 KB Practical Application
The Windows format of choice these days is the New Technology File System (NTFS).
NTFS came out a long time ago with the first version of Windows NT, thus the name.
Over the years, NTFS has undergone a number of improvements. The version used in
Windows 2000 is NTFS 3.0; the version used in Windows XP and Vista is called NTFS 3.1,
although you’ll see it referred to as NTFS 5.0/5.1 (Windows 2000 was unofficially Windows NT version 5). NTFS uses clusters and file allocation tables but in a much more
complex and powerful way compared to FAT or FAT32. NTFS offers six major improvements and refinements: redundancy, security, compression, encryption, disk quotas,
and cluster sizing.
NOTE If you have a geeky interest in what version of NTFS you are running,
open up a prompt and type this command: fsutil fsinfo ntfsinfo c: NTFS Structure
NTFS utilizes an enhanced file allocation table called the master file table (MFT). An
NTFS partition keeps a backup copy of the most critical parts of the MFT in the middle
of the disk, reducing the chance that a serious drive error can wipe out both the MFT ch12.indd 467 12/9/09 5:18:49 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 468 and the MFT copy. Whenever you defragment an NTFS partition, you’ll see a small, immovable chunk in the middle of the drive; that’s the backup MFT (Figure 12-20). It’s a
little difficult to see in black and white, but the color image shows bright green in both
the key at the bottom of the screen and in the estimated disk usage bars. NTFS MFT Figure 12-20 An NTFS MFT appears in a defragmenter program as an immovable file. EXAM TIP Both of the CompTIA A+ exams test you on NTFS, such as
when to use it, what advantages it has over FAT32, and how to lock down
information.You’ll also be quizzed on the tools, such as Disk Management, in
both exams. Don’t skip anything in this chapter! Security
NTFS views individual files and folders as objects and provides security for those objects through a feature called the access control list (ACL). Future chapters go into this in
much more detail, but a quick example here should make the basic concept clear.
Suppose Bill the IT Guy sets up a Windows XP PC as a workstation for three users:
John, Wilma, and Felipe. John logs into the PC with his user name and password (johns ch12.indd 468 12/9/09 5:18:50 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 469 and f3f2f1f0, respectively, in case you’re curious) and begins to work on his project. The
project folder is stored on the C: drive as C:\Projects\JohnSuperSecret. When John saves
his work and gets ready to leave, he alters the permissions on his folder to deny access
to anyone but him. When curious Wilma logs into the PC after John leaves, she cannot
access the C:\Programs\JohnSuperSecret folder contents at all, although she can see the
entry in Explorer. Without the ACL provided by NTFS, John would have no security over
his files or folders at all.
NOTE Microsoft has never released the exact workings of NTFS to the public. Compression
NTFS enables you to compress individual files and folders to save space on a hard drive.
Compression makes access time to the data slower because the OS has to uncompress
files every time you use them, but in a space-limited environment, sometimes that’s
what you have to do. Encryption
One of the big draws with NTFS is file encryption, the black art of making files unreadable to anybody who doesn’t have the right key. You can encrypt a single file, a folder,
or a folder full of files. Microsoft calls the encryption utility in NTFS the encrypting file
system (EFS), but it’s simply an aspect of NTFS, not a standalone file system. To encrypt
a file or folder, right-click it in My Computer or Computer and select Properties to
open the Properties dialog box (Figure 12-21). Click the Advanced button to open the
Folder Properties ch12.indd 469 12/9/09 5:18:50 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 470 Advanced Attributes dialog box. As you can see in Figure 12-22, encryption (and compression) is simply a selectable checkbox. Click the box next to Encrypt contents to secure
data and then click the OK button—instantly your file is safe from prying eyes!
encryption EXAM TIP Windows XP Home and Media Center editions do not
Encryption does not hide files; it simply makes them unreadable to other users.
Figure 12-23 shows a couple of image files encrypted by another user. Note that in addition to the pale green color of the filenames (that you can’t tell are pale green in this
black-and-white image), the files seem readily accessible. Windows XP can’t provide a
Encrypted files ch12.indd 470 12/9/09 5:18:51 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 471 thumbnail, however, even though it can read the type of image file (JPEG) easily. Further, double-clicking the files opens the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, but you still
can’t see the image (Figure 12-24). Better still, you can try to access the files across your
network and the encryption does precisely what it’s supposed to do: blocks unwanted
access to sensitive data. Figure 12-24
and Fax Viewer
blocked by file
encryption Remember that encryption is separate from the NTFS file security provided by the
ACL—to access encrypted files, you need both permission to access the files based on
the ACL and the keys used to encrypt the files. We discuss key management in much
more detail in Chapter 16, “Securing Windows Resources.”
NOTE Encryption protects against other users, but only if you log out. It
might seem obvious, but I’ve had lots of users get confused by encryption,
thinking that the PC knows who’s clicking the keyboard. All protections and
security are based on user accounts. If someone logs into your computer
with a different account, the encrypted files will be unreadable. We’ll get to user accounts,
permissions, and such in later chapters in detail. ch12.indd 471 12/9/09 5:18:51 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 472 Disk Quotas
NTFS supports disk quotas, enabling administrators to set limits on drive space usage
for users. To set quotas, you must log in as an Administrator, right-click the hard drive
name, and select Properties. In the Drive Properties dialog box, select the Quota tab
and make changes. Figure 12-25 shows configured quotas for a hard drive. Although
rarely used on single-user systems, setting disk quotas on multi-user systems prevents
any individual user from monopolizing your hard disk space. Figure 12-25
Hard drive quotas
in Windows XP Cluster Sizes
Unlike FAT16 or FAT32, you can adjust the cluster sizes in NTFS, although you’ll probably rarely do so. Table 12-4 shows the default cluster sizes for NTFS.
Cluster Sizes Drive Size Cluster Size Number of Sectors 512 MB or less 512 bytes 1 513 MB to 1024 MB (1 GB) 1024 bytes (1 KB) 2 1,025 MB to 2048 MB (2 GB) 2048 bytes (2 KB) 4 2,049 MB and larger 4096 bytes (4 KB) 8 By default, NTFS supports partitions up to ~16 terabytes on a dynamic disk, (though
only up to 2 TB on a basic disk). By tweaking the cluster sizes, you can get NTFS to
support partitions up to 16 exabytes, or 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 bytes! That might
support any and all upcoming hard drive capacities for the next 100 years or so. ch12.indd 472 12/9/09 5:18:51 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 473 EXAM TIP NTFS supports partitions up to 16 TB by default. With so many file systems, how do you know which one to use? In the case of internal hard drives, you should use the most feature-rich system your OS supports. If you
have Windows 2000 or greater, use NTFS. External hard drives still often use FAT32
because NTFS features such as the ACL and encryption can make access difficult when
you move the drive between systems, but with that exception, NTFS is your best choice
on a Windows-based system. The Partitioning and Formatting Process
Now that you understand the concepts of formatting and partitioning, let’s go through
the process of setting up an installed hard drive by using different partitioning and
formatting tools. If you have access to a system, try following along with these descriptions. Remember, don’t make any changes to a drive you want to keep, because both
partitioning and formatting are destructive processes. Bootable Disks
Imagine you’ve built a brand new PC. The hard drive has no OS so you need to boot up
something to set up that hard drive. Any software that can boot up a system is by definition an operating system. You need a floppy disk, optical disk, or USB thumb drive with
a bootable OS installed. Any removable media that has a bootable OS is generically
called a boot device or boot disk. Your system boots off of the boot device, which then
loads some kind of OS that enables you to partition, format, and install an OS on your
new hard drive. Boot devices come from many sources. All Windows OS installation
discs are boot devices, as are Linux installation discs. You can make your own bootable
devices, and most techs do, because a boot device often has a number of handy tools
included to do certain jobs.
