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  • What is a Partition Manager

There are numerous methods to managing hard drive space. Whether you're working with a high-capacity hard disk drive (HDD) or trying to make the most of an SSD with much lower capacity, it's important to utilize your storage space efficiently and effectively. One such method, known as partitioning, is a highly popular and straightforward strategy – and you probably already have a partition manager on your computer.

Managing Partitions
Generally speaking, partitioning let you split up a hard drive into smaller, virtualized drives known as partitions. In some applications, a single partition can even be configured to span multiple hard drives.

In either case, partitions are created, expanded, or deleted using a partition manager. Because it's such a standard utility, Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems all come with pre-installed partition managers. While there are third-party solutions for both platforms, the stock partition manager offers more than enough functionality for most users.

Just like hard drives, individual partitions can be formatted with its own file system. Some options include:

  • NTFS: All drives and partitions used with modern Windows installations should be formatted in NTFS.
  • FAT32 or exFAT: Drives and partitions used with older versions of Windows, as well as partitions on removable drives, might use FAT32 or exFAT.
  • HFS Plus (HFS+): Mac users will need to format all of their partitions with HFS Plus, or HFS+.
  • Ext4: Linux users can format their partitions using Ext4.

The file system can be specified during the partition creation and formatting process and, in some cases, during re-formatting. Keep in mind that some file types are only compatible with certain operating systems, so your exact options might be limited.

What Are Partitions Used For?
Partitions have numerous uses in modern computing. In a single-user or personal computing environment, they're normally used to separate system files from personal files. Advanced PC users might even configure additional partitions for gaming, music, images, and more.

In an enterprise or commercial setting, partitions are sometimes used to give individual users their own workspaces. Users who run multiple operating systems, either for personal or business computing, can also utilize partitions to keep the different platforms separate and prevent any potential conflicts. In other cases, partitions are used as a means of data backing and redundancy.

Using Partition Manager
As mentioned, some type of partition manager is included in nearly every modern installation of Windows, Mac, or Linux.

In Windows, the default partition manager is located under Disk Management. It gives you all the standard options of managing partitions, including the ability to create, delete, extend, shrink, and re-format partitions as needed.

Mac users can find their default partition manager in the Disk Utility app. Just like Windows, users can create, delete, extend, shrink, and re-format partitions using Disk Utility in Mac.

Although there are so many different Linux distros available, most modern installations include Fdisk by default. It's one of the most popular partition managers on Linux, and it includes all of the standard features seen with the partition managers in Windows and Mac operating systems.

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