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Windows 7: Format & Partition New Drive to Use as a Backup Drive or Storage Drive

07 Jun 2014   #1
baumgrenze

Win 7 Pro 64
 
 
Format & Partition New Drive to Use as a Backup Drive or Storage Drive

I want to prepare a factory fresh drive so that I can use it to save backup images. Soon I will have a second drive that will only be used to store data files. Neither drive will ever be used for the installation of an operating system. From what I've read, I see no advantage to having more than a single partition on either drive. I know I want to use NTFS.

This should be straightforward. I'm finding it is not. I cannot formulate a search that points me to the right tutorial or thread. Either I get hundreds of options to consider or, if I try to narrow the options, no answer is found.

Please point me to the right discussion. Perhaps the answer will help others who come after me, too.

thanks

baumgrenze


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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07 Jun 2014   #2
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Do you know how to make a partition and format a drive?

You can do it all in Windows Disk Management.

You don't need to do anything special to the drive just because it is going to store images.


Treat it like any other drive.

Format it with a single partition.

Store your image files on it. Use a folder structure if you want to---perhaps naming a folder something like "Macrium image of C partition, 060714" so you know the date of the image.

Nor do you need to use a separate drive just for image storage.

Make your images and store them like ordinary data. Back up the images just like you'd back up any other important data file. That's what they are: important data.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jun 2014   #3
Boozad

W7 Pro x64 SP1 | W10 Pro IP x64 | W8.1 Pro x64 VM | Linux Mint VM
 
 

If you do want to partition your drive follow Partition or Volume - Shrink

Step 6 of Option One contains the link to create a new partition after shrinking the volume.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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07 Jun 2014   #4
baumgrenze

Win 7 Pro 64
 
 

Thank you, ignatzatsonic,

Thanks for the prompt response. I'm sure I've done this in the past, most recently about 5 years ago.

1) I can no longer remember the details of processes like this.

2) The relevant parameters change with the introduction of new operating systems.

Hence, I've learned to find a reliable forum and ask questions first, not after I've screwed something up so that it takes longer to fix. Sometimes I forget and foolishly rush in. This time I'm trying to do it right. For better or worse, from your perspective, I've learned that sevenforums is head-and-shoulders above others in providing accurate information. That is why I am here.

At this point I have Disk Management open and I've found "Disk 2" which is the right size and not initialized. If I 'right click the text off to the left of the cross-hatched 119.24Gb of unallocated space I see I have the option of initializing it, so that is probably the first thing to do. Aha, the next step is a choice between MBR vs GPT. I opened another window, did a Google search for MBR vs GPT and sevenforums and the first thread I open quickly devolves into a problem associated with the installation of an operating system. So I ask more questions and am linked to a MS webpage:

Windows and GPT FAQ (Windows Drivers)

Here there is a long, rambling discourse about MBR and GPT that necessarily considers the ramifications of someone wanting to install an operating system of the disk in question.

Does this help you understand my frustration? If the choices here aren't more complex than the DOS command 'format disk' it isn't clear to me.

thanks

baumgrenze
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jun 2014   #5
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

If the space is 2.2 TB or less in size, use MBR.

If it is greater than 2.2 TB in size, use GPT.

That's the rule of thumb.

Your problem is simplified because you don't intend to put an operating system on the partition.

As I understand it, you are looking at a 119 GB bit of unallocated space. That's less than 2 TB. So use MBR.


I assume this 119 GB you are looking at is NOT this new drive that you are going to use to store images.

You don't need to be concerned with GPT on data partitions on a current PC unless the partition is larger than 2.2 TB. The problem is that MBR partitions are typically limited to about 2.2 TB, so if your intended partition is larger than that, you would use GPT.

If you had a 3 TB drive and wanted to use MBR, you'd be forced to split it up into 2 partitions. With GPT, you could make it all a single partition.

It is possible that your motherboard has limitations that won't allow it to recognize a 3 TB partition. If you have a drive that large, all you can do is try to format it as a single 3 TB GPT partition and see what happens. If it balks, you would have to split it up into 2 smaller partitions.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jun 2014   #6
baumgrenze

Win 7 Pro 64
 
 

Thanks, Boozad,

This seems to apply to a drive that is already initialized, formatted, and designated as MBR or GPT.

I'm a few steps back, I think. I hope this helps establish why this can be confusing to the user who only very occasionally needs to install a new disk.

thanks,

baumgrenze

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Boozad View Post
If you do want to partition your drive follow Partition or Volume - Shrink

Step 6 of Option One contains the link to create a new partition after shrinking the volume.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jun 2014   #7
baumgrenze

Win 7 Pro 64
 
 

Thanks, again, ignatzatsonic,

I think you've answered my present question given your discussion of the 2.2 Tb size factor. However, you included this reservation:

I assume this 119 GB you are looking at is NOT this new drive that you are going to use to store images.

Why did you ask?

In fact, it is the new drive I am going to use to store images. That is why it needs to be initialized, formatted, etc.

On Tuesday I should take delivery of a 1 Tb WD Caviar black to serve as my primary data drive. The same rules should apply to it.