In Chapter 13, “Removable Media,” I go through the steps to make a number of different boot devices for different jobs. If you want to follow along with some of the steps
in this chapter, you may want to jump ahead to the next chapter to make a boot device
or two and then return here. Partitioning and Formatting with
the Windows XP Installation CD
When you boot up a Windows XP installation CD and the installation program detects a
hard drive that is not yet partitioned, it prompts you through a sequence of steps to partition (and format) the hard drive. Chapter 14, “Installing and Configuring Windows,”
covers the entire installation process, but we’ll jump ahead and dive into the partitioning part of the installation here to see how this is done, working through two examples
by using one and then two partitions. Even though this example uses the Windows XP ch12.indd 473 12/9/09 5:18:52 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 474 installation CD, don’t worry, because this part of the Windows 2000 installation is almost identical and the next section discusses Vista in detail. Single Partition
The most common partitioning scenario involves turning a new blank drive into a
single bootable C: drive. To accomplish this goal, you need to make the entire drive a
primary partition and then make it active. Let’s go through the process of partitioning
and formatting a single, brand-new, 200-GB hard drive.
The Windows installation begins by booting from a Windows installation CD-ROM
like the one shown in Figure 12-26. The installation program starts automatically from
the CD. The installation first loads some needed files but eventually prompts you with
the screen shown in Figure 12-27. This is your clue that partitioning is about to start. Figure 12-26
Windows installation CD Press the ENTER key to start a new Windows installation and accept the license agreement to see the main partitioning screen (Figure 12-28). The bar that says Unpartitioned Space is the drive.
The Windows installer is pretty smart. If you press ENTER at this point, it partitions
the hard drive as a single primary partition, makes it active, and installs Windows for
youbut what fun is that? Instead, press C to create a partition. The installer then asks
you how large a partition to make (Figure 12-29). You may make the partition any
size you want by typing in a number, from a minimum of 8 MB up to the size of the ch12.indd 474 12/9/09 5:18:52 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 475 Figure 12-27 Welcome to Setup Figure 12-28 Partitioning screen entire drive (in this case, 204789 MB). Let’s just make the entire drive a single C: drive
by pressing ENTER.
Ta-da! You just partitioned the drive! Now Windows asks you how you want to format that drive (Figure 12-30). So you might be asking, where’s the basic versus dynamic? ch12.indd 475 12/9/09 5:18:53 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 476 Figure 12-29 Setting partition size Figure 12-30 Format screen Where do you tell Windows to make the partition primary instead of extended? Where
do you set it as active?
The Windows installer makes a number of assumptions for you, such as always making the first partition primary and setting it as active. The installer also makes all hard
drives basic disks. You’ll have to convert it to dynamic later (if you even want to convert
it at all). ch12.indd 476 12/9/09 5:18:53 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 477 Select NTFS for the format. Either option—quick or full—will do the job here. (Quick
format is quicker, as the name would suggest, but the full option is more thorough and
thus safer.) After Windows formats the drive, the installation continues, copying the
new Windows installation to the C: drive. Two Partitions
Well, that was fun! So much fun that I’d like to do another new Windows installation,
with a bit more complex partitioning. This time, you again have the 200-GB hard drive,
but you want to split the drive into three drive letters of roughly 66 GB each. That
means you need to make a single 66-GB primary partition, then a 133-GB extended
partition, and then split that extended partition into two logical drives of 66 GB each.
Back at the Windows installation main partitioning screen, first press C to make a new
partition, but this time change the 204789 to 66666, which will give you a partition of
about 66 GB. When you press ENTER, the partitioning screen should look like Figure 12-31.
Even though the installation program doesn’t tell you, the partition is primary. Figure 12-31 You’ve created a 66-GB partition. NOTE Windows almost always adjusts the number you type in for a partition
size. In this case, it changed 66666 to 66668, a number that makes more sense
when translated to binary. Don’t worry about it!
Notice that two-thirds of the drive is still unpartitioned space. Move the selection down
to this option and press C to create the next partition. Once again, type 66666 in the partition size screen and press ENTER, and you’ll see something similar to Figure 12-32. ch12.indd 477 12/9/09 5:18:54 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 478 Figure 12-32 Second partition created Create your last partition exactly as you made the other two to see your almostcompletely partitioned drive (Figure 12-33). (Note that the example is not realistic in
one respect: you would never leave any unpartitioned space on a drive in a typical PC.) Figure 12-33 Fully partitioned drive ch12.indd 478 12/9/09 5:18:54 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 479 Even though the Windows installation shows that you’ve made three partitions,
you’ve really made only two: the primary partition, which is C:, and then two logical
drives (D: and E:) in an extended partition. Once again, the next step, formatting, is
saved for a later section in this chapter.
You’ve just created three drive letters. Keep in mind that the only drive you must
partition during installation is the drive on which you install Windows.
The installation program can delete partitions just as easily as it makes them. If you
use a hard drive that already has partitions, for example, you just select the partition you
wish to delete and press the letter D. This brings up a dialog box where Windows gives
you one last change to change your mind (Figure 12-34). Press L to kill the partition. Figure 12-34 Option to delete partition Partitioning and Formatting with
the Windows Vista Installation DVD
Among the many changes in Microsoft’s newest operating system is a completely revamped
installation process, complete with a fancy looking and, more importantly, easy-to-use
graphical user interface. Again, the entire installation process will be covered in Chapter 14,
“Installing and Configuring Windows,” but because you’ve already looked at partitioning
in Windows XP, you should at least be familiar with what’s changed in Vista. Single Partition
One thing that definitely hasn’t changed with Vista is that the most common installation is on a single active partition, so let’s start there. Again, you’re going to partition
and format a single 200-GB drive. ch12.indd 479 12/9/09 5:18:55 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 480 The Vista installation GUI has a few more steps than XP before you get to the actual
formatting page, so let’s get through those as quickly as possible to get to the fun stuff.
