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Windows 7: Can I divide new external USB 4TB drive into multiple drives?

10 Jun 2018   #1
BruceK

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit, SP1
 
 
Can I divide new external USB 4TB drive into multiple drives?

Hi,
I'm a newbie to this forum. I've got a Windows 7 Home Premium x64, SP1, Dell XPX 8100 desktop, with a 1TB internal hard drive. I've been running it since new, which is 2010. I have cloned an internal drive a few months ago, and it is sitting inside the desktop, unconnected, should my system drive fail.

This machine has become my go to workhorse. I now want to start making weekly or monthly backups. I purchased a Western Digital (WD) My Book 4TB USB external drive for this purpose. It comes with backup software, and is still in the box. I was wondering if I can divide this drive into multiple drives (not just partitions) so that I can also use it to back up (or make images) of my Windows 10 laptop. Or, is this even necessary? If I just made multiple partitions, I'm not aware that I could back up to each partition. Sorry if this is a basic question. I'm not at all new to computers/networking, but I'm not all that familiar with disk management procedures.

I am familiar with Disk Management. Also, I don't have to use the backup software that came with the WD drive. I am somewhat familiar with 3rd party disk management/backup software.

TIA
BruceK


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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10 Jun 2018   #2
BruceK

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit, SP1
 
 

From what I read here:

I should refine my question. I was wondering if I could configure the 4GB WD external USB drive to appear in Disk Management as Disk 1 with 2GB, and Disk 2 with 2GB. After reading this, I think the answer is no. Primarily because I am not sure of the difference between a Volume and a Partition.

Partition or Volume - Create New

I should refine my question. I was wondering if I could configure the 4GB WD external USB drive to appear in Disk Management as Disk 1 with 2GB, and Disk 2 with 2GB.

it seems that I would have to shrink the 4GB partition, and create a new partition. This would be on Disk 1. Disk 0 is my OS, recovery, etc. partitions.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jun 2018   #3
SIW2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64
 
 

Quote:
I was wondering if I could configure the 4GB WD external USB drive to appear in Disk Management as Disk 1 with 2GB, and Disk 2 with 2GB.
It will show as one Disk with two partitions.
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11 Jun 2018   #4
LMiller7

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit
 
 

You are making things far too complicated.
You can easily have multiple backups of 2 computers on 1 external drive with only 1 partition. I have done exactly that. You simply use a separate folder for backups of each drive. Note that I am making image backups, not clones. Each backup is a file that can be put anywhere. Folders should be used for organizational purposes, not partitions. The problem with partitions is that no matter how careful you are in dividing the drive at some point one partition will likely be too small while others have space to spare. You create partitions only when there is a real need, such as when each partition contains a different operating system or has a different file system.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jun 2018   #5
dg1261

Windows 7/8.1/10/XP multiboot
 
 

Welcome to the forum.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by BruceK View Post
I purchased a Western Digital (WD) My Book 4TB USB external drive. I was wondering if I can divide this drive into multiple drives (not just partitions)
[...]
I was wondering if I could configure the 4GB WD external USB drive to appear in Disk Management as Disk 1 with 2GB, and Disk 2 with 2GB. I think the answer is no. Primarily because I am not sure of the difference between a Volume and a Partition.
The term "drive" is fuzzy, and means different things in different contexts--e.g., "floppy vs optical drive", "WD vs Seagate drive", "master vs slave drive", "EIDE vs SATA drive", "Drive C: vs E:", et al. You don't have to avoid the term, but only use it if the context is evident.

For your purposes, "drive", "volume" and "partition" mean essentially the same thing, so use whatever you want as long the context isn't confusing.

(Technically speaking, a partition is merely an allocation of contiguous disk sectors, while a volume or "logical volume" is a logical storage or file system structure defined within those disk sectors. You allocate a disk drive's sectors into one or more partitions, then create a logical volume within each partition by "formatting" or building a file system. The distinction isn't all that important unless you're talking about an extended partition, because those can contain more than one logical volume.)

In Disk Management, "Disk 0", "Disk 1", or "Disk 2" refer to physical disks, so no, your external drive will appear as a single physical disk with one or more partitions. For your needs, there is no functional difference between two disks with a single partition each vs. one disk with two partitions.

