Windows 7 Forums
Welcome to Windows 7 Forums. Our forum is dedicated to helping you find support and solutions for any problems regarding your Windows 7 PC be it Dell, HP, Acer, Asus or a custom build. We also provide an extensive Windows 7 tutorial section that covers a wide range of tips and tricks.


Windows 7: The 4 primary partition problem

22 Nov 2010   #1
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 
The 4 primary partition problem

People come to me with brand new laptops with an OEM installation of Windows 7 that have already 4 primary partitions. Those are usually:

1. A 100MB active boot partition that contains the MBR (Master Boot Record)
2. The OS partition that contains Windows7
3. The recovery partition
4. And often also a tools partition with the OEMs specific tool box

Since I always recommend to create a seperate Data Partition (but also warn them of the dreaded dynamic partitions), they ask me how to fiddle the Data partition in.

Now it is pretty obvious that #'s 1 and 3 must stay primaries because they are both boot partitions. But one should be able to change #'s 2 and 4 to logical partition (possible with Partition Wizard - at least the 4.2. edition). I wonder though how this creates an extended partition container.

Does anybody see any harm done if one converts #'s 2 and 4 into logical partitions and are there any interim steps required to get the container? (I hate to try it on someones laptop and create a mess). I believe that BFK already stated in one of his tuts that #2 is a candidate,

My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

22 Nov 2010   #2
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

Hello WHS.



The Windows 7 Primary partition can be converted to an Extended partition, that will give you as many Logical drives for data as there are available drive letters; I feel that would be the best solution.



See Method Two of this tutorial at the link below.

Partition / Extended : Logical Drives








.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Nov 2010   #3

 
 

This screen shot is of 4 OSs all in Logical Volumes (Partitions) in one Extended partition:
Name:  four_os_01.PNG
Views: 420
Size:  91.7 KB

Therefore, booting to Windows 7 in a Logical Partition is no problem. However, one issue I see in your layout is that partitions #2 and #4 are separated by Partition #3. This raises the question in my mind as to whether it is possible to create two Extended Volumes (Partitions) on one hard drive?

If all four current partitions are going to be kept, and a fifth partition added, it seems to me that not only would the Windows 7 partition need to be copied into a Logical Volume in an Extended Partition, but you would want to move it so that your two "Primary Partitions" would be Partitions #1 and #2.

Personally, I think I would approach the project by shrinking the Partitions to give #4 the most room. Convert #4 to an Extended/Logical Partition. Create the Windows 7 Logical Partition and copy Windows 7 into the partition. After booting to this Logical Windows 7 Partition, the original can safely be removed, leaving the two remaining Primary Partitions at the front of the hard drive space. Then create the Logical Data Partition.

Some other possibilities also come to mind. Transfer the OEM Recovery partition to DVD and use the space for the Data Partition? Or convert Partition #4 to Extended/Logical and create the Logical Data Partition in the Extended Partition and leave Partitions #1, #2, and #3 as Primary?

I am making an assumption here that new laptops will have hard drives of sufficient size to make these changes?

Food for thought ...

Robert


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


22 Nov 2010   #4
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Thanks guys for the wonderful suggestions. One problem I am facing is that the people I am dealing with are usually not very geeky. Repair installs and moving partitions around may scare them and I cannot hold their hand all the time. That's why I was looking for a simple cookbook approach that they could manage.

Converting primaries to logicals with Partition Wizard would be pretty easy. Questions are:

1. Is that possible when there are 4 primaries without running into the dynamics. How is the container created.
2. Can the the OS partition be converted if there is the 100MB active partition. I believe yes.
3. Is there really a need for the OEM tools partition to be a primary - this may though be different from OEM to OEM.

I think the iffy question is #1. If we will not find a conclusive answer, I will experiment with one of my own systems (after taking an image). That will not answer Q#3 because I have no such animal.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Nov 2010   #5
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

I'm setting it up in VirtualBox right now, to test converting an OS Primary to an Extended/Logical drive with the "System Reserved" present; I'll let you know how it goes when finished.

It's now about half-way through "Expanding Files"
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Nov 2010   #6

 
 

Modifying a hard drive's Partitions is not a task I would give to an inexperienced person. A Laptop with a single hard drive is more problematic. One errant step could lead to total data loss. When I work on someone's computer, I copy all their data before making changes to lessen the risk.

As for creating the Extended/Logical container, since there are already four partitions, your options are delete one partition or convert one partition. Partition Wizard does indeed make it easy to convert a partition from Primary to Logical. It would be a one step process to convert Partition #4 to logical. The extended would be created automatically. IMHO, this would be the easiest for a less experienced person to do. Then continue with Partition Wizard to shrink the other partitions to make room for the Data Partition in a second Logical Partition inside the Extended Partition. It would be harder to mess up here because Partition Wizard would only allow one to create more Logical Partitions as all the Primary Partitions already exist.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Nov 2010   #7
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Bare Foot Kid View Post
I'm setting it up in VirtualBox right now, to test converting an OS Primary to an Extended/Logical drive with the "System Reserved" present; I'll let you know how it goes when finished.

It's now about half-way through "Expanding Files"
Thanks Ted
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Nov 2010   #8
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Quote:
Partition Wizard does indeed make it easy to convert a partition from Primary to Logical. It would be a one step process to convert Partition #4 to logical. The extended would be created automatically.
If that is the case, we would be home free - and you would be my hero.

Ted is just now experimenting with it. Let's see whether he can confirm that.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Nov 2010   #9
Microsoft MVP

 

Will be interesting to see if it will establish extended by just converting the Tools Primary partition to Logical.

It may need to be deleted and created from scratch to get Extended, in which case I wouldn't trust the tools to run correctly if backed up then copied back into a Logical.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Nov 2010   #10
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

Here you go Wolfgang!

Remember YMMV, what worked in VB on my desktop may not work on granny's lappy.

For those guests/visitors that may not know ... DO NOT attempt this if the new Windows 7 "System Reserved" partition is not present on your system, Windows will not boot/start if you do.
click to enlarge
The 4 primary partition problem-start.jpg
The 4 primary partition problem-setlogical.jpg
The 4 primary partition problem-logical.jpg


My System SpecsSystem Spec
Reply

 The 4 primary partition problem




Thread Tools



Similar help and support threads for2: The 4 primary partition problem
Thread Forum
Whats the difference between primary partition and extended partition? General Discussion
get rid of primary partition General Discussion
Solved Extended partition and lost files on primary partition General Discussion
How to Partition a HD into 1 Primary and an Extended Partition ? Installation & Setup
primary partition help Installation & Setup
Problem Removing Previous Win 7 on Primary partition Installation & Setup

Our Sites

Site Links

About Us

Find Us

Windows 7 Forums is an independent web site and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Microsoft Corporation. "Windows 7" and related materials are trademarks of Microsoft Corp.

Designer Media Ltd

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:43 AM.
Twitter Facebook Google+



Windows 7 Forums

Seven Forums Android App Seven Forums IOS App
  

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33