When you boot from the installation DVD, you’ll be greeted with a screen asking you
for language and regional information (Figure 12-35). Unless you’re having this book
read to you by a translator, I expect you’ll want to keep the language set to English, but
set the other entries as needed. Figure 12-35 The Windows Vista language preferences screen The next page has a large Install Now button, so click that and move on. After that,
the installer asks for a product key (Figure 12-36). Don’t bother entering one yet—just
leave the field blank and click Next to move on to the next page.
The next page asks which version of Vista you want to install (Figure 12-37). Every
Vista installation DVD contains all editions of the operating system—your product key
ultimately determines which edition you can install, so you wouldn’t get this page if
you entered a product key when first prompted. Select Windows Vista ULTIMATE (in
this example) and move on to the next page. ch12.indd 480 12/9/09 5:18:55 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 481 Figure 12-36 The product key page The next page is just a license agreement that you’ll need to, ahem, agree with before moving on. Getting impatient to do some formatting? Don’t worry—I know this
process is a tad longer than on XP, but you’re almost there. Click the Custom install
button on the next page and you’ll be greeted with the partitioning page (Figure 12-38).
Your hard drive is the bar that says Disk 0 Unallocated Space, which is currently the
only thing there. If you just click Next, Windows automatically partitions and formats
the drive for you, but I still fail to see any fun in that, so let’s once again manually create
a partition on the drive. Click the Drive options (advanced) button to see the advanced
drive features. To create a new partition, click the New button. You could simply click
Apply to make a 200-GB partition, but, to demonstrate one of Vista’s handy new features, type 100000 and then click Apply (Figure 12-39).
Once you have created your 100-GB partition, click the Format button. Notice that
the installer never asks you what file system to use. Vista can read FAT drives, but it will
not install itself to one by default. There are, of course, some people on the Internet
who have figured out how to install Vista to a FAT32 drive, but why anyone would want
to lose all of NTFS’s functionality is beyond me. ch12.indd 481 12/9/09 5:18:55 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 482 Figure 12-37 Choose your edition So now you have set up a 100-GB partition, but what if you want to make it a 200-GB
partition? In XP, you would have to delete the partition and start over, but not so in
Vista. You can simply click the Extend button and then apply the rest of the unallocated
space to your currently formatted partition. The extend function allows you to easily
tack unpartitioned space onto an already partitioned drive. Multiple Partitions
You can format a drive to contain two partitions just as easily as formatting a single
drive. Just as in the XP example, you’ll be creating three 66-GB partitions. Unlike in
Windows XP, this process actually leaves you with two primary partitions, not a primary
partition and an extended partition with two logical drives. Vista will not create extended partitions if a user has fewer than four partitions on a drive, so if you’re making
three partitions, you’re actually creating three primary partitions. If you made a fourth,
it would manifest itself as a logical drive on an extended partition. ch12.indd 482 12/9/09 5:18:56 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 483 Figure 12-38 The Vista partitioning page However, you’re not going to create four partitions for this exercise, so you don’t
need to worry about that. You’ll start out, again, with a 200-GB drive, but this time, after
clicking the New button, type 66666 into the Size box and click Apply. That will give
you a 66-GB (more or less) primary partition (Figure 12-40).
Do the same thing to create the next two drives and you’re finished. That was pretty
easy, wasn’t it? Partitions and Drive Letters
So you have a hard drive, maybe several hard drives, all partitioned up, and you’ve
installed Windows on one of them, but where do those drive letters come from? Older
systems assigned drive letters based on some fairly complicated rules having to do with
master and slave drives, but things are much simpler on modern systems.
The primary active partition will always be C: and you can’t change that, but the
rest of the drives are assigned the next available letter, with hard drives taking priority
over optical drives. If you have two hard drives and an optical drive in your computer,
the hard drives will be C: and D:, and the optical drive will be E:. If, however, you later
install another hard drive in the computer, it will become your F: drive. Newly installed
drives do not take drive letters from previously installed drives. ch12.indd 483 12/9/09 5:18:56 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 484 Figure 12-39 Setting partition size You can change the lettering on every drive but your system partition, which you’ll
find out how to do in the next section. Disk Management
The real tool for partitioning and formatting is the Disk Management utility. You can
use Disk Management to do everything you want to do to a hard drive in one handy
tool. You can access Disk Management by going to the Control Panel and opening
the Computer Management applet. If you’re cool, you can click Start | Run, type in
diskmgmt.msc, and press ENTER. Windows 2000/XP and Windows Vista/7 come with
Disk Management (Figure 12-41).
Disk Management works only within Windows, so you can’t use Disk Management
from a boot device. If you install Windows from an installation disc, in other words,
you must use the special partitioning/formatting software built into the installation
program you just saw in action.
One of the most interesting parts of Disk Management is disk initialization. Every hard
drive in a Windows system has special information placed onto the drive. This initialization information includes identifiers that say “this drive belongs in this system” and
other information that defines what this hard drive does in the system. If the hard drive
is part of a RAID array, its RAID information is stored in the initialization. If it’s part of a
spanned volume, this is also stored there. All new drives must be initialized before you ch12.indd 484 12/9/09 5:18:57 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 485 Figure 12-40 The first 66-GB partition can use them. When you install an extra hard drive into a Windows system and start Disk
Management, it notices the new drive and starts the Hard Drive Initialization Wizard. If
you don’t let the wizard run, the drive will be listed as unknown (Figure 12-42).
To initialize a disk, right-click the disk icon and select Initialize. Once a disk is initialized, you can see the status of the drive—a handy tool for troubleshooting.
Disk Management enables you to view the status of every drive in your system. Hopefully, you’ll mostly see the drive listed as Healthy, meaning that nothing is happening
to it and things are going along swimmingly. You’re also already familiar with the Unallocated and Active status, but here are a few more to be familiar with for the test:
• Foreign drive You see this when you move a dynamic disk into another computer.
a drive. As you might have guessed, you see this when you’re formatting • Failed Pray you never see this status, because it means that the disk is damaged or corrupt and you’ve probably lost some data.
• Online This is what you see if a disk is healthy and communicating properly
with the computer.
• Offline The disk is either corrupted or having communication problems. ch12.indd 485 12/9/09 5:18:57 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 486 Figure 12-41 Disk Management Figure 12-42 Unknown drive in Disk Management ch12.indd 486 12/9/09 5:18:57 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 487 A newly installed drive is always set as a basic disk. There’s nothing wrong with using
basic disks, other than that you miss out on some handy features. To create partitions,
right-click the unallocated part of the drive and select New Partition. Disk Management
runs the New Partition Wizard, with which you can select a primary or extended partition (Figure 12-43). Afterward, you see a screen where you specify the size partition you
prefer (Figure 12-44). Figure 12-43
Partition Wizard Figure 12-44
partition size ch12.indd 487 12/9/09 5:18:58 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 488 If you choose to make a primary partition, the wizard asks if you want to assign a
drive letter to the partition, mount it as a folder to an existing partition, or do neither
(Figure 12-45). (If you choose to make an extended partition, you just get a confirmation screen and you are returned to Disk Management.) In almost all cases, you’ll want
to give primary partitions a drive letter. Figure 12-45
Assigning a drive
letter to a primary partition The last screen of the New Partition Wizard asks for the type of format you want to
use for this partition (Figure 12-46). If your partition is 4 GB or less, you may format it
as FAT, FAT32, or NTFS. If your partition is greater than 4 GB but less than 32 GB, you
can make the drive FAT32 or NTFS. Windows requires NTFS on any partition greater
than 32 GB. Although FAT32 supports partitions up to 2 TB, Microsoft wants you to
use NTFS on larger partitions and creates this limit. In today’s world of big hard drives,
there’s no good reason to use anything other than NTFS.