BTW, I assume you're talking about making images, not clones, of your two systems onto the external drive. Clones won't do you much good because you can't boot from them. So if you're making images, the imaging program doesn't care whether you have separate physical disks; it is only concerned with writing a (very large) file to a file system somewhere, regardless of where. (And since it's a file, it doesn't even need to be on a different volume from other images. In fact, you could just as well leave it as a single 4GB partition with separate folders for desktop vs. laptop images.)


(Edit: I see LMiller7 just made the same point about partitions.)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jun 2018   #6
BruceK

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit, SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by LMiller7 View Post
You are making things far too complicated.
You can easily have multiple backups of 2 computers on 1 external drive with only 1 partition...
You are right. I don't (won't) need more than a single partition. I did want to be able to assign a drive letter to each backup set for each pc, but now I see that this is not only not necessary, but the primary way to do that would be to create an extended DOS partition, with logical drives inside, and assign a drive letter to each logical drive. Not gonna do that.

Thank you for the simplest solution.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jun 2018   #7
BruceK

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit, SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by dg1261 View Post
Welcome to the forum.


The term "drive" is fuzzy, and means different things in different contexts--e.g., "floppy vs optical drive", "WD vs Seagate drive", "master vs slave drive", "EIDE vs SATA drive", "Drive C: vs E:", et al. You don't have to avoid the term, but only use it if the context is evident.

For your purposes, "drive", "volume" and "partition" mean essentially the same thing, so use whatever you want as long the context isn't confusing.

(Technically speaking, a partition is merely an allocation of contiguous disk sectors, while a volume or "logical volume" is a logical storage or file system structure defined within those disk sectors. You allocate a disk drive's sectors into one or more partitions, then create a logical volume within each partition by "formatting" or building a file system. The distinction isn't all that important unless you're talking about an extended partition, because those can contain more than one logical volume.)

In Disk Management, "Disk 0", "Disk 1", or "Disk 2" refer to physical disks, so no, your external drive will appear as a single physical disk with one or more partitions. For your needs, there is no functional difference between two disks with a single partition each vs. one disk with two partitions.

BTW, I assume you're talking about making images, not clones, of your two systems onto the external drive. Clones won't do you much good because you can't boot from them. So if you're making images, the imaging program doesn't care whether you have separate physical disks; it is only concerned with writing a (very large) file to a file system somewhere, regardless of where. (And since it's a file, it doesn't even need to be on a different volume from other images. In fact, you could just as well leave it as a single 4GB partition with separate folders for desktop vs. laptop images.)


(Edit: I see LMiller7 just made the same point about partitions.)
Yes, I'm talking about images. When I mentioned clone, that was stating that months ago, I bought a new WD SATA 1TB internal 3.5" hard drive, attached to the motherboard SATA 1 connection, and used Acronis True Image for WD Edition to clone the running hard drive. Once cloned, I swapped drives to test the clone, and it booted just fine and was the same size as my running drive. Once verified that the clone worked, I swapped back again, booted back up from my original running drive, and left the clone in the case, but not connected to the motherboard.

I see the advantage of a clone is that one can connect the clone to the motherboard and be instantly up and running should the OS drive fail. However, you've got to open the case and change the physical connection. Also, the clone only takes you back to the date that the clone was made. One would have to make a open the case (unless a clone could be made across a USB connection? but I should start another post for that question rather than drifting away from my original question, so that I can mark this as solved), make a clone, test it, and swap back to the original OS drive.

I wasn't aware that full backups include the OS (I just read that today, as no articles I've read in the past mentioned this), and I always thought that one had to use a recovery disk to get the OS on a new hard drive, and then apply the full backup to that newly 'recovered' hard drive.

I now need to decide if I'm going to use the Windows 7 imaging/backup program, or the WD backup program that came with the new hard drive.

I thank everyone that replied and consider this thread solved.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jun 2018   #8
LMiller7

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit
 
 

Be aware that what you are proposing isn't at all what I was suggesting. Dividing the backup drive into partitions creates unnecessary complications for no real benefits.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jun 2018   #9
BruceK

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit, SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by LMiller7 View Post
Be aware that what you are proposing isn't at all what I was suggesting. Dividing the backup drive into partitions creates unnecessary complications for no real benefits.
Perhaps you misunderstood. I am not going to divide the backup drive into partitions. I only explained what I would have to do to see new drive letters.

I am following your advice to the T. One big, 4TB drive with one partition. I'll use folders for each machine file or image backup. Like I said, "Not gonna do that."
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 Can I divide new external USB 4TB drive into multiple drives?




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