I just notice an "i" for "Information" in the green box above. I've created a System Specs page. Do I need to give special instructions somewhere so that it is included with my posts?

thanks

baumgrenze


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
If the space is 2.2 TB or less in size, use MBR.

If it is greater than 2.2 TB in size, use GPT.

That's the rule of thumb.

Your problem is simplified because you don't intend to put an operating system on the partition.

As I understand it, you are looking at a 119 GB bit of unallocated space. That's less than 2 TB. So use MBR.


I assume this 119 GB you are looking at is NOT this new drive that you are going to use to store images.

You don't need to be concerned with GPT on data partitions on a current PC unless the partition is larger than 2.2 TB. The problem is that MBR partitions are typically limited to about 2.2 TB, so if your intended partition is larger than that, you would use GPT.

If you had a 3 TB drive and wanted to use MBR, you'd be forced to split it up into 2 partitions. With GPT, you could make it all a single partition.

It is possible that your motherboard has limitations that won't allow it to recognize a 3 TB partition. If you have a drive that large, all you can do is try to format it as a single 3 TB GPT partition and see what happens. If it balks, you would have to split it up into 2 smaller partitions.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jun 2014   #8
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by baumgrenze View Post
However, you included this reservation:

I assume this 119 GB you are looking at is NOT this new drive that you are going to use to store images.

Why did you ask?

In fact, it is the new drive I am going to use to store images. That is why it needs to be initialized, formatted, etc.

On Tuesday I should take delivery of a 1 Tb WD Caviar black to serve as my primary data drive. The same rules should apply to it.

I just notice an "i" for "Information" in the green box above. I've created a System Specs page. Do I need to give special instructions somewhere so that it is included with my posts?
I asked because I assumed you had the image storage drive on order, not actually on hand now.

Was it advertised as a 128 GB drive?

That won't hold many images, but I don't know how large your images are.

Yeah, format the incoming 1 TB WD drive as a single MBR partition.

Not sure what you are referring to by the green box and information. Just keep your system specs up to date.

What is your backup plan for the image storage drive and the new WD Caviar 1 TB?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jun 2014   #9
baumgrenze

Win 7 Pro 64
 
 

Thanks again for a quick response:

I have the drive, a Crucial M550 SSD, because my plan a few months ago was to continue to use RAID1 on my OS/Programs drive (Crucial M550 SSD) so I purchased 2 and my data drive (was ~500 Gb mixed WD spinners as you can see from my system specs if they are being displayed.)

Reading here and on the Intel Community forum told me that I'd been fortunate that RAID1 had saved my data a couple of times when a HDD failed. My next order of business is to find good advice about the 'backup plan' you asked about. I sure hope it doesn't take as much time as I've devoted to transitioning from XP/Pro to Win7/Pro. Sure, I've learned a lot, but even in retirement I have a long list of other things I want to be doing. I'm grateful that there's a community of experts who enjoy understanding their systems as deeply as the experts here do. I'm ready to have my system start being the tool that it was rather than the focus of my full attention.

This should tell you that I have no idea how large my images are. I won't know until I create one. Given the sense of paranoia I've developed this spring I almost think I need 2 OS drives just to be confident that my system is really backed up, one to run and a second to "restore to and test for operability" so that I know that the image will work if the 'working' drive fails and I need to restore from it, if that makes sense. At this point, creating an image file and trusting that it will restore a system to operation should the OS drive fail physically (or through malware malfeasance) seems a serious act of faith.

thanks,

baumgrenze




Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by baumgrenze View Post
However, you included this reservation:

I assume this 119 GB you are looking at is NOT this new drive that you are going to use to store images.

Why did you ask?

In fact, it is the new drive I am going to use to store images. That is why it needs to be initialized, formatted, etc.

On Tuesday I should take delivery of a 1 Tb WD Caviar black to serve as my primary data drive. The same rules should apply to it.

I just notice an "i" for "Information" in the green box above. I've created a System Specs page. Do I need to give special instructions somewhere so that it is included with my posts?
I asked because I assumed you had the image storage drive on order, not actually on hand now.

Was it advertised as a 128 GB drive?

That won't hold many images, but I don't know how large your images are.

Yeah, format the incoming 1 TB WD drive as a single MBR partition.

Not sure what you are referring to by the green box and information. Just keep your system specs up to date.

What is your backup plan for the image storage drive and the new WD Caviar 1 TB?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jun 2014   #10
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by baumgrenze View Post

This should tell you that I have no idea how large my images are. I won't know until I create one...........creating an image file and trusting that it will restore a system to operation should the OS drive fail physically (or through malware malfeasance) seems a serious act of faith.
It is an act of faith. There is no way around that. Imaging isn't foolproof.

You deal with that by knowing what you will do if imaging fails. In the case of your operating system and applications, that would mean a manual reinstall. In the case of your data, that would mean relying on something other than imaging for data backup---e.g., ordinary copies of your important stuff that don't rely on images.

The size of your image files will vary depending on:

How much space is occupied on the partitions in the image file.

The degree of compression used when the image file is made.

The application used to make the image.

I use Macrium with default compression. The image file of my C drive is about 40% of the occupied space on C. I don't image my data drives.

What application will you use to make images?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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