NOTE Windows 2000/XP and Windows Vista/7 read and write to FAT32
partitions larger than 32 GB; they just don’t allow Disk Management to make
them. If you ever stumble across a drive from a system that ran the old
Windows 9x/Me that has a FAT32 partition larger than 32 GB, it will work just
fine in a modern Windows system.
You have a few more tasks to complete at this screen. You can add a volume label if
you want. You can also choose the size of your clusters (Allocation unit size). There’s no
reason to change the default cluster size, so leave that alonebut you can sure speed up
the format if you select the Perform a quick format checkbox. This will format your drive
without checking every cluster. It’s fast and a bit risky, but new hard drives almost always
come from the factory in perfect shapeso you must decide whether to use it or not. ch12.indd 488 12/9/09 5:18:58 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 489 Figure 12-46
Choosing a file
system type Last, if you chose NTFS, you may enable file and folder compression. If you select this
option, you’ll be able to right-click any file or folder on this partition and compress it.
To compress a file or folder, choose the one you want to compress, right-click, and select
Properties. Then click the Advanced button to turn compression on or off (Figure 12-47).
Compression is handy for opening up space on a hard drive that’s filling up, but it also
slows down disk access, so use it only when you need it. Figure 12-47
Turning on compression ch12.indd 489 12/9/09 5:18:59 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 490 After the drive finishes formatting, you’ll go back to Disk Management and see
a changed hard drive landscape. If you made a primary partition, you will see your
new drive letter. If you made an extended partition, things will look a bit different.
Figure 12-48 shows the extended partition as free space because it has no logical drive
yet. As you can easily guess from Figure 12-49, to create a logical drive, simply right-click
in that extended partition and choose New Logical Drive. Disk Management fires up the
New Partition Wizard again, this time with the option to create a logical drive. Figure 12-48 Extended partition with no logical drives NOTE In Windows Vista, you cannot create extended partitions unless you
already have three primary partitions on a drive and are creating a fourth.
Microsoft has tried to simplify drive implementation as much as possible.
When you create a logical drive, the New Partition Wizard automatically gives you
the same options to format the partition by using one of the three file systems you saw
earlier with primary partitions (Figure 12-50). You get another confirmation screen,
and then the Disk Management console shows you the newly created drive.
One interesting aspect of Windows is the tiny (approximately 8 MB) mysterious unallocated partition that shows up on the C: drive. The Windows installation program does
this when you first install Windows on a new system, to reserve a space Windows needs
for converting the C: drive to a dynamic disk. It doesn’t hurt anything and it’s tiny, so just
leave it alone. If you want to make a volume and format it, feel free to do so. ch12.indd 490 12/9/09 5:18:59 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 491 Figure 12-49 Selecting to create a logical drive in the extended (free space) partition Figure 12-50
options Dynamic Disks
You create dynamic disks from basic disks in Disk Management. Once you convert a
drive from a basic to a dynamic disk, primary and extended partitions no longer exist;
dynamic disks are divided into volumes instead of partitions. ch12.indd 491 12/9/09 5:19:00 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 492 EXAM TIP When you move a dynamic disk from one computer to another,
it shows up in Disk Management as a foreign drive.You can import a foreign
drive into the new system by right-clicking the disk icon and selecting Import
To convert a basic disk to dynamic, just right-click the drive icon and select Convert
to Dynamic Disk (Figure 12-51). The process is very quick and safe, although the reverse is not true. The conversion from dynamic disk to basic disk first requires you to
delete all partitions off of the hard drive. Figure 12-51 Converting to a dynamic disk Once you’ve converted, no partitions exist, only volumes. You can make five types of
volumes on a dynamic disk: simple, spanned, striped, mirrored, and RAID 5, although
you’ll commonly see only the first three in a Windows 2000/XP Professional or Windows Vista Business environment. You’ll next learn how to implement the three most
common volume types. The final step involves assigning a drive letter or mounting the
volume as a folder.
EXAM TIP The home editions of Windows XP and Windows Vista do not
support dynamic disks. ch12.indd 492 12/9/09 5:19:00 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 493 Simple Volumes
A simple volume acts just like a primary partition. If you have only one dynamic disk
in a system, it can have only a simple volume. It’s important to note here that a simple
volume may act like a traditional primary partition, but it is very different. If you install
a hard drive partitioned as a simple volume dynamic disk into any version of Windows
prior to Windows 2000, you would see no usable partition.
In Disk Management, right-click any unallocated space on the dynamic disk and
choose New Volume (Figure 12-52) to run the New Volume Wizard. You’ll see a series of
screens that prompt you on size and file system, and then you’re finished. Figure 12-53
shows Disk Management with three simple volumes. Figure 12-52 Selecting to open the New Volume Wizard Spanning Volumes
You can extend the size of a simple volume to any unallocated space on a dynamic disk.
You can also extend the volume to grab extra space on completely different dynamic
disks, creating a spanned volume. To extend or span, simply right-click the volume you
want to make bigger, and choose Extend Volume from the options (Figure 12-54). This
opens the Extend Volume Wizard, which prompts you for the location of free space on
a dynamic disk and the increased volume size you want to assign (Figure 12-55). If you
have multiple drives, you can span the volume just as easily to one of those drives.
The capability to extend and span volumes makes dynamic disks worth their weight
in gold. If you start running out of space on a volume, you can simply add another ch12.indd 493 12/9/09 5:19:00 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 494 Figure 12-53 Simple volumes physical hard drive to the system and span the volume to the new drive. This keeps
your drive letters consistent and unchanging so your programs don’t get confused, yet
enables you to expand drive space when needed.
CAUTION Once you convert a drive to dynamic, you cannot revert it to a
basic disk without losing all of the data on that drive. Be prepared to back up
all data before you convert.
You can extend or span any simple volume on a dynamic disk, not just the “one on
the end” in the Disk Management console. You simply select the volume to expand and
the total volume increase you want. Figure 12-56 shows a simple 4-GB volume named
Extended that has been enlarged an extra 7.91 GB in a portion of the hard drive, skipping the 2-GB section of unallocated space contiguous to it. This created an 11.91-GB
volume. Windows has no problem skipping areas on a drive.
NOTE You can extend and shrink hard drives in Windows Vista/7 without
using dynamic disks.You can shrink any primary partition with available free
space (though you can’t always shrink the partition by the whole amount of
free space, based on the location of unmovable sectors such as the MBR), and
you can expand partitions with unpartitioned space on the drive. Using dynamic disks in
Vista/7 still has benefits, however, because you cannot expand a partition by using space on
another drive, and the unpartitioned space has to be contiguous with the partition you’re
expanding. ch12.indd 494 12/9/09 5:19:01 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 495 Figure 12-54 Selecting the Extend Volume option Striped Volumes
If you have two or more dynamic disks in a PC, Disk Management enables you to
combine them into a striped volume. A striped volume spreads out blocks of each file
across multiple disks. Using two or more drives in a group called a stripe set, striping
writes data first to a certain number of clusters on one drive, then on the next, and so
on. It speeds up data throughput because the system has to wait a much shorter time
for a drive to read or write data. The drawback of striping is that if any single drive in
the stripe set fails, all data in the stripe set is lost.
To create a striped volume, right-click unused space on a drive and choose New Volume and then Striped. The wizard asks for the other drives you want to add to the stripe,
and you need to select two unallocated spaces on other dynamic disks. Select the other
unallocated spaces and go through the remaining screens on sizing and formatting until ch12.indd 495 12/9/09 5:19:01 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 496 Figure 12-55
Volume Wizard Figure 12-56 Extended volume you’ve created a new striped volume (Figure 12-57). The two stripes in Figure 12-57
appear to have different sizes, but if you look closely you’ll see they are both 4 GB. All
stripes must be the same size on each drive. ch12.indd 496 12/9/09 5:19:02 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 497 Figure 12-57 Two striped drives Mount Points
The one drive that can’t take full advantage of being dynamic is the drive containing the
operating system, your primary master C: drive. You can make it dynamic, but you still
can’t do all of the cool dynamic things such as extending and spanning. So what good
is being able to allocate more space to a volume if you can’t use it when you start to fill
up your C: drive? If you can’t add to that drive, your only option is to replace it with a
new, bigger drive, right?
Not at all! Earlier we discussed the idea of mounting a drive as a folder instead of
a drive letter, and here’s where you get to do it. A volume mount point (or simply mount
point) is a place in the directory structure of an existing volume that you can point to
a volume or partition. The mounted volume then functions just like a folder, but all
files stored in that segment of the directory structure will go to the mounted volume.
After partitioning and formatting the drive, you don’t give it a drive letter; instead, you
mount the volume to a folder on the C: drive and make it nothing more than just another folder (Figure 12-58). You can load programs to that folder, just as you would to
your Program Files folder. You can use it to store data files or backed-up system files.
In function, therefore, the new hard drive simply extends the capacity of the C: drive,
so neither you nor your client need ever trouble yourselves with dealing with multiple
To create a mount point, right-click an unallocated section of a dynamic disk and
choose New Volume. This opens the New Volume Wizard. In the second screen, you ch12.indd 497 12/9/09 5:19:02 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 498 Backup
Disk Figure 12-58 A drive volume mounted as a folder of drive C: can select a mount point rather than a drive letter (Figure 12-59). Browse to a blank
folder on an NTFS-formatted drive or create a new folder and you’re in business.
With mount points, Microsoft dramatically changed the way you can work with hard
drives. You’re no longer stuck in the rut of adding drive letters that mess up Windows’
mapping of the optical drive. You don’t have to confuse clients with multiple drive letters
when they just want a little more space. You can resurrect smaller hard drives, making
them a functional part of today’s computer. With the Disk Management console in Windows 2000/XP and Windows Vista/7, Microsoft got it right. Formatting a Partition
You can format any Windows partition/volume in My Computer/Computer. Just rightclick the drive name and choose Format (Figure 12-62). You’ll see a dialog box that
asks for the type of file system you want to use, the cluster size, a place to put a volume ch12.indd 498 12/9/09 5:19:03 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 499 Figure 12-59
create a mounted
volume Figure 12-60
in My Computer label, and two other options. The Quick Format option tells Windows not to test the
clusters and is a handy option when you’re in a hurryand feeling lucky. The Enable
Compression option tells Windows to give users the capability to compress folders or
files. It works well but slows down your hard drive. ch12.indd 499 12/9/09 5:19:03 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 500 Disk Management is today’s preferred formatting tool for Windows 2000, XP, and
Vista. When you create a new volume on a dynamic disk or a new partition on a basic disk, the New Volume Wizard also asks you what type of format you want to use.
Always use NTFS unless you’re that rare and strange person who wants to dual-boot
Windows XP or Windows Vista with some ancient version of Windows.
All OS installation discs partition and format as part of the OS installation. Windows simply prompts you to partition and then format the drive. Read the screens and
you’ll do great. Maintaining and Troubleshooting Hard Drives
Hard drives are complex mechanical and electrical devices. With platters spinning at
thousands of rotations per minute, they also generate heat and vibration. All of these
factors make hard drives susceptible to failure. In this section, you will learn some basic
maintenance tasks that will keep your hard drives healthy, and for those inevitable instances when a hard drive fails, you will also learn what you can do to repair them. Maintenance
Hard drive maintenance can be broken down into two distinct functions: checking the
disk occasionally for failed clusters, and keeping data organized on the drive so it can
be accessed quickly. Error-Checking
Individual clusters on hard drives sometimes go bad. There’s nothing you can do to prevent this from happening, so it’s important that you check occasionally for bad clusters
on drives. The tools used to perform this checking are generically called error-checking
utilities, although the terms for two older Microsoft tools—ScanDisk and CHKDSK
(pronounced “Checkdisk”)—are often used. Microsoft calls the tool Error-checking in
Windows XP/Vista/7. Whatever the name of the utility, each does the same job: when
the tool finds bad clusters, it puts the electronic equivalent of orange cones around them
so the system won’t try to place data in those bad clusters.
EXAM TIP CompTIA A+ uses the term CHKDSK rather than Error-checking.
Most error-checking tools do far more than just check for bad clusters. They go
through all of the drive’s filenames, looking for invalid names and attempting to fix
them. They look for clusters that have no filenames associated with them (we call these
lost chains) and erase them. From time to time, the underlying links between parent
and child folders are lost, so a good error-checking tool checks every parent and child
folder. With a folder such as C:\TEST\DATA, for example, they make sure that the folder
DATA is properly associated with its parent folder, C:\TEST, and that C:\TEST is properly
associated with its child folder, C:\TEST\DATA.
To access Error-checking on a Windows 2000/XP or Windows Vista/7 system, open
My Computer/Computer, right-click the drive you want to check, and choose Properties ch12.indd 500 12/9/09 5:19:04 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 501 to open the drive’s Properties dialog box. Select the Tools tab and click the Check Now
button (Figure 12-61) to display the Check Disk dialog box, which has two options
(Figure 12-62). Check the box next to Automatically fix file system errors, but save the option to Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors for times when you actually suspect a
problem, because it takes a while on bigger hard drives.
The Tools tab in
dialog box in
Windows XP Figure 12-62
Options ch12.indd 501 12/9/09 5:19:04 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 502 Now that you know how to run Error-checking, your next question should be, “How
often do I run it?” A reasonable maintenance plan would include running it about once
a week. Error-checking is fast (unless you use the Scan for and attempt recovery option),
and it’s a great tool for keeping your system in top shape. Defragmentation
Fragmentation of clusters can increase your drive access times dramatically. It’s a good
idea to defragment—or defrag—your drives as part of monthly maintenance. You access
the defrag tool that runs with Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and 7, called Disk Defragmenter, the same way you access Error-checking—right-click a drive in My Computer/
Computer and choose Properties—except you click the Defragment Now button on the
Tools tab to open the Defragmenter (Figure 12-63). Figure 12-63 Disk Defragmenter in Windows XP Defragmentation used to be interesting to watchonce. Now, though, just schedule
it to run late at night. You should defragment your drives about once a month, although
you could run it every week, and if you run it every night, it takes only a few minutes. The
longer you go between defrags, the longer it takes. If you don’t run Disk Defragmenter,
your system will run slower. If you don’t run Error-checking, you may lose data. Disk Cleanup
Did you know that the average hard drive is full of trash? Not the junk you intentionally put in your hard drive such as the 23,000 e-mail messages that you refuse to delete ch12.indd 502 12/9/09 5:19:04 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 503 from your e-mail program. This kind of trash is all of the files that you never see that
Windows keeps for you. Here are a few examples:
• Files in the Recycle Bin When you delete a file, it isn’t really deleted. It’s placed
in the Recycle Bin in case you decide you need the file later. I just checked my
Recycle Bin and found 3 GB worth of files (Figure 12-64). That’s a lot of trash! Figure 12-64 Mike’s Recycle Bin • Temporary Internet files When you go to a Web site, Windows keeps copies
of the graphics and other items so the page will load more quickly the next time
you access it. You can see these files by opening the Internet Options applet on
the Control Panel. Figure 12-65 shows my temporary Internet files.
• Downloaded program files Your system always keeps a copy of any Java or
ActiveX applets it downloads. You can see these in the Internet Options applet.
You’ll generally find only a few tiny files here.
• Temporary files Many applications create temporary files that are supposed
to be deleted when the application is closed. For one reason or another, these
temporary files sometimes aren’t deleted. The location of these files varies with
the version of Windows, but they always reside in a folder called TEMP.
Every hard drive eventually becomes filled with lots of unnecessary trash. All versions of Windows tend to act erratically when the drives run out of unused space. Fortunately, all versions of Windows have a powerful tool called Disk Cleanup (Figure 12-66). ch12.indd 503 12/9/09 5:19:05 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 504 Figure 12-65
Lots of temporary Internet files Figure 12-66
Disk Cleanup ch12.indd 504 12/9/09 5:19:05 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 505 You can access Disk Cleanup in all versions of Windows by choosing Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Disk Cleanup.
Disk Cleanup gets rid of the four types of files just described (and a few others).
Run Disk Cleanup once a month or so to keep plenty of space available on your
hard drive. Troubleshooting Hard Drive Implementation
There’s no scarier computer problem than an error that points to trouble with a hard
drive. This section looks at some of the more common problems that occur with hard
drives and how to fix them. These issues fall into three broad categories: installation,
data corruption, and dying hard drives. Installation Errors
Installing a drive and getting to the point where it can hold data requires four distinct
steps: connectivity, CMOS, partitioning, and formatting. If you make a mistake at any
point on any of these steps, the drive won’t work. The beauty of this is that if you make
an error, you can walk back through each step and check for problems. The troubleshooting section in Chapter 11 covered physical connections and CMOS, so this section
concentrates on the latter two issues.
Partitioning Partitioning errors generally fall into two groups: failing to partition
at all and making the wrong size or type of partition. You’ll recognize the former type
of error the first time you open My Computer/Computer after installing a drive. If you
forgot to partition it, the drive won’t even show up in My Computer, only in Disk Management. If you made the partition too small, that’ll become painfully obvious when
you start filling it up with files.
The fix for partitioning errors is simply to open Disk Management and do the partitioning correctly. If you’ve added files to the wrongly sized drive, don’t forget to back
them up before you repartition.
Formatting Failing to format a drive makes the drive unable to hold data. Accessing
the drive in Windows results in a drive “is not accessible” error, and from a C:\ prompt,
you’ll get the famous “Invalid media” type error. Format the drive unless you’re certain
that the drive has a format already. Corrupted files can create the invalid media error.
Check one of the sections on corrupted data later in this chapter for the fix.
Most of the time, formatting is a slow, boring process. But sometimes the drive
makes “bad sounds” and you start seeing errors like the one shown in Figure 12-67 at
the bottom of the screen.
An allocation unit is FORMAT’s term for a cluster. The drive has run across a bad
cluster and is trying to fix it. For years, I’ve told techs that seeing this error a few (610)
times doesn’t mean anything; every drive comes with a few bad spots. This is no longer
true. Modern drives actually hide a significant number of extra sectors that they use to
replace bad sectors automatically. If a new drive gets a lot of “Trying to recover lost allocation unit” errors, you can bet that the drive is dying and needs to be replaced. Get
the hard drive maker’s diagnostic to be sure. Bad clusters are reported by S.M.A.R.T. ch12.indd 505 12/9/09 5:19:05 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 506 Figure 12-67
The “Trying to
error Mental Reinstallation Focus on the fact that all of these errors share a common thread—you just installed a drive! Installation errors don’t show up on a system
that has been running correctly for three weeks; they show up the moment you try to
do something with the drive you just installed. If a newly installed drive fails to work,
do a “mental reinstallation.” Does the drive show up in the CMOS autodetect? No?
Then recheck the cables, master/slave settings, and power. If it does show up, did you
remember to partition and format the drive? Did it need to be set to active? These are
commonsense questions that come to mind as you march through your mental reinstallation. Even if you’ve installed thousands of drives over the years, you’ll be amazed
at how often you do things such as forget to plug in power to a drive, forget CMOS, or
install a cable backward. Do the mental reinstallation—it really works! Data Corruption
All hard drives occasionally get corrupted data in individual sectors. Power surges, accidental shutdowns, corrupted installation media, and viruses, along with hundreds of
other problems, can cause this corruption. In most cases, this type of error shows up
while Windows is running. Figure 12-68 shows a classic example. Figure 12-68 A corrupted data error You may also see Windows error messages saying one of the following:
• “The following file is missing or corrupt”
• “The download location information is damaged”
• “Unable to load file” ch12.indd 506 12/9/09 5:19:06 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 507 If core boot files become corrupted, you may see text errors at boot, such as the
• “Cannot find COMMAND.COM”
• “Error loading operating system”
• “Invalid BOOT.INI”
• “NTLDR is missing or corrupt”
On older programs, you may see a command prompt open with errors such as
Sector not found reading drive C: Abort, Retry, Fail? The first fix for any of these problems is to run the Error-checking utility. Error-checking
will go through and mark bad clusters and hopefully move your data to a good cluster.
Windows 2000/XP Extract/Expand If Error-checking fails to move a critically
important file—such as a file Windows needs so it can load—on pre-Vista systems you
can always resort to the command line and try to extract the file from the Windows
cabinet files. Most Windows programs store all files in a compressed format called CAB
(which is short for cabinet file). One CAB file contains many files, and most installation discs have lots of CAB files (see Figure 12-69). Figure 12-69 CAB files To replace a single corrupt file this way, you need to know two things: the location of
the CAB file that contains the file you need, and how to get the file out so you can copy
it back to its original spot. Microsoft supplies the EXPAND program to enable you to ch12.indd 507 12/9/09 5:19:06 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 508 get a new copy of the missing file from the CAB files on the installation CD-ROM. Also
notice how they are numbered—that’s the secret to understanding these programs.
In most cases, all of the CAB files for a program are piled into some folder, as shown
in Figure 12-71. Let’s say you need a file called OLEPRO32.DLL. (I have no idea what
this file does. I only know that Windows can’t find it and you need to put it back.) Get
to a command prompt within Windows and tell EXPAND to check all of the CAB files
on your installation CD (drive E: in this example) with this command:
EXPAND e:\I386\*.CAB -F:OLEPRO32.DLL EXPAND goes through all of the CAB files and finds the file. If you want to see details on
the EXPAND command, use Windows Help or type EXPAND /? at a command prompt.
NOTE Chapter 15, “Working with the Command-Line Interface,” goes into a
lot of detail on using the command line. Corrupted Data on Bad Sectors If the same errors continue to appear after
you run the disk-checking utility, there’s a chance that the drive has bad sectors.
Almost all drives today take advantage of built-in error correction code (ECC) that
constantly checks the drive for bad sectors. If the ECC detects a bad sector, it marks the
sector as bad in the drive’s internal error map. Don’t confuse this error map with a FAT.
The partitioning program creates the FAT. The drive’s internal error map was created at
the factory on reserved drive heads and is invisible to the system. If the ECC finds a bad
sector, you will get a corrupted data error as the computer attempts to read the bad sector. Disk-checking utilities fix this problem most of the time.
Many times, the ECC thinks a bad sector is good, however, and fails to update the
internal error map. In this case, you need a program that goes back into the drive and
marks the sectors as bad. That’s where the powerful SpinRite utility from Gibson Research comes into play. SpinRite marks sectors as bad or good more accurately than ECC
and does not disturb the data, enabling you to run SpinRite without fear of losing anything. And if it finds a bad sector with data in it, SpinRite has powerful algorithms that
usually recover the data on all but the most badly damaged sectors (see Figure 12-70).
Without SpinRite, you must use a low-level format program supplied by the hard
drive maker, assuming you can get one (not all are willing to distribute these). These
programs work like SpinRite in that they aggressively check the hard drive’s sectors and
update the internal error map. Unfortunately, all of them wipe out all data on the drive.
At least you can use the drive, even if it means repartitioning, formatting, and reinstalling everything. Dying Hard Drive
Physical problems are rare but devastating when they happen. If a hard drive is truly
damaged physically, there is nothing that you or any service technician can do to fix
it. Fortunately, hard drives are designed to take a phenomenal amount of punishment
without failing. Physical problems manifest themselves in two ways: either the drive
works properly but makes a lot of noise, or the drive seems to disappear. ch12.indd 508 12/9/09 5:19:07 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 509 Figure 12-70 SpinRite at work All hard drives make noise—the hum as the platters spin and the occasional slight
scratching noise as the read/write heads access sectors are normal. However, if your
drive begins to make any of the following sounds, it is about to die:
• Continuous high-pitched squeal
• Series of clacks, a short pause, and then another series of clacks
• Continuous grinding or rumbling
Back up your critical data and replace the drive. Windows comes with great tools for
backing up data.
NOTE Most hard drives have three-year warranties. Before you throw away
a dead drive, check the hard drive maker’s Web site or call them to see if the
drive is still under warranty. Ask for a return material authorization (RMA).
You’ll be amazed how many times you get a newer, usually larger, hard drive
for free. It never hurts to check!
You’ll know when a drive simply disappears. If it’s the drive that contains your operating system, the system will lock up. When you try to restart the computer, you’ll see
this error message or something similar to it:
No Boot Device Present If it’s a second drive, it will simply stop showing up in My Computer/Computer. The
first thing to do in this case is to fire up the System Setup program and see if autodetect ch12.indd 509 12/9/09 5:19:07 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 510 sees the drive. If it does, you do not have a physical problem with the drive. If autodetect fails, shut off the system and remove the ribbon cable, but leave the power cable
attached. Restart the system and listen to the drive. If the drive spins up, you know it is
getting good power. This is usually a clue that the drive is probably good. In that case,
you need to look for more mundane problems such as an unplugged power cord or
jumpers incorrectly set. If the drive doesn’t spin up, try another power connector. If it
still doesn’t spin up and you’ve triple-checked the jumpers and ribbon cable, you have
a problem with the onboard electronics, and the drive is dead.
NOTE If you ever lose a hard drive that contains absolutely critical
information, you can turn to a company that specializes in hard drive data
recovery. The job will be expensive—prices usually start around $1000
(U.S.)—but when you have to have the data, such companies are your only
hope. Do a Web search for “data recovery” or check the Yellow Pages for companies in this
line of business. Beyond A+
Modern hard drives have many other features that are worth knowing about but that
rarely impact beginning techs. A couple of the more interesting ones are spindle speed
and third-party hard drive tools. If you have a burning desire to dive into hard drives
in all their glory, you need not go any farther than the Storage Review, an excellent site
dedicated solely to hard drives. Here’s the link: www.storagereview.com. Third-Party Partition Tools
Disk Management is a good tool, but it’s limited for some situations. Some really great
third-party tools on the market can give you incredible flexibility and power to structure and restructure your hard drive storage to meet your changing needs. They each
have interesting unique features, but in general they enable you to create, change, and
delete partitions on a hard drive without destroying any of the programs or data stored
there. Slick! These programs aren’t on the CompTIA A+ exams, but all PC techs use at
least one of them, so let’s explore three of the most well-known examples: Symantec’s
Norton PartitionMagic, Avanquest Partition Commander Professional, and the open
source Linux tool, GParted.
Probably the most well-known third-party partition tool is PartitionMagic, although
it’s quite dated at this point. It supports older versions of Windows but has problems
with Windows Vista/7. With it, you can create, resize, split, merge, delete, undelete,
and convert partitions without destroying your data. Among the additional features
it advertises are the capability to browse, copy, or move files and folders between supported partitions; to expand an NTFS partition—even if it’s a system partition—without
rebooting; to change NTFS cluster sizes; and to add new partitions for multiple OSs by
using a simple wizard. ch12.indd 510 12/9/09 5:19:07 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 511 Avanquest offers a variety of related products, one of which is the very useful Partition
Commander Professional. Unlike PartitionMagic, it supports all versions of Windows
and enables you to play with your partitions without destroying your data. Among its
niftier features are the capability to convert a dynamic disk to a basic disk nondestructively (which you can’t do with the Microsoft-supplied Windows tools); to defrag the
master file table on an NTFS partition; and to move unused space from one partition
to another on the same physical drive, automatically resizing the partitions based on
the amount of space you tell it to move. Figure 12-71 shows the Partition Commander
dialog box for moving unused space between partitions. Figure 12-71
Commander The only problem with PartitionMagic and Partition Commander is that they cost
money. There’s nothing wrong with spending money on a good product, but if you can
find something that does the job for free, why not try it? If you think like I do, check out
the Gnome Partition Editor, better known as GParted. You can find it at http://sourceforge.net/.
GParted is an incredibly powerful partition editor and does almost everything the forpay partition editors do, but it’s free. It’s still in beta—which means it’s constantly changing and it has a few bugs (that are constantly being fixed)—but I use it all of the time
and love it. If you look closely at Figure 12-72, you’ll notice that it uses strange names
for the partitions, such as HDA1 or HDB3. These are Linux conventions and are well
documented in GParted’s Help screens. Take a little time and you’ll love GParted too.
The one downside to GParted is that it is a Linux programbecause no Windows
version exists, you need Linux to run it. So how do you run Linux on a Windows system ch12.indd 511 12/9/09 5:19:08 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 512 Figure 12-72 GParted in action without actually installing Linux on your hard drive? The answer is easythe folks
at GParted will give you the tools to burn a live CD that boots Linux so you can run
A live CD is a complete OS on a CD. Understand this is not an installation CD like
your Windows installation disc. The OS is already installed on the CD. You boot from
the live CD and the OS loads into RAM, just like the OS on your hard drive loads into
RAM at boot. As the live CD boots, it recognizes your hardware and loads the proper
drivers into RAM so everything works. You get everything you’d expect from an OS with
one big exception: a live CD does not touch your hard drive. Of course you may run
programs (such as GParted) that work on your hard drive, which makes live CDs popular with PC techs, because you can toss them into a cranky system and run utilities.
The truly intrepid might want to consider using The Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD),
basically a huge pile of useful freeware utilities compiled by frustrated technician ch12.indd 512 12/9/09 5:19:08 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 513 Ben Burrows, who couldn’t find a boot disk when he needed one. His Web site is
www.ultimatebootcd.com. The UBCD has more than 100 different tools, all placed
on a single live CD. It has all of the low-level diagnostic tools for all of the hard drive
makers, four or five different partitioning tools, S.M.A.R.T. viewers, hard drive wiping utilities, and hard drive cloning tools (nice for when you want to replace a hard
drive with a larger one). Little documentation is provided, however, and many of the
tools require experience way beyond the scope of the CompTIA A+ exams. I will tell
you that I have a copy and I use it. Chapter Review Questions
1. Which is the most complete list of file systems Windows 2000/XP and Windows
Vista/7 can use?
A. FAT16, FAT32, NTFS
B. FAT16, FAT32, FAT64, NTFS
C. FAT16, FAT32
D. FAT16, NTFS
2. Which of the following correctly identifies the four possible entries in a file
A. Filename, date, time, size
B. Number of the starting cluster, number of the ending cluster, number of
used clusters, number of available clusters
C. An end-of-file marker, a bad-sector marker, code indicating the cluster is
available, the number of the cluster where the next part of the file is stored
D. Filename, folder location, starting cluster number, ending cluster number
3. What program does Microsoft include with Windows 2000/XP and Windows
Vista/7 to partition and format a drive?
B. Disk Management console
C. Disk Administrator console
D. System Commander
4. What does NTFS use to provide security for individual files and folders?
A. Dynamic disks
C. Access Control List
D. MFT ch12.indd 513 12/9/09 5:19:08 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12 CompTIA A+Certification All-in-One Exam Guide 514 5. Adam wants to create a new simple volume in some unallocated space on his
hard drive, but when he right-clicks the space in Disk Management he sees only
an option to create a new partition. What is the problem?
A. The drive has developed bad sectors.
B. The drive is a basic disk and not a dynamic disk.
C. The drive has less than 32 GB of unallocated space.
D. The drive is jumpered as a slave.
6. Jaime wishes to check her hard drive for errors. What tool should she use?
C. Disk Management
7. To make your files unreadable by others, what should you use?
C. Disk quotas
8. How can you effectively expand the capacity of an NTFS?
A. Create an extended partition to extend the capacity.
B. Install a second drive and mount it to a folder on the original smaller NTFS
C. Convert the drive to a dynamic disk and create a mirrored set.
D. Format the drive with the Quick Format option.
9. Which volume configuration uses parity for fault tolerance?
A. RAID 5
B. Mirrored set
C. Spanned volume
D. Striped volume
10. You will almost certainly destroy your hard drive if you reverse which of the
A. Power cable
B. Data cable
D. Pins ch12.indd 514 12/9/09 5:19:09 PM All-In-One / CompTIA Network+ All-in-One Exam Guide / Meyers & Jernigan / 170133-8 / Chapter 12
All-In-One Chapter 12: Implementing Hard Drives 515 Answers
1. A. Windows 2000/XP and Windows Vista/7 can use FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS.
2. C. The four possible entries in a file allocation table are an end-of-file marker,
a bad-sector marker, code indicating the cluster is available, and the number of
the cluster where the next part of the file is stored.
3. B. Windows 2000/XP and Windows Vista/7 use the Disk Management console
to partition and format a drive.
4. C. Because NTFS views individual files and folders as objects, it can provide
security for those objects through an Access Control List.
5. B. The drive is a basic disk and not a dynamic disk. Partitions are created on
basic disks, while volumes are created on dynamic disks.
6. D. Error-checking is used to check a drive for errors.
7. D. To make your files unreadable by others, use encryption.
8. B. You can effectively expand the capacity of an NTFS drive by installing a
second drive and mounting it to a folder on the original smaller NTFS drive.
9. A. RAID 5 uses parity for fault tolerance.
10. A. You will almost certainly destroy your hard drive if you reverse the
power cable. ch12.indd 515 12/9/09 5:19:09 PM ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/27/2010 for the course COMPTIA 1201 taught by Professor N/a during the Spring '10 term at Galveston College.
- Spring '10